This list looks at those who engage in spying, espionage, or clandestine operations. Running around with guns 'a blazing isn't always the best approach, and the spies on this list are generally smart enough to use stealth, deception, or even sex appeal to get what they want. Since spies are almost always backed by large agencies, they usually have access to all the newest technology and often have an assortment of cool gadgets at their disposal. Although there is considerable overlap between the two professions, characters who are primarily known as assassins rather than spies will not be considered for this list.
Spy Hunter Series
Spy Hunter is a classic arcade game that draws inspiration from James Bond films. The game was first released in 1983 and an enhanced remake hit store shelves in 2001. Alec Sects is an FBI agent tasked with chasing down criminals, but everyone knows that the G-6155 Interceptor is the real hero of the story. (That's his car, by the way.) The Interceptor is one of the all time great video game vehicles and lets players dispatch their enemies with various onboard weapons. The car is equipped with standard machine guns, but it can be upgraded with oil slicks, smoke screens, and surface-to-air missiles. Alec wasn't even seen in the original arcade game and only appeared in promotional artwork, so it wouldn't feel right to rank him any higher on this list even though Spy Hunter has some level of historical significance.
Street Fighter Series
An American spy working for the CIA, Crimson Viper's mission is to defeat M. Bison and destroy the weapons made by his research corporation. To achieve this goal, C. Viper relies on a high-tech, form-fitting suit that's equipped with all sorts of deadly gadgets like rocket boots and Taser gloves. The suit is pretty amazing, but I'm equally impressed by the fact that she manages to keep her glasses on her face even when she's participating in street fights. C. Viper appears to have a superiority complex and can be a little condescending at times, but her true personality is heavily guarded. She might look like a bad girl, but she's genuinely interested in the problems of others. Despite her demanding career, she still finds the time to call her daughter between fights. C. Viper is easily one of the MILFiest women in video game history.
Alpha Protocol failed to live up to it's potential as a game, but Michael Thorton was clearly cut from the same cloth as other famous spies. His personality largely depends on choices that are made during the game's real-time conversations, and Obsidian has admitted that the three stances players can choose from are based on the "three J.B.s." Thorton can be a suave agent like James Bond, a consummate pro like Jason Bourne, or an aggressive rogue like Jack Bauer. In all cases, Thorton could be described as a talented manipulator with a knack for staying under the radar. This is why he is recruited into Alpha Protocol to begin with. The organization was established for the purpose of performing covert operations, and Michael Thorton is tasked with stopping a conspiracy before a war breaks out.
Ninja Gaiden Series
Irene was Ryu's love interest in the original Ninja Gaiden and made an immediate impact by shooting the legendary ninja with a dart and capturing him. Working under the codename "Sea Swallow," Irene was an agent in the CIA's Secret Auxiliary Unit. She disobeyed her orders to kill Ryu after deciding that she'd rather bang him, but she deserves credit for her resolve. In the first Ninja Gaiden, she was kidnapped. In the second game, she was killed and brought back to life. In the third game, she fell off a cliff and was presumed dead before showing up unscathed in the final act. She refused to stay down! Irene re-emerged in Xbox 360 version of Ninja Gaiden II in 2004 under the alias Sonia. Her undercover work was so advanced that Sonia's true identity wasn't revealed until Dead or Alive: Dimensions was released seven years later.
Team Fortress 2
As a double reverse quadruple agent who can disguise himself as a spy disguised as another spy, the Spy is the most complex character in Team Fortress 2. The Team Fortress website describes him as "a puzzle, wrapped in an enigma, shrouded in riddles, lovingly sprinkled with intrigue, express mailed to Mystery, Alaska." With a penchant for sharp suits and even sharper knives, the Spy relies on stealth and trickery to aid his team. He can render himself invisible, fake his own death, and disguise himself in order to blend in while working behind enemy lines. Unlike other classes in the game, the Spy can see the names and health of the enemy team. If gathering information about his enemies gets boring, the Spy can always choose to dispose of them with his devastating "backstab" technique.
Resident Evil Series
Ada Wong is an industrial spy and a trained assassin. Her duplicitous nature makes it impossible to tell whose side she's really on. In Resident Evil 2 she meets up with a rookie cop named Leon and plays him like a fiddle for the entire game in order to retrieve a virus sample for the nefarious Umbrella Corporation. When she meets up with Leon again in Resident Evil 4, she is revealed to be an operative for yet another evil organization. Spies often have to use sex appeal to get what they want, but Ada outright ignores Leon's obvious interest. She has him wrapped around her finger and she doesn't even have to try. Ada occasionally shows her compassionate side and saves Leon's life at one point by giving him a rocket launcher, but she has a habit of taking what she wants and then making her escape with her trademark grappling gun.
Perfect Dark Series
Joanna Dark's initial design was not unlike Emma Peel of The Avengers in that she was depicted as a feminist heroine who eschewed traditional portrayals of women. Her father trained her from a young age to fight and use firearms, and she eventually found employ as the Carrington Institute's top agent. Joanna has a wide range of technical skills at her disposal. She disarms bombs, hacks computers, and disables security systems. She's also a master of disguise and has the uncanny ability to use any weapon she comes across. She sometimes makes rash decisions that get her into trouble, but she's adaptive enough to become BFFs with an alien she meets at Area 51. Perfect Dark was the follow-up to GoldenEye, but Joanna deserves credit for being her own woman. James Bond is not an easy act to follow.
Splinter Cell Series
Sam worked as a CIA agent, spent years in the US Navy, and was involved in a number of unconventional conflicts during his extensive service career. His espionage training and tactical experience allowed him to succeed in covert missions all over the world. Sam is a lone wolf, but his abrasive and honest personality prevents him from being blinded by idealism. He's a man of few words who always works alone and almost exclusively at night. His trademark three-eyed night vision goggles may as well be permanently fastened to his head, and he's almost unrecognizable without them. Sam is a skills marksman, and expert at hand-to-hand combat, and an amazing athlete, but he prefers to use his powers of observation as a man who watches from the outside. It's no wonder why he has the reputation of being the ultimate predator.
No One Lives Forever
Fiercely intelligent and stunningly beautiful, Cate Archer is a groovy spy who embodies the best traits of 1960s spy fiction. As a child, Cate gained notoriety as a cat burglar and became known as "The Fox." Her considerable skills did not go unnoticed, and she eventually found herself acting as a covert operative for a British-based counter-terrorism organization called UNITY. Cate was the first female agent in the organization, and there is virtually no situation that she can't handle. During her various missions, she scuba dives to shipwrecks, free falls from airplanes. and explores space stations in zero gravity. She also makes use of a number of gadgets disguised as ordinary female fashion items. She's irresistibly sexy, but Cate carries herself with class and stands as one of the most headstrong heroines in all of gaming.
Metal Gear Series
Metal Gear is centered around the concept of "tactical espionage action" and helped popularize stealth-based mechanics in games, so it would have been a travesty if Solid Snake didn't land the number one position on this list. Snake was destined to become a world-class spy and born as part of a secret government project designed to create the perfect soldier. He's an expert at infiltration and can adapt to nearly any situation on the battlefield. Using a cardboard box to disguise yourself while sneaking around military bases sounds like a really bad idea, but it's a viable tactic when your as talented and resourceful as Solid Snake. The Metal Gear franchise is filled with spies, and Solid Snake's father could very well have taken his place on this list. At the end of the day, however, Solid Snake is still the face of the franchise.