This is our first collaborative post and so you don’t get too confused, here’s how it’s going to work. Chris has the first pick, mine’s after that, then we alternate through the rest of the post. Just because we both ended up with the same voice actress doesn’t mean anything at all–she’s been in half a dozen video games!
Alyson Court – Claire Redfield, Resident Evil
My personal favorite voice actor, and the only actor to ever voice Resident Evil’s Claire Redfield, I first heard Alyson Court when I popped in Claire’s Resident Evil 2 scenario into my Playstation (ladies first!). I noticed right off that Claire was not your typical 19-year-old girl: she made her first appearance riding a motorcycle with a knife strapped to her chest. Claire is a strong, level-headed girl in the midst of a crisis, and Alyson made that all the more real. Never losing her cool, Alyson made sure Claire was never a damsel in distress. In addition to her work as Claire, Alyson directed voice over and motion-capture portions for the game Resident Evil: Outbreak. She voiced Jubilee in X-Men: The Animated Series (an episode featuring Jubilee was my favorite — now I know why!) and returned to voice Jubilee in Marvel Vs Capcom. With such a distinctive voice, teenaged me even recognized Alyson through her makeup and costume in “The Big Comfy Couch.” That’s right, Loonette the Clown is also the girl with one of the most memorable opening cutscenes ever. Thank you, Alyson!
When any discussion of video game voice actors comes up, it’s inevitable that you’re going to have some overlapping between television and movies. I tried to weed out those actors who are more famous for their on-screen roles but one name could not go unmentioned. Michael Ironside has been scaring the crap out of me for years as the bad guy in some of my favorite movies (and the bad guy who everybody loved on the original V television series in addition to SeaQuest 2032) but kids these days know him best as the iconic gravelly voice of Third Echelon’s elite assassin/spy Sam Fisher. There’s no denying the Mr. Ironside’s voice has the necessary qualities to make Sam Fisher a hard man but it’s surprising (to me at least) that he’s able to deliver the witty one-liners with so much skill. Most of his on-screen roles don’t have much humor in them at all.
The heart and soul of Uncharted’s Nathan Drake, Nolan North is a very experienced voice actor to say the least. With a staggering 99 video game titles to his resume — not to mention the frequent multiple credits per game — it’s a wonder why it took Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune to finally put Nolan in the masses’ spotlight. With prominent roles such as Desmond in Assassins Creed, the Prince in Prince of Persia, and Marvel’s current go-to guy for Deadpool, Uncharted was the culmination of years of hard work. As Nathan Drake, Nolan, and all of the Uncharted actors, did all of the motion-capture work themselves and were filmed as if they were shooting a live-action movie. He was allowed to ad-lib lines and infuse his own personality into the character, and what was recorded during filming was used in the game. Simply put, Nolan North is the reason to own a Playstation 3.
Before Jennifer Hale personified the hard-as-nails Commander of the SSV Normandy, she brought life to the powerful yet stoic Bastilla Shan in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. She’s voiced characters in at least half a dozen other video games but Sheppard is by far her best performance. Not only does Ms. Hale nail the hardcore space marine commander’s attitude but during the more tender scenes (yes the naked blue alien butt scenes) she hits the right emotional note with agility.
Most people would not think of NCIS: Los Angeles’ Hetty as a video game voice actor. While she’s only voiced one video game character, it was enough to make my list. In preparation for God of War III, I bought the God of War I & II collection for the PS3. The first game was narrated by an unseen character and in the sequel, it was revealed that that character was the titan Gaia. While only 4′ 9″, Linda has one of the most recognizable voices this side of Morgan Freeman. Perfectly enunciated and resounding, Linda’s voice can make any character come to life.
Richard Dean Anderson is like a one man media invasion. Not only is he a star of the small screen with two hit television shows under his belt (MacGyver and Stargate SG-1), he’s a producer (owning Gekko Film Corp.), and also a voice actor. In fact, he played one of the pivotal characters in one of the best received and most beloved Role Playing Games ever—Mayor Killian Darkwater from the first Fallout video game. Hard to believe he got his big break on a soap opera!
In 2006, Keeley Hawes took on the enormous task of voicing an iconic character in a reboot of an ailing franchise. Tomb Raider was at its seventh iteration, and Tomb Raider: Legend was positioned to be its savior. With solid writing, character development, and stunning graphics, Legend was on track to be the best game of the franchise. What really sold it however, was Keeley’s portrayal of Lara; she maintained Lara’s posh accent, but gave it a warm, kind, accessible tone. Don’t be fooled though: in the end of the game Keeley lets loose her fury at the game’s antagonist Amanda. Despite the caricature-like design of the characters, Keeley made Lara feel real, and helped her regain her title as gaming’s leading lady.
The voice of Max Payne is so iconic that with just one word you can pick it out of a crowd. It’s a bit nasal, a bit husky (from smoking and drinking too much perhaps?) and tough like Superman passing a fruitcake. While many folks mistake Kiefer Sutherland, it’s actually James McCaffrey. The veteran actor has had roles in dozens of productions including Rescue Me on the small screen. However, video game geeks will always know him as Max Payne. In fact, his voice’s appearance in Sam Lake’s follow-up title Alan Wake caused many fans and critics to rip the game apart (as if they didn’t have reason enough already) because it borrowed too much from Max Payne. It’s hard to see how McCaffrey will shake off the mantle if he wishes to continue a career as a video game voice actor but I’m betting he can do it—or just sit back on his piles-o-cash and laugh at us mere mortals.
Best known for TV roles such as Quark in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Principal Snyder in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Armin found a new fanbase in a little game called BioShock. Voicing the main antagonist Andrew Ryan, Armin chilled players with his authoritative voice and radical ideas. Andrew Ryan is easily one of the most memorable video game characters created in the last decade, which is impressive because you only actually see him for a few minutes. Armin received high praise for his work which helped BioShock garner the Best Use of Sound award from IGN
I first stumbled across this Australian beauty whilst she played Officer Aeryn Sun in Rockne S. Obannon’s epic—but unfortunately short-lived—television series Farscape. So imagine my surprise when I heard her voice behind A’Kanna in the abysmal Conan video game. I kept my ear to my speakers and my thumbs on the thumbsticks and found her once again as Morrigan in Dragon Age: Origins. This role showcases her tremendous ability to read the right emotion into a static line on the page. While many good voice actors occasionally sound like they’re phoning it in, Claudia nails even the most plebian of lines. I especially like her portrayal of the hate-hate relationship between Morrigan and Alistair. I look forward to many more appearances from Claudia and her voice.
As the new female protagonist Chloe Frazer in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Claudia Black stole hearts and won rave reviews. In the game, Chloe had been previously involved with the main character Nathan Drake. When Chloe is hired by a group of thieves to locate Marco Polo’s lost fleet, she inevitably crosses paths with Nathan and “this years model” Elena Fisher (Emily Rose). Claudia, Nolan North, and Emily had excellent “on-screen” chemistry, and that translated into the finest example of realistic characters that I’ve ever seen in a video game. Chloe is also regarded as one of the best examples of a strong female character. Claudia has since been in Dragon Age: Origins, Mass Effect 2, Final Fantasy XIV, and the upcoming Gears of War 3 as Samantha Byrne, one of the first two female playable characters in the franchise.
So there’s our list and if you’ve got something to say about it (or somebody to add) let us know in the comments below if you dare . . .