26 July 2017

The genius behind Handsome Jack

    If you wish to play Borderlands at some point and haven't already, I'd recommend doing so before reading this article, spoiler's inside.

    Video games haven't seen a great deal of amazing villain's, however there have been a few. One in particular, Handsome Jack of the Borderlands games really stands out as the best of the best. There is a lot to talk about regarding what we can learn from Handsome Jack, in this article that is exactly what I want to explore.

    When we first start up the game, Handsome Jack is there. In the establishing cut scene before we even get control of our character's, It become's clear he is a huge part of this world, appearing numerous times. He tries to kill you in a cutscene, within 5 minute's the first character you find is talking about him. It's clear that he is going to be a very big, very important part to our story. This is great for building exposition! within moments of starting the game, we have a common enemy, and thoughts of defeating him. This goal gets emphasised more as the story unfolds, and this emphasis on Handsome Jack put him in the spotlight right from the get go. This is his game, and they don't have any quarrel reminding you of that.

    They did something amazing with this character, because Jack wasn't just some enemy you had to defeat, he became a companion in a way. They constantly had Jack talking directly with the player, whether it be sharing one of his sadistic little stories, or discussing current event's, he is as much a friend to the player as he is an enemy. They do a good job of giving you this polarity in the character however, while it was certainly a risky design decision, you still fully understand he is evil and horrible, with each act of violence and cruelty reinforcing this identity. This companionship allows us to really get to explore Handsome Jack's character, we feel like we could step into his shoes for a day and no-one would notice, and that's something most villain's simply haven't accomplished.

    Jack has has an extremely dark backstory, that he delights in sharing with us. This is the important part, the voice actor has done an amazing job in remaining playful about the horrible evil deed's he's done. Right from the very beginning this is demonstrated, we hear a story about how he boards a train full of refugee's, talk's to the leader, and remark's "Alright... lady... I dunno what to call you. You tell me why you look like you headbutted a belt sander, and I'll let you all go right now." To this lady... Then shot her in the head, laughed at it, then killed the rest of the refugee's. This is just one of many stories, and it only escalated and got closer to home as the game goes on. He never lets us forget that we are enemies, even if he's joking with us and fulfilling a companion role, he know's where his priorities lie.

    He seem's unreal, however. Up until now all I've told you, he is completely one dimentional. He wants to kill everyone because he's a sad ol' fart. But that's where Angel comes into it. Angel is Jack's Daughter, the daughter who he has a really confused relationship with. He is extremely abusive to her at first glance, even wishing for her own death in the end. He used her for her power, without getting too into detail, she was a very important, very powerful person, a Siren. He straps her into a machine and makes her do his bidding. However it wasn't as simple as that, he still loved her, he was still human. He had this one humbling moment where he loses his voice. He loses his composure and he break's down, almost crying, begging you to leave his daughter alone, as she is asking you to put her out of her misery. This was crucial for grounding Jack, making him a real believable person, not just a video game character.

    These, are some of the things that make Handsome Jack such an amazing villain. We really get to know the guy, we could write an autobiography of his life. We know him to be a truly horrific person, but crucially he is still very much a person with his own thoughts and feelings, motivation's and emotions. He isn't perfect, like normal people, he has flaw's. This is a by product of Borderlands 2's amazing character writer's, we see these strength's in all the character's on Pandora, and one of the things I couldn't praise the game on highly enough.


  1. Sorry couldn't read your post since I haven't played Borderlands. I heard this game series is incredible. One of my friends Hilly_ on Twitch is a master at Borderlands 2, I think he beat a no-death run on hardest difficulty. Since it's FPS, I don't think I can play the game since I can't play FPS. However, if I ever revisit and finally understand first person perspective, definitely will check out the series!

    1. Some amazing games for sure. 1 isn't as good as 2, but does help provide exposition, it is important for setting the stage. Borderlands 2 was the best of the 3 by far, and the one this article was written from, and pre-sequel was pretty good but doesn't live up to 2. I purposely didn't talk about pre-sequel here, not because it wasn't important to Jack, but because he wasn't so much a villain in that game.


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  2. I keep hearing such amazing things about Borderland 2. I hope that down the road, I'd be able to play FPS. I feel that because of my vision issues, I'm really narrowing my choices in gaming, so I'd like to finally be able to get adjusted to FPS perspective!

    I heard Wolfenstein:New Order is another good one, as well as the Portal and Half-life games for FPS. Which other ones would you recommend if I ever get used to the genre?

  3. amazing !!! good work. keep it up. find paper shredder for office from here.