TA Top Five: Rivalries

By Jonathan Barnes, 2 years ago
As far back as I can remember, I've always hated Michigan. As an Ohio farmboy from the northwest part of the state, I was brought up in the prime battleground. A good portion of my classmates wore puke yellow maize and traitor blue blue to school instead of our state's glorious scarlet and gray. Even after graduating from THE Ohio State University, my blinding dislike for northerners has not abated.

This week's Top Five (suggested by mod extraordinaire dropK1CK ninJA) focuses on some of the best rivalries of the achievement era of games. I'm trying to keep the parameters as clean as possible and focusing these as "game first" rivalries, so you won't find Batman v. Joker and Manchester v. Liverpool in here. It should also go without saying that we're focusing on Xbox franchise rivalries, so there will be none of this Bowser v. Mario, Link v. Gannon, and Sony v. Microsoft nonsense.

As always, if your personal favorite rivalry has been left off of this list, it was done so intentionally and with malice.

Honorable Mentions

Andrew Ryan v. "The Parasites" - BioShock
Andrew Ryan

It takes a special breed of megalomaniac to create his own civilization that is divorced from culture at large. In Rapture, Andrew Ryan built almost everything to his specifications, from the people living there to the businesses and leaders. While paying lip service to the "free hand of the market", Ryan did everything he could to maintain control over that market by squeezing out those who challenged his ideals. Whether it was Frank Fontaine or Sophia Lamb, if you disagreed with Ryan, you were a parasite, and you were going down.

Umbra Witches v. Lumen Sages - Bayonetta
Bayonetta 1

Let me be the most-recent one to admit that I have virtually no clue what's going on in this game. The dark Umbra Witches are the "good guys" and light Lumen Sages are the "bad guys" and everything needs to be kept in balance or some mumbo-jumbo like that. Regardless, it's a solid rivalry.

Weapon Manufacturers - Borderlands
Mr. Torgue

On a planet full of guns each of the manufacturers on Pandora has their own twist in weaponry. While Handsome Jack may have taken control of Hyperion and found a way to rule over Pandora, that doesn't mean that the likes of Torgue, Jakobs, Atlas, or Dahl are ceding control of their lucrative market share. In the world of Borderlands the rivalry between the manufacturers is only as strong as the player's love for their product, but it's always nice to have that choice and variety.

Top Five

5- Bethesda v. Bugs

Let's have a moment of honesty. Bethesda makes awesome games. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Fallout 3, and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim were three of the finest games to appear on the 360, but DANG were they full of bugs. Whether it's AI errors, graphics crashes, lost game saves, or quests that are so bugged you can't finish (or start) them, you know that the extermination team in Maryland is going to have their hands full for several months after the game releases. Heck, since its release in 2011, Skyrim has had at least nine patches (which brought me endless hours of photoshopping fun when writing up the news stories about them). Maybe it's the massive open worlds. Perhaps it's the countless number of NPCs that have AI programmed into them. Perchance it could be the staggering number of options, but any way you slice it, when you buy a Bethesda game, you know you're in for some patching.

4- IMC v. Frontier Militia - Titanfall
Sand Trap

A classic setup between "the man" and the scrappy upstarts, the rivalry between the IMC and the Frontier Militia is only one game old and story wise, I'll grant you that this rivalry is pretty weak. That being said, there is room for this story to be something special. It's no secret that Respawn put the majority of their time into crafting a rock-solid multiplayer experience (and boy did they), with the overwhelming success of the title, here's to hoping they put a little bit more time into the story (and possibly a single player campaign?) in the sequel.

3- Ken v. Ryu - Street Fighter

A writer more versed in the breadths and depths of fighting games could easily construct a Top Five list on fighting game rivalries alone, but I wanted to pick the cream of the crop for this list (Scorpion v. Sub-Zero is probably the other top contender) and settled on Ken and Ryu from Street Fighter. Definitely the friendliest of the rivalries in this list, Ken and Ryu are almost identical when it comes to move sets and Ken's (technical) origins say that his design was basically a palette-swap from Ryu's. Regardless, with characters so similar a natural rivalry has emerged.

2- Templars v. Mages - Dragon Age

The conflict between Templars and Mages started as a minor subplot in Dragon Age: Origins but came front and center in Dragon Age II. While it was somewhat possible to skirt the decision of "who ya got" in Kirkwall, you were left with no such option in last year's stellar Dragon Age: Inquisition. An early choice in the game, the Herald is forced to side with one faction which then radicalizes the other. The shunned side then goes on to represent one of the major opposing forces that stands between the Inquisition and peace. While time will tell if BioWare will dip back into this conflict well for the (inevitable) sequel to Inquisition, the story they wove surrounding this rivalry was a slow burn that turned out amazingly.

1- Assassins v. Templars - Assassin's Creed
Quote Top Five AC

Most of the rivalries on this list span short periods of in-game time, but the war between the Assassins and the Templars (seriously, can't those guys stay out of trouble?) has raged on for hundreds of years. Using the Third Crusade (1190's) as an entry point for the conflict (although it extended well before), the fighting between the two forces extended into the modern day and has influenced virtually every large event in human history.

The TA Team will be bringing you The TA Top Five every Sunday until we run out of coolness to debate and discuss. If you have an idea for a Top Five you'd like us to do, be sure to let us know in the comments!
Credit for this story goes to dropK1CK ninJA
Jonathan Barnes
Written by Jonathan Barnes
Jonathan has been a news/views contributor since 2010. When he's not writing reviews, features, and opinion pieces, he spends his days working as an informal science educator and his nights as an international man of mystery.