In the lead-up to the game's release, publisher Activision was strangely quiet when it came to Black Ops' roster of Hollywood actors lending their talents to the game. A single press release was issued bringing attention to Gary Oldman and Ed Harris' participation, but that was about it.
No mention was made of the fact the game's main character, Alex Mason - who you hear not only during the game but in every cutscene as well - was being played by Australian actor Sam Worthington. That's a little weird, considering Worthington, who has starred in everything from Terminator Salvation to Clash of the Titans to Avatar in the last few years, is one of the biggest names on the planet at the moment.
Had I known, though, I may not have picked the game up. At all. Why? Because as someone who suffers from borderline obsessive-compulsive disorder when it comes to actors adopting foreign accents (Orlando Bloom gives me nightmares), I hate Sam Worthington that much. Not as a human being; I've never met the guy, so he could be a top bloke for all I know. But as an actor...egads.
Terminator, Avatar and now Black Ops, all ruined for me (Clash of the Titans being fine, since he maintains his native tongue) by Worthington's inability to maintain an American accent for even half a sentence. You may have noticed this yourself, but if you haven't, go play Black Ops again. Any level, doesn't matter, if you haven't picked it up within the first ten seconds of a level briefing you'll pick it up in the next ten.
He dips, like a rollercoaster, from a high-pitched American whine to a deep Australian drawl, sometimes sentence-to-sentence, sometimes within the same sentence. Is it that hard to do an American accent? Every other Australian working in Hollywood can manage it. Same for the British. And last I checked, there were even a few Americans around the movie scene who are capable of an American accent.
It's more than a pet peeve for me as far as movies go, too, as it continually broke my experience with Black Ops. As we saw last week, it's a game whose enjoyment in the singleplayer form is almost entirely dependent on you being ushered through its gunfights by its scripting, keeping you immersed in its glorified turkey shoot long enough to get to the end of a level before the magic wears off.
Feature an actor who can't hold the simplest of accents for longer than three seconds, though, and that immersion is gone before the level is even started, my mind - which should be preoccupied with pretending its stuck in a tunnel in Vietnam - instead wondering how Worthington stood at a microphone, gave such a terrible performance and then looked up to see someone giving him an enthusiastic thumbs-up.
It's not a common way for someone's enjoyment of an otherwise capable game to be challenged, I know, but then, I told you I have weird OCD tendencies. One day a game will remind me of my need to serve people coffee in matching mugs, even if it means I have to wash some when there are perfectly clean mugs in the cupboard, and then you'll never hear the end of it.