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The Top 10 Best Game Detectives

Dave Cook

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In honour of the launch of L.A. Noire this week, we champion the cream of the flat-footed crop

Published on May 16, 2011

10. Dangeresque

Strong Bad’s Cool Game For Attractive People 4 (PC)
Pint-sized luchadore Strongbad is a legend. In episode four of Strong Bad’s Cool Game For Attractive People, he engages in an odd bout of make-believe, as he films a low budget movie called Dangeresque 3: The Criminal Projective.

It’s a surreal instalment to the series, as Strong Bad’s detective character Dangeresque sits in a cardboard box, pretending that it's a raft hurtling towards the precipice of a massive waterfall. He’s quite possibly the worst investigator since Saturday afternoon detective sitcoms began, but still, those boxing gloves are totally killer.

9. Sissel

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective (DS)
CAUTION! SPOILERS! As the name suggests, Sissel is dead, solving crimes from beyond the grave. The ‘Ghost Tricks’ in question are powers that allow Sissel to relive the last moments of a murder victim’s death and interact with physical objects in the land of the living.
Sissel’s crime solving is effective in a way, but as he’s nothing more than paranormal vapour, he never really gets the credit he deserves. That, and he’s actually the ghost of a dead cat manifested as a lanky dude with shades and mad blonde hair. Erm, what?

8. Tex Murphy

Tex Murphy Episode One: Mean Streets (PC)
Oh dear. Tex Murphy is the epitome of the hard boiled flatfoot detective, snooping around where he’s not wanted, bringing bad guys to justice, quipping endlessly and crossing paths with scantily clad dames.

The detective drama formula is nailed down, except the games are set in a post-apocalyptic future teeming with radioactive freaks and corruption. Why then, does Murphy dress like a cross between an alcoholic Indian Jones and Deckard from Blade Runner. This is schmaltz at its very best.

7. Dick Gumshoe

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (DS)
Gumshoe is something of a joke character. He has somehow managed to rise up the police ranks to the position of homicide detective, despite being utterly incompetent and the target of jibes from the rest of the ensemble cast.

Amazingly, for all of his shortcomings, the scruffy detective always seems to get his man, and helps both Phoenix Wright and Miles Edgeworth put wrongdoers in jail. The question remains however: just what is with that ridiculous plaster on his cheek?

6. Scott Shelby

Heavy Rain (PS3)
Shelby is a deceptive sod. While he may appear old and weather-beaten, he pulls out some incredibly renegade behaviour throughout the Heavy Rain plot. The best set piece by far sees Shelby infiltrating a fortified mansion teeming with goons.

He sets about shooting them all to bits with cool, calculated determination like some elderly Dirty Harry. He’s also not afraid to get his knuckles bloody in a fist fight, and we also hear that he makes killer scrambled eggs.

5. Lei

Tekken 2 (PSone)
Quite possibly the most badass detective on this list, Lau is the pocket knife of martial arts experts. Debuted in Tekken 2, Lau is a tricky character to master thanks to his multiple stances and labyrinthine command lists.

His crane technique is a real favourite, dishing out mad flourishes of pain at speed. However, while he’s off tussling with giant pandas and robotic gimps, who knows how many crimes are going on unattended? Do your job mate, and get it sorted.

4. Gillian Seed

Snatcher (Mega CD)
Hideo Kojima’s graphic adventure is a revered classic that draws heavy influence from Blade Runner. The plot follows a conspiracy that sees Snatchers – a new breed of bioroids – infiltrating positions of power by posing as officials.

Gillian Seed is the man tasked with exposing the threat, and like all good Japanese protagonists, has a serious bout of amnesia. Can anyone say plot twist? Oddly enough, Seed’s sidekick is a Metal Gear Mk. II, similar to the mini robot seen in Metal Gear Solid 4.

3. Cole Phelps

L.A. Noire (PS3, Xbox 360)
The newest detective on the beat, Cole Phelps is L.A. Noire’s leading man, ably played by Mad Men star Aaron Staton. Cole is a decorated war veteran, cast out on to the mean streets to mop up crime no matter what the cost.

He’s a noble guy who always tries to bring in the perps without resorting to violence, but his brawling skills and impeccable aim make him a powerhouse of punching and shooting. He also holds a fedora well, which was actually a pre-requisite to being a cop in the 1940’s.

2. Sam & Max

Sam & Max Hit The Road (PC)
In some wacky, faraway alternate dimension, seeing a psychotic rabbit being and a bipedal dog solving crimes would be considered normal. But in the Sam & Max series, nothing is normal, giving rise to a slew of hilarious detective cases, jokes and sight gags.

While Sam is the cool headed brains of the operation, Max seems more intend on causing everyone physical and mental pain. Say what you will about the little git’s methods, he gets results.

1. Batman

Batman: Arkham Asylum (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
Fair enough, he may not be a fully sanctioned, badge-wearing detective, but old Batters sure does get those results. His rubber clad crotch houses a toolbox of crime-fighting gadgets ranging from explosive gels and batarangs, while his mask can reveal clues in x-ray vision.

Like any good detective, he’s haunted by demons, wants to do the right thing at all times, yet always reluctantly falls into bouts of chopsocky and action. Just don’t mention the bat-nipples.

 

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