Video games aren’t known for their amazing acting. This short introduction for the first Resident Evil game should prove just how truly awful game acting was:
Ah, memories. Anyway, this article is not about embarrassing game designers, but by celebrating some of the better game performances we have seen in the last few years. This isn’t necessarily talking about the best actors to be in a game though. Sure, I was psyched that Liam Neeson was in Fallout 3, but he hardly overworked himself with the vocal work. No, these are the performances in games that I truly believe deserve a round of applause.
3 – STEPHEN FRY – FABLE 2 AND 3
The Fable series boasts a wide range of British actors who try their hand at voice work in video games. Some of the voices you may recognise in the game belong to Simon Pegg, John Cleese and even Michael Fassbender. However, the actor who put the most work into his role, in my opinion, is Stephen Fry, as the menacing Reaver.
Stephen Fry is a good actor, but, in all honesty, he hardly looks threatening. In movies, we usually see him play the fed-up genius or English gentlemen, normally only appearing for a short amount of screen time. However, when we are just given his voice, we realise just how good a villain Stephen Fry can give us. Reaver is the kind of villain, who kills off innocent civilians out of pure boredom, but he does it in such a comical nature, it is so hard to hate him. It shows us a whole new side of the actor and in a way, Stephen Fry has become the face of the series.
An interesting part about his character is that we play with him and against him. In Fable 2, we are forced to fight alongside him and we end up seeing him as a sort of antihero. Then, when in Fable 3, he is reintroduced as a corrupt official, we are shocked to remember that, despite liking him, he is, at the end of the day, a nasty piece of work. It brings out some interesting sides to the game and the character, yet despite the evil of his character, Fry never loses touch of the game’s farcical tone.
2 – AARON STATON – LA NOIRE
LA Noire changed the way games think about acting in a game. In order to fully express this idea of using a suspect’s body language to catch him out, the developers needed to look into motion capture technology. This means that when one of the characters in a game moves a muscle, that is the actor acting. Just like in a movie, an actor can use his or her eyebrows, mouth or any minute part of the body to enhance the performance.
Heading this new movement of acting in games was Aaron Staton as the eager detective Cole Phelps. Staton performs the character amazingly well, really capturing the noir tone that the game was going for. Just to get a sense of how well this technology worked around the actor, quickly check out a photo of the actor on Google Images. The resemblance between the animated Staton and the actual actor is uncanny. It truly is a fantastic step forward in how far we can take acting in a video game. Hopefully, this will be the end of dreadful voiceovers.
It’s not just this new technology though, it is the idea of controlling your character’s choices throughout the game. It is insanely difficult for an actor to portray a character that can be taken in any direction. Staton could have an idea of the character being a calm, collected cop, only for a player out there to decide that he wants Phelps to spend the game, shouting and drunkenly raving at every witness on the case. It is the equivalent of a character in a famous series being ruined by a change in writing style, only there is a definite chance this will happen. There is always going to be a bored twelve year old out there, who just hammers any old dialogue option. Staton handles the challenge well, keeping a grounded idea of who Phelps is, but allowing the player to fill in the gaps.
1 – MARK HAMILL IN ARKHAM ASYLUM AND CITY
However, there was no contest for who gave the best video game performance ever. Mark Hamill reprises the role of the terrifying Joker in the Batman game series and does the role justice. People may rave about Heath Ledger’s take on the Joker, but, in my opinion, you cannot beat Mark Hamill, when he is given the right script to take the character to his dark depths.
And there is pages and pages of dialogue to get through. To keep the game from getting dull, the Joker is constantly taunting Batman through the PA system in the Asylum, allowing for the actor to deliver some terrific monologues. Batman fans could not be disappointed by the performance. One of the best parts of the game is listening to the Joker go off on a tangent, threaten his guards or sometimes just break into a creepy song at the end of the game’s credits. If you still haven’t bought this game, do it! Mark Hamill will not disappoint.