Since the advent of the full voiced protagonist, I’ve come to expect that my in-game avatar always has something witty to say in any given situation. Despite the fact that characters like Grayson Hunt and Duke Nukem want to make me tear my hair out, there are a few protagonists in gaming that have successfully made the transition to having a personality, like Dead Space’s Isaac Clarke.
This got me thinking about a few other notoriously silent gaming icons, and which ones could stand to have a voice. Read on to see which six characters deserve a line of dialog here and there.
6. Link – The Legend of Zelda
Well excuuuuse me, Princess, but I think number six on our list has a few things to say about constantly saving not only your sorry behind, but the land of Hyrule in all its various incarnations. Now, Link has usually been cast as the stoic hero, but at some point I’m sure he had a few questions, like “You want me to go inside a giant whale?” and “Does anyone else have a feeling of deja vu?”
Maybe it’s better that Link doesn’t talk though, because as I referenced above, that particular venture didn’t turn out all that well. Link doesn’t necessarily have to rip off Han Solo, but I think there’s a certain meta humor to what he’s doing in every game, especially when you consider that every version of Link is a reincarnation of sorts.
5. Every player character – Call of Duty 1 to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
I know that, in a war, you have to buckle down and give it all you’ve got for your country, but at some point I bet that the various silent protagonists of the Call of Duty games wondered why they were the only ones capable of actually killing the enemy forces.
After being the only one to take the hill, or destroy the tank, or save the damn White House, you’d think that they’d ask their conspicuously invincible Sergeant why they’re the only ones who were actually trained to use their rifles. The military is all about team work, isn’t it?
4. Alcatraz – Crysis 2
Given that I just complained about Alcatraz’s lack of a voice in my Crysis 2 review (which is awesome, by the way), this might be a bit high on the list, but god damn, this is probably the most frustrated I’ve been with a silent protagonist. Being strapped into a suit against his will, pursued by a para-military organization because of mistaken identity and being forced into a one-man assault on the Ceph’s home base all because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. If that’s not grounds for a big ‘ol “WTF”, I don’t know what is.
Given the fact that he’s pretty much a zombie does kind of excuse his shy personality, and the one time he does open his mouth poses more questions than it answers. Maybe if Alcatraz had learned to share, the ending would have been a little easier to take.
3. Claude – GTA III
After being shot and left for dead by your girlfriend, I’d imagine that you’d be pretty pissed, or at least have a few things to say about it. Not Claude, though, he just dusts himself off and goes right back to the life of crime that screwed him over in the first place.
Rockstar has a legacy for making characters that are well written and interesting, but for their first foray into modern gaming they went with a guy who had a brick for a face and just as much personality. Come on, man, Tommy Vercetti knocked it out of the park, and you couldn’t even say anything during your San Andreas cameo? Considering that GTA 3 straddled the line between GTAIV’s gritty realism and San Andreas’ loopy cartoonishness, I’d think that Claude would have had some poignant observations about the insane asylum that is Liberty City.
2. Alexander Morris – Darkest of Days
This is kind of an obscure once, but anyone who played Darkest of Days (all three of you) know that Alexander Morris was an infantryman during Custer’s Last Stand at Little Big Horn, just on the edge of death when he was rescued by a man in a futuristic combat suit and whisked to the future via a time portal. Once there, he’s given a crash course in the use of modern weapons from the 1800s to the late 22nd century, and then he’s suited up to protect the past, present and future from the “Opposition”.
It makes for a cool, original setting for a game, but I can only guess that poor Mr. Morris is struck dumb by this train of events and resorts to his training as a solider to cope with being saved from death to traveling hundreds of years in the future to being sent back to time periods that he would only have a basic understanding of, at the behest of people who may or may not be doing the right thing. At some point, I would have opted to give a little feedback as to the rediculous nature of my situation, but maybe that would have shattered the illusion.
1. Gordon Freeman – Half-Life
And now we arrive at number one, the choice that I might have made purely to elicit controversy (I seem to do that anyways by accident, but I digress). The gun-toting physicist is not only defined by his snappy dress sense (orange power armor? You go girl!) but also by his refusal to talk when confronted by aliens from another dimension, strange reality shifting business men and hot chicks who clearly have a thing for nerds.
I know that a large part of Gordon’s appeal is that he represents you the player, but I don’t think that a little reaction when something crazy happens is a little too much to ask for. I’m not asking for a quip of “I’d hit that” when he’s talking to Alyx, but for real, Valve, you’re putting this poor geek through hell, let him live a little. With everyone else in the Half-Life universe being so well fleshed out, controlling a gun with a camera attached feels a little weird at times.
So there you have it folks, six gaming characters that we (or rather, I) would like to see get a voice in the future. What about you guys? Do you agree with my choices? Who would you substitute?
Featured image by Enteximmer.