The 50 Greatest Video Game Villains Of All Time

Credit: Matt Becker (compilation); Capcom, NetherRealm, Nintendo (artwork)
Credit: Matt Becker (compilation); Capcom, NetherRealm, Nintendo (artwork) /
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Greatest Video Game Villains – #16 SHODAN

Game(s): System ShockSystem Shock 2

Background: SHODAN (Sentient Hyper-Optimized Data Access Network) is the artificial intelligence antagonist of the 90’s cyberpunk horror RPGs System Shock and System Shock 2SHODAN was created to serve as the AI system of the research space station, Citadel Station. After the game’s protagonist hacks the system, the AI goes rogue and takes control of the station and all of its mechanical equipment. The player cannot hide from her omnipresence, enabled via security cameras, computer monitors, and the station’s PA system. She either kills all of the staff or turns them into cyborgs to fight under her control. Throughout the two games, SHODAN attempts to destroy Earth continuously with methods such as using the station’s mining laser, spreading a mutagenic virus, and taking control of humans and cyborgs. At the end of the game, the story hints that SHODAN was never truly destroyed and lives on in another human entity who had fled on an escape pod. As an AI she has no true physical representation, but on screens manifests herself with a greenish-gray female face.

Why She’s One Of The Greatest Video Game Villains: SHODAN’s obsession with power and her god complex make her a clear inspiration for future feminine AI villains. She constantly reminds the player how little she thinks of humans in her stuttering, computer-like voice. Even though in System Shock you play as her creator, that doesn’t stop her from plotting to kill you and attempting to destroy humanity. She freely uses the bodies of other crew members for experiments, either killing them or turning them into parasitic cyborgs. In a huge twist in System Shock 2, SHODAN poses as a human survivor to gain the trust of the player and get him to do her bidding, only to reveal later that that person had actually been dead the whole time. Her constant insults, nonexistent morality, and her seeming immortality are a clear inspiration for future game villains that we all love to hate.

Next: 15- Dr. Robotnik