I’ve been thinking about the audio tracks in video games lately, touting for the last two weeks that there isn’t nearly enough attention paid to game music while pointing out some of my favorite examples of the under-appreciated genre.
This week I’m going to keep the audio theme going, but this time by focusing on something that gets even less recognition — great voice acting. Admittedly, most voice actors these days aren’t great. Not that they’re necessarily bad, their efforts don’t really do anything to make the game’s story more enjoyable. The surprising popularity of silent protagonists doesn’t help, either.
That’s where the following talents come in. Aside from being attached to some of the most compelling narratives that the gaming medium has to offer, their efforts helped make the characters that they portrayed some of our favorites ever.
Amongst the other entries on this list, Serkis has the fewest video game credits under his belt, and by a considerable margin. Still, the few games that he has done have been worthwhile efforts on his part.
Serkis is perhaps better known for his phenomenal work as Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and as Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Those talents translated beautifully when it was time to motion capture his roles in both of Ninja Theory’s games. As King Bohan in Heavenly Sword he was a merciless, murderous ruler, and as Monkey in Enslaved he was Trip’s tough but lovable bodyguard. In both games, the direction and motion capture was head and shoulders above what you see in most video games, and Serkis stole the show each time.
While he’s gone back to playing the role of Gollum for the upcoming Hobbit films, here’s hoping that he can lend his services to a game in the future.
People like to make jokes about Nolan North being in approximately 10 games per week (and more on him soon), but Jennifer Hale isn’t far behind — she’s got an impressive 130 credits under her belt. But with the amount of great performances that she’s given us over the years, is that really a bad thing? I think not.
While her resume is peppered with plenty of licensed and kids’ games, her best work is arguably more impressive than anyone else’s on this list. Her first great role was as Dr. Naomi Hunter in Metal Gear Solid, a role that carried on to Metal Gear Solid 4. Then she took on the part of Samus Aran in the Metroid Prime series, giving a voice to one of gaming’s strongest (and formerly silent) protagonists. Currently, she’s voicing galactic savior Commander Shepard in the Mass Effect series, in my opinion doing a far better job than her male counterpart.
Above: I don’t care for the title of the clip, but it’s a great example of FemShep being just as, if not more so, badass and authoritative as ManShep.
She’s also had roles in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Brütal Legend, several Spider-Man and SOCOM games, Bulletstorm, and Gears of War 3. To say that she keeps busy is putting it very, very lightly.
David Hayter has 15 credits to his name, and all but one falls under the same iconic role: the gravel-throated, super-soldier clone Solid Snake. Well, also Snake’s test-tube father Big Boss, aka Naked Snake.
Solid Snake was a badass well before 1998’s Metal Gear Solid. On the old MSX computer game system, he infiltrated Big Boss’s fortresses at Outer Heaven and Zanzibarland, taking out equally-capable super soldiers and Metal Gears along the way. Simply put, Hayter had his work cut out for him.
After about 10 years of a silent Snake, Hayter managed to make him sound like he could take on anything with his pack-a-day pipes, yet was believable when he started going off on nuclear proliferation. Lots and lots of nuclear proliferation. Or nanomachines. Or the La-Li-Lu-Le-Lo. Or showed a genuine interest in Mei Ling’s Chinese proverbs.