Batman: Arkham Knight
The finale of the Batman series was pretty spectacular and a fitting end to the Arkham series. From the beautiful skyline right down to the infamous shot of the Batmobile’s glowing brake pad, Rocksteady polished that game… let’s not talk about the PC version though.
While the game had a ton of side quests, beautiful graphics, and a ton of our favorite Batman villains, the voice acting really stood out. Performances from the likes of Kevin Conroy (Batman), Steve Blum (Militia), Mark Hamill (The Joker), and, of course, Troy Baker (Harvey Dent / Two-Face / Jason Todd / Red Hood / Arkham Knight) really brought Arkham and its inhabitants to life. The performances of Conroy and Hamill in particular in Arkham Knight are two which, when brought into context of the game’s story, really hit a home-run. Each and every voice actor who performed in Arkham Knight plays a large part in bringing that game to life. Be it all the chatter that you hear on the militia radio as you glide through Arkham city, or the gravity in Batman’s voice as he begins to realize the predicament he’s facing in this final night; each and every character emphasizes the significance of what’s being played out through the story.
Gears of War
The Gears of War series is known quite notoriously for its action figure-esque characters. Bulging muscles and chainsaw bayonets are the order of the day, but lying beyond all this is a growing bond between Delta squad.
John DiMaggio, Carlos Ferro, Fred Tatasciore and Lester Speight as Marcus, Dom, Baird, and Cole bring true character to these meat-heads that we would have otherwise not really cared about. The banter among these characters in the heat of battle, Baird’s witty quips, and “COLE TRAIN BABY” brought a sense of realism to these characters that few other shooters can.
The Last of Us
The Last of Us was a spectacular swan song to the era of the PlayStation 3, and one of the best remasters to come to PlayStation 4. Telling a beautifully woven story crafted by the masterful staff at Naughty Dog, it was only fitting the game had a star studded cast of voice actors to fit.
Troy Baker (Joel), Ashley Johnson (Ellie), and Nolan North (David) all provide stellar performances that once again have you actually caring about the characters. You only need to take a look at The Last of Us Grounded, the behind-the-scenes documentary, to see how much these guys put into perfecting their characters. In particular the relationship between Troy and Ashley contributed greatly to the way the two characters excellently play off one another in game.
Had it not been for these guys, The Last of Us would have failed to adequately tell the story that Naughty Dog had so expertly crafted.
Far Cry 3
Far Cry 3 was one of the most memorable experiences of 2012. While some of the voice acting may have been hit and miss, Michael Mando’s performance as Vaas is one of the best examples out there.
Mando brought more than just a voice to the role. He brought skill and raw talent to create a completely believable psychotic villain. Mando’s audition completely changed the way that the development team perceived the villain, so much so that they wrote a completely new character to suit Mando and asked his help in creating Vaas. I don’t know about you guys but if that doesn’t epitomize superb voice acting and bringing believability to a role, then I don’t know what does.
Grand Theft Auto V
Shawn Fonteno, Ned Luke and Steven Ogg (Franklin, Michael, and Trevor respectively) – without these three guys, Grand Theft Auto V would lack the three infamous lead characters that we came to adore. Whether or not you related with one of the characters, you were bound to have fallen in love with one of them. Be it Trevor’s purely psychotic comments, Michael’s snarky quips, or Franklin arguing with Lamar, the voice actors once again brought realism to these avatars used to play out our actions in Los Santos.
Grand Theft Auto relies on the hustle and bustle of the game world, as if the world would carry on if you weren’t there. Without the voice acting of every single member of the cast on Grand Theft Auto V, that world would have felt bare and uninhabited. Voice actors brought Los Santos to life, and we’re so glad they did.
Bioshock Infinite was the long awaited finale to the Bioshock series… well the one’s created by Ken Levine anyway. The plotlines of the Bioshock series are what make them great, and arguably a generation defining series. The final game in the series, however, brought familiar face Troy Baker and Courtnee Draper to take the lead roles of Booker DeWitt and Elizabeth.
While Troy Baker definitely helped bring the complex tale of Booker DeWitt to life, it was Draper that gave an outstanding performance in Bioshock Infinite. Elizabeth is a character that develops as you progress through the story of Infinite, and her mischievous and naive nature to the world is reflected perfectly in the voice acting of Draper. Elizabeth was fully realized by Draper, and her curiosity of a world she had never been able to explore before was brought to life through the voice acting.
What makes an adventurer? A fearless nature, an inquisitive mind, and if Nolan North’s Nathan Drake is anything to go by, a bucket load of charm.
Nathan Drake is one of those characters that you love, he complains about the fact he goes on these adventures but can’t help but to get further enveloped into the plot. While he may complain about the circumstances he’s got himself into, Drake is at his best in the middle of an adventure, and this is captured by North.
Ultimately the significance of North’s performance in driving the story forward is amplified through the supporting cast. All of the voice actors have made their characters feel human, through one particular characteristic or trait that makes them easy to relate to. It’s because of these stellar performances that Uncharted’s characters seem well aware of the situation and deliver a brilliantly written script crafted by Amy Hennig.
Mass Effect 3
Mass Effect as a series had such a large cast of main and supporting characters that it would have been easy for each character to seem generic and uninspired. However, to the credit of each and every voice actor, the delivery of the lines was superb.
Each voice actor seemed to understand what their characters were about and their motives for their actions. It wouldn’t be fair to pass Mass Effect without giving a special mention to Jennifer Hale, who captured the fearless and powerful personality of the female version of Commander Shephard.
Metal Gear Solid
It wouldn’t have been fair to write this list and not include Metal Gear Solid. Since 1998, when David Hayter first began voicing Solid Snake, he defined the lead character with his deep and gravelly voice.
Although he did not return to the series for one final outing as Snake in Phantom Pain, Hayter will always be credited with exploring the complexities of one of video games’ most popular characters. While Solid Snake seems a hardened soldier on the battlefield, Hayter explored the more emotional aspects of everyone’s favorite stealth soldier and portrayed these perfectly. Had it not been for Hayter, we may never have truly understood that middle-aged man hiding under cardboard boxes. And that would have been a real shame.
Anything Troy Baker Has Done… Ever
It had to be done, and we’re sorry! But Mr. Troy Baker is responsible for a lot of the performances in your favorite triple A titles of recent years. Yes he’s already been mentioned in our list a couple times for his excellent performances, but Baker’s inclusion is more than just a joke. He reflects the significance of voice actors within the industry. Taking a look through Baker’s IMDB listings you get an idea of how much these guys get around.
- Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (Talion)
- Infamous: Second Son & First Light (Delsin Rowe)
- Batman: Arkham Origins (The Joker)
- Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (Jack Mitchell and additional voices)
- Bioshock Infinite (Booker DeWitt)
- The Last of Us (Joel)
- Lego Marvel Super Heroes (Fandral/ Groot/ Hawkeye and more)
- Elder Scrolls Online (additional voices)
- Skylanders: Trap Team (Brock, Rattle Shake, Sunburn)
Be it a serious, more mature role such as Talion in Shadow of Mordor, or the child-friendly characters of Skylanders, voice actors bring characters to life and make them so much more than a bunch of pretty polygons on your screen. While we agree that some characters should be left voiceless (we’re looking at you Sonic), many games owe a lot to their voice actors.