GLaDOS (Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System) is easily one of the most interesting, funny, and engaging video game characters ever. Though she has only been in two games – Portal 1 & 2 – she regularly ranks in the top 10 of most video game character lists. GLaDOS is number one in my book for three excellent reasons.
1. Her dialogue is flawless, and funny in a way most games can only dream of achieving. It is difficult to narrow down the best dialog, but I have two favorites. “Good news, I figured out what that thing you just incinerated is. It was a morality core they installed after I flooded the enrichment centre with a deadly neurotoxin to make me stop flooding the enrichment centre with a deadly neurotoxin, so get comfortable while I warm up the neurotoxin emitters.” and “We’ve both said things you’re going to regret.”
Nearly every line is funny with nearly perfect timing that few games ever come close to.
2. As a villain she is perfect. Maniacal, crazy, and very powerful. She is everything I want in a villain because, while I was trying to defeat her she was trying to create a symbiotic relationship wherein I worked for her as a slave. There is no power grab for the world, simply one test subject (the player) versus a captor (GLaDOS); on such a small scale everything felt personal.
3. GLaDOS learns from her mistakes. At the end of the 2nd Portal (spoilers) after she has tried to kill you countless times she realizes that she isn’t going to succeed, so rather than trying another scheme she just lets you go. Just like that. As a character all you actually want is to escape and GLaDOS is able to realize that letting you succeed will get her the same exact result as if she killed you. I know this may seem like a small thing, but look back at all the villains in video game history, how many of them learn from their mistakes? Very few, the greatest majority of villains attack their target in the same way over, and over again without learning.
There are few characters who have made such a lasting impression on me in a video game. More than once I have replayed portal simply to interact with GLaDOS. I have of course replayed other games for the storyline, dialog, or gameplay, but Portal 1 & 2 are the only games I have replayed just to experience one character.