They're the voice, try and understand it
They lend a human voice to some of our favourite videogame characters. But more importantly, they bring personality and emotion to their non-breathing pixelated alter egos.
We’ve cried with them, laughed with them, and hated them. In this Top 5 round-up, we tip our hats to some of the best voice actors in the profession.
Jennifer Hale – Commander Shepard (female version) in Mass Effect
“What sound will you make when you hit the ground? You think you'll hear it before you die?“
Female voice actors have to work hard to get noticed in a testosterone-dominated industry where male leads are typical. However Hale has carved out an impressive niche with her work in gaming, including Naomi Hunter from Metal Gear Solid, Samus Aran of Metroid, and Bastila Shan in Knights of the Old Republic. But she will probably be best remembered for her tough-as-nails, emotionally charged performance as the female Commander Shepard from the Mass Effect trilogy.
She also deserves mad props for her repertoire of Marvel characters, lending her versatile vocal chords to Rogue, Jean Grey, Scarlet Witch and Black Cat over the years.
Andy Serkis – King Bohan (Heavenly Sword)
“You're a complete waste of air! What do I need to do to make you understand, eh? Do I need to... kill your pets?”
When he’s not jumping around as an ape or surrounded by Hobbits, the lovable Serkis has been involved in a handful of videogames. His motion capture capabilities are some of the best in the world and have been put to good use in game development.
But in the recording studio, Serkis delivered stunning performances in Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, Risen, and most memorable of all, as Heavenly Sword's King Bohan. His delivery in this cut-scene near the end of the game sends a shiver down my spine every time I hear it.
Nolan North – er, just name it
“You are so smug, you know that? You think the whole world revolves around ya.”
He’s like the Nicolas Cage of voice acting and appears in pretty much every release under the sun. Some will argue that he should be higher up this list. But being prolific isn’t necessarily a good thing. It’s starting to get to the point now where he’s the ‘go to guy’ for heroic vocals.
Sure, he deserves admiration for bringing life into Nathan Drake from Uncharted, Desmond from Assassins Creed, and Captain Martin Walker in Spec Ops: The Line. But North’s filmography spans over 120 videogames, from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Final Fantasy through to Saints Row and the new Transformers games. Heck, he was even a defective turret in Portal 2! He’s a talented bastard, but his manly tones are getting too familiar - which takes away from any immersion in a game.
Mark Hamill – the Joker (Batman Arkham Asylum / City)
“I killed your girlfriend, poisoned Gotham and hell, it's not even breakfast.”
He’s come a long way since waving a lightsaber around and crying for his daddy. In fact Hamill’s voice performance for the Joker is so fiendishly perfect that many can’t believe it’s the same actor who played Luke Skywalker all those years ago.
Hamill has had years of practice to perfect the twisted cackle of the Joker, lending his voice to Caped Crusader’s arch-nemesis back in the nineties for the animated TV shows of Batman. However his performance in Rocksteady’s Arkham Asylum and later Arkham City are worthy of golden thespian accolades. Oh and yes, we know - bloody Nolan North had a hand in Arkham City too (he was Penguin and Black Mask).
Stephen Merchant – Wheatley, Portal 2
“That could split like a melon from this height... definitely focus on landing with your legs.”
It helps that Portal 2 was one of the best games of 2011. But anyone who played it will attest that one of the highlights was Wheatley – the frantically awkward robot voiced by none other than the brilliant Stephen Merchant (Ricki Gervais’ writing partner for The Office and Extras).
Merchant spent around sixteen hours recording lines for the game and was given freedom to improvise with his witty banter. The results speak for themselves (pun intended) and Wheatley was pure comedy gold. It also gave the Portal franchise a whole new dimension in character development - a feature that only complemented its already outstanding gameplay.
Other worthy mentions: Patrick Stewart (as Emperor Uriel Septim VII - The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion), Nolan North again (just because we feel bad putting him at number 3), Samuel L. Jackson (officer Tenpenny – GTA: San Andreas), Ice Cube (Griffin from Gears of War), David Hayter (Snake – Metal Gear Solid)
Any others we missed? Let us know by using your meat-digits and typing a comment below...