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Old 05-13-2011, 06:00 AM   #1
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Default Voice Acting in Adventure Games

Generally excellent or atrocious? What are your favorite voices?

I find acting in adventure games to be very mixed, usually bad with some good in there and the rare gem of a voice actor who can raise a game to greatness. Here are some of my favorites:

-Gabriel from Gabriel Knight: What a voice. I think Tim Curry does a magnificent job bringing the character alive, and is one of the main reasons for GK's popularity. The thick, drawling accent which is crude yet witty at the same time is just a brilliant portrayal of one of our favorite characters.

-Narrator from Space Quest: He's got that really over-the-top tv presenter voice which makes many of the jokes hilarious (Gary Owens is an actual disc jockey). His voice can get on your nerves sometimes but I think he's one of the best voice actors to ever grace AGs.

-Emma Harry from Barrow Hill: Fantastic radio voice and extremely atmospheric for a horror game. She made me feel like I was tuned in to Barrow Hill radio for real, an effect every horror designer yearns for.

-Guybrush from Monkey Island: Admirable for creating a voice which fits quite well the character from the first two games, and still adds further to the character in MI3. I don't actually remember having a voice in mind when I played 1 and 2, but if they had brought the wrong guy in I would have been very annoyed.

-Tex from Tex Murphy: Maybe THE most recognisable adventure voice. Sure, it's FMV, but his voice brings so much character to the lovable, goofy detective. It's impossible to imagine Tex without it.

-David Styles from Gray Matter: A very professional sounding voice, and an extremely convincing portrayal of David. Serious voices like this are rare where games usually hire amateurs, but the effect of using a good actor like this really shows in Gray Matter.

-Nigel Danvers from Lost Crown: Well, who would have thought Boakes was both a great game developer and voice actor? I actually thought Nigel was voiced badly for well into the game until I realised how well it fit his character, coming across as rather plain and naive but actually kind and compassionate.

Honorable mentions to Sam and Max (great acting all around), the computer and Wheatley from Portal, Stauf from 7th Guest, John Cleese's 'the Bomb' from Starship Titanic and I'm sure I've missed many.

Awful voice acting: Darren from Black Mirror, most of the King's Quests, pretty much everyone in Secret Files, Whispered World, Simon the Sorcerer and Chewy: Esc From F5 (annoying as hell), Riddle of Master Lu (cheese )

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Old 05-13-2011, 06:30 AM   #2
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- Toonstruck is often the game i think of when speaking about great voice acting, and it's probably one of the best games ever in any genre in terms of voice acting. It's no wonder, when you have such talents as Christopher LLoyd, Tim Curry and even Homer Simpsons himself - Dan Castellaneta. But there are others also, which are some of best Hollywood voice actors who voiced Disney animated movies, Johnny Bravo and many others.


- The other game that comes to mind is Al Emmo which is funny enough, the game which is also notorius for "bad" voice acting of the main character, but other than that i think the narrator is one of the best "narrator voices". He is heavilly inspired and sort of "tribute" to Sierra's narrators from Larry, Space Quest...


Also, Rock Bros in The Whispered World sounded great.

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Old 05-13-2011, 09:07 AM   #3
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yeah i do think the english voice acting in whispered world is alot better than people give it credit for. The only bad part about it is some of voice actors are recycled and in those cases they dont sound great. The voice of sadwick was unusual, but i wouldnt say it was bad acting.

One of my favorite narrators of all time is definitely John Rhys-Davies and his work in quest for glory 4. And of course one of the most laughably bad voices of all time is cedric from kings quest 5.
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Old 05-13-2011, 09:54 AM   #4
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worst voice acting in an adventure game that I can remember is The Watchmaker. just awful, and the plot wasn't much better

also the merchant/tutorial in Keepsake... the rest of the voices were good but his just made me want to tear my own ears off and bury them under rocks
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Old 05-13-2011, 09:55 AM   #5
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"Stobbart, 2 b's and two t's you don't know how many people get it wrong"
Now, seriouslly, how would Broken Sword sound without Rolf Saxon?

Also, I like Sarah Hamilton as April, Roger Raines as Crow is a perfect fit, and also Brian from TLJ.

I do like the voice of Gabriel Knight, Zelda from Kyrandia, and a few others.
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Old 05-13-2011, 10:01 AM   #6
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The entire voice cast of The Longest Journey did a superb job at bringing the characters of Stark and Arcadia to life (especially Roper Klacks, Crow and Burns Flipper). Given the large number of characters that April encounters, it was not surprising that the actors would perform characters from both worlds. It was amusing to discover that the actor for Crow, Roger Raines, also voiced Gerrold the Vanguard receptionist, and that Ralph Byers voiced Roper Klacks, Brian Westhouse and Jacob McAllen!

Most of the voice acting in Blackstone Chronicles was also great, especially the chilling performance of Henry Strozier as Malcolm Metcalf.

One of my favourite adventure game voice actors has to be Paul Bandey. Although the name might not ring any bells, Paul's distinctive voice can be heard in dozens of games, including Faust (Seven Games of the Soul) as Mephisto, The Legend of the Prophet & the Assassin (and Secrets of the Alamut) as Tancrède de Nerac/As-Sayf, Heavy Rain (voice and motion capture for Capt. Perry), as well as MISSING/In Memoriam and Evidence: The Last Ritual as the English voice of Jack Lorski.

Another favourite voice actress of mine is Lani Minella, best known as Nancy Drew, Gina from the Runaway series and Tony Tough. And a Broken Sword game would not be the same without George Stobbart being voiced by Rolf Saxon.

I tend to cringe at very bad, overdone Asian accents (Joshua from the Runaway series and the Chinese vendor in Dreamfall spring to mind immediately ), as well as horribly exaggerated French and German accents. Yes, I agree that some of the worst voice acting occurs in The Watchmaker!
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Old 05-13-2011, 12:00 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oscar View Post
-Nigel Danvers from Lost Crown: Well, who would have thought Boakes was both a great game developer and voice actor? I actually thought Nigel was voiced badly for well into the game until I realised how well it fit his character, coming across as rather plain and naive but actually kind and compassionate.
Ha! I was about to put him under the Atrocious tab myself! His performance itself wasn't THAT abysmal, but not being able to skip any line of dialogue really made me loathe the guy for not hiring someone else to do the voice work of Nigel.

I totally agree with the voice (and overall performance) of Chris Jones as Tex Murphy, though, as well as that of Tim Curry in the role of Gabriel Knight (the live actor really ruined Beast Within for me). Ditto for the whole cast of Toonstruck (especially Castellaneta as Flux) and Dominic Armato as Guybrush.

Zoe from Dreamfall and her Mr. Wonkers pet must also get a mention, but my favorite all-time performance in an adventure game has to be that of Tony Plana in the role of Manny Calavera. The entire cast of Grim Fandango was brilliant in my book, but Plana really elevated computer game acting to professional standards for me, even before the frequent celebrity appearances on today's AAA titles (mostly non-adventures, sadly).

Also, honorable mentions go to Day of The Tentacle and especially Hoagie and Laverne, Lewton from Discworld: Noir, Ben from Full Throttle and a bunch of other characters I don't remember right now.
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Old 05-13-2011, 02:56 PM   #8
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Like others have already mentioned...

TLJ, Dreamfall and GK all had excellent voice acting.

I really think it has a lot to do with how a company goes about doing it's recording. I've played a number of "Triple A" (not necessarily adventure) games and to be honest I usually find their voice acting to be pretty bad. They tend to hire movie / TV actors simply because they're notable actors and have them read a script.

When I hear good voice acting (like the games above) it seems that the actors actually know what's going on in the game world. Not unlike an actor in a movie, they take the time to actually learn their character and how he/she would react to a given situation.

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Old 05-13-2011, 04:45 PM   #9
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Most Lucas Arts adventures are really good. But there are some honestly awful voice acted adventures out there. I found Nibiru to be very strange.
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Old 05-13-2011, 05:01 PM   #10
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The voice acting in Grim Fandango is fantastic.
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Old 05-13-2011, 07:50 PM   #11
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Tim Curry as Gabriel Knight (in GK3) is one of the most dreadful voices that I had to endure ever in gaming... It's funny cause I didn't have a problem with him in the original game, but GK3...ehhh... Everytime he spoke, I felt like he was somewhere else in another plane of existence...
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Old 05-14-2011, 03:08 AM   #12
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Quite agree, but had the problem in the orginal game too. Never understood the lyrical opinions about Tim Curry in GK. I guess there's nothing wrong with Tim Curry, but his type of voice doesn't correspond at all with Gabriel Knight, it is miscasted, way too deep and too mature.
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Old 05-14-2011, 03:37 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mart View Post
Quite agree,
Me too. Curry was way over the top in GK3.

Quote:
but had the problem in the orginal game too. Never understood the lyrical opinions about Tim Curry in GK. I guess there's nothing wrong with Tim Curry, but his type of voice doesn't correspond at all with Gabriel Knight, it is miscasted, way too deep and too mature.
He was not over the top in GK1 and his voice is great: attractive and sexy. You definitelly don't want Gabriel to sound like Brian in Runaway, that's a different kind of "immature".

Oh, by the way... since nobody has mentioned The Last Express, I will. It's one of the best examples of perfect voiceacting by ALL characters. Amazing.
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Old 05-14-2011, 05:29 AM   #14
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I have to agree with all of you here. Bad voice acting in adventure games can pull you right out of the experience. There's been a few games I couldn't even finish due to horrid voice acting. I will definitely agree with GK1: Sins of the Fathers and Grim Fandango, some of the best voice acting in those.

I thought Blade Runner had voice acting that was pretty good too. Some minor characters were a little dodgey but overall was really good. Day of the Tentacle had some really fun voice acting along with Monkey Island 3, Murray was awesome.
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Old 05-14-2011, 06:51 AM   #15
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Did I forget good old Murray?
I liked all the cast from MI3 ! They did a really great job!
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Old 05-14-2011, 12:25 PM   #16
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Tony Plana as manny calavera definitely should be mentioned here, not to mention his brilliant sidekick glottis, voiced by Alan Blumenfeld. Both geniuses at work.

I also love Mark Hamill's Ripburger in Full Throttle. Has any villain ever sounded so utterly evil as him? I think not.

Robert Patrick did a great job in THE DIG also.

I agree that Tim Curry did an awesome job in GK1, granted, it's a very over the top kind of voice that no doubts takes some getting used to, but it's incredibly original and really adds a lot to the character and makes it memorable.

Failed voice acting I'd say the broken sword games excel at. I really like the voice of George though. But the rest of the cast has generally been rather so and so in my opinion. I only played 1 and 2 though (and like them a lot by the way) but I presume 3 didn't improve on this front?
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Old 05-14-2011, 12:53 PM   #17
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I agree that Tim Curry did an awesome job in GK1, granted, it's a very over the top kind of voice that no doubts takes some getting used to, but it's incredibly original and really adds a lot to the character and makes it memorable.
I agree with the way you describe his performance, theo, but not entirely with the "did an awesome job in GK1" part. Curry was wonderful throughout the whole GK3 and in some parts of GK1 (Curry can be really creative with his deliveries). However, GK1 was rather badly voice directed and some lines from Gabriel that should be more serious or even sad (for example the ending dialogs in the game) are delivered by Curry in a way too casual manner. Consequently, I prefer turning the voiceovers completely off while I'm playing GK1 - much easier to immerse oneself in the story and dramatic events.

GK2 and GK3 are pretty much perfect in the acting department though.
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Old 05-14-2011, 02:36 PM   #18
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I agree with Tony Plana, has to be the best voice actor in an adventure game ever.
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Old 05-14-2011, 06:05 PM   #19
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also the merchant/tutorial in Keepsake... the rest of the voices were good but his just made me want to tear my own ears off and bury them under rocks
Agreed 100%
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Old 05-14-2011, 09:57 PM   #20
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Quote:
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Tim Curry as Gabriel Knight (in GK3) is one of the most dreadful voices that I had to endure ever in gaming... It's funny cause I didn't have a problem with him in the original game, but GK3...ehhh... Everytime he spoke, I felt like he was somewhere else in another plane of existence...
Was that the voice or what he said? I found GK hard to get into because he wasn't the traditional goody-goody hero AG character.
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