Wolf’s Wicked Words: The Voice Actor’s Union
Disclaimer: This article is unfortunately not about hitherto unknown brewing and steamy relationships between voice actors. I am contrite to disappoint, dear readers.
I’ve been conversing with a certain bloke of a friend’s nature about voice actors not being used for their iconic character roles solely for the sake of them not being able to accompany their voice alongside a bawdy motion capture outfit and the accompanying movements that will be used in the specific game. That is just not fair to the elite and aged voice actors that are still more than capable of providing their talents, but not as fit and /or energetic as they used to be.
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These iconic heroes are the ones we grew up with and the voice actors ARE these characters we’ve come to love – not just for their tremendously digital well looked-after muscular bodies or fine physique, but for what they have brought to these characters. Think about your possible favourite horror game or movie – sound is an essential part for all situations, whether you’re forced to tread carefully and a avoid and humanoid-pig-man or running from a freakishly screeching Necromorph. Sound is, to me, the best tool a developer can use to enhance a scenario. Voice actors and their talents not being excluded.
I cannot help but feel that when they change the voice actor of a iconic role entirely for them not wanting to run through the ropes with a separate motion capture actor or actress; it comes across as just plain lazy. By all means, capture the motions on the voice actor’s grimace if you need super realistic facial animation, but why cast a brilliant voice actor aside?
The upcoming Thief, Splinter Cell: Blacklist and yet to be released Metal Gear Solid 5 are all examples of games that changed the original voice actor, because they lacked a certain mobility. Michael Ironside voiced Sam Fisher in Splinter Cell from the very start and now we’re playing an older Sam Fisher who sounds younger and slightly less bad-ass due to the developer’s laziness.
I do not experience any kind of joy or satisfaction by saying that the developer of one of my favourite stealth series’ is being lazy, but that is wholeheartedly what it feels like.
The same can be said about Thief – Stephan Russell added an interesting vibe to the first three Thief games and I enjoyed his spoken views about his surroundings and the characters therein. We have a new voice actor for the fourth, next-gen Thief game, and who knows, the new voice may be just as enjoyable, but I honestly believe that Stephan Russell’s inclusion would’ve added just enough nostalgia for the returning fans mixed together with a new take regarding the actual gameplay.
David Hayter is being replaced by Kiefer Sutherland in Metal Gear Solid 5 and while I do think that Kiefer will fit in quite well – this new voice to Snake and the motion capture that has to accompany him may be necessary in some ways, but was it really necessary or was Hideo Kojima not in the mood for having to deal with separate actors?
I’ll have to take on the persona of a fanboy once again, but Elizabeth from BioShock Infinite made use of two different actresses to portray her. A voice actress and a motion capture actress and it didn’t feel to me as if there were any problems by making use of two actresses. You see, it can be done.
Ultimately, this may be seen as gaming tackling known obstacles in a new way, but it it REALLY necessary?
What are your thoughts on this matter? Let your voice be heard!