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Giving voice to the gods

What does a god sound like? What about a demon... or a severed head?

These seem like random and bizarre questions to most of us, but to the men and women who create videogames, they are of crucial importance. Moreover, they must be answered. Imagining a fictional universe in your head or in a sketchbook is one thing; transforming those fantastical worlds and characters into something that others can experience - and fully believe - is quite another.

So, how do they do it? How does one give voice to a god or, better yet, the severed head of a god? We talked to four actors involved in the upcoming Too Human, as well as the game's Director of Content, to better understand the behind-the-scenes process.

 


THE CHARACTER

Baldur, the youngest of the Aesir and ODIN's favorite son, is most beloved by the humans. He is filled with the optimism and naivety of youth, yet is a seasoned warrior who understands the value of the work of the Aesir, and it is this that has made him popular amongst the humans, who see the other Aesir as set in their ways, uncompromising and hardened.

THE ACTOR

What games, TV or movies might GamesRadar's readers recognize you from?

Crispin Freeman: After my career as a theatrical actor in New York City, including a stint on Broadway, I moved to Los Angeles and have primarily done voice over work for videogames and animation, especially anime. I've played the voice of Superman for the Justice League: Heroes game and I've played both Winter Soldier and Dark Colossus in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. I also do all the voice matching for Orlando Bloom for the Pirates of the Carribean videogames.

I've done numerous voices in anime including Alucard in Hellsing, Togusa in Ghost in the Shell, Prince Turnip in Howl's Moving Castle and Itachi in Naruto. I'm currently playing the voice of Electro in the new Spectacular Spider-Man series for Warner Brothers. You can see all my other characters on my website.

How would you describe your character in Too Human?

CF: Baldur is the kind of character I love to play. He's passionate, committed, conscientious and capable. He also has a big axe to grind. Things have not gone so well for him recently and he wants answers. I can completely identify with that. I think all of us have been there at some point in our lives where it seemed like the world was against you and nothing seemed to make sense.  It's time for Baldur to take action and discover his full potential.

What did you like best about this character?

CF: I think what I like best is his unwillingness to compromise. The name of the game is Too Human and Baldur is constantly being faced with the choice about how much of his humanity he is willing to part with in order to attain power. It's almost a Faustian bargain. The fact that he wants to be victorious, but that he wants to retain his humanity and have his victory on his own terms, is very appealing to me.

What was the recording process like?

CF: Unlike any other videogame I've done. We recorded in groups so that we could work off the voices and performances of our fellow actors. I think it made all the scenes much more natural and believable. There's immediacy because we're actually responding to each other in the moment, and that's wonderful.



THE CHARACTER

Loki's keen tongue and gifted intellect make him a dangerous adversary. The Aesir are exceptionally wary when dealing with him, for to provoke him would be to invite certain disaster. There are those such as Thor and Heimdall, however, who would rather see him behind bars, or better yet, done away with altogether.

THE ACTOR

What games, TV or movies might our readers recognize you from?

Robert Picardo: I've been an actor for over 30 years. For a complete filmography, check out my website. Perhaps I am best known for my role as the holographic doctor on Star Trek Voyager. Currently I am starring on Stargate Atlantis as the new commander of the Atlantis expedition. I also star in the upcoming independent horror film Sensored.

How would you describe your character in Too Human?

RP: Loki is sensuously evil. Years ago, I played a kinky lycanthrope (a ten-dollar word for werewolf) in Joe Dante's The Howling. I was reminded of this character during my Loki recording sessions. I hope that Too Human gamers are driven to defeat Loki, but are also drawn - at least a little - to his (hopefully) sexy creepiness.

What part of his personality was most fun to perform?

RP: I enjoyed the depth of Loki's evil. It's a very vicarious and liberating experience to play someone with no moral qualms. I had the opportunity to use my voice in unique ways.

What's the recording process like for a videogame role?

RP: The recording process is very much like recording a role for an animated film: You're shown sketches of the character you're portraying and some description of what he's like. Then you record his lines of dialogue - responding to direction from the director - and do multiple takes as necessary. The principle difference is that an interactive game requires the recording of many different responses to the players' choice of action, so your voice can get pretty tired by the end of the day's session.

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