I’m going to be real with you all. Early on in high school I had a huge crush on Ellen Page. This was a strange time for me, as I was first realizing I was becoming one of the kids who thought indie things were cool. I started listening to the Decemberists. I started wearing flannel, and was shaving less. And I thought Ellen was gorgeous in Juno even with the fake enlarged pregnancy. And I for one welcome her, as well as Mr. Dafoe, to the world of video games in Beyond: Two Souls. And it’s interesting to see them participate as the stars of the game rather than just voice actors. But the incorporation of Hollywood stars into our consoles and PC’s has been done before, both well and poorly. Here’s a few examples of each extreme.
Ricky Gervais and Frankie Boyle in GTA4
Three-time Golden Globes host and original creator of the Office, Ricky Gervais, and Scottish comedian Frankie Boyle are both downright hilarious. They both employ sarcasm, snarkiness, and vulgarity in their acts, and their comedy provide much-needed relief from the sea of bleakness that is GTA4’s story. These stand-up acts make the list because of how fresh the idea was. No comedian had ever done in-game stand-up comedy before, and it exposes Ricky and Frankie to a whole new untouched audience. Gervais’ performances are in the main GTA4 game, and Boyle can be found performing in the DLC The Lost and the Damned. Every performance is well done, and are each worth a trip to one of Liberty City’s cabaret clubs.
Yvonne Strahovski in Mass Effect
Strahovski is most well-known for her role as Sarah Walker on the NBC spy comedy/drama Chuck. She also had a recurring role in seasons seven and eight of Dexter. But in the world of video games, Strahovski is most well-known for providing the voice and likeness of Mass Effect companion Miranda Lawson, an officer of Cerberus and potential love interest for the male Shepherd. Miranda is introduced to Shepherd as cold and calculated, someone who puts the mission and the interests of Cerberus far above anything else. But as Shepherd’s mission progresses, and we learn more about Miranda’s complicated family history, we begin to sympathize with her rough upbringing, and Miranda begins to realize what’s truly important. Strahovski portrays Miranda fantastically through the second and third installments of the Mass Effect series, as well as in the iOS release, Mass Effect Galaxy.
Liam Neeson in Fallout 3
Bethesda seems very keen on killing off the characters for which they bring in famous voice actors. Sir Patrick Stewart lasts for about ten minutes as Emperor Uriel Septim in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Matthew Perry, known universally as Chandler from Friends, appeared as movin’ and shakin’ antagonist Benny in Fallout: New Vegas. But the best performance in a Bethesda game goes to Jedi master/CIA operative/wolf hunter Liam Neeson as James, the father of the everyone’s favorite Vault Dweller. Of all the performances on this list, Neeson does the best at breathing life into his character. James, a scientist, feels obligated to help the Wasteland for the sake of his lost wife, his only child, and for all who have been affected by the nuclear radiation. His dismay when his lost child saves him from the simulator is great because it shows his conflicting realizations; that his plan to keep his child safe has failed, but because of his child he can now continue to work on the purifier. James’ eventual sacrifice is heart wrenching, and it’s Neeson’s performance that makes it happen.
Chris Evans, Chanel Iman, and Redfoo from LMFAO in Intel Discovered
“Do you have what it takes to be a superstar? Get schooled by Chris Evans on the secrets of the action hero. Get styled and learn how to work the runway with Chanel Iman. Rock the party with Redfoo of LMFAO. And try not to kill yourself by playing this game that is bad even by Kinect standards. This game tries to prepare the player for a life of stardom by performing Kinect motions that let you do exciting things such as, fake fight stunt doubles on a movie set, wave at fans on the red carpet, and even work the DJ station at a crappy concert while an annoying man wearing leopard print pants tells you how much you rock. Or party rock, or whatever. I have no clue who Iman is, and I had no idea what the LMFAO guy’s name was prior to this, but c’mon Captain America, don’t do this to yourself. Seven hells, you’re a fucking Avenger, this is beneath you.
Christopher Walken in Ripper
Now I love me some Christopher Walken. There’s no doubting how magnificent an actor he is. But no one’s perfect. We’ve all done something we’re not proud of. And if Christopher Walken is at all proud of his performance in Ripper from Take-Two Interactive, then he really must have a fever, and I don’t think cowbell is the proper prescription. Maybe it’s poor script-writing, or maybe whoever did costumes should be arrested, or maybe it’s just Walken’s character’s complete disregard for how crime-solving works, but to quote Detective Magnotta, the skeevy policeman Walken portrays, “this guy, is un-fucking-believable!”
Vin Diesel in Wheelman
Originally, Wheelman was supposed to be followed up by a film adaptation for a sequel to the game. But both the game and the film were announced in 2006, and we’ve heard no news about the film ever since. And for damn good reason, because if we got the same performance from Vin in the film as we did in the game, we would have had a film that was worse than The Pacifier. On a related note, I don’t understand the trend of films involving action stars taking care of children in comedic action movies. Schwarzenegger kinda did it with Kindergarten Cop back in the day, then Vin Diesel did it with The Pacifier, then Jackie Chan in The Spy Next Door. Even WWE’s Triple H got in on the action with The Chaperone. Enough’s enough I say. But back to the task at hand, Wheelman is awful. Diesel’s character doesn’t appear to say anything throughout the entire game, everyone else keeps purposely using the term “wheelman” instead of driver, and the cars are exploding Michael Bay style as opposed to how cars really get knocked off the road. What’s the point of putting the actor in the game, designing the character to physically emulate the actor, market the shit out of it using the actor, and then don’t have him say anything? What is this Drive: The Game? A little bit of dialogue would be nice.