Love it or hate it, Bethesda Softwork‘s decision to have every line of non-player character (NPC) dialogue in Fallout 3 accompanied by voice acting leads to a certain degree of immersion. From random townsperson to monomaniacal despot, everyone speaks. Even the two-headed mutated cows make noise.
Given the cast of hundreds, actors invariably voice multiple NPCs, often noticeably so. Too, the reliance on recorded dialogue means that once the dialogue is recorded, no late changes are feasible, and there are points in the game where I wish one NPC would acknowledge some huge event that took place in his or her life that was directly affected by my character’s actions. Even on big budget title like Fallout 3, there’s a limit to the voice acting funds, and I’m sure they had to decide to cut off dialogue trees at some point, where a non-voice acted title would have been able to add additional text branches to cover more permutations and outcomes.
Still, imagine my surprise learning that the voice actor for an early antagonist (or protagonist, depending on your character’s moral inclinations) is . . . the announcer at Verizon Center for the Washington Capitals.
(Only the most minor of Fallout 3 spoilers follow.)
I couldn’t place the voice until the Washington Post ran an article on the voice acting in Fallout 3 (“The Voices of Video Games,” Ashley Halsey III, Monday, November 24, 2008):
“They hand you something that’s about the size of the phone book and you spend the next four hours doing enough variations on it so that the gamers won’t get bored,” said [Wes] Johnson, who also works as the voice of the Washington Capitals when they play at the Verizon Center.
Johnson speaks the characters Mr. Burke and Fawkes in the game, and I have to confess that I couldn’t tell the same person spoke both parts. Next time I go to a Caps game, I just know that I’ll hear Mr. Burke warning me that he works for very important and dangerous people.
Beyond that oblique nod to ice hockey, Fallout 3 also features a wearable old-school goalie mask and a very strange group of ice hockey “fans” whose recollections of the sport have been colored by two hundred years of memories passed down in the ruins of the Capital Wasteland.
Triggering the appearance of Ledoux’s icegang is somewhat complicated and left as an exercise for the reader.
If only the game included hockey sticks and puck-launching guns . . .