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David Beckham is being substituted for Wayne Rooney. What this has to do with video games, I have no idea.

Sometimes in video games, the best way to experience a story is through the eyes of someone else. It’s even better when it’s unexpected. This top five celebrates 5 of the best surprise substitutions in video game history. It goes without saying that there are major spoilers ahead. To qualify, the substitution must not be hinted at early on (a’la Big Boss in metal Gear Solid 3), and must be part of the game’s canon storyline. So games where you choose between two people from the start (Resident Evil 1) don’t count, neither do secret characters (such as Richter and Maria in Castlevania: Potrait of Ruin).

Jack Kelso (L.A. Noir)
Pinch Hits For: Cole Phelps
What’s up: On the verge of cracking a major morphine smuggling operation, Phelps is suddenly disgraced when evidence of his adultery with a German nightclub singer is unveiled. Demoted to arson desk, and blackballed by his superiors, Phelps finds a sinister link in a seemingly routine arson case. Unable to check up on it himself (you know, being blackballed and whatnot), he has his German mistress call upon his wartime ‘buddy’ Jack Kelso, who is an insurance investigator. They haven’t been getting along, due to incidents that happened during the war still being fresh in their minds, but Kelso comes through, and finds a major lead in the case, along with evidence of a more sinister conspiracy. However, will he be willing to let Cole use this to redeem himself one last time, or will this break in the case drive the wedge even further between the two?

The Blood Elves (Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne)
Pinch Hit For: The Human Alliance
What’s Up: When the High Elf capital of Quel’thalas was destroyed by the Scourge and it’s population massacred, the survivors split off into 2 factions: ten percent of the High Elves clinched to their beliefs and continued to serve the Alliance, while the ninety percent majority called themselves Blood Elves, and were determined to defend their homeland by any means necessary, even using forbidden magic. In the Frozen Throne expansion, you take control of the Alliance in the game’s second act. However, instead of humans and dwarves, you take control of the Blood Elves, who have a greater affinity towards magic than their so-called peers. I say so-called due to the fact that the humans in the alliance are increasingly distrustful of the Blood Elves due to their addiction to magic. During the campaign, the commander of the alliance has them imprisoned after they team up with the Naga to protect their homeland from the undead Scourge. Led by Prince Kael’Thas Sunstrider, they eventually joined with Night Elf traitor Illiadian Stormrage and his Naga clan as they make their way towards outland, the realm of the Burning Legion. However, these events come to a head in World of Warcraft, as Kael throws in with the Burning Legion. While the majority of the Blood Elves decide to join the Horde, the Blood Elves who followed Kael became consumed by their addiction to magic and became the wretched.

Little Sister (Bioshock 2)
Pinch Hits For: Subject Delta
What’s Up: Towards the end of the game, you find out the nature of the relationship between subject Delta and Eleanor Lamb, the mysterious girl that gave you messages: you’re her father. Sophia Lamb then seemingly murders her daughter. However, all she did was stop her heartbeat long enough to sever the connection between the two of you. After you’re incapacitated, Elanor sneaks you an item that allows you to take control of one of Rapture’s Little Sisters (the creepy little girls who drained adam from corpses). You’re task is to use the little sister to gather the armor for one of the big sisters, and bring it back to Eleanor so the two of you can escape. During the whole time, the world looks like one pretty mansion with roses and gardens strewn about, and the adults (the majority of which being the murderous insane splicers that hunt you down throughout the game) look like attendants at a masquerade party. The world warps back to it’s normal run-down state after the Eleanor cures the Little Sister (assuming you spared the majority of them). It’s hauntingly beautiful and disturbing at the same time, and it gives you an interesting insight into the world of rapture, through the eyes of it’s most vulnerable and tragic inhabitants.

Mona Sax (Max Payne 2)
Pinch Hits For: Max Payne
What’s Up: Three chapters of the game sees Payne incapacitated, and having to rely on hitwoman Mona Sax to bail him out. The kicker about these levels is that according to writer Sam Lake, you aren’t actually playing as Mona, but you’re playing through the events as Max is imagining them, as he is still narrating the events in the game. She is a hell of an acrobat, and wields a badass Dragunov sniper rifle.

Raiden (Metal Gear Solid 2)
Pinch Hits For: Solid Snake
What’s Up: Metal Gear Solid established Solid Snake as one of gaming’s primeir badasses. So no doubt that when MGS 2 was gonna be released, players were anticipating the chance to once again take control of the son of Big Boss. And they did…for the first 90 minutes of the game. After infiltrating a tanker in an attempt to destroy a derelict Metal Gear Ray, things go wrong, Snake is believed to be dead, and is blamed for the disaster. So who are you playing as? Raiden. A few years after the disaster, Raiden infiltrates a rig known as the Big Shell, which was made as a monument to environmental safety and a facility that would be used to clean the river. However, it’s revealed that the facility actually is a new Metal Gear known as Arsenal Gear, and that Raiden was being manipulated by a computer AI into emulating Solid Snake. Then it was revealed that the whole thing was planned by a shadow organization known as The patriots as a form of AI soldier training. Or something. As you can see, the confusing story or MGS 2 was part of the reason players were slow to warm up to Raiden. His girlish features didn’t help matters either. In fact, poor Raiden became the butt of several MGS 3 in-jokes.

However, in MGS 4, something magical happened. Raiden was made into an cyborg ninja. As longtime poweteers know, robot + ninja = badass X 2. Thus, in one fell stroke, Raiden was redeemed in the eyes of MGS fans and critics alike. He appeared through the game, slashing the holy fuck out of enemies. Not only that, he survived being crushed by a tanker (losing his arms in the process), only to return to battle with his sword between his teeth. Raiden truly redeemed his image, to the point that he was made the star of the upcoming Metal Gear Rising.

Throughout gaming history, there have been several instances where you have been given control of a totally different character by surprise. What are some of you favorites?