My three favorite games usually show up any time I do a list. This list is no exception.
In countdown order:
15. Grunt (ME:2)
When it comes to deep, masculine voices, only James Earl Jones’ is more soothing than Grunts. Plus I like his story. He is a true outcast, but that never kept him from knowing his worth.
14. Paz (Metal Gear Solid: Peacewalker, Ground Zeroes, The Phantom Pain)
Her grace on Ground Zeroes adds such an interesting angle to the game. And her brief part in The Phantom Pain is compelling as well. Though those two roles pale in comparison to the intensity and complexity of her role in Peacewalker.
13. Paramedic (Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater)
She is given a ton of great dialogue. I love following her rants on classic movies and such.
12. Liara (Mass Effect 1, 2, 3)
Liara is so beautiful. Before Mass Effect, was there ever a comforting alien? It’s partially her voice, partially her expressions, partially the calming blue hue of her skin; I adore her presence in each Mass Effect game.
11. Hartsock (Brothers in Arms II: Earned in Blood)
The game is structured around flashbacks as he tells his story. So we get really used to his voice. There’s something about the contrast between his calm, quiet story voice and his awkwardly shriek, cracking battlefield voice that I find interesting. Plus, his odd looks. No other playable character in a video game looks like him.
10. Cait (Fallout 4)
Not only my favorite companion in Fallout 4, but a really fun conversationalist. She’s got a crude, Irish manner that’s funny and brutal often. She’s also got a backstory that rivals that of the player character.
9. Amanda Ripley (Alien Isolation)
A. Ripley is on my list entirely due to voice acting… Okay I think her face is really cool, too. But I think her voice performance is such an important aspect of what makes playing as this character feel authentic. Her frightened, talking-to-herself whispers are very convincing.
8. Solid Snake (Metal Gear Solid 1, 2)
Big Boss is certainly the better, more rounded character between the two Metal Gear protagonists. But I like Solid Snake more, anyway. He’s simpler. And dashing-er.
7. A.I. (Portal)
Some of the best dialogue ever written in a game.
6. Quiet (Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain)
Disregarding her wardrobe, I think Quiet is one of the most compelling characters ever written for a video game. Great story surrounding her; watching it play out is even greater.
5. Murphy (Silent Hill: Downpour)
Harry Mason and James Sunderland are both great characters. Heather is so-so. And Henry is completely absent of depth. But until Murphy, I didn’t feel personally connected to any Silent Hill character. And by golly doesn’t it make Silent Hill a better experience if you see the character as partially an extension of yourself!
4. Ocelot (Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater)
3. Hal Emmerich (Metal Gear Solid 1, 2, 4)
Always in the midst of tragedy, this character is one of my favorites to keep track of during a Metal Gear game. I LOOOVE his voice acting. “Squak! Hal, I miss you…”
2. Nathan (Beyond Two Souls)
Nathan is wonderfully deep. The always fantastic Willem Dafoe backs his performance, but actually what’s best about his character is the progression he goes through. We get to see each interval of his turning-towards-madness, and it comes across as very legit and understandable. The scene, “Black Sun” KILLS me every time. (but it’s spoiler-heavy; play the game to see it)
1. Tali Zorah (Mass Effect 1, 2, 3)
I really like Tali’s design and personality. And oddly enough this transylvanian-accented alien has the best-performed voice acting of the trilogy. Every word out her mouth feels sincere. Even when she’s shouting and calling things a Bosh’tet! Here’s a great Tali video.