Here's Our Favourite Performances From Video Games

If you're in an office or have access to the internet and any form of social media, you'll probably be aware that the Oscars are being held today. Some of the major awards have already been handed out, but there'll be all sorts of shenanigans and events throughout the day.

I've got no interest in the awards themselves, but it is a useful opportunity to go back and remember some of the best performances from video games. So to commemorate one of Hollywood's night of nights, here's some of the performances in games that stayed with us long after the credits rolled.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Danny Allen, Kotaku publisher

Batman: Arkham Series

We're talking Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009), Batman: Arkham City (2011) and Batman: Arkham Knight (2015). Kevin Conroy, from Batman: pretty-much-everything-besides-the-movies, is more caped crusader than Bale — and Mark Hamill's Joker easily goes head-to-head with Heath Ledger in the annals of all-time Gotham highlights. Also: Australia's own John Noble as Scarecrow. "Why fight it, Batman? You're as crazy as the rest of us."

Spandas Lui, Lifehacker journalist

The Priest, Age of Empires

It has been decades since Age Of Empires gave us the powerful chant of “Wololo” to convert enemy units into friendlies. This enduring chant has been used to hilarious effect at numerous piss ups, spawned countless ridiculous remixes and has become an internet meme in its own right.

The AOE Priest deserves to be recognised for his work in enriching the lives of gamers by giving us an exclamation that is appropriate for any situation. In honour of the Priest, I’m currently investigating options to make my car horn scream “Wololo” at unsuspecting drivers and pedestrians.

Campbell Simpson, Gizmodo journalist

Mark Hamill as Maverick Blair, Wing Commander 3

If you ask me, WC4 is the better game in the series, but the full-motion video performance in Wing Commander 3 is amazing — it stars Mark Hamill and John Rhys-Davies, for god's sake.

It was probably the best performance in terms of world-building that my six-year-old brain at the time had ever seen; seeing real actors and live action video gave the game — which was super low-tech, obviously — a real sense of life and grounding in reality.

And, of course, it inspired the Wing Commander movie. Which everyone loves. Which. Everyone. Loves.

Chris Jager, Lifehacker Editor

Charlie Jolson, The Getaway

The original Getaway wasn't a great game by any stretch of the imagination — but it did have one of the best cockney villains this side of Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels. Voiced by the appropriately named Ricky Hards, Bethnal Green Mob boss Charlie Jolson was a truly terrifying protagonist: a cigar-chomping sadist who looked like a leathery version of Ben Grimm/The Thing. Hards' stellar voice work coupled with Sony's cutting-edge motion-capture technology helped to make Jolson a step above most video game villains. He also goes down in style; electing to blow himself up on a boat along with all of his enemies.

Alex Walker, Kotaku journalist

Christopher Walken as Detective Vince Magnotta, The Ripper

FMV games from the 1990's are rightly remembered for being a travesty. But Walken saved a lot of games that he appeared in — he made scenes more watchable, made them funny, provided gravitas when it was sorely needed.

Walken's career in video games isn't extensive: he only contributed to two True Crime games, the sequel to Privateer, a spin-off of the Wing Commander series, and The Ripper. But his performance in The Ripper more or less made the game from start to finish. He's a psychopathic, bounty-driven cop who completely dominates every scene he's in with his maniacal laugh and over-the-top delivery.

It's my favourite performance from anything in FMV, just because it's so funny. The game itself, like all FMV adventures, has plenty of problems. But Walken does a good job of saving it from being a completely woeful experience.

Hayley Williams, Allure Media editorial assistant

Cissy Kones as Delilah, Firewatch

In a game that’s essentially a walking simulator centred around the conversations you have, employing good voice actors is obviously going to be key to your game’s success. While some of the lines sound highly scripted, Cissy still nails the role of Delilah from the beginning, when her voice coming through the radio is the first real human contact you get. She strings you along, gets you attached and then most likely breaks your heart. Just take a look at how many of the posts on the Firewatch subreddit are along the lines of “I miss Delilah”. Me too, random redditor, me too.

Hayley also had a second nomination, which goes to:

Jennifer Hale as Shepard, Mass Effect

One of the most enduring arguments in the Mass Effect fandom is whether male Shepard or female Shepard is the true Shepard. While male Shep was used for much of the marketing material, a lot of people preferred the voice performance of the female character. Whether you played renegade or paragon, her voice seemed to fit the tough military character to a tee. With a performance like Jennifer Hale’s, there really shouldn’t be any argument. Fem Shep is best Shep.

Mark Serrels, Kotaku editor

Claudia Black as Chloe Frazer, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

I've always felt like the Uncharted series features the very best writing that video games has to offer in terms of dialogue and characterisation. Nathan Drake has always struck me as a bit of a proxy but characters like Sully or Katherine Marlowe? Unlike most video game characters they feel real, and the performances reflect that.

But my all-time favourite Uncharted performance is probably Claudia Black as Chloe Frazer. The scene that leaps out at me takes place early on, when Chloe attempts (successfully) to seduce Nathan Drake. It's just slick, fun and above all authentic.


What are your favourite performances from video games, whether it be an on-camera effort, something brought to life via motion-capture or L.A. Noire-style technology, or simply a voice acting role?


Comments

    LA Noire is mentioned briefly at the bottom of the article, and that for me was a good example of how involved good acting combined with the right tech (motionscanning I think it was called) can be.

    It was also fun seeing a whole bunch of the Mad Men cast turn up in bit parts in that game. I would nominate Sheldon and Kelso as best supporting actors for their war flashback sequences with shell-shocked Cole.

      I loved the partner you get working arson, just a broken man trying to keep his shit together.

    Jennifer Hale is my VA crush. When I met her at Supanova one year I was somewhat tongue-tied and giggled like a schoolgirl.

      Oh me too! She's got such an amazing range of voices. And she gave us some very good parenting advice to boot when we met her

    I have to say Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson of The Last of Us. They will be the bar for voice acting for me for a very long time I imagine.

      Yep, I give all of the awards to all of the people in TLOU.

      Of course, having a decent script to work with makes life easier for all actors, and those guys had a good one in TLOU.

    "Chloe Frazer as Claudia Black" oops!

    Speaking of Chloe, whoever played her in Life is Strange gets my vote.

    Last edited 29/02/16 2:49 pm

    The character Chloe Frazer did one of the best impersonations of actress Claudia Black that I've ever seen....

    Mark Hamill's Joker in the Arkham series is possibly one of the greatest performances of all time.

    The absolute pinnacle for me so far has been Joel and Ellie in The Last of Us, but the duo of Troy Baker (again) and Laura Bailey (my VA waifu) in Tales from the Borderlands is a very close second. Damn, that game was good.

    Naughty Dog always has great characterisations.

    Also on another note, they made a Wing Commander movie????

      Quite a while ago, yes! Not worth watching though...

      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0131646/

    Clearly the greatest voice acting in video games goes to…..

    The guy who played Barry Burton in the English dub of Resident Evil 1.

    “I hope this isn't Chris’ blood”, “You, the master of unlocking” and who could forget the seminal Jill Sandwich monologue.

    Jennifer Hale's Shepard is top notch, tried to play as a man and legitimately hated it because the voice acting was just wrong. Fem-Shep is best Shep indeed.

    I'd like to see this sort of thing for other areas of game work, visual design or aesthetic, music, writing, all of these elements would be really interesting to read about and a list that focused exclusively on each year individually with separate nominations, winners and then justifications for the winning game in each category would be great.

    For example, my very small list (because I didn't play many new games this year) would be

    Writing: The beginners guide
    Aesthetic/visuals: The Music Machine
    Music: Undertale
    Overall: Undertale

    For 1998, IMO the best year for released games, it'd be
    Writing: Metal Gear Solid
    Aesthetic/Visuals: Half-Life
    Music: LoZ: Ocarina of Time
    Overall: Half-Life

    An Oscars styled series of articles for each category would be fantastic (so long as they're brief unlike the real Oscars or the game awards).

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