South African characters are thin on the ground in videogames. In fact, they’re so rare that it instills in us a sense of national pride when we spot one.
Many game developers outside of the country have seen it fit, for their own mysterious reasons, to make some of their games’s cast hail from our sunny shores, so we’ve decided to chronicle a few of them here.
We won’t be speaking about some of the controversy that has occurred because of this, we’re only here to point the South Africans out.
Finally, isn’t meant to be a comprehensive list but if you know of any more characters you think should be here, let us know on Facebook or Twitter. If there’s enough of them, we may have a second story to write.
Game(s): Titanfall & Titanfall 2
The most recent South African we encountered in a videogame, as Kuben Blisk returns in Titanfall 2. As the leader of a far future intergalactic band of mercenaries, we’re sure developers Respawn Entertainment got a little inspiration from the Afrikaans mercenaries in the movie Elysium.
Blisk reminds us a lot of SA actor Sharlto Copley’s role as Kruger, except with less grenade eating and more giant robots. Additionally, if you choose Blisk as your faction leader in Titanfall 2’s multiplayer, and you manage to get a four-player killstreak, you’re in for a treat as he tells you “that was lekker!” over the coms.
Game(s): Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
The Uncharted games have always been a cut above other examples in the medium in their portrayal of woman who are tough without sacrificing an ounce of their femininity. There’s a reason this series constantly invites comparisons to the work of Joss Whedon. Uncharted 4 offered enough another great example of this writing in the form of Nadine Ross, a South African mercenary with her own personal army, who acted as the lead villain’s lethal henchman. Not only does she turn out to be more pragmatic – and more clued up – than her insane boss, she proves she more than capable of handing Nathan Drake his arse whenever she so chooses. Oh, and her soldiers are all South African too.
Game(s): Far Cry 3
Volker gets a bad rap in the gaming community, and not just because he’s an antagonist. Without spoiling Far Cry 3, he gets screen time in place of fan-favourite lunatic Vaas Montenegro. While we have to agree that Volker is the lesser character, his poker sequence and his fantastic line, “ah Jason, now we’ll never be married” make him plenty memorable to us.
Game(s): Far Cry 2
Speaking of memorable moments from the Far Cry series, the second game is responsible for one of our personal best moments in gaming. In the opening few hours of the game, we were roaming around the open map when we found a small outpost. We sneakily made out way towards the camp in preparation to ambush them, only to be flabbergasted when we heard them speaking Afrikaans. At the time we had no idea this was in the game, and it was a welcome surprise. As a bonus: the cab driver in the beginning of the game speaks Zulu with a Xhosa word or two thrown in as well.
More Afrikaans mercenaries
Game(s): Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
There are various Afrikaans mercenaries throughout Metal Gear Solid V, you can see then speaking about the Boer War and, our favourite, this clip in which we thought they were speaking about the restaurant Nandos. Moving away from mercenaries for a second, there’s also an entire mission in which you need to rescue an Afrikaans interpreter.
Game(s): Resident Evil 5
While we don’t remember much of Resident Evil 5 (2009 was a long time ago and, if we’re honest, it wasn’t the best game), we’re more than happy to include Sheva Alomar on this list too. While Nadine Ross and customisable characters join her, they’re still a small group within the even smaller demographic of local characters.
An unfortunately rare entry on this list: a South African character in a game made in South Africa. As STASIS’ antagonist, Doctor Malan speaks with an accent you can clearly pin down to this country, we didn’t know his nationality for sure. Luckily, STASIS developer Chris Bischoff confirmed it for us on Twitter.
Honourable mention: Customisable XCOM soldiers
Game(s): XCOM: Enemy Unknown & XCOM 2
The soldiers in the two most recent XCOM games have a load of customisation options, including nationality and voice packs. Luckily South Africa was included in the large selection of countries when it comes to these two customisation options. Making one of your characters hail from SA will add our flag to their back armour and, while only a superficial change, it’s one that’s appreciated. The separate voice packs are an inclusion you’ll notice more as your soldiers complain about being turned into paste in a local tone. Oh, and South Africa is one of the Council members, but we imagine this caused much hatred for our country when it pulled funding from XCOM. Hey, the game’s AI did that, not us.
To end off we’d like to point something out: it seems that our country is a massive source of mercenaries in the world of videogames. Almost every single entry in this story is a mercenary or some kind of gun for hire. On the positive side, most of them are leaders of the groups instead of simple henchmen, so that’s a good thing. We guess.[Images – Steam user JIM RAYNOR]