We were all pretty excited when Bungie announced that their much-hyped multiplayer shooter Destiny would feature beloved actor Peter Dinklage, best known for his show-stealing portrayal of Tyrion Lannister on Game of Thrones, in a large voiceover role.
For the past week or so, Bungie has been running an early-look alpha of Destiny, which gave many of us an opportunity to play a small chunk of the game. I get the sense I'm not alone in having a pretty good time with the game itself, and I also suspect I'm not alone in feeling underwhelmed by Dinklage's dull voiceover performance.
Dinklage's voice is one of the first things you hear when you begin playing the Destiny alpha. He plays a "Ghost" in the game, and is your robotic companion as you adventure from planet to planet. He floats around and offers you advice on your current situation, provides history on your surroundings, and sometimes offers running commentary on what's going on. Your character doesn't talk, so that means that Dinklage will more or less be the voice of Destiny.
Unfortunately, his performance is awfully wooden, a far cry from his often riveting scenes on Game of Thrones. I cut together some of his lines from the alpha's main mission:
It's flat, it's muted, it often sounds phoned-in. The second clip is decent, but things swiftly deteriorate from there. Game Trailers captured some more of his lines from other places in the game, some of which are even flatter:
In fairness, Dinklage is playing a robot AI. But if the sci-fi genre (including Bungie's own Halo series) has taught us anything, it's that robot AIs can be entertaining, beloved characters. At times, it almost sounds like Dinklage is hesitating or stumbling over lines ("The Fallen have ss...ealed this gate"), or reacting as if he were reading the script for the first time. He sounds like an actor unsure of his character, without a director to indicate who he's supposed to be. Every time he begins talking I'm pulled out of the game and reminded that, oh yeah, the guy who plays Tyrion Lannister isn't particularly interested in convincing me to give a shit about what's happening around me.
Of course, the alpha we've been playing isn't the finished game. (Though it does come out in a little over two months.) It could well be that these aren't final vocal takes, or that Bungie will add some sort of vocal filter or effect that will make this performance fit into the world better. And this isn't all on Dinklage, either. The lines he's given — "That wizard came from the moon!" — aren't exactly The Station Agent.
All the same, when I heard that such a fine actor was joining Destiny, I expected something more. Here's hoping that by the time the final game comes out in September, Bungie will have had time to add some sort of missing special sauce to Dinklage's performance, and our quest to save the galaxy won't sound quite so dull.