Behind all great characters in games lie hard-working actors that bring them to life. Here are some of the overlooked celebrity-status actors that have lent their voice talents to some of the most memorable characters in gaming.
Ron Pearlman – Narrator – Fallout Series
The classic intro-outro phrase “War, war never changes, ” well-known by all Fallout fans, is brought to you by none other than Ron Pearlman. Many of you may not recognize his name, but when I say Hellboy, I’m sure you know who I’m talking about. Ron has narrated nearly all the Fallout games and has solidified the catch phrase in the series’ history. Ron has also lent his voice to a multitude of other games including Halo 2 and 3 where he takes on the persona of Lord Terrence Hood.
Elijah Wood – Spyro the Dragon – Legend of Spyro Trilogy
Most famous for his role as everyone’s favorite melodramatic Hobbit, Elijah Wood has set down the ring from time to time to try his luck at voice-over acting. Elijah is the voice of the iconic Spyro the Dragon for the Legend of Spyro trilogy reboot. His uplifting and childlike voice brought a certain level of charisma to the purple lizard and helped to develop the cool, laid-back, and likable nature that Spyro always possessed. Most recently Elijah has also lent his voice to God of War 3 as Deimos and to Lego The Lord of the Rings as, you’ve guessed it, Frodo.
Samuel L. Jackson – Officer Tenpenny – Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
The main antagonist for San Andreas obviously needed someone of a high caliber to voice him, so Rockstar Games somehow got the main man himself, Mr. L Jackson. Easily recognizable from his trademark commanding character voice, Jackson produces a slick and cruel voice to portray Tenpenny’s nature admirably. A corrupt cop that’s infecting the city one cop at a time, he has to be voiced by the biggest badass in show business.
Sean Bean – Martin Septim – Oblivion
You all probably recognize Sean Bean from his role as Lord Eddard Stark from the huge hit TV show Game of Thrones, but before he was lord of the North, he was dealing with Tamriel. He voices Martin Septim, son of the Emperor, a young lad who isn’t wholly smitten with his newfound destiny. His Yorkshire accent causes a few mispronunciations from time to time (Kvatch, not KUHvatch) but really lends itself to the medieval and fantasy universe of The Elder Scrolls, especially in his powerful speech before the final battle.
John DiMaggio – Marcus Fenix – Gears of War
John DiMaggio is best known for his voice talent as everyone’s favorite alcoholic robot ‘Bender’ in Matt Groening’s ‘Futurama’. What he’s also become well-known for is his role as Marcus Fenix in the hugely successful Gears of War trilogy. That’s right, they’re played by the same guy. In a situation where the world is coming to an end thanks to hordes of giant monsters, it’s quite comforting knowing you’re playing as an overly muscular soldier that survives on a diet of gravel and anger. That’s only made possible thanks to DiMaggio’s unique, rocky voice, perfect for our gruff protagonist. You certainly wouldn’t call him ‘Bender’ to his face.
John Goodman – Dan Hagar – Rage
One of the first individuals you meet in the post-apocalyptic world of Rage is Dan Hagar, voiced by one of my favorite actors ever, John Goodman. Renowned for his work in the Big Lebowski and voice acting as Sully in Monsters Inc., Goodman decided to delve into game acting for Bethesda’s Rage. He introduces you to the world of Rage and kits you up with the necessary skills and gear to survive. He often offers chat about the world in his bear-like tone, helping to set the wild atmosphere of Rage nicely.
Patrick Stewart – Uriel Septim – Oblivion
Back to Oblivion again and back to the all-star family, The Septims. This time it’s Martin’s father and the Emperor of Tamriel, Uriel Septim, voiced by none other than Patrick Stewart. Captain of the Enterprise has a brief yet powerful inning with Oblivion as the doomed Emperor who starts you on your quest to save the land. His voice creates scale and atmosphere many only hope to achieve. You FEEL the danger and believe what Uriel has to say, exactly what you want to achieve in a fictitious fantasy game. I found an exceptionally funny video on YouTube where someone has dubbed Uriel’s scene in Oblivion with samples of Patrick Stewarts voice from a multitude of appearances. Give it a watch if you fancy a chuckle.
This is my all time favorite game, and I remember how irritating it was trying to place the voice of Dad. With most things like that, the epiphany that it was Liam Neeson was a lot more exciting than it should have been, but nonetheless it’s a fine example of how important voice acting is. Neeson’s performance as Dad is perfect; his tone is caring and heartwarming in the early years, forceful and tactful when things go wrong. He creates a character that the players warm to and form a bond with. I mean, Christ, you spend the whole damn game looking for him, so why wouldn’t you be attached? The ending of the game is made all the more emotional because of Liam Neeson’s dialogue and adds so much to the emotional side of the intricate storyline. It’s nice to see that Zeus/Raz al Ghul/Qui Gon Ginn has a fatherly side that isn’t psychopathic.
It goes without saying that other people other than celebrities work extremely hard to bring the character in your games to life. Have you recognized a voice actor in one of your games? Share them in the comment section below.