Last year I had a general "best voice acting" category that considered games as a whole. This year I'm going a different route, trying to single out performances by individuals that were impressive.
The problem with this is, as I look back at the year in games, I find quite a few individuals (and two casts) are deserving of adulation. Instead of leaving anyone out and feeling a bit guilty for it, I'm just going to name them all. Don't run away! There's only seven, in total - and for the first three, I'll try to make it quick.
I just never get tired of him, and he always delivers. He's been delivering since the PS1. It's always a thrill to hear that low, cheesy growl. There are no other returning characters on this list - and as much as I love Terrence Carson (Kratos in the God of War series), I have to give the nod to Hayter.
Jason Marsden (as Boone) also deserves recognition, but the biggest standout among a very strong cast is Felicia Day's instantly endearing turn as pugilist monk Veronica. It's not an exaggeration to say I love her, and a great deal of that is thanks to Day's performance.
No one is going to submit the script for Darksiders for a writing award, but Liam O'Brien invests the cheeseball, melodramatic story with so much smoldering gravitas that we have no recourse but to buy into his character and the world he inhabits - and cheer. I dare you not to thrill when he says "no, not alone."
Weithoff delivers a massive quantity of quality in Rockstar San Diego's magnum opus. Like the all the best performances of the year, he breathes an instantly identifiable humanity into the character - and while it's not always easy to like John Marston (he's a bit thick), the player always believes him.
If this were a best cast award, this title would take the cake - every character in the game feels like they truly occupy the iconic time and place of Red Dead Redemption - but I'm trying to single out remarkable individual performances, so let's move on.
Heavy Rain's cast is all over the place, in terms of quality. It's generally strong - held back by actors desperately trying to to match an American accent and substandard writing - but Sam Douglas soars above the rest of the cast and the uneven script to deliver a stunning turn as Scott Shelby.
Douglas's performance is subtle, confident, and remarkably controlled - easily making Shelby and his story the most interesting thing in the game. He is the shining star in Heavy Rain's cloudy sky.
Originally, Serkis was going to win this category - and some may argue I'm about to rob him of his well-deserved adulation - after all, Serkis once again proves himself a remarkable talent, here. After the spastic Gollum in Lord of the Rings and the booming King Bohan in Heavenly Sword, Serkis's Monkey is dialed way, way back - and what remains is a performance that embodies all the traits I list in the best work above. It's subtle. It's controlled. Thoughtful, relatable, human - never letting the player, for a moment, disbelieve the character.
Andy Serkis is fantastic in Enslaved. I - torn, really - give him second place because his (incredible) performance doesn't have as great an impact on that game as the winners do on theirs.
* * *
Surprised? It's okay, I didn't see it coming either - until I started writing this post.
No single actor or cast had so great an impact on their game as the central trio in Resonance of Fate - partly due to how great a departure their work (and the game) is from what you find in your run-of-the-mill JRPG.
North, DiCicco and Menville are all remarkable alone - each exhibiting the qualities I would point out in Sam Douglas, Andy Serkis and Rob Wiethoff - but they are fantastic when you put them together. Beyond this delicious chemistry, the three boast excellent comedic timing and a script that never overplays anything. It's a weird, fun, wholly endearing ensemble piece that elevates enjoyment of a JRPG story from a guilty pleasure to a wholesome, entertaining romp.
"Nolan North as Vashyron, finally, plays a character beyond the prototypical Uncharted smart-aleck he's been tasked with since 2007, while Scott Menville is a pressure cooker of darkness and violence as the mysterious, angsty Zephyr. I've become very familiar with how good those two are, so perhaps that's why I feel Jessica DiCicco as Leanne is a bit of a revelation.
With a perfect balance of tsundere violence (look it up, it's okay), fathomless strength of spirit and charming innocence, it's very hard to dislike Leanne. Jessica DiCicco can sit comfortably with the great voice actors of this generation."
- from the review -