games / Columns

The 8 Ball: Top 8 Voice Casts in Video Games

November 14, 2018 | Posted by Marc Morrison
Mass Effect

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball! This week I’m here to talk about voice actors/actresses, specifically in a larger context of overall casts. I like voice acting in games and I want to call out some specific games. For this column, I wanted to only really pick one game from any one franchise or developer. We can all agree that most (if not all) Rockstar games have great voice acting but I picked the game I liked the most. Let’s begin:

#8: The Witcher 3

What I like about the Witcher 3’s voice cast is that it’s full of largely unknown (to American’s anyway) English voice actors. While Doug Cockle might have been born in the States he migrated to the UK sometime and has stayed there ever since. He leads a cast full of other Brits as they go through the immense and thick Witcher 3 story and script. Cockle is probably the highlight to most people but I really enjoyed Jaimi Barbakoff as Triss in both Witcher 2 and 3. She had a playful bent to the character that I liked.

#7: The Wolf Among Us

I’m not sure why but I just enjoyed the vocal work in The Wolf Among Us compared to other Telltale games. Most of the voice actors in the game have been in other Telltale stuff: Adam Harrington, Erin Yvette, Cissy Jones, Dave Fennoy to start with, but other actors were in the TT stable as well. I think I just enjoyed the unique inflections for the characters and what not. You would never think that Erin Yvette played both Molly in The Walking Dead and Snow White in TWAU but here we are. It’s a sign of a good cast when they can do different types of characters for different projets.

#6: Fallout 3

Fallout 3 *does* have its share of celebrity voice acting but its pretty minor. Malcolm McDowell is instantly recognizable in the game but Liam Nesson and Odette Annable aren’t, unless you are big fans of their work. What’s somewhat impressive about Fallout 3 is that if you look at the credits for the game, like 12 or so actors do dozens of characters each. Karen Carbone, Pal Eiding, Gregory Gorton, James Lewis each do dozens of characters and make them all sound unique. The highlight is probably Jeff Baker who does at least 50 characters easily but you wouldn’t be able to tell in the game at all.

#5: Saints Row The Third

Saints Row 3 does an interesting hat trick when it comes to its voice cast. It has a celebrity playing themselves (Burt Reynolds as Mayor Burt Reynolds), celebrities voicing fictional characters (Hulk Hogan as Angel, Sasha Grey as Viola) and finally regular voice actors doing other characters (Troy Baker, Tasia Valenza, Tara Platt, Yuri Lowentha), etc. My favorite performance in the game is Natalie Lander as Kinzie, naturally. She just gave such a great performance of the character that I looked her up after I completed it and have been a fan of hers, since.

#4: Planescape: Torment

So, here’s a fun fact, I *only* got into Planescape: Torment initially due to the voice actors. Specifically it was Michael T. Weiss, who I was a fan of his show “The Pretender” that got me interested in the first place. This is probably why I bounced off the game 3 or 4 times before I really got into it. While I don’t think there is enough, compared to modern games today, Torment does have some solid turns by actors like Mitch Pileggi (Skinner from X-Files) as the philosophical Dak’kon, Sheena Easton as a wild thief, John de Lancie as an angel with an ulterior motive, and Tony Jay as the bad guy, of course. Like I said, it’s not hyper-chatty but what is in there is solid.

#3: Bully

If I were to pick just one Rockstar game for voice acting, it’s Bully. All the voices in the game were just believable to me. Rockstar does an incredible job voicing their games, utilizing celebrity talent occasionally but mainly just using unknown actors. Sure, they occasionally get a Ray Liotta or Sam Jackson to do a character, but most of the time, you’ve never heard anyone in a Rockstar game before. The actor playing Jimmy, Gerry Rosenthal, has acted before, but hasn’t acted since doing Bully. Most of the other cast members have seemingly stopped acting as well, in one form or another. Still, this is the Rockstar game that has stuck with me the most, when it comes to characters and the people playing them.

#2: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

Man, if you don’t know it, I think this is the best acted game in the Assassin’s Creed franchise. Headed up by Matt Ryan (Constantine), alongside other UK actors like Mark Bonnar, Sarah Greene, Sean Pertwee and James Bachman. The two highlights are Olivia Morgan and the before-mentioned Matt Ryan. Olivia Morgan had a hard job of portraying a woman who was playing a man and she did some solid work. But for me, the real star is Matt Ryan. He just brings such a sense of bravado and playfulness to the character of Edward that makes him special. It’s helped to serve him in his role of John Constantine for his own show and the various CW shows

#1: Mass Effect 2

Really, how great is the voice acting in Mass Effect 2? It has both celebrity voice acting bringing some unique voices to certain characters mixed with some tried and true voice actors. Martin Sheen did a nice turn as the somewhat ambiguous Illusive Man, while Yvonne Strahovski was really memberable as Miranda. But then you have people like Mark Meer (Shepard, alongside 2 dozen other characters), Grey Griffin, Alastair Duncan, Gideon Emery and more, really creating the world of Mass Effect 2 for the player to run around in, and giving voices to all the denizens you meet.

For comments, list your favorite voice casts in video games and why.

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