Videogames have come a long way in the past 15 years or so in terms of production values, though if there’s one aspect that is continually ridiculed by critics and gamers alike, it's voice acting. Games like Resident Evil and House of the Dead II make an episode of Hollyoaks look like a work of Shakespeare, and belie the horror-theme that runs throughout. These days things have changed for the better, with games like Metal Gear Solid and Uncharted managing to subvert perception that game acting is a load of tosh; in fact, many critics and gamers alike have suggested games are edging ever closer to Hollywood movies in this respect, especially when combined with the lush visuals and jaw-dropping set-pieces.
Still, the videogames industry has played host to some right stinkers in terms of voice acting, and it’s these audio atrocities we’ve decided to ‘honour’ in our latest feature. Bad acting isn’t just negated to Sony platforms of course, but hey, we’re a PlayStation site, so what did you expect? With that said, sit back and join us now as we show you the worst voice acting you’ll ever here on a Sony format.
Be sure to click the links provided below to recall just how bad some of these performances are.
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Resident Evil (PlayStation, 1996)
An obvious but essential choice for anyone looking into bad game voice acting, the original Resident Evil is an absolute cheese-fest thanks largely to the dismal translation. Capcom’s survival horror classic is host to all manner of cringe-worthy dialogue, from Barry Burton’s immortal ‘Master of Unlocking’ to Albert Wesker’s deadpan ‘Stop it! Don’t open that door!’ Interestingly some of the performances aren’t quite as bad as you remember, with Chris’s monologue in the intro – and a few snippets here and there – actually quite decent, but overall the performances are truly some of the worst you’ll ever here. It doesn’t help matters that the technology at the time didn’t allow for proper facial animations, so in order to accentuate the performances, the characters are forced to flay their arms about like a ventriloquist’s dummy on crack.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PlayStation, 1997)
It’s a pity that Symphony of the Night has such horrible voice acting, as the game itself is probably one of the best entries in the series to date, and a jewel in PlayStation’s retro-tinted crown. The funny thing is, a fair chunk of the bad acting can be attributed to the character of Richter, who just so happens to be voiced by the same bloke who did Chris Redfield in Resident Evil 1. The rest aren’t much cop either, and the whole thing just reeks of phoned-in performances, with some of the worst deliveries to have ever assaulted our ears. Lines like Richter’s “Die, monster” carry about as much clout as a wet noodle, while fang face Dracula’s attempts to convey all-encompassing evil prove about as intimidating as the cast of a child’s nativity play. Still, don’t let that put you off – the game’s great!
Star Ocean: The Last Hope International (PlayStation 3, 2010)
In many gamers’ opinion, JRPGs should remain perennially silent when it comes to delivering dialogue, and it’s not hard to see why when you get an earful of the latest Star Ocean title. Fortunately you have the option of selecting Japanese voice overs, but if you want to play it in English, then you should probably reconsider. Star Ocean’s performances leave a lot to be desired, and unlike games such as Resi where you could at least have a chuckle out of it, this is just outright torture. Welch is one of the worst offenders, a partner character who you’ll want to brutally murder after hearing his poorly-delivered rambling throughout the duration of the game. The bad VA is further compounded by the fact the plot is totally ridiculous and takes itself way too seriously, making for a truly ear-shattering package. Throw in a copious amount of dialogue-heavy cutscenes, and you really had better get those earplugs at the ready.
Sonic Adventure (PlayStation 3, 2010)
The spikey speedster’s 3D debut made a splash back in 1998 on Dreamcast, but overtime the game is probably more remembered for its abysmal dialogue more than anything. Sure, we’re hardly going to expect Oscar performances from the likes of Sonic and his furry band of freedom fighters, but Sonic Adventure could have at least made an effort to sound more like a Saturday morning cartoon and less of a train wreck. The main offenders here are, well everyone, from Tail’s high-pitches whines to Knuckles’ dullsville hard man routine. Who could forget Sonic’s hilarious “lookout, you’re gonna crash….AHHH!” or Big the Cat’s monotonous “Froooogy? Where r u?” Matters aren’t helped by the cheesy theme tunes accompanying each character, or the over-exaggerated facial expressions either. Next to other ‘cartoony’ heroes who have been given voices such as Ratchet & Clank and Jak & Daxter, Sonic and pals pale in comparison.
Final Fantasy X (PlayStation 2, 2001)
FFX’s voice acting came under much scrutiny when it launched; after all, the JRPG was the first game to use voice acting in the venerable series’ history, making it a landmark release. However, while attracting much praise at the time, looking back the VA work wasn’t much cop at all. The dialogue was particularly nauseating, though if you’re going to single out one particular offended, then it’ll have to be floppy-haired hero Tidus. A pity too, since James Arnold Taylor has done some great performances in the past, but here he falls completely flat; Tidus is whiny, irritating and generally hard to warm too with all his soppy cutscene expositions. Oh, and don't forget that laughing....
Heavy Rain (PlayStation 3, 2010)
Yes, really, Heavy Rain. Quantic Dream’s thriller-‘em-up is a stonking game no question, and some of the performances are great. However, a few are conspicuously bad in places, which begs the question: why did David Cage and chums decide to hire foreign actors to churn out second-rate American accents? Ethan “Jaaaaason” Mars and Norman “Show me your left wrist” Jayden are the worst offenders, and the subtle nuances of the American dialect fall flat as they attempt to convince you they’re from the good old US of A.
Michigan Report From Hell (PlayStation 2, 2005)
Suda51’s U.S.-based horror romp has all the staples of classic B-grade quality production values, right down to the hammy acting. Like Resident Evil, Michigan Report’s audio atrocities belie the game’s serious tone, which sees gamers battling against leech-like monsters around the vicinity of Lake Michigan. The game itself skipped a North American release altogether, launching only in Europe and Japan. Perhaps it’s just as well, as it would have certainly been a criminal offense to own a game that employs ‘talent’ like this. Characters curse in an almost sarcastic tone eliminating any believability, and the amount of overacting from the cast is laughable as people are offed while squealing like banshees and trying desperately to sound terrified of the abominations tearing at their flesh. If that wasn’t bad enough, the writing itself is total bollocks; really, the game never stood a chance.
Chaos Wars (PlayStation 2, 2008)
A popular rumor is that Chaos Wars’ English localisation actually hired members of the publishing team’s families to do the voice overs. Whether or not this is actually true doesn’t matter; all that you need to know is the dialogue is bloody awful. In fact, the game’s cast basically sound like a bunch of whining, spoilt brats, and to top it all off, they can’t even muster the enthusiasm to come across like they give a toss about their ‘performances.’ It may as well be a fandub.