More video games are becoming a haven for tremendous acting performances, especially with stories that are becoming evermore sophisticated and complex. For this column, I want to recognize my five most favorite actors behind the characters in video games.
5. David Hayter
David Hayter makes the list for his performance as Solid Snake in the Metal Gear Solid franchise. Unfortunately, it appears that Hayter will no longer be playing Snake for the foreseeable future. However, it is notable that he also got to go further back and play an iteration of Naked Snake, aka Big Boss, in the franchise. Playing the original Metal Gear Solid was an incredible experience, and following Hayter’s performance as the gruff, but vulnerable Snake was a big part of that. Hayter’s performance as Snake essentially helped redefine that video game stories could be intensely serious, complex and cinematic scenarios.
4. Roger Craig Smith
The versatile Roger Craig Smith has established himself quite well as a powerhouse in the industry in recent years. He has become the main voice of Sonic the Hedgehog for the Sonic franchise with Sega, even appearing in a vocal cameo as the character in the hit Disney movie, Wreck-It Ralph. Smith also did a great job with his vocal performance of Ezio from the Assassin’s Creed franchise and Chris Redfield in numerous installments of the Resident Evil series. Considering he had big shoes to fill with Kevin Conroy, Smith asserted himself well as a younger, less experienced version of Batman in Batman: Arkham Origins.
3. Troy Baker
A quick challenge. How many actors have voiced both the Batman and The Joker? The only one that comes to mind is the one and only Troy Baker. Troy Baker is a tremendous and versatile actor who did an absolutely stellar job in the role of The Joker in the Batman: Arkham franchise with Batman: Arkham Origins. Besides The Joker, Baker has built a tremendous body of work in animation and video games. Baker has pulled off amazing, dramatic roles such as Booker DeWitt in BioShock Infinite and Joel in The Last of Us. I am incredibly excited at the prospect of Baker’s work in the upcoming Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor in the role of Talion and the villanous Pagan Min in Far Cry 4.
2. Nolan North
Nolan North gets extra points at No. 2–not only for being the voice behind one of my favorite action-adventure gaming heroes, Nathan Drake–but also as the physical performer. Starting with Uncharted 2, North started doing the physical motion capture performance of Drake. North perfectly captures a modern-day version of Indiana Jones with Nathan Drake, one of the coolest, most likable gaming protagonists ever. Besides Drake, North has also done a fantastic job of portraying everyone’s favorite Merc-with-a-mouth, Deadpool, in the Deadpool video game and in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. In addition, North sounds almost unrecognizable with his tremendous version of The Penguin in Arkham City and Arkham Origins.
1. Mark Hamill
To anyone who believes I am over-ranking Hamill here, he makes the top of my list because of two words: Arkham City. Hamill’s performance of The Joker is a genre-transcending performance. Despite the fact that all he is known for is the voice of The Joker character, Hamill is well-known as the No. 1 choice for many fans favorite version of The Joker. Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City are no exceptions. Previously, Hamill was able to go to dark places as The Joker; but with the Arkham franchise goes even darker. As a huge fan of the Batman comics, the version of Joker presented in these games, along with Hamill’s nuanced performance, were a revelation.