Back when I reviewed the Cataclysm cinematic, one of the negative points I mentioned was the fact that I didn't really care for Deathwing's voice. This then made me think about what I thought about WOTLK's voice acting in general, what I thought was good and what was... less good.
The latter doesn't take that long to sum up, as it only consists of two points really. The first one is simply Arthas himself. I didn't have a problem with his voice acting per se, but I swear that the pitch of his voice changed every single time he made an appearance. People joked about how sitting on the Frozen Throne all this time had given the guy a cold, but what it came down to in the end was that the voice of the major villain of the expansion changing all the time hurt immersion and generally gave the impression of Blizzard doing unusually shoddy work with him, as if the sound editor randomly came up with a new mix of settings every time they had to record more voice work for Arthas.
The second thing that I didn't like was that all the NPCs just talked too damn much. I know that certain upcoming MMOs are really priding themselves in the fact that they include a lot of voice work, but personally I don't think that this is a good thing. An MMO is not an audio book, is not a film, is not a single player game... it's not a medium where you should have to spend extended amounts of time just sitting back to listen. If a boss wants my attention they have to be snappy; otherwise I'm just going to tune their yapping out eventually, in order to focus on, you know, actually playing. (Gruul's "Come... and die" is one of my favourite lines to this day, simply for being short and to the point.)
For all the time that I've spent in ICC in the past year, I'd have trouble quoting most of the bosses from there, with the exception of Sindy's terribad "BETRAAAY you" line. I mean, I know that they talk a lot and I have a vague idea of what it's about, but what I really hear in my head is something like "Arthas blah blah Tirion blah blah Bolvar blah blah". Not really memorable to me at least.
That said, when they don't go into endless monologues, a lot of WOTLK's NPCs had some pretty good lines coupled with solid voice acting. My personal favourites from Wrath's five-man instances are:
1. Keristrasza: Finish it! Finish it! Kill me, or I swear by the Dragonqueen you'll never see daylight again!
I have a suspicion that her voice work was done by the same woman that did Sindragosa, only without the annoying screechiness, and she does a pretty good job at conveying emotion with her voice (maybe overacting just a little bit, but that's okay). Whatever you thought of Keristrasza's story in general, her last lines in the Nexus are a heart-wrenching mix of aggressive insanity (threatening to kill the players) and what's left of her original personality (swearing by the Dragonqueen and wanting her torment to end). I like all of her lines really, including the "Preserve? Why?" upon pulling her and her last words asking for the Life-Binder to preserve her after all.
2. Scourgelord Tyrannus: Rimefang! Trap them within the tunnel! Bury them alive!
Scourgelord Tyrannus is actually one of those characters that talk way too much, even if he has a very nice voice, but the above line shows that he can get to the point when he thinks it's urgent. I've been known to randomly call this one out whenever we're fighting Rimefang in ICC.
3. Skarvald the Constructor: Pagh! What sort of necromancer lets death stop him? I knew you were worthless!
I love this line for the simple reason that I've always felt that the Scourge's necromancers have a tendency to look a bit sissy, and Skarvald not only shares these feelings, he expresses them better than I ever could.
4. Ionar: Master... you have guests.
Ionar must be British or something, because that's quite the understatement when talking about people storming your castle and slaughtering everything in sight. Even in death he retains the elemental equivalent of a stiff upper lip, and I can dig that.
5. The Black Knight: No! I must not fail... again...
I always thought that the Black Knight was a bit of a weird character, because on the one hand he's supposed to be this really powerful Scourge lieutenant, but on the other hand he's very obviously a Monty Python joke. How do you reconcile these two images? Well, I thought his last words do a decent job at it, by showing that his constant getting up again is not a sign of overconfidence, but rather the last desperate attempt of someone who knows that he messed up before and can't afford to do so again. The way that last line is delivered is enough to actually make me feel sorry for him a little every time.
The "So bad it's good" award: Devourer of Souls: You dare look upon the host of souls?! I SHALL DEVOUR YOU WHOLE!
If you've ever done Forge of Souls, this needs no explanation. You just want to tell this guy to chill the hell out.
And my five favourite voices from WOTLK raids...
1. Sara/Yogg-Saron: I am the lucid dream. The monster in your nightmares. The fiend of a thousand faces. Cower before my true form. BOW DOWN BEFORE THE GOD OF DEATH!
This phase-transitioning line is probably the single most amazing piece of voice acting I've ever heard in WoW. Even just playing it back in my head gives me the shivers. The transition from Sara's almost sensual voice to Yogg's fury is just so incredibly well done; it completely blew me away the first time I heard it.
2. Thorim: I remember you... In the mountains...
I never actually got what the fuss was about with this line. I remember our main tank and raid leader repeating it ad nauseam and I just didn't see the appeal, but the longer they went on, the more ingrained it became into my own brain. Then I found out that it had even become an internet meme and... well, now I can't help it anymore either. (Seriously, search YouTube for this phrase and you'll find loads more.)
3. XT-002 Deconstructor: New toys? For me? I promise I won't break them this time!
While having to hear XT's voice over and over again whenever I run past someone with the mini pet has demoted his voice from amusing to annoying for me, I still have to give credit where credit is due: I still remember pulling him for the first time and vent erupting into laughter upon hearing his squeaky voice - and I know we weren't the only guild that had this kind of reaction.
4. Lord Jaraxxus: You face Jaraxxus, eredar lord of the Burning Legion!
I suppose I have a bit of a thing for eredar lords, considering how many times I abused Malchezaar's lines to announce to people at large that they weren't facing our raid alone, but the legions we command! Jaraxxus has a similar kind of thing going on, and like Thorim he's made it to YouTube as well. Hard to get that out of your head again after a while.
5. Anub'Rekhan: I hear little hearts beating. Yesss... beating faster now. Soon the beating will stop.
Being a product recycled from Vanilla, Naxxramas wasn't exactly innovative and new in terms of voice acting, but bloody hell, Anub'Rekhan's voice is still amazing. Especially the line quoted above is just so creepy, delivered in a way that makes it very clear that the big bug won't just eat you, he's also perv enough to enjoy it in a very naughty way. /shudder
The "So bad it's good" award: Sindragosa: Suffer, mortals, as your pathetic magic betrays you!
There couldn't really have been any other choice for this. There's just something about Sindy's voice that makes it grate so very, very badly, and you'll hate her for that alone - not to mention the many wipes that most of us will have gone through on this fight at some point. However, making a boss hated by the players is not entirely a bad thing, and if nothing else that BETRAAAY is very memorable. Though personally I almost prefer her intro line of: "You are fools to have come to this place! The icy winds of Northrend will consume your souls!" I now find myself wanting to continue any sentence that starts with "You are fools" with this line.
June in Review
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