Sunday, August 21, 2011

Best Voice Actors in Gaming

Making the look for a great and iconic character in gaming is one thing, but it is the voice that can truly bring characters to life. While many appreciate a good looking game with stylish gameplay, I am always impressed when a voice actor can really deliver a performance that not only powers the story, but leaves me in anticipation of their next lines of dialogue. Here are a few of the voice actors that lend their voice to the gaming industry the most, and excel with each new character.

Nolan North

Notable Work:
  • Nathan Drake - (Uncharted, Uncharted 2)
  • Desmond Mile - (Assassin's Creed, Assassin's Creed II, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood)
  • The Prince - (Prince of Persia - 2008)
  • Space Core / Fact Core / Adventure Core - (Portal 2)
  • Nathan Drake - (Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception)
  • The Penguin - (Batman: Arkham City)

It is not a voice actor list without first mentioning the man himself; Nolan North. If you check his IMDB, the list is endless of various games/cartoons/animated shorts that he has loaned his voice to, showcasing his ability to adapt to a multitude of roles; be it the cocky hero or dastardly villain. His most iconic role of Nathan Drake made him a personal favorite of gamers everywhere. No other voice actor could have fit the role better, as Nolan brought Nathan Drake's witty, charismatic personality to life through his carefully timed voice delivery and mocap. Chances are that if you have ever played a video game, you have heard the him in some role.

Jennifer Hale

Notable Work:
  • Commander Shepard (Female) - (Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2)
  • Ophelia - (Brutal Legend)
  • Trishka - (Bulletstorm)
  • Bastilla - (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic)
  • Commander Shepard (Female) - (Mass Effect 3)
  • Satele Shan - (Star Wars the Old Republic)
Jennifer Hale is a female juggernaut of voice acting. With a hefty amount of cartoons and animated features under her belt, she also sports a slew of video games characters. Her role of Bastilla in KoToR stuck with me the most, as her voice exemplified the confident, yet caring nature of the Jedi who stood by your side. There is an unmistakable inflection in her voice that makes her noticeable and easy to identify, yet it never detracts from making each character she portrays different and unique.

Ali Hillis

Notable Work:
  • Dr. Liara Tsoni - (Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2)
  • Lightning - (Final Fantasy XIII)
  • Dr. Ariel Hanson - (Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty)
Upcoming Work:
  • Dr. Liara Tsoni - (Mass Effect 3)
  • Lightning - (Final Fantasy XIII-2)
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic

Leading her voice to such games as Mass Effect and Final Fantasy XIII, Ali Hillis is a stand out among gaming voice talent. Her role of Dr. Liara Tsoni in the Mass Effect titles was the most impressive, as the lower register in her voice leaves a seductive, yet innocent tone to the character. Her portrayal of Lightning was equally affected by this lower voice, in providing a stern and strong female lead.

Troy Baker

Notable Work:
  • Snow - (Final Fantasy XIII)
  • Vincent Brooks - (Catherine)
  • Alec Mason - (Red Faction Guerilla )
Upcoming Work:
  • Two-Face - (Batman: Arkham City)
  • Booker Dewitt - (Bioshock: Infinite)
After making a mark in cartoons, Troy Baker has steadily emerged as a gaming voice regular. His lively, eccentric voice breathes life into every character he portrays. His performance as Snow from Final Fantasy XIII proved to be one of the best in the game, as the typical hero showed signs of losing hope through well delivered dialogue. With his future appearance as the lead role in Bioshock: Infinite, he is sure to become even more well known and appreciated.

Jen Taylor

Notable Work:
  • Cortana - (Halo, Halo 2, Halo 3)
  • Princess Peach - (Everything Since Mario Kart)
  • Zoe - (Left 4 Dead, Left 4 Dead 2)

Upcoming Work:
  • Cortana - (Halo 4)
Turning words into a savory song, Jen Taylor has one of those voices that can make you melt. Her iconic role of Cortana showcased her ability to transform an AI, something assumed so boring and monotone in every form of media, into one of the most charismatic leads of the Halo story. She even became a personal favorite choice in Left 4 Dead for her lively portrayal of Zoe. 

Claudia Black

Notable Work:
  • Morrigan - (Dragon Age: Origins)
  • Chloe - (Uncharted 2)
  • Admiral Daro'Xen vas Moreh - (Mass Effect 2)
Upcoming Work:
  • Chloe - (Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception)
  • Sam Byrne - (Gears of War 3)
Claudia Black's Australian dialect is easy to recognize, and always vivacious. Her portrayal of Chloe in Uncharted 2 was a welcome addition, but it was her role as Morrigan that made her stand out the most. Here was a character that was morally gray and seemed out for herself, yet was given a hint of compassion that was amplified by Claudia's delivery.

Steve Blum

Notable Work:
  • Grayson Hunt - (Bulletstorm)
  • Grunt - (Mass Effect 2)
  • Jack Cayman - (Madworld)
Upcoming Work:
  • Grunt - (Mass Effect 3)
  • King Bouris Ulgo  - (Star Wars: The Old Republic)
Another titan in voice work, Steve Blum's rugged voice can make an incredible impact in a character. The gritty register has empowered foul-mouthed mercenaries like Grayson Hunt, but still differentiate from the cooler, collected nature of Jack Cayman. With an impressive IMDB roster and an infinite amount of possibilities ahead, Steve Blum is a welcome addition to the list.

Quinton Flynn

Notable Work:
  • Axel - (Kingdom Hearts II)
  • Prince Kael'thas Sunstrider - (World of Warcraft)
  • Raiden - (Metal Gear Solid 2, Metal Gear Solid 4)
Upcoming Work:
  • Raiden - (Metal Gear Solid: Rising
  • Silver the Hedgehog - (Sonic Generations)
With another distinguishable voice, Quinton Flynn is able to breathe life into each character he backs. His most iconic role as Raiden from the Metal Gear Solid series produced a notable change from the second to the fourth installment, and Quinton's performance helped to showcase it vocally. With a voice tailored to animation, he is yet another addition to the list that is well worth a nod.

Robin Downes

Notable Work:
  • Doc/ Various- (Bulletstorm)
  • Medic - (Team Fortress 2)
  • Sagacious Zu - (Jade Empire)
  • Travis Touchdown - (No more Heroes)
Upcoming Work:
  • Talbot - (Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception)
  • Joseph Capelli - (Resistance 3)
Not only can he give a personality to a doctorial profession in Team Fortress 2, but the man's IMDB showcases a multitude of roles over several years of gaming. He is most known for being the voice behind Travis Touchdown, where even his vulgar words made necks explode. To transition to that from his calmer role of Sagacious Zu, backs his ability to adapt to any role.

Honorable Mentions

Mark Hamil

Notable Work:
  • The Joker - (Batman: Arkham Asylum)
  • The Watcher - (Darksiders)
Upcoming Work:
  • The Joker - (Batman: Arkham City)
David Hayter

Notable Work:
  • Solid Snake - (Metal Gear Solid series)
Upcoming Work:
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic

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