Everyone appreciates a good voice actor. Bad voice acting can seriously turn you off to a game (I couldn't play very much of Mega Man 8 because the voice acting was atrocious). Thankfully, for the most part we're starting to get much higher quality voice acting in games today.
I've started paying much closer attention to voice acting lately, after I began recognizing certain voices from other games that I played. I was finishing up the Viewtiful Joe series a few weeks ago that I had on backlog for awhile, and I got really excited when I got to the battle with Cameo Leon in Viewtiful Joe 2. He sounded like Teddie from Persona 4 on tons of caffeine (which is a scary thought if you're at all familiar with Teddie)! I paused the game once the battle started and went to my computer to look up the voice actor for Teddie (Dave Wittenberg), and sure enough he was also credited as voicing Cameo Leon!
A few days ago I started playing Dark Cloud 2, and as soon as Max started talking I immediately thought he sounded like Viewtiful Joe. It must have been the way he laughed. I looked up the voice actors for those two characters as well, but they were voiced by two different guys. I still think they sound very similar though.
So those two instances got me thinking more about voice actors. I decided that I prefer voice actors to be unrecognizable. Even though I was excited that I recognized Cameo Leon's voice actor, I couldn't stop thinking about Teddie after that and felt like I was beating up Teddie in a chameleon costume. For regular actors in movies and television, you can see their faces, so they're already recognizable if you've seen them in something before. They could of course be wearing a ton of make-up or something so that they would be less recognizable (Johnny Depp is notorious for this. I never would have known Edward Scissorhands and Jack Sparrow were the same person if it wasn't for the credits!) but usually this isn't the case. When you watch movies, you're ideally supposed to suspend your knowledge of the actors so that they will come across as characters within a story, rather than actors in real life. This is becoming harder for me to do lately, now that I've seen so many movies and they keep casting the same actors in every movie that comes out anymore.
In video games, however, you don't get to see the actors' faces. You only get to hear their voices. So if they're good at their job, then ideally gamers shouldn't be able to recognize voice actors from one role to the other, since they're supposed to be completely different characters. It's much easier to create individual characters set apart from their actors when you can't see the actors' faces (this would also apply to animated movies or cartoons).
Of course, some people have very distinct voices, making it much easier to identify them. I may have recognized Dave Wittenberg's voice, but I do think he was trying very hard to make Cameo Leon sound different from his other roles, such as Teddie. They do sound like different characters, but there's just something about his voice that was familiar to me, probably from listening to Teddie talk so goddamn much. I was very surprised and impressed, however, to find out that Dave Wittenberg also provided the voice for Glitch in Metal Arms: Glitch in the System. He sounds completely different in that role, and I never would have guessed it was him. Glitch is a much less excitable character than Teddie or Cameo Leon, he speaks much more slowly and with a lower-pitched voice. I applaud Mr. Wittenberg for being able to voice a diverse group of characters, even if he's somewhat recognizable at times.
Another game I played recently, Portal 2, had a voice actor that I recognized immediately but for different reasons. Aperture Science CEO Cave Johnson was voiced by the well-known actor, J.K. Simmons, who most may remember as J. Jonah Jameson from the Spider-Man movies. While I do think J.K. Simmons is a hilarious person, I couldn't stop picturing his face as he delivered all of his lines in Portal 2. Though you don't get to see Cave Johnson much in the game aside from a few portraits, you can tell that he doesn't look much like J.K. Simmons, but I can't picture him as anyone else unless I'm looking at one of his portraits. I kind of felt like J.K. Simmons was supposed to be a selling point for the game, much like a famous actor would be for most movies. I still think Cave Johnson's lines were very entertaining, but I kind of wish they had found a relatively unknown (but still talented) voice actor instead of someone that everybody has heard of. Or at least J.K. Simmons could have delivered a performance that would make his voice unrecognizable from his movie roles, rather than sounding exactly like J. Jonah Jameson and every other character he's played.
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West features a well-known actor as well. This time, we get to hear Andy Serkis, known for his role as Gollum from The Lord of the Rings, providing the voice for Monkey. I was much more comfortable with this choice than I would normally be with well-known actors, because Monkey sounds absolutely nothing like Gollum, and Andy Serkis' face isn't exactly immediately recognizable (at least not for me anyway). I might have preferred going into the game without knowing who the voice actor was beforehand, and then being pleasantly surprised afterwards to find out it was Gollum, but nevertheless I was able to play the game without once thinking of Gollum or Andy Serkis, because his voice work for Monkey was so unique from his other roles.
So I guess in general, I like to hear talented and enthusiastic voice work in video games, but I don't like to be picturing some other character or the voice actor's face while I'm playing. The voice actors can be well-known, as long as they provide a unique voice for each character they play. Obviously, voice actors need to work so they're most likely going to be in more than one game.
For the record, my favorite voice actor, Rob Smith, has apparently only played one video game character (at least according to IMDb), although he has had various television and movie roles. Rob Smith provided the voice for Teisel Bonne
in the Mega Man Legends series, and he gave a damn good performance! He could go from a grumbling, menacing voice to an erratic, high-pitched voice in a single line, and his laughter was just incredible. He would laugh a different way every time, and each time Teisel laughed I laughed as well. He really brought life to a character who wasn't very visually appealing to me, and created one of my favorite video game characters of all time.
LOOK WHO CAME: