In The Last of Us, behind the shiny graphics (and developer Naughty Dog’s insistence that they didn’t base their main character’s likeness on Ellen Page), there are two terrific actors lending both their voices and likeness to the protagonists. However, while both of these actors are amazing, neither has the kind of recognition to qualify as a true Hollywood A-lister. Luckily, gaming has plenty of those too.
While you can make an entire list just on amazing voice performances in the GTA series, the crown would have to Ray Liotta as the heartless protagonist in Vice City. This former “goodfella” has such a charismatic voice that he can make us legitimately care for a thug who can only be sympathized with because he is up against much bigger thugs.
Also not a series that is short on great voice-acting talent, True Crime gave us terrific performances from Michelle Rodriguez and Russell Wong, but the best would still be Christopher Walken as the player’s guide and the game’s narrator George. Having seen protagonist Nick Kang grow up in poverty and rise the ranks as the most loose-cannon cop in the history of generic setups, Walken brings humanity and comfort to a story that would have otherwise been either too cheesy or too grim. And, luckily, he also brings his trademarked stilted delivery.
Again, you can make an entire list just on the awesome voice work done in the Mass Effect series, but the top spot would still be claimed by Martin Sheen as the Illusive Man. As someone who believes that the end — humanity’s supremacy in the universe — justified any and all means, Sheen’s performance allows for considerable nuance in someone who could have been easily written off as a simple bigot. Sheen’s voice, however, succeeds in demonstrating that, even when you don’t agree with him, you should know the Illusive Man really does want what’s best for humans.
Is there anything this man can’t do? Already a legend in stage, film, and television, Stewart has also done voice work in, among others, Elder Scrolls IV and the various X-Men games. Considering his looks, demeanor, and impeccable record in sci-fi, is there really anyone better suited to play Prof. X? No, there isn’t (Sorry, James McAvoy).
Have you ever known anyone so infuriatingly frustrating that you actually want to keep talking to them, just to hear what asinine arrogance they can come up with next? That is the strength of Bruce Campbell’s many cameos in the Spider-Man films, and he completely utilizes that douchebaggery in the Spider-Man games. As the narrator that taunts and mocks you while helping you “learn the basics.” Campbell is hilarious and really makes you wonder just why he never became an A-lister.
Your father is there for you at the time of your birth. He jokes around with you. He stands by you as your only parent. And then, one day, he leaves. For much of the story, Liam Neeson’s role is minimal, but his loving and humane voice is more than enough to drive the player on an epic quest to search just why our father disappeared. And, above all else, this story actually makes you wonder if Liam Neeson’s character was…taken. Luckily, players use a very special set of skills (and associated perks) to try and find him.
Snoop Dogg, now known as Lion, plays a guy named Crow. You cannot (by which I mean, you easily can) make this stuff up. As the head of your rival faction, Snoop plays your penultimate foe as you rise through the ranks of New York’s underground fight scene. The story ends with you tossing Crow out the window, and Snoop was the best choice to play this character. After all, he’s naturally the kind of guy you just want to beat up.
Throughout much of Sleeping Dogs, Emma Stone’s character is an infuriatingly annoying person. She flirts with everything that moves, her blog sucks, and her self-proclaimed teaching credentials are proven to be highly suspect. Of course, all that makes it sound like this was a terrible videogame voiceover, and it really was. So why is it in this list? Because the Bro Code clearly states, “Whenever the opportunity presents itself, Emma Stone must be mentioned and praised for both her looks and acting ability.”
As the only man on the list whose sci-fi legend outshines Patrick Stewart, Mark Hamill is a fanboy’s dream. Having done everything from Star Wars to Spider-Man, Hamill gave one of the most memorable vocal performances ever as the Clown Prince of Crime in the Arkham series. Already having perfected the role for the various animated shows and films based on the character, Hamill finally got the opportunity to do what he does best in a series that no longer had to be “kid-appropriate.”
Because her field is more purely voice acting than anyone else on this list, you may not have necessarily seen Jennifer Hale. However, if you play games, you know her. Be it Samus Aran, Commander Shepard, Naomi Hunter, Mary Jane or Bastilla Shan, this amazing actor (I refuse to categorize acting performances by gender a la the Academy) shows everyone else exactly how voice-acting is done. The rise of cinematic gaming owes much to great vocal performances, and Hale’s talent ranks at the very top.