Editor’s note: this article contains minor spoilers from The Last of Us.
Voice acting is a unique ability which, over the past two decades has developed exceptionally and is now an integral feature in the video gaming experience. Some titles have been able to avoid the requirement of a voice actor – The Legend of Zelda being a prominent example – but with stories significantly changing the structure of most games, it’s no surprise the focus which has shifted onto the men and women behind the characters we become closely attached to. One man who needs no introduction in gaming is, of course, Troy Baker.
Troy Baker is truly one of the most unique and gifted actors to have graced the gaming industry. His success in recent years has sent him to unparalleled status and recognition among the gaming community and critics. I have to admit it: he has my immediate attention when he is attached to a project – that’s how influential his presence has become. Troy’s résumé boasts his ability to bring a distinct personality behind each of his performances and, in the process, leave most people mesmerised by his capabilities. In most people’s eyes, including me, 2013 was the year of Troy Baker, with the actor assuming the role of Joel (The Last of Us), Booker DeWitt (BioShock Infinite) and the Joker (Batman: Arkham Origins). Batman: Arkham Origins was a clear example of Troy’s talent as an actor, with him stepping up to the role of the Joker when Mark Hamill had announced he would not be reprising his role as the Clown Prince of Crime, which left Baker to charm an audience with his ability at a Comic-Con panel in 2013.
However, for me, Troy’s standout role which changed my perception on his ability to perform was in Naughty Dog’s critically acclaimed intellectual property, The Last of Us. The Making of The Last of Us – something which I would recommend anyone to watch, especially as it’s free – demonstrated how often the potential and role of actors in games is underappreciated. Troy’s motion capture for Joel had me realise that this was an actor who offered more to his role than I once thought, as sometimes it is easy to overlook this specific aspect in games. The scene from the documentary which had my attention was the death of Joel’s daughter, with Troy repeatedly playing out scene to capture the right emotions for the character. Joel’s personality is personified by Troy Baker’s performance, allowing for the characters true emotions to be brought out. Not only that, but the actor shared a phenomenal on-screen chemistry with Ashley Johnson (who played his sidekick Ellie), and it’s a shame that the BAFTA for Best Voice Actor could not have been split for both of them.
Troy Baker no doubt deserves his praises and there is no stopping the actor’s reach for talent. I have been a massive Metal Gear Solid fan ever since I owned a PlayStation One, and his attachment to Hideo Kojima’s latest entry in the series, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, immediately had me excited by what he will bring to the renowned Revolver Ocelot. Stepping up to assume the role which Patrick Zimmerman has defined will no doubt bring out the best from Baker – I’m very optimistic about his potential in this role, considering what he achieved with the Joker in Arkham Origins.
Final Fantasy XIII is a title which immediately raises an eyebrow amongst people when it’s mentioned, considering the controversy this entry has created for fans of the JRPG franchise. However, I really enjoyed the first instalment in the XIII trilogy, which while it did have its flaws was still an interesting entry into the franchise. Snow Villiers was one of my favourite characters and, at the time, I didn’t realise this was Troy Baker voicing him – I should mention that this was prior to becoming really interested in voice acting in games. Snow was a really solid character which supported the other protagonists, and it helped in creating the compelling narrative in FFXIII.
Rocksteady’s last instalment in the Batman series, Batman Arkham: Knight, will have Troy assume the role of Two-Face – seriously, sometimes I do question which voice he wouldn’t be able to do. After nailing the hammer home on the Joker in Arkham Origins, I can’t wait to see what he brings to Two-Face, especially with this serving as the final chapter in this exceptional series. Troy’s talent continues to push the limits on each role he has assumed, and I’m definitely one of those people that believe his best is yet to come, even with all the phenomenal roles he has played.