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The 8 Ball: Top 8 Performances in Video Games – God of War, Far Cry 3, More

July 24, 2018 | Posted by Marc Morrison
God of War

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball! I apologize for the unscheduled break, I had a bit of a medical issue two weeks ago and the guest column didn’t go up for last week. So, here we are now with this list of performances in games. With this topic, I chose 7 out of 8 of them to be motion capture work, alongside voice work. One is from a FMV game, but the rest have the people in the little ping pong outfits, actually having to act out actions their characters do in the games. This isn’t a strict voice acting list but one that is meant to take mocap work into account:

#8: Camilla Luddington (Tomb Raider)

I’ve enjoyed Camilla Luddington’s role in the rebooted Tomb Raider games. She brings a good sense of humanity in the start of both games that gets pretty washed out after killing hundreds of guys as you complete the quest. Frankly, I would have much rather have Ms. Luddington have played Lara in the movie than Alicia Vikander. The slight knock against Camilla Luddington on this list is that she doesn’t perform most (if not all) of the stunt work as Lara, which isn’t too surprising given her training. That is relegated to stuntwomen, notably Tarah Paige donning the mocap suit. Still, Camilla Luddington did make me care about Lara, as a character, which is more than any of the previous games did.

#7: Kevin Spacey (Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare)

OK, we can all agree that Kevin Spacey did some heinous stuff in his career, the likes of which won’t be lived down for quite some time (if ever). That said, he’s also the only actor to be cast in a CoD game that was actually a memorable villain. Most of them are just cookie-cutter evil bad guys, who are practically twirling a mustache as they talk about an evil plan. WW2 had no bad guy (outside of the conflict within the platoon), Infinite Warfare had the dude who played Jon Snow but he’s in it for so little as to not make a dent, and Black Ops 3 had Chris Meloni who is always good, but his character had all the personality of a potato sack. Spacey’s character, Jonathan Irons, started off as a protagonist but it’s only as you uncover his duplicity does he reveal himself as (basically) a Bond villain. It’d be nice if Activision could return to making good stories in CoD games but considering Black Ops 4 won’t even have a story, this won’t be happening anytime soon.

#6: Steven Ogg (Grand Theft Auto 5)font>

All three of the leads in GTA 5 are good but the obvious standout is Trevor, as played by Steven Ogg. While he can do Trevor’s freak out/insane moments really well, it’s when he gets introspective and quiet that the acting shines through. I’m speaking more on the moments when he is talking with Patricia Madrazo and dealing with the feelings he has for her. That was actually the best part of that game for me because it showed how even a sociopathic character can really feel for someone else. Aside from that, the mental image of Steven Ogg running around in his underwear for voice over/motion capture sessions is a good mental picture to have.

#5: Anarosa De Elizaguirre Butler (Contradiction: Spot the Liar)

This is the one oddity on this list since it involves video acting, as opposed to motion capture or a vocal performance. Still, I think it gets a pass because of the strength of the performances within the game. While Rupert Booth (Frederick Jenks) and Paul Darrow (Paul Rand) have their share of fans and memes, the performance I liked in the game the most was from Anarosa De Elizaguirre Butler, who played Emma Bowman. Her performance was pretty grounded and wasn’t nearly as over the top as some other people were (intentionally) in the game. Plus, she was the only character I wanted to know more about as the game went on.

#4: Troy Baker (The Last of Us)

Naughty Dog is really known now for their performance capture work, which is why there are two ND games on this list. Both Ashley Johnson (Ellie) and Troy Baker (Joel) were very critically lauded for their roles in The Last of Us. For my money, I think Troy Baker just a slightly better overall job. For once, that guy is in almost every game doing voice work, but he managed to create a wholly unique character for TLOU. Also, his character had a better character arc than Ellie’s, which was slightly abrupt and half-finished in spots. It’s not really known how much of Joel will be in The Last of Us Part 2, but I hope he’s in it a fair amount.

#3: Danielle Bisutti (God of War)

Like with TLOU, all the motion capture/vocal work in God of War is great. While Christopher Judge managed to make Kratos an actual character, and Sunny Suljic as Atreus isn’t nearly as annoying as when first announced, it’s Danielle Bisutti who stole the game for me. She had a great way of moving around that was different from other characters, owing to her own background as a nature God. Her transition from ally to enemy, justified or not, is interesting and should provide some good conflict in the inevitable sequel. Lastly, like with other characters on this list, Bisutti is so good in the role, I would happily play an entire game centered around Freya herself.

#2: Nichole Bloom (Until Dawn)

It speaks volumes that Nichole Bloom’s character, Emily, is roundly voted as “the worst character” but people still love her. It’s not that Bloom’s portrayal is bad, far from it. If anything, Nichole Bloom’s acting in the role is what saves the character from wanting the player to get her killed immediately. She is portrayed as annoying, shallow, manipulative and selfish. While the character herself never really escapes these labels, it’s Nichole Bloom’s performance that does help to elevate her to players.

#1: Michael Mando (Far Cry 3)

To me, one of the biggest mistakes is how Far Cry 3 deals with Vaas. The game has a great and charismatic villain, someone you are meant to hate because he kills your brother but is also related to the woman who helps you unlock your killing powers as you play. Then, around the point you get access to the second island, he is unceremoniously killed off and replaced by Bland McBlandFace, otherwise known as Hoyt. He has all the personality of a dried stump and kills a lot of the narrative momentum of the game. Vaas, on the other hand, ably portrayed by Michael Mando, immediately started the game dripping with personality. Part of that was the writing, but the other part was the intense performance that was captured, particularly during the intro sequence of the game. The fact that Ubisoft used Mando in FMV press materials for the games says a lot about how much they valued his performance. It’s just a shame he didn’t make it through the end of the game.

For comments, list your favorite performances and why.

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The 8 Ball (Games), Marc Morrison