UK film magazine Empire has revealed its top 50 video game characters. Heading the list is a bespectacled, laconic theoretical physicist, followed by a diminuitive Italian plumber and a sadistically malfunctioning computer system.

The alien-slaying, world-saving Gordon Freeman of the Half-Life games was modelled on employees at Valve Software for an authentic hero geek look, while dungaree-wearing Mario has spent nearly 30 years rescuing fair maidens from the hands of their brute captors.

SHODAN was the computer system supposed to act as custodian of a space ship in System Shock but, much like HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey, exhibits sociopathic tendencies.

Though the System Shock games may not be wholly familiar to a generation of console gamers, its legacy continues thanks to the BioShock games and the delightfully rogue AI exhibited in the modern classic Portal.

Among others, cherished SEGA mascot Sonic The Hedgehog appears in 14th and the enduring Metal Gear Solid's Solid Snake in 19th. Pac-Man was 37th and Pyramid Head from Silent Hill 2 placed 41st.

Empire Magazine's Top 10 video game characters
01. Gordon Freeman ( Half-Life, Half-Life 2)
02. Mario ( Donkey Kong, Super Mario Land / World / 64 / Galaxy / Bros. Wii)
03. SHODAN ( System Shock, System Shock 2)
04. The Nameless One ( Planescape: Torment)
05. Lara Croft (The Tomb Raider series)
06. Link ( The Legend of Zelda series)
07. Guybrush Threepwood (The Monkey Island series)
09. The Lemmings ( Lemmings, Lemmings 2)
10. Sephiroth ( Final Fantasy VII, Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts II, Dissidia: Final Fantasy)

Source: The 50 Greatest Video Game Characters at