By which I don’t mean games with a karma system, where the dickheadedness of the main character is up to the player. I mean games where the player character is an insufferably tossrag whether you want him to be or not.
I recently played *Alan Wake *and immediately took a dislike to the titular protagonist, who in the first five minutes of the game tells a kindly old radio host to piss off for daring to ask a famous writer for a friendly interview, treats a fan who advertises his product for free like something on the bottom of his shoe and whines like a little bitch when his wife gasp dares to buy him a typewriter, prompting a hissy fit that kicks off the game’s story. He’s also breathtakingly stupid, making several foolish choices you don’t have a choice about. Instead of being a intense horror game his constant misfortunes were a joy to behold.
Also worthy of note are Vincent, the protagonist of the recent puzzle game Catherine, a big wussy who shirks the slightest responsibility, particularly when he cheats with his long standing girlfriend with the titular Catherine then acts like he’s the offended party. What a cowardly prick.
Two more spring to mind, but aren’t true examples. Altair in the first Assassin’s Creed begins the game as an arrogant standoffish asshole, but as a plot point he gets better as the game goes on.
Alex Mercer in Prototype counts and doesn’t, since BIG SPOILERyou don’t technically play as Alex Mercer, just the virus assuming his from. Which is just as well, as the real Alex unleashed a deadly virus on New York basically out of spite.
I am one of the very few people to play the short-lived post-apocalyptic MMORPG Auto Assault back during the brief tile it was open. That game gave you the choice of choosing one of three different races when you created a character. Unusually for this kind of setup, all three races were complete monsters in different ways, and many of the quest chains you did during the game resulted in you leaving the world a significantly worse place when you were finished.
The first time I played Final Fantasy VIII (well, by that I mean I move through the story and my husband does the fighting and leveling up bits) I got so annoyed in the first few minutes at the constant explanatory interruptions by Quistis that I started deliberately mispronouncing her name as “crisstie”, said as the Québecois swear word (basically, “Christ!”). Such has been her name every since in this household. I hate that bitch.
In PLANESCAPE: TORMENT you start the game as an amnesiac with the option of playing as a dickhead; three guesses as to whether you promptly meet plenty of people who can make clear just how much of a dickhead you were before losing your memory.
Yeah, but he’s not so much a dickhead as all berserk angry, all the time. For no reason. Ok, he’s an ass
I was going to go with Alex Mercer, but he’s in the OP.
Queen Catherine from Heroes of Might & Magic V qualifies in my eyes. Not only does she make one bad decision after another (against the counsel of her war weary and wise counsellor Godric), but she’s so friggin’ *arrogant *about it too.
The Bard from the modern remake of The Bard’s Tale isn’t really an asshole through and through, but he is a snarky prick. Then again, so are the people around him.
In any fighting game, a large number of the playable characters will range from insufferable pricks to outright psychopaths. My favourite example thereof is Tira from Soul Calibur III onward. Depending on your actions, her last act in her story mode of III is either getting one of the kids of one of the good protagonists possessed by Soul Edge (the evil mind controlling sword she more or less worships), or being run off in her attempt to do so, and being possessed herself.
While I rather liked Heavy Rain, I’ve heard some people describe it as a game that gives you the opportunity to play as four different unlikeable protagonists. They’re not exactly dickheads so much as Sad Sack, Shlub, Ed Norton, and Serial Victim.
I stopped playing Prototype largely because I disliked Adam Mercer, but he’s already winning the thread. So I’ll content myself by mentioning that you have the option to play as Stalin or Mao in Civ IV.
I don’t think being visually based on a historical person makes the character inherently evil. You can’t execute political dissidents or deport anyone to Siberia in Civ, but you can play Stalin as a peace-loving culturalist if you want.