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Gears of War, Xbox 360, 2006
Wretch – 10,000 polygons with 2x 2k diffuse, specular and normal maps
Boomer – 11,000 polygons with 2x 2kdiffuse, specular and normal maps
Marcus – 15,000 polygons with 2x 2k diffuse, specular and normal maps
These are highest LODs, for cutscenes, not the in-game versions which are around 5,000 polys and with no more than 5 lights per area

Resident Evil 4, Gamecube, 2005
Leon – 10,000 polygons (no per pixel lighting, specular defined in alpha of diffuse texture)

Lost planet, X360/PC, 2007
Wayne – 12392 polygons

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, PS3 2007
Drake – 30,000 polygons, including 3,000 for his hair!

Oblivion : 8,000 polygons for its character

As the guys say, there is no fixed limit – just good guidelines depending on the engine and type of game. If you’re looking to do some low poly work for your reel, stick to a budget of 5k polys per character, and use 1024 textures.