On Silent Protagonists

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I actually prefer well-voiced characters as opposed to mutes. It makes me feel more connected to the character than a floating gun(silent FPS).
I do agree with how they made the writing terrible for Other M, just seeing one of those cutscenes caused me to forget about picking up the game.

AcacianLeaves:

He's a character that has nothing to say about the strange setting he finds himself in after a completely random plane crash? He has nothing to say when he feels compelled to inject himself with a lightning shot. He has nothing to say when he's led around by Atlas. He has nothing to say to Fontaine, Dr. Tenenbaum, or maybe Andrew Ryan when all is revealed?

The protagonist has nothing to say about any of the events in the story, and thus the story fails on every level. Don't get me wrong, it's a great game that's a lot of fun and the setting is fantastic, but the actual meat of the story fails due to the silent protagonist.

He didn't need a lot of lines, but keeping him quiet except for a few lines in the opening sequence was a failure on the part of the developers. It looks like they'll be fixing that with Infinite.

Yeah, I'm going to have to agree with you on the lightning shot part. I mean, I would have understood it more if Atlas had kindly asked him to inject himself. But the camera just jerks away and he jabs himself with it. I'm pretty sure that's not the first thing you should be doing when you find yourself in an undersea city where some guy just tried to kill you.

And I'll also agree with your other points. The story could have been better if he had a voice in some parts, as long as he's not talking to himself the whole time. Narration might have worked, too. But the game did work without a voice and I hardly noticed except for some jarring parts, i.e. any time you interact with characters.

metroid prime is one of my favourite games because it pretty much just drops you in this world without rhyme or reason and your goal is pretty much 'explore'. there was just the ambient background music creating this eerie, lonely planet with no friendly npcs to be seen.

i had a similar feeling while playing limbo, because all i really wanted to do was keep playing to figure out what happens next. i bought metroid prime 3 but have stopped playing it after one session because i can tell that the magic i found in the first one has long gone...

But what about Bioshock's silent protagonist Yahtzee...

If you haven't already buy Yahtzee's book Mogworld. It's one of the best books I've ever read!

jamesalbon:

MonkeyPunch:
Totally OT and the link has probably been made by someone before... but seeing those two images one after the other in that article...

Yahtzee Freeman? Uncanny.
image

I was thinking exactly the same thing. If Freeman gets a voice, Yahtzee should be the actor.

Yeah...................... No.......... He should not......... be......... the voice actor........ I'd prefer not to have one of my favorite video game characters sound like an asshole no matter what he's talking about.

Also, Yatzee, did you just say you had trouble understanding who said what in Halo: Reach? Really? How is that even possible... If you pay attention SLIGHTLY you'll know who's who. Hell, based on the people on screen or the direction the voice is coming from (yay speaker technology!) you should be able to tell anyway.

snowman6251:
I'm curious as to who Yahtzee would have voice Gordon Freeman in the event he begins to speak.

Himself. Duh.

I loved Saints Row 2, only wished there was more choice in voices, either the African-American, Hispanic (the one I chose), or the horrifying cockney accent. Also would have liked the option to not be a psychopath... not that I would have been any different, just would have been nice to have the choice...

I haven't played Other M, but I did play Prime 3, and what the dialogue in that was cheesy enough that I didn't have high hopes for Other M's, whether Samus talked or not.

I don't mind when previously silent characters are given a voice (eg. Guybrush Threepwood from the Monkey Island games, Grand Theft Auto games, etc). It can sometimes adds character to the main protagonist especially when they are totally unrelated to the player.

What bothers me is when they pick someone whiny and over-the-top such as Tidus from Final Fantasy X. It really put me off the FF games of recent times.

I'm eager to get a copy of Metroid M and hope it's not as bad as Yahtzee says it is...

I wonder how interesting it will be to go to a voiced Issac in Dead Space 2... I mean the guy was a mute that took orders from everyone and just did what he was told. I'm a little surprised that didn't get mentioned in this article.

Myself, I don't mind a voiced or silent protagonist unless it's a silent protagonist in an JRPG. They're always pivotal characters but they never say a goddamn thing.

What I really don't get is why they switched voice actresses for Samus. You see, while all she ever did was grunt and scream in the Metroid Prime series, the person behind these grunt and screams was Jennifer Hale. Now, I'm not sure how many people have heard of her, but I can guarantee you've played or watched something with her in it. She's one of the most used voice actors in the industry, and for good reason. She's really good at what she does.

So...why the hell did they switch out Hale for an actress that only seems to have one emotion? (Bored)

I think The Legend of Zelda Series needs voices. Not for link, he doesnt speak even in text boxes. Everyone else needs a voice. Im sick of hearing NPCs grunting and chirping at me

Couldn't agree more. I'm a huge fan of Metroid, but I haven't been able to bring myself to play the new one...and I own it. That first cut-scene and imagery (think: magically appearing suit - curse you, SSBB - and a perverted, lingering camera) turned me off of it, completely. Not to mention how ridiculous pointing at the screen is made to feel (did anyone else press the B button a gazillion times, after stepping off the ship for the first time, forced into first person view? I don't want any more of that, and I feel like it'll come back, stupid 'where's waldo' visual puzzles).

I'll have to play through the game, eventually, but I'm not going to like it - maybe I should take Yahtzee's advice and just finish my playthrough of the Metroid: Prime Collection!!

Samus could have a voice, one that works, just not when Team Ninja's at the helm. Should've known they'd screw up the story/characters, but I never thought the gameplay would be subpar, as well. I really enjoyed the story element to Metroid: Fusion, it remains one of my favourite, in all of gaming...Super Metroid had a fantastic opening, as well. Yahtzee's right about what makes those stories shine, the 'show not tell' thing - Samus is an action-driven character, so choosing to focus too much on drama completely goes against everything the other games have set up...an orphaned child who grew up as a warrior, not forgetting her past but also not letting it get in her way.

Yeah, I'm not impressed. Don't know if I'll be able to forgive Team Ninja, for this one.

This was one of my main problams with the quite dissapointing F.E.A.R. 2 I think yahtzee mentioned this in his reveiw but its annoying when your teammate says "I hear a crying woman Im going after her!" and you could save his life just by opening your mouth and saying "Acctually no, don't do that thats how the other guy died" but no instead Beckett has to be a mute.

In regards to Samus, I don't dislike the idea of giving her a voice but like many other things likleyhood is they would screw it up

Another thing is with RPG's like fallout and dragon age even though technically those charachters arent silent Having a vioce makes alot of difference as to how attached oyu become to charachters, thats why I liek Mass Effect so much

PhunkyPhazon:
What I really don't get is why they switched voice actresses for Samus. You see, while all she ever did was grunt and scream in the Metroid Prime series, the person behind these grunt and screams was Jennifer Hale. Now, I'm not sure how many people have heard of her, but I can guarantee you've played or watched something with her in it. She's one of the most used voice actors in the industry, and for good reason. She's really good at what she does.

So...why the hell did they switch out Hale for an actress that only seems to have one emotion? (Bored)

Agreed. Jennifer Hale is a good actress. I can't understand why they wouldn't used her if they already had her on grunt duty for the previous games. She can certainly handle lines.

ProtoChimp:

Queen Michael:

MR.Spartacus:
So Gordon Freeman is like Gromit with a pry-bar fetish?

No, he's like Chuck Norris in a geek form!
(cookie for reference!)

#Fight for freedom
with a brainstorm#
#Gordon Freeman saved my life#

Here you go!
image

thespianicism:

PhunkyPhazon:
What I really don't get is why they switched voice actresses for Samus. You see, while all she ever did was grunt and scream in the Metroid Prime series, the person behind these grunt and screams was Jennifer Hale. Now, I'm not sure how many people have heard of her, but I can guarantee you've played or watched something with her in it. She's one of the most used voice actors in the industry, and for good reason. She's really good at what she does.

So...why the hell did they switch out Hale for an actress that only seems to have one emotion? (Bored)

Agreed. Jennifer Hale is a good actress. I can't understand why they wouldn't used her if they already had her on grunt duty for the previous games. She can certainly handle lines.

So true. Her voice acting is one of the reasons I fell in love with Emma Emmerich.

I prefer the Zelda series without voices at all, its keeps to the origional set up of games as a whole and I think its better like that. The only characters who should be allowed to speak are the fairies, just hearing the "hey" and "listen" often puts me in that "Zeldary" mood

Queen Michael:

ProtoChimp:

Queen Michael:

MR.Spartacus:
So Gordon Freeman is like Gromit with a pry-bar fetish?

No, he's like Chuck Norris in a geek form!
(cookie for reference!)

#Fight for freedom
with a brainstorm#
#Gordon Freeman saved my life#

Here you go!
image

thespianicism:

PhunkyPhazon:
What I really don't get is why they switched voice actresses for Samus. You see, while all she ever did was grunt and scream in the Metroid Prime series, the person behind these grunt and screams was Jennifer Hale. Now, I'm not sure how many people have heard of her, but I can guarantee you've played or watched something with her in it. She's one of the most used voice actors in the industry, and for good reason. She's really good at what she does.

So...why the hell did they switch out Hale for an actress that only seems to have one emotion? (Bored)

Did she have any actual lines in M prime? (another charachter mabye) it seems weird they have such a good VA and all she is doing is occasionaly yelping in pain, and when it was mentioned I imedietly remembered Mass Effect 2, the grunting sounded kind of similar

btw I think they changed VA because a different studio did Other M.
Agreed. Jennifer Hale is a good actress. I can't understand why they wouldn't used her if they already had her on grunt duty for the previous games. She can certainly handle lines.

So true. Her voice acting is one of the reasons I fell in love with Emma Emmerich.

jtesauro:
One thing I don't understand. Samus has always been a silent protagonist ( Or sorry, simply not having a voice, in respect to the previous poster ), but in the Metroid Prime Trilogy, Jennifer Hale is listed as voice actress for the part. How does that work?

She made other vocalisations, like grunting and shouting or whatever.

Xocrates:
That paragraph about Saints Row 2? Yeah, that's the reason I uninstalled the game and swore never to play it again. If I'm asked to create a character, I would appreciate if I have some sort of control over their actions and personality.

Um, don't you? You either go out of your way to kill people and spray crap on buildings, or you don't. You have that choice, don't you? Sorry, I haven't played "Saints Row 2", but I do remember "Assassin's Creed 2" where I preferred to disarm my enemies and finish them with my bare fists rather than using weapons. Until I got the pistol. Yes, I did use swords at times.

The problem with Samus' lines and voice actor is that the character isn't portrayed well at all. While in the previous games Samus was more or less like the "Team Fortress 2" Sniper crossed over with Cloud Strife (but with all the angst taken out), in "Metroid: Other M" Samus has been degraded into a whiny, weak, inept, cowardly, socially retarded daddy's girl. If I were to write Samus' lines, I'd make her more or less like TeamFourStar's Vegeta but with hero qualities.

All characters are free to develop. There's nothing wrong with giving previously dialogue-less characters actual dialogue. It's just that you have to implement it carefully. It's like platforming and 3D. While the Mario games managed the transition quite well, Sonic has been absolutely rubbish in a 3D environment.

The playa in Saints Row does speak once. It's actually a bit odd when he does, solely because up until that point, he's a silent protagonist.

I can't remember which movie it was, but Hollywood wanted to market one of the Marx Brothers' movies with "Harpo speaks for the first time." He would say one word: Murder. I'd imagine Harpo Marx speaking would have had much more of an impact at the time than "playa did, but it's kind of weird.

On a similar note, I think one of the worst instances of an end to silence is Drakengard. Caim speaks in the beginning, but soon becomes a silent protagonist, his only mouthpiece his pact-mate. And she usually responds to his thoughts, rather than spelling them out. One of the endings, he regains his speech. What does this tortured soul say, after all the silence? After watching tragedy after tragedy?

"I AM CAIM!"

Dude, seriously?

Back to Saints Row 2. It's especially important the character speak because his (or her, now) role has changed. The original character was muscle for most of the game. He didn't have to say anything. Rebuilding the Saints and taking charge, it works better with a speaking character. Though it would have been cool if your character was silent in some cases. Imagine if all he did was stare, snap his fingers, and his Lieutenants took care of business. However, I think that novelty would wear off rapidly.

They could have done the game with a silent "hero," but with their direction, I'm glad they didn't.

In Samus' case, I'm hard pressed to think of anything her voice adds to the experience. It seems like a dicey situation to add voices to beloved characters because we've all imprinted on them in one way or another. I'm sure the "Harp Speaks" phenomenon can have a positive impact, but it's nothing short of a gamble. Unless your goal is to divide your fanbase, it's a bad idea.

Then again, it sounds like Other M did more than that to divide the fanbase.

Daystar Clarion:
Good article. I don't disagree with Samus gaining a voice and personality. I do however, disagree with the way she was portrayed in Other M.

I don't really disagree with how she was portrayed for the most part, actually. I do agree that the voice acting itself was quite terrible, though. It would have been better if the voice actor sounded a little bit more into it and if most of the dialogue that didn't actually have much effect was cut out.
The line "The word he so obviously chose - outsider - pierced my heart" is one such line that shouldn't have been there. Or maybe it would have been more effective if it was delivered with a hint of indignation rather than just the monotone it was done in.

I don't blame Team Ninja for it though... mostly because I know that they only did the gameplay. Sakamoto was the one who was in charge of the story and dialogue, as far as I know.

Agreed completely. I couldn't stand Other M because of how horrible the voice acting was. Not to mention the story. Urgh.

yourbeliefs:

Yahtzee is playing Halo: Reach? He must not have a great deal of control over the games he gets to review, between that and FFXIII. I'm all for a good bashing of a game (which I'm about 99% sure he is going to do) but it seems to lose something when it's a game that he's probably not going to like in the first place. Of course that won't stop me from watching it (or any of his videos)

I think he has complete control over what he does.
I know he goes out a buys the games and the Escapist don't send them too him.

damn it!
i wanted him to review peace walker but this kinda says he is gonna review reach
i guess he is never gonna review it...

Burningsok:

JuryNelson:

GeneticallyModifiedDucks:
Damn, I really need to get around to playing Saint's Row 2 one of the these days.

It really is that fun.

just saying, the protagonist in Saints Row 1 actually spoke, but he only had one line for each of the 3 final missions, and then I think one or two lines on the end cut-scene.

yeah, and they got, like, the producer's nephew to do the voices. They were bizarrely terrible.
Or maybe I was just so taken aback that I talked.

Jhales:
For some games, I don't mind having a silent protagonist. But ODST annoyed me with it. Not only did it have an awesome cast of voices, they let play as each of those characters, having their voice come out of the player. Then, after enjoying the cast of Firefly, you're thrown back into the Rookie. It's completely idiotic and jarring. Why bother saying that the Rookie is the player, but then have the player be characters with personality?
When I heard Reach would have a silent protagonist, I groaned. And then I saw that the cover doesn't even have Noble 6 on it. Why bother making the character for single player campaign if he isn't even going to be on the front cover?

ODST was based on old detective film-noir. The Rookie was the detective going around picking up clues to help him find his squadmates. That was his whole purpose: to find the things to advance the plot and give the player a hubworld to screw around in. What kind of personality do you give a person like that? Also, if you read the backstory, the Rookie was the only survivor of his entire reaction force before he got re-assigned to the squad in-game.

As for Halo: REACH they didn't put 6 on the box art bBecause Noble 6 is supposed to be based on You. You choose what the armor looks like and you choose whether that character is male or female. They didn't want to give a definitive appearance for the character cuz it would differ from player to player. Also, Noble 6 does talk.

Silver Patriot:
Because your character could look a number of different ways depending on how you designed him. I don't know how that would work.

Also he isn't silent, but he dosen't talk that much either.

So he does talk? I haven't played the game yet. I dunno, making the campaign character be the same as your multi player character seems a tiny bit silly since none of the other characters notice your change in outfit every time you unlock something in multi.

Maero REALLY should've offered more than 20%...

Worst silent protagonist I have ever had to deal with is the main character of Suikoden 4.\

person 1- "Hey you there, you just killed your surrogate father figure didn't you"
protagonist- *blank monkey faced stare*
person 1- "I can't believe you would do that. If you didn't kill him, just say something"
protagonist- *Blink Blink*
Person 1- "Well since you don't object...For your crimes we will banish you from the only home you know and love"
protagonist- *blank monkey faced stare*

Oh, dear god, Samus' voice is just...

...It sounds like something I'd hear in a nightmare where every thing has turned black and white.

"And especially when the game is trying to take itself seriously. Because in a world of rounded characters, silence just makes you seem like a mental deficient or a stubborn, aloof prick."

I think too many games have stubborn aloof pricks and not enough well written mental deficents.

The problem with other M is not voicing a character, it's that whoever was in charge of this operation (not just team ninja, they know how to make "shut up and just play" games see Ninja gaiden) was obviously mad with power or some recreational drug, the writer couldn't care less and the voice acting was generally shite.

Some characters are scilent becuase you talk for them and are supposed to BE them. Think Fallout 3 or basically any RPG that isn't mass effect and has very few cut-scenes. I don't think characters NEED to be scilent ALL the time, some games like Bioshock or STALKER have situations in which talking isn't required but you do hear the characters voices on one or two occasions (ie. the begining of Bioshock and like 1 cutscene of Strelok in STALKER;SoC). Being MOSTLY mute makes you seem less retarded but still keeps the roleplaying up.

Talcon:
I know EXACTLY what scene you're talking about, and damn did I love it. Wasn't my FAVORITE scene, but I did appreciate the British accent I gave my character

"Do you know where the Sons of Samedi stash is?"

"Well... no..."

"Well shut the fuck up then"

or another good one

"For fuck's sake, die!!"

I bought that game 'cause you recommended it, Yahtzee. I got the shitty watered down Steam version, but despite all the frustrating bugs, I still put it down as one of the best stories in a game. The Brotherhood arc was probably the most emotionally grabbing for me

Could you possibly point me to the scene. My xbox is bricked until tomorrow and I want to see that scene.

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