Nolan North Has Harsh Critics

I once thought film critics were unnecessarily overly critical until I did a recent Google News search on video game voice actor Nolan North. Now I think maybe video game critics are way harsher.

Take a look at these excerpts from various video game reviews:

UGO.com on Dark Void:

Nolan North [Uncharted 2, Shadow Complex, everything else] is a great guy, a real talent, why else would everyone work with him? That doesn’t discount that everyone works with him, and everyone pays him to do the same thing – play Harrison Ford.

Even if Nolan North is the best Harrison Ford we’ve had since the original Harrison Ford disappeared 20 years ago and the studios hired a look alike to churn out crappy dramas…I got distracted. Oh yeah, even if Nolan North is a good Harrison Ford, you studios should be trying new talent. If you can’t look at your hero without thinking about Nathaniel Drake, you’re in trouble.

California Literary Review on Dark Void:

[In Dark Void] you play Nolan North, playing Nathan Fillion, again, playing cargo pilot Will Grey shortly before World War II in a story that probably worked like gangbusters in the design document, but falls completely flat thanks to thin characterization, awkward storytelling and flat dialogue.

GodisaGeek.com on Dark Void:

[Dark Void’s] characters are immensely one dimensional, boring and annoying. Will is basically a Nathan Drake wannabe (he is even voiced by Nolan North), who doesn’t even come close to capturing the charisma and personality displayed by the Uncharted hero.

Will is voiced by Nolan North (from Uncharted fame) and the work he has done for Dark Void is fine but hearing his voice in almost every new game is starting to grate a bit. The thing is his voice suits the character of Nathan Drake perfectly but apply that voice to another character (or several) and it just doesn’t work as well.

Kotaku.com:

By 2011, you will be sick of Nolan North.

[N]o offence to North, who is a talented man, but publishers really need to stop hiring this guy. Seems every game I play these days has him in there somewhere, and as soon as I hear him, I’m yanked out of the experience, because all I can think about is Nathan Drake, then all I can think is “man, I’m getting sick of hearing this guy’s voice in every single game I play”.

I mean, I was playing World in Conflict last week, and he even managed to turn up in that. World in Conflict!

What these reviewers don’t seem to realize or understand is that North didn’t hire himself for the many games he voices, nor did he serve as his own voice director.

Considering how the casting process normally works, I’d say North keeps getting cast because those involved in casting liked his audition, or they specifically chose him for specific roles based on his proven track record: he’s a multi-voicer with a broad range who is known to his peers and clients as a quality, professional talent.

North has even said in interviews that he has offered other character choices besides his “Nathan Drake,” so he can’t help that he keeps getting cast in the same character types or that he’s directed to perform dialog a certain way.

In North’s defense, if a handful of video game critics are tired of him voicing similar-sounding roles, that is by no means his fault.

Seriously, criticizing Nolan North for voicing multiple characters that sound similar in a handful of video games is like complaining that a Whopper tastes the same every time you visit Burger King: it’s made that way.

Related post: 1.15.2010 — Nolan North: The ‘Biggest Voice’ in Video Games

2 Responses to Nolan North Has Harsh Critics

  1. Dennis Sappleton says:

    Hmm. Looking at those reviews, it seems they are merely commenting on the constant hiring of Nolan for the same voice in different games. I don’t see them blaming Nolan? o_0

    What a fanboy post.

  2. I figured I’d get some comments on this one, especially with the attention-grabbing headline. That was intended to be tongue-in-cheek, so I apologize for the exaggeration.

    I honestly found the comparisons with Harrison Ford and Nathan Fillion amusing — they’re what originally motivated me to write this piece.

    However, some of the reviews are indeed overly critical, and to highlight the negative comments regarding North’s performance to illustrate my point:

    – “thin characterization…flat dialogue”

    – “Will is basically a Nathan Drake wannabe (he is even voiced by Nolan North), who doesn’t even come close to capturing the charisma and personality displayed by the Uncharted hero.”

    And Kotaku’s assumption that gamers will be sick of hearing North within the next year is outrageous. Check out the flak that blogger takes in the reader comments for that ridiculously critical op-ed piece. One reader even comments that complaining about North being in “too many games” is like complaining about Will Smith appearing in too many movies.

    And while I’ll agree that the repeated criticism is the “constant hiring” of North, these critics are also implying that North lacks variety in his performances which (again) is how he was cast and directed to perform.

    Voice actors aren’t given free reign in recording sessions — even the “big name” Hollywood actors need direction. (Look through past blog posts for excerpts from voice director Andrea Romano on that topic.)

    Also (again), North has even commented in interviews that he has tried offering other characterizations and finds it surprising that he keeps getting cast to voice the same character types, but that’s also what happens sometimes with multi-voicers. Some production companies/studios are known for consistently booking the same voice talents. For a long while in Hollywood, it was even hard for new talents to break in to animation voice acting because the same dozen or so voice actors kept getting hired for every production that came up.

    Look at VAs like Frank Welker, Rob Paulsen, Jim Cummings, Tress MacNeille and a lot of the other voice actors who were working on like every single show in the late 80s – early 90s.

    Also, like any blog — I’m entitled to my opinion, whether I sound like a “fanboy” or not.

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