FFD: Do you prefer voiced or silent protagonists?

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Some people love them, others hate them. Out of necessity, many games have featured a mute protagonist, a guy or gal who doesn’t say a single damned word. Probably best epitomised by the crowbar-wielding Gordon Freeman, the silent protagonist isn’t one for mealy-mouthed replies; they’re an avatar through which your own physical responses and emotions are conveyed.

It as its merits – but it ultimately feels like a bit of a cop-out; the blank stares are more of a void than a canvas on which to paint your own feelings. But, it’s still better than a main character that’s poorly voiced or badly written.

On the other side, you have the wordy, voiced hero – a character who has, well – his or her own character, delivered by an actor through the magic of voice capture, and often those vocal performances can make or break the game you’re playing.

I personally prefer voiced characters; I never really feel like I’m the character I’m playing anyway (even in RPG’s), and I find that having a mute hero – especially when everyone else around me is being lippy – breaks the flow of storytelling.

Imagine that Mass Effect’s Shepard wasn’t so brilliantly voiced by Jennifer Hale (Mark Meer doesn’t exist at all in my world)? The game would have felt duller, lifeless. But would something like Half Life 2 have worked if Gordon spoke? I’m not so sure.

Tell us! Which do you prefer, and why?

Last Updated: April 1, 2016

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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