“That voice is really familiar,” I say to myself during a sceptical play session of Spec Ops: The Line.
“Who is that?”
A quick Google reveals the mystery voice to be none other than Nolan North. “Of course it’s Nolan North! It obviously wasn’t Troy Baker, so who else could it be?”
So, over the course of the next few hours, I have to adjust to the very strange reality that Nathan Drake’s voice is echoing through the arid wastelands of Dubai, under the guise of a Delta Force operator. I know Nate is a bit of a killing machine, but I never expected him to go full-on Rambo.
In fact, you can find Nate’s voice in a lot of places: stating the consistently obvious in Assassin’s Creed, rolling with the punches in Deadpool, or even just providing a bit of extra chatter in games like Dying Light and The Last of Us. Nolan North’s stock voice will, to me at least, always be Nathan Drake. So it’s a little jarring to hear his voice on another character; and you know, I love Nolan North and think he’s an excellent voice actor, but it does create some problems.
As people who’ve grown up during the age of celebrity, we’re accustomed to seeing the same people fill our screens/pages day in, day out. We’re used to distinguishing the difference between young, thoughtless Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic and crazy, hilarious Leonardo DiCaprio in Django: Unchained. Well, that’s a good example at least. There are definitely a fair few Tom Cruise or George Clooney movies where it’s difficult to see any remarkable change at all. Still, we’re used to it, and we suspend our disbelief accordingly.
With videogames, this can sometimes be a little more tricky. In theory, of course, that shouldn’t really be the case. The visuals are pretty much always different, allowing our eyes to trick our minds (hence having to Google the Spec Ops VO). Yet there’s something particularly odd about hearing nothing but an actor’s voice. It becomes all too easy to just centre of that voice, until it’s the only thing you notice about the character. It’s a similar deal with animated movies, too.
It’s not like this a true problem. I’m sure we’ll all get used to it eventually, but it’s an unusual position. More than ever before, certain voice actors are gaining cult celebrity status (in particular the two aforementioned), which means they’re unlikely to slow down anytime soon.
So here’s to Nathan Drake’s next big adventure as a space marine/criminal mastermind/detective/mystical creature.