Deus Ex may be one of the most highly regarded and critically beloved games of all time, but it sure as hell isn’t because of its voice acting. Granted, the actors’ delivery starts out OK, with all the grim inflection and quiet gravitas you’d expect of secret agents in a hellish cyberpunk future. They set a tone that’s (mostly) serious and realistic – by circa-2000 videogame standards, anyway. But then the foreign characters show up, and all pretense of seriousness goes right the hell out the window.
Above: We would have made our own video, but it probably would have just been a pale imitation ofEegra’s
Voiced by a mostly American cast, the game’s British, Australian and assorted European characters grating to the point of embarrassment, with American inflections clearly audible through accents we’re probably meant to take seriously. And when Chinese or German characters show up, the game that otherwise works so hard to create a believable world suddenly becomes a cartoon, with hardened consonants, singsong delivery and R’s in place of L’s completely obliterating any illusion of worldliness or sophistication.
Granted, this was 10 years ago. The game industry has to have outgrown using overblown fake accents to establish characters by now, right? Right?
Actual accents: Cartoonish and confusing, respectively
For the purposes of this article, we won’t pass any kind of judgment on the overall quality of Hydrophobia. However, its accents – particularly the accents of its two leads, Scoot and Kate – are downright abominable. In the words of GR’s resident Scotsman Dave Meikleham, “The way [Scoot] overemphasises his R's is horrendous. … It's halfway Irish, with the other half leaning towards someone from the Scottish Highlands who's knocked back 10 beers, then suffered a severe head trauma.”
But while Scoot’s accent is pretty damn sketchy, he’s not the worst offender here. Kate, reputedly voiced by an Irish actress, is far, far worse. Not because she’s affecting a fake accent, necessarily, but because it’s impossible to tell what fake accent she’s affecting. Listen carefully, and you’ll hear it veer constantly between Irish, American, English and something that sounds vaguely Scottish. It never lingers on one accent long enough to pin down what, if anything, she’s going for, and it’s incredibly distracting.
To her credit, the accents aren’t half-bad while she’s doing them. If she could have picked one and stuck with it, however, that would have been a damn sight better.
Attempted accents: Various
Actual accents: All over the goddamn map
Silverload. Jesus Christ, Silverload. We’ve brought up this obscure, nigh-unplayable Western adventure game once before, and there’s clearly no way we could do an article on shitty accents without dragging it into the light again.
Ostensibly a game about a gunslinger searching for a kidnapped little boy in a ghost town full of werewolves, Silverload features a lead who’s clearly doing a Clint Eastwood impression throughout the entire game – and he’s the only one who gives a natural, non-distracting performance. As for everyone else, well… it sounds like someone on the production staff read somewhere that the Old West was a magnet for immigrants, and decided to lay that idea on extra-thick. Damn near everyone speaks with a wildly different accent; there’s the Southern-then-suddenly-Irish settler lady, the New Englander innkeeper, the Scottish general store clerk and a town bully who sounds like he’s doing a bad Slim Pickens impression. And then there’s the town barber, who talks like a gay stereotype by way of Boris Karloff’s nightmares.
All weird, all fake (or at least fake-sounding), and all bogged down by terrible, needlessly elaborate writing. There are certainly worse fake accents out there, but Silverload may be the only game about which fake accents are the only notable thing. Well, fake accents and failure.
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