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He Really Can Act / Video Games

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  • Jesse McCartney:
    • Ask the Kingdom Hearts fandom, and most will say that the prologue for Kingdom Hearts II took a turn for the heart-wrenching towards the end. The sob-inducing performance of Roxas? Yeah, that was Jesse McCartney. Same goes for Alyson Stoner (the English voice of Xion) in 358/2 Days.
    • And if you were still unconvinced by Jesse in KH2, then Birth By Sleep and 358/2 Days will change your opinion.
  • Georgia van Cuylenberg spent most of Final Fantasy XIII making Vanille into one of the most irritating Genki Girls ever. Then came a little scene on a stormy rooftop in Nautilus. Damn but she can act an epic breakdown.
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  • Carrie Anne Moss' stint as a voice actress for Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 is also noteworthy, managing to convincingly play a very vicious crime boss.
  • When it comes to Jack Black, there's his VA performance in Brütal Legend where he combines his silly and goofy character with badassness and a touch of deepness. Then again, there were a lot of instances in that game, especially from the guest stars. Rob Halford plays both an effeminate Big Bad with tendencies for hitting extremely high notes and a Guttural Growler, Lita Ford plays a stoic Proud Warrior Race Guy, Lemmy Kilmister plays himself to great extent, as does Ozzy Osbourne, alongside the fact that you actually hear the latter.
  • Stephen Merchant's performance as Wheatley in Portal 2 showed off his impressive voice acting skills and his ability to turn in a genuinely menacing and threatening performance.
  • There's no question that Jennifer Hale has talent, but some of her roles arguably did not make the best use of them. Then she was called in to play Commander Shepard in Mass Effect, a character defined as the galaxy's ultimate badass and an extremely charismatic Magnetic Hero, both of which she managed to successfully portray for the entire trilogy, with a good deal of unexpected emotional nuance as well, particularly later in the trilogy as Shepard became more jaded and weary. This earned Hale such accolades as being called the Meryl Streep of the gaming industry and currently being regarded as one of the best VAs in the medium.
    • Likewise, her male counterpart for the voice of Commander Shepard, Mark Meer. While he was criticized by many for being flat and monotone in the first two games, he was highly praised for his performance of Shepard in Mass Effect 3.
    • From the same series and game, Seth Green as Joker. Normally known for portraying comedic characters, he does the same here, until he explains why he acts like a comedian all the time: to keep Shepard sane after all the horrible things s/he goes through. It's a powerful, dramatic moment taking place right after arguably the darkest mission in an already incredibly dark game, and he brought his A-game.
  • Steve Downes as Master Chief in Halo 4. He'd always been good as a VA, but a recurring criticism was that Chief was too flat a character (owing to his being a Heroic Mime and so on). The increased dialogue was put to good use by Steve, who manages to steal the show and simultaneously humanise him. It gets even better when he's saying goodbye to Cortana and his voice is cracking, with Chief clearly trying to fight back tears. If that isn't a tear-jerker for the game, what isn't?
  • Charles Martinet as Mario in Super Smash Bros. Brawl: Mario is usually a happy-go-lucky Everyman, but the surprisingly deep storylines in Brawl show him as a true battle-hardened hero. When Mario is about to unleash his Final Smash, he delivers his line with utter, barely-contained joy.
    • One of Charles Martinet's roles outside the Mario universe was the dragon Paarthurnax. Contrary to the high-pitched voices of many Mario characters, Paarthurnax has an incredibly deep voice and is well-acted.
    • Another one of Martinet's roles is Fowl Mouth in Cel Damage. Fowl Mouth is an avian Chicago gangster from the 1920s with an appropriately deep voice, who, as his name indicates, says a lot of vulgarities. In other words, the exact opposite of Mario. Martinet proves able to keep up with the rest of the cast, who consist mostly of comedy specialists and stand-up comedians.
    • Charles also played the role of the Homunculus in Shadow of Destiny, who sounded very quiet and mysterious and gave a sense of uneasiness every time they appeared. Compared to Charles' impression of Mario, who is very loud and excitable, hearing him voicing a stoic and quiet character can be unrecognizable a first.
    • While he has done full voice acting outside of the Mario series before, as Wario, Charles Martinet is usually limited to grunts and other short voice lines. But in Warioware Gold, he gets to do full voice acting for Wario, and many players consider his Laughably Evil, Large Ham performance to be one of the best parts of the game.
  • We always knew Nolan North was a good actor, but he was always pigeonholed in the same roles. Then he played The Penguin in the Batman: Arkham Series, where he terrified the audience and made him quite possibly one of the most memorable versions of the character... ever.
    • This is to say nothing of his performance in Spec Ops: The Line, where his character, Captain Martin Walker, starts going batshit insane in an epic Playing Against Type work, and he gradually becomes so much worse than the person he thinks he is hunting. His performance in that game is truly nightmarish... even better, the developers said that they hadn't chosen him as a case of Playing Against Type, just that he'd auditioned successfully. When the developers realise you have the potential to be that creepy and then use it to full effect... damn. What's most impressive though, is that you can tell how Nolan North clearly had a lot of fun here, because there's a very good reason as to why Spec Ops: The Line is his favorite video game (evidenced by him recommending it several times already anywhere he can) and Captain Martin Walker is his favorite character that he has ever portrayed.
    • Also, in Team Fortress 2, where in another good instance of Playing Against Type, North proves his chops as Merasmus the Magician by delivering a performance that's both ham-tastically entertaining and menacing, made even better by how he nails that Vincent Price impression perfectly.
    • And then he put any doubts to rest with his performance as David in The Last of Us, where he steals the game from the lead actors.
  • Freddie Prinze Jr. pleasantly surprised people with his performance as James Vega in Mass Effect 3, which provided more nuance to the character than one would initially expect from looking at him and coming from a guy best known for '90s rom-com roles, preemptively helping to rescue the character from the scrappy heap everyone thought he would be in. But it was his performance as The Iron Bull in Dragon Age: Inquisition that really got people singing praises. In addition to showing off a vocal range that nobody thought he had and often being hilarious, it gave a whole new perspective into the Qunari, by depicting one Going Native, which he managed to capture in almost every piece of dialogue, making Iron Bull a big favorite. His work on Iron Bull's personal quest was a particular stand out.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep's Jason Dohring. Perhaps he went a little too far with the Dull Surprise for most of the game, but at the end of Terra's story when Terra finally confronts Master Xehanort directly, Dohring manages to make Terra sound very angry, and for very good reasons.
    Terra: My friend, Ven... You tell me, Xehanort. What did you do to him?!
    Terra: Was my master— no, my father, Eraqus not enough for you?! Leave my friends alone!
    • As of 0.2, the fandom is largely in agreement that Dohring has really upped his game in the years since BbS.
  • While his performance in King's Quest V is nothing to write home about, Josh Mandel showed how emotional King Graham could get in the AGD remake of King's Quest II. In a vision of the future showing Daventry in ruins during the events of King's Quest III, The Father, head of the Black Cloak, taunts Graham during his darkest hour. Mandel gives one hell of a performance, portraying a King Graham being forced to make decisions that would risk the life of his daughter, but save his kingdom. Remember, this is a guy who started out as a comedian before becoming a writer and designer at Sierra before being thrust into the recording booth.
  • Ashly Burch was most well-known for her web series, Hey Ash Whatcha Playing as well as voicing high-pitched characters in Borderlands 2 and Adventure Time. But when she voiced Chloe Price in Life Is Strange, she proved herself as an incredibly capable actress.
  • Star Fox Zero showed once and for all that Mike West can still play Fox McCloud. Then the Switch version of Starlink: Battle for Atlas cemented it.
  • DmC: Devil May Cry: While the acting in this game is already solid, if not stellar, David de Lautour gets some bonus points during Vergil's Downfall. He can portray Vergil's descent into madness, and fall from grace pretty well and scarily.
    Vergil: Where did he go... Stop running, Dante!
    • Tim Philips gets a few points in the game's more somber scenes. Missions 12 and 20 (in the original ending, not the Definitive edition) are pretty noteworthy.
  • Freedom Planet might be the last game you'd expect to show up here, what with its lighthearted, if not downright cheesy voice acting and script as part of its deliberate Narm Charm throwback to 90s gaming. But when Lilac and Carol have their temporary falling out after Torque is captured by the enemy, it's genuinely sad seeing Carol throw in the towel and quit her best friend. Dawn M. Bennett as Lilac delivers some absolutely gutwrenching screams when she's being subjected to Electric Torture, and crying out Milla's name after she's seemingly killed is nothing less than heartbreaking. Her rage at Brevon is nothing short of a Catharsis Factor after all the hell he's pulled. While there are many critics of the voice direction in the game, few have anything bad to say about Dawn's work.
  • Richard Steven Horvitz has always played comedic roles. In Psychonauts, while not being as large a ham as he is notorious for, his character Raz is still pretty lighthearted. And then you see scenes like this and it hits you that maybe it's just the littlest bit serious. The littlest bit. And he can still pull that off.
  • Cristina Valenzuela, despite having been cast in roles before (such as Skullgirls), her role as Velvet Crowe in Tales of Berseria had her Playing Against Type massively, and it was seen as perhaps one of her best performances ever. Those who heard her as Riven from League of Legends or more "stereotypically girly" characters were shocked at hearing how well she played Velvet, as demonstrated by this scene.
  • Lex Lang replaced Clancy Brown as Dr. Neo Cortex from Crash Twinsanity onwards. Brown had played Cortex since the second game, and Cortex was depicted as a serious, menacing villain, though he started getting more of a weak, pathetic side in the third game. Twinsanity focused on an Enemy Mine situation between Crash and Cortex, which paved the way for Cortex to become much more humorous. This stuck in the Radical games, despite Cortex going back to being an antagonist, and Lang would repeatedly ham it up. Then the first three games were remade after a long hiatus, with Lang reprising Cortex. He brought his tone back down to Twinsanity levels and played Cortex far more seriously than he ever did before. The result is a more emotive Cortex that still manages to be threatening, and while Lang wasn't unpopular as Cortex before, he became far more respected by the fanbase for his performance here.
  • Even if the Sly Cooper games have already had some memorable voice acting, Kevin Miller delivers more emotions into his lines as Sly as the series progresses, a stark contrast to the more quiet, monotone voice consistently used throughout the first game.
  • More like "He Really Can Sing," but Matthew Mercer stunned fans with his performance as Shigure in Fire Emblem Fates, specifically in the Heirs of Fate DLC. Shigure's more soft-spoken voice is already Playing Against Type for Mercer since he tends to be associated with Badass Baritone (notably as Chrom and Ryoma, two of his other Fire Emblem roles). On top of that, Mercer gets several singing lines in Heirs of Fate, including the background music for the final stage, where he's alongside clips of Rena Strober (who's known for her Broadway singing). He absolutely nails it despite being more known as a voice actor than a singer.
  • Spider-Man (PS4) impressed many on just how much Yuri Lowenthal was allowed to show his range off as the title hero. He absolutely nails it during the game's climax with his quiet rage as he realizes that Dr. Octopus always knew his true identity, his grief realizing that the man he once looked up to is gone and has been replaced with one of the worst criminals he's ever fought, and his utter heartbreak as he spends one last time with Aunt May in her final minutes before she dies. Many fans have praised the game's climax for how emotional it gets, with Lowenthal's performance being seen as a primary contributing factor.


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