There are few things more pervasive in modern sci-fi video games than evil corporations. From ruthless businessmen who don’t care about their employees and will kill thousands to save just a few dollars, to collections of evil scientists turning their genius to profit, the number of evil organizations that do evil in the name of profitability has increased exponentially in recent years.
As that number grows, their actions have become darker and more unethical to set themselves apart from their competition. From surface mining planets, to experimenting on children, to kidnapping people to steal their DNA, these companies are ruthless in the pursuit of their goals and are often a law in themselves. But there is an advantage to this relentless darkness and evil – it makes them much more satisfying to take down.
The Umbrella Corporation – Resident Evil
Arguably the trope encoder for evil corporations in video games, Resident Evil’s Umbrella Corporation is one of the most despicable entities on this list. Impersonating a benevolent pharmaceutical company, with charitable endeavors such as funding an orphanage, this pro-PR image is actually a front for the company’s true business: creating experimental biological weapons and on measure. Whether it’s an armed zombie plague or super mutants, if you want something dangerous and unethical, Umbrella is the place to be.
Umbrella’s crimes are many and varied and include everything from experimenting with children to harnessing the zombie crisis they (arguably) started. If that’s not enough, the company harnesses its own private military force and makes a deal with the mayor of Racoon City to turn a blind eye to their shady deals. Even after the company’s decline following the destruction of Racoon City, replicas of their actions continued to ravage the world for many years, and it is often easy to find a reference to them in the many Resident Evil games that have been published over the years.
Hyperion – Borderlands
The Borderlands series has no shortage of evil mega-corporations to choose from, all of which have done some pretty despicable things. But whoever wins the cake is Hyperion, the company run by Borderlands 2 antagonist Handsome Jack. Hyperion is shockingly, almost comically evil, taking over the planet Pandora with the intention of killing all of its inhabitants and exploiting it for resources. Hyperion executives also attempted to gain access to one of the vaults on the planet, which could have had dire consequences, and even went so far as to commit genocide and torture to further their goals.
Even after Handsome Jack’s death at the end of Borderlands 2, Hyperion continues to be a dangerously evil entity. Tales From The Borderlands shows Hyperion employees are frequently ‘let down’, being thrown out of airlocks, as senior management engages in often fatal battles to prove themselves as the true successors of Handsome’s legacy. Jack. They also greet each other by shooting people with guns. Urgh.
Abstergo Industries – Assassin’s Creed
Despite the fact that the majority of all games in the Assassin’s Creed series will take place in the distant past, the game’s modern framing device features its own evil mega-corporation; Abstergo Industries. The company (which has many different branches, including Abstergo Entertainment) is actually a front for the Templars, a fascist order that dates back to before the Crusades.
Abstergo’s various crimes include the kidnapping of people to harvest their genetic memories, as was done with the initial series protagonist Desmond Miles, as well as the exploitation of several paramilitary strike teams, which are used to eliminate anyone who hinders their goals, with the business controlling the world in secret for many years. Meanwhile, video games created by Abstergo Entertainment are used as propaganda by the Templars to demonize their enemy Assassins.
Vault-Tec – Fallout
While Fallout’s post-apocalyptic setting contains no companies at the time the games are set, Vault-tec, which created the vaults in which the majority of humanity survived the nuclear apocalypse, is a classic example. of a society profiting from tragedy. While Vault-Tec vaults were touted as stand-alone nuclear fallout shelters, in reality many of them were designed as cruel social experiments.
Of the 300 or so safes manufactured by Vault-Tec, only 17 of them were “control” safes, where the quality of life was as advertised; shelter from the nuclear apocalypse. The rest were incredibly cruel experiences. The main door of one of the vaults was not closing properly, which irradiated the inhabitants. Another chest contained only one human occupant, his only company being a box of puppets. One of the vaults functioned similarly to Shirley Jackson’s story “The Lottery”, where a member of the population was to be killed each year. What makes all of this particularly cruel is that vaults were never designed to protect anyone, as the US government and Vault-Tec never believed war would happen. If they had, well, maybe others could have survived.
Shinra – Final Fantasy 7
The Shinra Power Company is one of the most gruesome examples of an evil corporation in video games, primarily due to the banality of their evil deeds. In a game that features elements as bizarre as giant robots, party members including men with hand guns and a tiger dog thing, and swords the size of an average motorcycle , Shinra stands out for how much it looks like something taken from the real world.
As an energy company, Shinra is responsible for bringing the world to ruin in Final Fantasy 7, with the company literally draining life from the planet to provide energy. Shinra also has a private army which they use to crush resistance to their plans and goes so far as to use alien DNA to create super soldiers, including the incredibly evil Sephiroth.
UAC – Doom
Another energy company, UAC, decided that the best way to provide unlimited energy to the inhabitants of Earth was to go to Mars and build a portal to hell, drawing energy from it. of the. While the company’s motivation for it is pretty good, and UAC has been portrayed positively in many Doom games, that portrayal was dropped in the 2016 reboot, where it turns out that almost all of the high leadership of the company turned to the cult of demons.
The evil actions of UAC in this new timeline are far reaching and include both worldly and more mystical evils. Some employees are used as sacrifices to summon demons, while others are encouraged to sacrifice their souls or be branded with a pentagram to show their loyalty to their new demonic masters. But undoubtedly the most perverse act of the enterprise is to institute a seven-day work week; even demonic hosts should have weekends off.
Aperture Science – Portal
Anytime the founder of a business is described as “eccentric,” there’s a good chance the business will collapse, at least to some extent. Portal’s Aperture Science is no exception. Founded by Cave Johnson, the company based most of its experiences on his often… unorthodox ideas. It ended up getting worse after Johnson contracted lead poisoning and became more eccentric, and Aperture began hemorrhaging money as he indulged his whims.
Test subjects for Aperture’s experiments began to slowly decline in quality as the money ran out, with the company eventually having to use its own employees as test subjects. This all came to a head when the AI GLaDOS was created; she took control of the company’s main research center and slaughtered everyone inside, turning it into the world’s deadliest escape room. All the remaining employees now had to appease his whims, with the company trading one evil boss for another.
NEXT: Portal: Funniest Quotes From GlaDOS
Said wear and tear is “inevitable”.
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