How An Australian Man Nearly Ruined Black Ops For Me

I didn't enjoy Black Ops as much as some others did, but it was still a pretty good shooter. Oh, except for the fact that a single casting decision nearly ruined the game for me.

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.


    Grats on your spergin.

    Yeah, um, I didn't noticed much wrong with the voice acting.

    Definitely OCD. Considering not buying a game because of a single VA is pretty silly in the first place.

    Can't you consider it payback for all those "[Miscellaneous American TV Show] Down Under!" episodes that have grainy 1960s stock footage of kangaroos intercut between scores of obviously american actors saying "Bloimey", "May-ate" and "Gee Day"?

      Too damn right!

      About time someone stuffed up the American accent because 99% of the time a foreigner has tried an Australian accent in any medium not only is it poorly executed but poorly written with slang terms not used since the 1920s (if you're lucky). They always use the obvious over the top "ocker" accent which is only really heard from Steve Irwin and Australians in the 1950s.

      It's akin to us portraying Americans in a modern setting with a Texan accent busting down a door of a meth lab saying "Yee haw! Well looky here we dun got some drug rustlers. Ahm gonna arrest you cotton pickin sonsas as soon as you can mispronounce aluminium. Consarnit"

      An American accent isn't very easy to mimmick without going over the top and lampooning the more obvious accents (New Joisey/New York, Southerner, Irish American).

      Besides have you ever heard golfer Greg Norman speak? He's Australian but has spent so much time in America that he has that in-between accent and often drifts between the two. Anthony LaPaglia and even Mel Gibson (although to your ears he may sound very Australian he's got a strong American accent in his voice too). Perhaps the character of Mason could be one of these people?

      We still owe them for the final scene of Point Break.

    i think you need to concentrate more on playing the game XD

    If a voice actor can make or break a game for you, you should really ask yourself if you actually like video games.

    Sam's actually doing a rather accurate impersonation of the accent of the 53rd American state.

      Umm, what are the 51st and 52nd states?

      Worthington is a charisma black hole. How get continues to get work is beyond me.

    OCD definitely. Why would something so small stop you enjoying what is genuinely a great game?

    It's better than hearing a way out of place Australian Accent in films and movies. As an Aussie I can handle (somewhat) stereotypical Australian drawl but not many of us actually sound like that.

    As such when that stereotypical accent shows up in an American movie or a video game I just find it way out of place. At times I honestly think the actors have been asked to change their normal accent to one that is... expected, by American audiences. Vanille and Fang in FFXIII would be examples from Games (though perhaps Pulse just constitutes 'Down Under' in FFXIII) or that random Australian 'hacker' in that god awful Transformers movie (2007).

      LOL - Remember the Aussie chick from Lost - uhh Claire - if you close your eyes and listen to her speak for more than a minute you'll swear it's Pauline Hanson!

    Yeah, his generic american could use a lot of work. It was pretty distracting for me on my veteran playthrough, not so much the first time around. It got worse the more I heard it.

    It's a bit strange that they would choose an Austalian to VA as an American. However I think it's hilarious cause the Yanks pretty much destroy every videogame made in Japan with their nerdy wankish drivel. Maybe Aussies are just better at being heroes ;) Funny how Gerard Butler (English) Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman and Worthington are all playing tough guys in supposedly American movies...

    I feel your pain. I had this exact rant actually.
    Why don't you just cast a VOICE actor instead of an actor with a voice?
    Seriously, within the same SENTENCE his accent drops. It's bloody horrible and yes, it irked me the entire way through the game.
    Not as much as trying to play it on an xbox instead of a PC, but it was second on the list.

    WE NEED TO KILL eeeaaavrywun mayte

    I too have issues with Mr Worthington's shady accents. I kinda like the guy, even though he was on The Secret Life of Us. Aussie actors from Errol Flynn on have had to make careers out of accents, since there has been very few Australian characters written in Hollywood since, well, ever. But Big Chewing Gum Sam has definitely already joined the ranks of Tom "Apparently Oi'm Oirish?" Cruise and Brad "D'ja laik dags?" Pitt in the "Sack the Voice Coach" Hall of Fame. Connery doesnt count since he knocked out any voice coach who tried to modify his Leith brogue.

    But surely its not that distracting? I realise we've been spoilt recently with Nolan North everyfrikkinwhere you turn, or Andy Serkis popping up where North doesnt, but do we necessarily want to go back to Link's closed-captioned silence (...)? Or worse, voice actors sounding so wooden you imagine you can actually hear the script pages turning?

    Note to games devs: perhaps you should have a variety of voice talent options, like a GPS Navigator. I would probably still choose "Posh English Female" every time...

    He hardly speaks his "native tounge" in Clash of the Titans.

    The guy has one of the THICKEST Australian accents you will ever hear, If you've ever heard him talk normally, I think you'd appreciate the effort he makes.

    I'm not saying he's the greatest, I'm not even a fan of Black Ops, and have never played it.

    all I am doing is bringing awareness to the effort he puts into it.

    Did you people all jump on him because he said something negative about an Australian? Worthington is noted by film reviewers to not be very good at doing an American accent.

      Who jumped on him?

        At the time of my reply, LordLeckie, Wobwobwob and especially Aliasalpha seemed a bit miffed.

        And some others have seemingly used this as "a bit of revenge" for bad Australian accents by American actors over the years, ignoring the fact Luke Plunkett was questioning Worthington (a currently A-list Australian actor)'s ability to do an American accent considering just about every other Australian in Hollywood can do a convincing American accent.

      The criticism is valid but it's rather ironic because anytime a yank tries an American accent it's laughable. We've been putting up with it for years and it's about time you got your comeuppance! :)

    I don't think a single voice actor should ruin the game for you, but on th other hand with games touting themselves as 'cinematic' i think proper casting choices need to be made to fit the character.

    I was too busy playing the game to care about the change in his accent.

    If the bad voiceacting here annoyed you, you must have shat a BRICK when you played Resident Evil the first time!

    I'll admit, Worthington dropped the ball a couple of hundred times. Still loved the game though, more for its frenetic pace than its inconsistent voice talent.

    All things considered, Black Ops features the greatest story found in any instalment of the venerable series. Even if old Sambo can't hold a note, I'd rather listen to him for an eternity before reliving the trash that was Modern Warfare 2.

    I agree that Sam Worthingtons American accent is terrible, however, I think it was one of his better performances. I also thought it was cool that an Aussie was the voice of the main character in the biggest game of the year.

    Oh my God, it's like you are reading my mind mate!

    I have EXACTLY the same feelings on Sam Worthington's USELESS accents!

    He is actually a decent actor but accents are not his thing.

    His new movie has him playing a Russian during the war... bloody hell, he has an Aussie accent!!

    Great article!

    switch the language to French if it bothers you that much

    Also, as others have said, maybe you should take up DVD watching instead of video game playing. You could press the buttons on the remote and pretend you're having an interactive experience

    if there was ANY voice actor in black ops that had the potential to ruin the game, it was Ice Cube, he was talking/yelling like he waas recording a new NWA album... ALL THE TIME!

    kick your OCD to the kerb!

    All i know is Clash of the titans was terrible with his aussie accent. And he has a terrible Yank accent

    Why he couldn't have been just an Aussie blows me away. I didn't realise how shallow yanks were....

      Because the character was American? The better question is why didn't (whichever studio Activision hired to record the dialogue) do more/better takes when Worthington's fake accent was shaky? I'm sure they hired him to make the project sound impressive to Activision's investors (LOOK WE GOT THE AVATAR DUDE).

      I hope you're just being a troll there about the yank thing, but random hatred of Americans is an Australianism that I find pathetic.

        I think Woody means changing the character, perhaps just his background. There's no reason why he couldn't be Australian. Wouldn't change the game or the story one bit. Would have got a better (or at least slightly less jarring for those sensitive to bad accents) performance from Sam Worthington if they wanted his star power.

        James Bond was re-written to have Scottish blood in the books when Connery played him.

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