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GameSpot: Best of 2008

Best Voice Acting

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Publisher: Rockstar Games
Developer: Rockstar North
Though this year's Grand Theft Auto delivered on many levels, one of the game's most outstanding qualities is its voice acting. And we're not just talking about the fact that the game includes hours and hours of recorded dialogue--it's more that the quality of voice work is (in most cases) extraordinarily good. The voice work does a lot to give the California-style San Andreas setting its personality, and the game itself its cinematic feel. It's also largely what makes GTA: San Andreas' cast of memorable characters so quickly endearing, often in spite of their reprehensible personalities. In other words, the voice performances in this game are so strong, they manage to make their respective characters likable, even though there seems to be nothing likable about those characters on paper.

Furthermore, Rockstar Games once again showed an inspired sense of restraint in casting some of the game's main characters. This is Grand Theft Auto, so you know the developer could have gotten pretty much any major rap artist or other celebrity out there to be in the game. Instead, it handpicked all the major parts. You wouldn't necessarily expect performances from guys like Chris Penn, Charlie Murphy, and MC Eiht to find their way into the game, and yet these guys--as well as the better-known actors among the cast (including Samuel L. Jackson, James Woods, and Peter Fonda)--do an excellent job of bringing their characters to life. In addition, the casting of a relatively obscure rap artist named Young Maylay in the role of the game's main character proved to be another inspired choice. Young Maylay's spirited, humorous performance as Carl Johnson makes him a better protagonist than Vice City's memorable Tommy Vercetti, and his delivery seems to perfectly set the tone for the game.

Of course, some credit must go to the quality of San Andreas' script, which helps make the game's different characters seem so surprisingly believable. But it's the way it all comes together that makes the voice work in San Andreas so good--it's a game that's just as much fun to listen to as it is to play, and considering how much fun it is to play, that's saying a lot.
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