Mechanics fuel good gameplay and that is what ultimately makes a good game. But every once and a while there's a character that makes a game better just by being in it. The only thing better than watching them fight, is being them and knowing their power. From action games to third person shooters, the following is a list of characters that are beyond awesome in terms of 'cool factor'. They've got the moves, they've got the weapons, and above all else they are (the most) fun to play as.
Ushered in by a wave of marketing and merchandise that can only really be described as sensationalist and in poor taste, Bayonetta provided one of the most amusing (and challenging) console experiences to date. A quick witted woman with impossible figures, much of her draw comes in both the number of ways she executes opponents and the style in which she does it. From summoning demons from her hair, blasting away with heel-guns, or slowing down time, Bayonetta had the style and strength of Dante with her own unique grace and poise. I personally didn't get where the alleged sex appeal was, but I'll trade ass kicking for that any day of the week.
Ain't nothing that can stop the Cole Train baby, nothing. Everyone in Gears of War is inherently badass (except maybe Baird), due to the existence of the Lancer, but Cole goes the extra step by bringing trash talk and brute force to the ultra-violence. Where most men are content with screaming as they rip into foes with an assault rifle mounted chainsaw, Cole will declare his invincibility and continue to charge headlong into danger. He's so awesome that an entire cutscene was devoted to him just showing up to kill things in Gears of War 2, and while co-op only lets players enjoy Marcus or Dom, multiplayer allows friends to fight over who gets to be the Train. The trash talk and his infamous 'woo!' blend in beautifully with Gear's online play, making him by far the most fun character to play as. Hell, he even had his own rap song.
Let's just start off by saying that Kratos is, after all, the God of War. And playing as him is everything one would imagine it to be. Enemies die by the legions to his might, Titans are scaled and slain by his wrath and through sheer stubborn brute force are his enemies overcome. He also boasts one of the most unique weapons in gaming history, two blades attached to chains which swing out wildly (or precisely) to rack up some impressive combo damage. Anyone somehow disappointed by those weapons should find themselves quite at home with his magical attacks, alternate weapons, or super-mode; which varies from game to game but generally entails killing a lot of things just to gain the power to kill things better. It's like playing a meatgrinder, only with more tools to grind meat with.
Prince (from Prince of Persia)
Perhaps his last iteration didn't quite meet expectations, but in every version of the series some principles remain the same. Acrobatics, dynamic sword fighting and the ability to play with time. Being able to freeze time is something that's been used across a lot of different genres, but rewinding and fast forwarding it is a different story. The ability to make a mistake and then instantly undo it is something that makes the Prince a memorable character in combat, but his fluid movements and graceful leaps make puzzle solving and general platforming a rare treat.
Playing as Mario is never a letdown. He goes places that are both wild and imaginative, takes on villains both colorful and sinister, and almost always gets the girl. Mario can turn into metal, fly, become invincible, shoot fireballs, and jump - something which encompasses just about every single one of my childhood fantasies. Best of all there are no real Mario games that qualify as a miss. It's almost impossible to declare which moment was more fun than the last. Spinning wildly as a raccoon? Forming clouds with the flick of a wrist? Slapping people with my hat after being blown off a giant snowman mountain? Mario is the undisputed King of Platforming, and that's for a reason.