The Best Voice Acting in Games
Developer: Shiny Entertainment
Release Date: 11/06/2000
For a strategy game, Sacrifice contains a tremendous amount of story-driven voice acting, and the professional voice actors put in generally spirited performances. Sacrifice's branching storyline tells of a catastrophe that has visited a world governed by five quarrelling gods. As soon as the introductory cinematic opens, you quickly get the sense that your character has inadvertently played a part in the catastrophe, as he recounts to Mithras the blind seer what went so dramatically wrong. Most of the game's story is told from this past perspective, as your character tells of his arrival from another world and of the conflict that you play through in the campaign. The game's storytelling structure places extra emphasis on the voice acting. More than in any other strategy game, there's the sense that when the voice-over and briefings have ended, and you jump to the battlefield, you're really re-creating the flow of the story. This is simply because of a slight voice-over detail - anytime you reload a saved game or restart a mission, your character tells Mithras, "Of course that's not what really happened, let me start again."
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Between the real-time strategy game's missions, your character visits the ethereal plane where he will encounter the gods themselves and listen as they try to persuade you to lend them your sorcery. Essentially similar to the briefing sessions common to RTS games, these sessions with the gods can be incredibly entertaining. Established actors were recruited to do the voices: Cult star Tim Curry plays the self-assured Stratos; TV actor Brad Garrett is the down to earth James; and veteran voice actor Tony Jay is the seer Mithras (he has had other notable roles in Soul Reaver and Fallout). Filters are noticeably used for godlike effects - giving Stratos an appropriately airy voice - but on the whole the acting is fairly restrained. Performances are subtle to the extent that Pyro, the god of fire and a devious technologist, comes off as a pretty rational villain despite his extravagant, flaming appearance. This carries the point that each of the gods is putting on its best and most persuasive face, but in effect this also helps avoid gaudy overacting.
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While chatty cinematics help set the tone of the game, Sacrifice's diverse in-game speech really makes it stand out. There's a constant stream of talking during the game, including comments while the mission is loading and a field briefing by your flying familiar, as well as various dialogues between the game's numerous characters. Spell-casting prompts your character to utter a seamless series of arcane syllables, which seem to meaningfully differ depending on the spell you cast. For added effect, if you're close enough you can even hear the faint sounds of another wizard casting his spells. Overall, Sacrifice's voice acting is a true complement to the highly artistic graphical design and the dynamic story, confirming it as one of the most aesthetically distinctive strategy games we've seen.
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