As a child, I discovered that snapping plastic bricks together made "having fun" an arduous task in comparison to stomping my sister's idyllic, fully formed Lego neighborhood. I learned my lesson: Being evil is easier. While childhood proves that bullies will always get what they want, video games reward bad behavior with cooler abilities and weapons. Besides, wouldn't you rather have crowds run in fear than applaud you for fetching those boots they lent to a neighbor?
Assuming you can live without the praise and the "gosh thanks!" you’ll get from lending some farmer a hand, developers usually offer you a simpler and more practical solution to your problems…if you're willing to get your hands dirty.
Here are five games where it’s better to be the bad guy.
The original Fable seems to have popularized the idea of branching paths based on morality. The flimsy, black and white scale arbitrarily creates difficulty to do the “right thing" while extravagantly rewarding and unbalancing the game for doing the wrong thing.
It's between halos and horns, and to earn what is arguably the best weapon you'll probably need to get used to the horns. It's no cakewalk using a sundial to discern the best time for a human sacrifice, but Skorm's Bow is truly something to behold…and it's a sight the pure of heart will never see. Some have argued it's easier to rack up the holy points simply by killing bandits, but like building a house out of Lego, it's a slow and painful process. It's too easy to undo a lifetime of good deeds by walking into town and swinging an axe around.
What's the most precious commodity in an open-world game filled with random loot? Two words: unique items. In Skyrim, the Daedra (or demons) are the only ones who will really give you the cool stuff. While the powerful Dragon Priest masks are obtained by doing good things, wearing them makes you look like a trick-or-treater. The best items require nasty quests for princes of darkness. Killing innocent people, dabbling in cannibalism, and selling your soul are all necessary because those do-gooder Jarls would never offer a twisted mace forged from the tears of a unicorn.
What is the value of a human's life? Cole would tell you it's the equivalent of three lamp posts and a car battery. So why spend all that time searching for electricity sources when you can suck the life out of one helpless victim? This small concession of conscience also begins a path to the symbolic "red energy" powers (and all sorts of badassery). Who needs grenades that capture people alive when the dark side offers wildly detonating cluster bombs that ensure maximum collateral damage?
4. Fable 2
I made a heroic decision at the end of Fable 2 (spoiler alert): I saved thousands of lives (many I didn't know existed), but at the cost of my family and Mr. Dog (my beloved pet dog). Statues of me were erected in every town square across the continent, and I was constantly surrounded by hordes of adoring fans…but I still felt like I had been left alone. I'm sorry, Albion, but I'm reverting to an old save. I would rather burn the empire to the ground than have to bury Mr. Dog. Maybe it reveals how little video game morality has matured, but out of the three options at the end (money, saving NPC lives and my dog), only one holds any weight for me.
5. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Dead men tell no tales, nor do they wake up from a powerful sedative dart and get their buddies to hunt you down. While simply knocking out armies of mercenaries is morally superior to killing them, it sure makes the game a lot more difficult. Bullets, on the other hand, are a far more efficient (and permanent) solution to your problem. Just be prepared to say goodbye to the pacifist achievement.