The 10 Dirtiest Cops In Video Games

With the release of L.A. Noire, the whole world is focused on 1947 Los Angeles and the adventures of Very Good Cop Cole Phelps. But Cole is a rather unique figure in video games – an honest cop (who actually stays a cop!) The Los Angeles setting is usually populated by more nefarious policemen, like LA Confidential’s Dudley Smith and that goes double true for video games. The history of gaming is littered with corrupt law enforcers who routinely betray, backstab, lie, deal drugs, cheat, steal and generally act like the law can’t touch them. And who can blame them? Until the protagonists of their games come along, they’re untouchable.

We hate them and love to hate them, and so do you, which is why it’s so much fun killing them dead. In celebration of L.A. Noire, here is Gamefront’s definitive list of the 10 dirtiest cops in video games.

10) C-Sec Officer Harkin from Mass Effect

Any cop can decide to be a little dirty, but it takes a special kind of ambition to be a dirty cop… in outer space! In Mass Effect, C-Sec officers maintain law and order on The Citadel, the galaxy’s political capital. Patrolling a big galaxy is a big job, and being invited to join the galaxy’s most prominent police force should be the culmination of a lifetime’s chasing greatness. Harkin was one of the first humans allowed onto the force, and he rose to the occasion, representing the force and all of humanity well by faking evidence, blowing off work and being a jerk. You meet him when he’s been suspended for drinking on the job. That’s some fine police work there chief.

So how corrupt is he? By Mass Effect 2 he’s been fired from C-Sec and now uses his law enforcement skill set forging up fake IDs for known criminals under the alias ‘Fade’. He also roughs up children and betrays associates at the drop of a hat, earning a well deserved cap in the foot when you meet him for the second time. He’s small time, but dangerous and there’s no doubt by Mass Effect 3, he’ll be wearing a white suit and running the planet ‘Hazzardcounty’.

9) Ray Machowski from Grand Theft Auto 3

Ray Machowski is supposed to be an honest Liberty City policeman, but he’s actually a mole for the local Yakuza syndicate. He does nice, community-building things like passing police intel to the mob and having informants whacked. Too bad he’s just totally inept at the whole being-a-dirty-cop thing and after crippling bouts of paranoia and murderousness, he skips town just ahead of the FBI. At least he helps put GTA III protagonist in touch with Donald Love but that just leads to implications of necrophilia. Thanks a lot, ass. Great work.

8) Captain Qwark from Ratchet and Clank

In the Ratchet and Clank universe, the law and justice and so on is upheld by Space-based Superheroes, and at the beginning of the Ratchet and Clank series, the galaxy’s top cop is Copernicus Leslie Qwark. He’s huge, has excellent PR, loves kids and cute animals and is a friend to all who need help. He’s also a tremendous braggart with significant psychological issues who sells everyone out to help Chairman Drek pollute the entire Galaxy. He then kidnaps and replaces the chairman of a major corporation in order to unleash a biological plague that he will then stop. This is of course in addition to his cowardice, narcissism and vanity. Luckily, he’s stopped by Ratchet and Clank twice and eventually is put in charge of the Galactic Military thanks to his excellent PR. Scratch that – nothing lucky for anyone except for him.

7) B.B. Hensley from Max Payne

DEA agent BB. Hensley is an old friend of Max Payne’s who promises to help is buddy out of a particularly sticky jam in the first game. Too bad he’s also on the take to the mob. He kills Max Payne’s best friend, frames Max for the murder and proceeds to do everything he can to ruin Max’s life. His death at Max’s hands is richly deserved, and his only saving grace is that he was portrayed by Beau Bridges in the movie.

6) Edgar Ross from Red Dead Redemption

Edgar Ross is an agent for ‘The Bureau’, AKA the American Research Service. Sent to the still-wild state of New Austin to track down some particularly brutal gunmen, he kidnaps protagonist James Marston’s family in order to force James to do his dirty work for him. James delivers of course, but that doesn’t stop Edgar from ultimately breaking every promise he ever made and storming the Marston ranch with the US Military to do him in. This jerk finally gets what’s comin’ to him courtesy of James’ son Jack, who kills him and dumps the body in a river.

5) The EDF from Red Faction: Guerrilla

In Red Faction 2, the Earth Defense Force swooped in at the last minute and liberated Mars from the Tyranny of the corrupt Ultor Corporation. Turns out they were just jealous of the competition. By the time of Red Faction: Guerrilla, the EDF has one purpose: force the impoverished Martian population to mine the planet dry for the benefit of profits back on earth, whether they want to or not. They kill civilians, arrest without warrants, commit acts of domestic terror, develop false-flag ops and generally do everything you’d expect from the law enforcement branch of a police state. No wonder then that the entirety of the game is a quest to kill them or send them back where they came from.

4) Templars in Assassin’s Creed

History remembers them as the Poor Fellows Of Christ, courageous Knights who swore a vow of poverty and journeyed to the Holy Land during the crusades, not to conquer territory but to protect pilgrims on their way to see the sights, and generally enforce the Church’s law in an era of massive violence and constant corruption. But in Assassin’s Creed, it’s all a lie. In reality, they’re a shadowy, unaccountable conspiracy dedicated to promoting massive inequality, enforcing an oppressive social hierarchy and amassing as much of the world’s wealth as possible. Far from the front they put up, they’re the worst kind of dirty cops: Dirty Church Cops! Hopefully their evil schemes will be, ahem, arrested by the end of Assassin’s Creed 3, but until then they’re going to keep on killing Assassins and generally being unapologetic jerks

3) Big Boss/Naked Snake from Metal Gear

If spies are the police of international diplomacy, then Big Boss is the ultimate in shoddy policing. Originally a highly skilled and highly valued spy for the United States during the cold war, he eventually goes full-blown traitor in the quest to take over the world (so to speak). In the first game, he reveals himself as the leader of a crazy cult/militia seeking access to advanced military technology. Later, you find out he’s also Solid Snake’s father, making the whole thing even creepier than it had to be. Fortunately, his attempts at global domination are mostly secret and he’s ultimately killed, but for having betrayed his country, friends, even his own children, his dirty cop credentials are almost unparalleled.

2) Office Frank Tenpenny from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

The Big Bad and final boss of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, think of Officer Frank Tenpenny as the anti Cole Phelps. Conceived as the embodiment of LAPD dysfunction in 1992, he is, simply put, the worst police officer ever. He uses his position in Los Santos’ (San Andreas’ LA stand-in) gangs task force to muscle his way into an alliance with the city’s biggest drug dealer. Along the way he murders two suspicious fellow-officers, puts out a hit on a federal witness, steals evidence, frames a DA for drug possession and manages to totally skate on numerous federal charges. Oh, and he also killed protagonist Carl Johnson’s mom.

His antics nearly cause Los Santos’ destruction via riots, but fortunately, he’s also pretty good at dying in horrific firetruck accidents and he obligingly does so at the end of the game.

1) Albert Wesker from Resident Evil

We expect a lot of duly accredited agents of the Law. Serve and protect; catch bad guys; investigate crimes. You know what we don’t expect? That they will totally sell us all out and condemn the earth to numerous zombie catastrophes. Too bad Resident Evil’s Albert Wesker didn’t get the memo. When he first appeared, he was commanding officer of Special Tactics And Rescue Service, helping you survive a zombie outbreak and trying to figure out what the hell happened. Until it turned out he was a corporate mole all along, secretly working for the Umbrella Corporation.

By injecting himself with an experimental form of the virus that keeps turning people into flesh eating monsters, he cheats death and returns again and again to pretend to be all about helping only to turn around and,surprise surprise, betray everyone again. Whatever his flaws, at least he’s proof that the government needs stronger vetting when it comes to hiring people to stop monster attacks. His evil scheming makes him the dirtiest of dirty video game cops.

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4 Comments on The 10 Dirtiest Cops In Video Games

VodkaChill

On May 19, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Edgar Ross from Red Dead Redemption was the most satisfying revenge kill I had in years. Thanks Rock*

Fletcher

On May 19, 2011 at 6:46 pm

Lmao Wesker has the number 1 spot? I honestly didn’t see that coming….

Ross Lincoln

On May 19, 2011 at 7:26 pm

We ranked him according to the level of bad after-effects his corruption caused. Big boss wanted to take over a country but otherwise it was a small, quiet thing, hence number 3. Tenpenny nearly destroyed a city and the legal system of an entire state. And Wesker pretty much caused numerous, near-world destroying crises.

EDF ranked lower for two reasons: 1) they took over after someone else’s corruption primed things for them; 2) they never got to use their world shattering bomb. And they’re not as creepy as Templars, who seem to want to bring about the end of time but haven’t succeeded.

Alec

On August 6, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Cool list!

One error though, it is ‘John Marston’ not James

Thanks