Hollywood In Gaming: Voice Actors You Might Have Heard

Hello, and welcome back to Listen Up! Today I’d like to focus on some of the voices I’ve heard during my gaming, specifically those provided by the best of Hollywood. Again, I may talk about things that may reveal some story points of some games, so be warned!

Starting way back on PS1, voice acting became an important part of making a game. If there are lines to be said, why not have someone say them? Granted, some franchises have been successful without voice acting in their cutscenes. Hell, Zelda has barely said anything more than "Hey!" However, most franchises have integrated voice acting into their game plan, a very smart and successful addition indeed. Would Final Fantasy X’s story have had the same impact on gamers if you read every line? Would Metal Gear Solid 4 have been the giant of ’08 that it was if the subtitles were it? Even the ending of The World Ends With You was made better with someone speaking the lines, despite the gamer reading the majority of the game’s script.

It is easy to see the impact of voices in games, but those voices are made even better when you recognize them. Celebrity contributions, when done well of course, not only add to the gaming experience, but they make the game seem more a part of pop culture. Hearing Kiefer Sutherland scream orders at you in Call of Duty: World at War brought a lot more urgency to the game than an unknown voice off the street. Some examples of well done celebrity voice acting:

Billy Zane as Ansem (Kingdom Hearts)

(skip to 1:57)
The main villain of Kingdom Hearts is a rather sadistic individual on his own, but his ruthlessness is made all the more apparent by Billy Zane’s excellent voice acting. Billy added a sense of pure evil to Ansem’s speech, making him sound both eloquent and dangerous at the same time. Zane’s voice adds a level of creepiness to the villian, a level that wouldn’t be possible without him. The line that sticks out of me is at 2:53, in response to Sora saying he’ll find other worlds: "A meaningless effort. One who knows nothing can understand nothing." The delivery of this line sent chills down my spine the first time I heard it. Ansem is basically telling this young kid "Okay, bring it. You can’t stop me, no one can. What are you going to do?" Zane was a PERFECT selection for this role unlike some of the other choices (Lance Bass as Sephiroth…).

Seth Green as Jeff "Joker" Moreau (Mass Effect)
(skip to 1:01)
Joker is a smarmy, sarcastic pilot who flies the Normandy at Commander Shepard’s beckon call. He’s quick with a joke, but he’s also one of the smartest and most capable pilots on the ship, despite not even being able to walk. Who better to call to voice this guy than Seth Green, whose supplies multiple voices for shows like Family Guy and Robot Chicken? Green’s comedic spin on Joker’s sarcastic wit adds some much needed comic relief to a long adventure like Mass Effect. Most of the time, talking to Joker would calm me down after a particularly hectic mission, and without Seth Green as the voice behind him, that wouldn’t be possible.
Samuel L Jackson as Officer Frank Tenpenny (Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas)
Perhaps the most famous celebrity to lend his voice to gaming aside from Kiefer, Samuel L Jackson brings life to CJ’s nemesis, the corrupt Officer Tenpenny. Jackson takes the "corrupt cop" theme and takes it to a whole new level. I remember doing the missions for Tenpenny and seriously being afraid of what the man had cooked up. Hearing Jackson’s voice come through the speakers, barking orders as if I was one of his rookies, was truly an awesome feeling. San Andreas was an amazing game, one of the best in the franchise, but for me, Tenpenny, and Jackson, made then game. In my opinion, without Jackson behind Tenpenny, the entire character falters, becoming almost too over the top to be believable.
Voice acting is an important part of gaming now, it’s no secret. If the voice behind the character is strong and well-acted, then the story is more interesting and the game vaults from being a potentially good game to a great one.
Wanna know next week’s column focus? I have a hint for you…
The center of my next column will be a man who initials make the name of a blue creature with long arms in Chrono Trigger.
Can’t guess? Here’s a sample:
Until next week…
Keep listening. You never know what you could be missing. 


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Author: Jason Fanelli View all posts by
Jason lives and breathes gaming. Legend tells that he taught himself to read using Wheel of Fortune Family Edition on the NES. He's been covering this industry for three years, all with the Node, and you can see his ugly mug once a week on Hot Off The Grill.

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