Friday, 3 June 2011

Favourite Voice Actors/Characters

I’ve often said I love great voice-acting, so here’s a list of half a dozen or so that I think are particularly good, in no particular order. There are some spoilers for Metal Gear Solid, Dragon Age: Origins and Uncharted/Uncharted 2.

Cam Clarke and David Hayter as Liquid and Solid Snake in Metal Gear Solid

Metal Gear Solid is one of those games that became a benchmark for the genre and something its rivals aspired to match. Part of the reason was the engaging and original characters, most notably the protagonist, Solid Snake, and his evil twin brother, Liquid Snake.

I’ve paired the two up because the two characters are partly defined in contrast to one another, and the plot is about their battle. Liquid is the more confident (and arrogant) of the two, whereas Solid is a hardnosed but essentially good man. Hayter turns in the first of several engaging performances as Solid Snake, which is tinged with vulnerability in both a military (he gets captured and tortured) and emotional sense (regarding Meryl).

In many ways I actually preferred Liquid. Whilst undoubtedly evil and a bit full of himself, he’s also the more confident and proactive of the two. It’s a shame Cam Clarke never (save for a brief cameo in MGS2) reprised the role.

Simon Templeman as Loghain in Dragon Age: Origins

There are a ton of great performances in Dragon Age: Origins, but none can match the nigh on perfect Loghain, voiced by Simon Templeman. Loghain is a great general and patriot who consider the King to be a bloody fool. Ambition outweighs his loyalty and he takes a strategic decision to leave the King to die.

Loghain’s a complex character, and it can be hard to tell whether he puts his own desire for the throne or his wish to serve and protect Ferelden first. He’s egged on by the black-hearted Arl Howe, a little like Grima Wormtongue to his King Theoden. Templeman puts in a stellar performance, lending Loghain a voice of authority, certainty and arrogance. He can become a companion, or be killed, and makes a cameo appearance in Dragon Age: Awakenings if the former is chosen.

Corinne Kempa as Leliana in Dragon Age: Origins

Excepting Wynne (who was a tedious nagging old woman), I liked every companion in Origins, but Leliana was undoubtedly my favourite. She has a rather lovely French accent and a sweet, flirty character. Kempa’s voice is as pleasant and relaxing as a long hot bath, and Leliana offers plenty of opportunity for fruity conversation.

She was originally a rogue in Orlais, but was betrayed by her lover and went to Ferelden to seek sanctuary in the Chantry, which is where the player finds her. As such, she’s dutiful and devout but with a slightly naughty streak.

Happily, I suspect she’ll return in DA3 (which is interesting, as it’s possible to kill her in Origins).

Claudia Black as Chloe Frazer in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Chloe’s an interesting character, and quite hard to pigeonhole. She’s a confident and saucy minx, but doesn’t fall into the videogame trap of being a stereotypical randy Mandy in a chainmail bikini (although that would’ve been an interesting skin option).

Drake, despite being the protagonist, is often bossed about by her, and she’s a sly she-devil. Black does a great job of providing her character with intelligence and complexity, making her a fully rounded and three-dimensional lady.

Nolan North as Drake in the Uncharted series

Drake is a hugely likeable character, reminiscent of Indiana Jones and an improvement on Lara Croft. He’s a tomb raider (ahem) with a penchant for witty one-liners, lovely ladies, shady associates and occasionally buggering things up.

North’s performances as Drake manage to balance the character’s competence and charm with a few weak spots. He’s not a two-dimensional superhuman, and does make bad judgement calls at times. I can take or leave the tomb raider genre, but the top notch voice-acting (aided by the excellent gameplay) is what draws me to Uncharted.


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