May 31 2012
Devil May Cry – 2001
I will totally pwn you at Beatles Rock Band.
Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. This is not a stellar example of great writing or great acting, but I do think it fits comfortably in the “pretty good” category. There’s an overarching storyline, the characters embark on an emotional journey, a lot of attention was paid to making the movements of the musical score match and compliment what was being said in the cutscenes, and the actors sound like they’ve taken at least a few acting classes down at their local rec center.
Of course, they don’t hit every nail on the head:
What does a freelance writer have to do to get her article some LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIKES?!
Fallout 3 – 2008
I love you Fawkes. I don’t care what the new post-apocalyptic society thinks!
This is the first game where the voice acting was so good that it actually changed the way I played the game. Fallout 3 was the first sandbox style console game I ever bought. I had so many friends tell me they had spent hundreds of hours exploring the Capital Wasteland, aiding and fighting with its various inhabitants. I have a tendency to get completely engrossed in any form of escapism I indulge in—be it books, movies, television, and especially video games. So I avoided this (and Oblivion) like the plague. Finally, when it was just too cheap and had too many critical accolades to ignore, I picked it up.
And what should appear before my tiny, first-person baby eyes? A kindly bearded man named James. He was my dad, and he taught me the essentials for life, like how to move around and use VATS. He also gave me toys to play with and magical books that changed my stats. He threw a birthday party for me in an underground bunker, making the best of what was clearly shaping up to be a Lord of the Flies kind of situation. And then one day he just up and walked out of Vault 101 like a boss.
So I took after him like a shot. And finished the game in less than 6 hours. I got so attached to my in-game dad that I didn’t stop until I found him, eschewing any and all other wastelanders and their pleas for assistance. Why did I love the guy so much? Liam “Official BAMF” Neeson. When voiced by Neeson, James becomes a helluva dad. He’s kind. He’s warm. He’s smart. He’s often funny. And he has a very particular set of skills; skills he has acquired over a very long career. Skills that make him a nightmare for people who kidnap me in Paris.
Further voice acting shout-outs go to Malcolm McDowell, Ron Perlman, and several other talented actors for coming correct to the Bethesda studios. The vocal work is not 100% awesome across the board, which is why Fallout 3 occupies the second-to-last spot on my list, but it’s pretty damn close. I’ve never been so satisfied to leave so many sidequests unfinished before completing the game and starting over with a new character.
Listen Dad, you should really see my apartment in Tenpenny Tower. Worth it.
Portal 2 – 2011
Greatest. Family portrait. Ever.
To me, Portal 2 is a perfect video game. I prefer to take Portal and Portal 2 as a set, but if you have a gun to my head and say, “Hey! I’m the kind of sociopath who holds guns to people’s heads just so I can get an accurate assessment of their likes and dislikes. What’s the single most perfect video game, in your opinion?” I’m going to pick Portal 2. Everything about this game is on point, from premise to script to gameplay to graphics to music and of course, to the voice acting.
If Portal 2 is a god, than Ellen McLain is our GlaDOS, full of grace. This woman is a flat-out fantastic voice actor. Someone came to her when they were making Portal and said, “We need someone who can figure out a way to blend subtle sarcasm and humor into the auditory tutorial instructions for this video game we’re developing, because it’s going to turn out that she’s the villain of the piece. Oh yeah, she’s also a robot.” And McLain was like “Bitch, please.” I quote GlaDOS endlessly in mixed company, because invariably someone will quote her right back to me and then boom! It’s awesome conversation time. Portal 2 added Stephen Merchant (Wheatley) and J.K. Simmons (CEO Cave Johnson) to the mix, and I was convinced for two weeks that I had died and gone to heaven, in spite of my best efforts back on Earth.
I can’t even add anything more about how good the voice work is, so I’ll let the actors and the game speak for itself. This is my favorite video on all the interwebz. Bookmark it my friends, so you may return to its glory whenever you need.
Wherever you can look—wherever there’s a fight, so hungry people can eat, this video will be there. Wherever there’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, this video will be there. It’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad. It’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry and they know supper’s ready, and when the people are eatin’ the stuff they raise and livin’ in the houses they build—it’ll be there, too.
How about you guys? Played any games with good or bad voice acting lately? Leave me links, you miserable little piles of secrets! But enough talk, have at you!
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