When Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China came out last spring with a sound-nothing-alike voice actor growling through the handful of lines scripted for iconic franchise hero Ezio, a series superfan who goes by the name Loomer could have done nothing. But no. He's gone and fixed things with the help of Ezio's original voice actor. Even better, he's found a way to make the bad voice-acting canon.
He's done this in a new YouTube video that, apparently with Ubisoft's blessing, depicts all of Ezio's scenes in Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China with original voice actor Roger Craig Smith back in the role.
You're reading this right. The giant multi-national video game conglomerate that cares greatly about its cash-cow uber franchise didn't get Ezio's signature voice actor back doing his role for the character's cameo in their latest AC release. A very motivated fan did.
"I was originally just very stunned and saddened that Roger was replaced for Ezio's first real appearance in four years, and doubly so that the replacement was so terrible," Loomer recently told me. "I held out some small hope that Ubisoft would patch Roger's voice in but it soon became clear that that wasn't happening." Loomer had interviewed Smith before and pitched the idea to him. He also says Smith ran it by Ubisoft and got their blessing.
"I basically put together a list and video compilation of all of Ezio's lines in AC: Chronicles China (about 33 lines total) and sent it to Roger," Loomer said. "He then recorded his take on the lines (I assume from his home studio) and emailed me the sound files. We did a couple retakes on some of the lines (Ubisoft has changed how Shao Jun's name is pronounced over the years) but other than that, that was pretty much it."
Loomer and Smith's clip may initially confuse casual listeners or lapsed Assassin's Creed fans, because the first thing you hear in the video isn't Smith. It's the newer, inferior voice acting that Ubisoft used for Ezio in ACC:C. Then you hear a voice that talks about "a message from Erudito... see what they have left out."
What's going on there is actually really cool. See, Loomer didn't want to just pull a Bungie and present a new voice actor in place of an old one. He decided to borrow a concept that Ubi themselves introduced into the Assassin's Creed games involving the idea that some of the gams are made by an evil corporation called Abstergo and that there's a hacker called Erudito who gives players access to alternate versions of a game's story sequences in order to reveal the truth of what really happened.
"I threw in the Erudito aspect (which Ubisoft used in AC: Liberation to show you the "real" version of cutscenes) because I love the idea that this crappy fake Ezio voice is canon, it's just Abstergo messing things up. After all, we know from Assassin-controlled Animi how Ezio's voice really sounded. ;)"
Get that? Watch Loomer's video again. The idea is that ACC:C was made by Abstergo, that Abstergo got Ezio's voice wrong and that Erudito the hacker is revealing to you what Ezio really sounds like. Brilliant!
I haven't heard directly from Smith about the making of the video, but he did weigh in on the YouTube clip itself. "These lines were recorded without the astute direction of Amanda Wyatt (my voice director on the AC games)," he wrote, "as well as without the assistance of Ida Darvish and Peter Arpesella (my dialect coaches on the AC games) — -all without whom the character of Ezio would not exist. If I've butchered the accent or botched the performance for these lines — that's all on me! Many thanks to Ubisoft and to the fans for your support of this epic gaming franchise. Insieme per la Vittoria!"
Alright, Metal Gear fans, your turn. Which one of you is going to cajole David Hayter into re-doing all of Snake's Kiefer Sutherland-ised lines in Metal Gear Solid 5?