Voice actor defends Silent Hill 2 HD

"If you want to hate it, that's fine."

Troy Baker - the new voice of James Sunderland in Silent Hill 2 HD - has defended the quality of the voice acting in the game, and blamed original voice actor Guy Cihi for forcing Konami to record new voices.

Silent Hill 2 HD forms a part of the Silent Hill HD Collection, which also contains Silent Hill 3. Both will be remastered with 720p visuals and new voice-overs for release early next year.

The new voice recordings have sparked controversy among fans of the survival horror series, and drawn criticism for their quality.

In an interview with The Gaming Liberty, Troy Baker, who was drafted in by Konami to record dialogue for the James Sunderland character in Silent Hill 2, said one of the problems the voice actors faced was having to lip sync because the developers did not redo any of the lip animations.

"We were tied to the original performances which, for a lot of fans, are monumental and it is a benchmark in gaming performance. But the original performances were met with mixed reviews, too. We all knew going in that we were going to get raised on this and people would be on both sides and be like, 'This is amazing,' or be on the polar opposite and say, 'It's the worst thing ever.'

"Regardless, we were going to have to live with it. But we knew as fans that we wanted to do something that was true to Silent Hill, not necessarily anyone else's performance of it, but true to Silent Hill and all of its incarnations."

Silent Hill 2, released in 2001, was praised for its atmosphere, dialogue and voice work. Guy Cihi, the original voice and motion capture actor for James Sunderland, was in particular praised for his performance.

"Anytime you hear something different, even in music when you hear a live version of a song that you love, it kind of takes on something else and you think, 'No, no, no, you were supposed to hit this note,' or, 'This is the way it's supposed to go,' because that's the way we've been programmed into it," Baker continued.

Baker also had some choice words for Cihi, who he accused of demanding residual payments from Konami in exchange for his help on the HD remake.

"I'm sure that if Silent Hill was my big game and I did it 10 years ago and I saw how successful it was, I would want more money too," Baker said.

"Actually, I don't know if I would be that way because I'd just be happy that I was a part of a successful franchise. The thing that I have learned, especially with the Japanese companies, is that you never ever speak out. You never bash your employers. You never bash the people who gave you a huge leg up no matter what they've done or what you feel that they've done.

"But the fact that he's talking about residuals being in video games shows you just how out of the loop he is because residuals don't happen. They don't exist.

"Don't think for a second that I don't wish that I had a fraction of a penny for every unit sold of Call of Duty: Black Ops or Modern Warfare 2 or Modern Warfare 3 that we're finishing up right now. I would love to see that. But that's not how the system works right now.

"So it's not that Konami wasn't willing to pay them, he (Guy) wanted residuals, he wanted non-existent money that he felt that he was owed. So Konami has no fault in this whatsoever. And they wanted to use him again. Guy was the one who was outspoken about it and said that unless this happens he wouldn't do it, so he forced Konami's hand. So if anybody wants to blame anybody for why they chose new voices, they can go back to the original James and he's the one to blame."

Baker did admit, however, that the new voice acting sounds "jilted".

"The one thing that we were limited by was that we were tied to their performances. So when people say that it sounds worse, it does sound jilted in places because a choice that I would make is not a choice that Guy would make, so you have to somehow fit that into what's already there and slip into someone else's skin and have that come out."

Baker's conclusion? If you don't like Silent Hill 2 HD, that's fine. Play the original on PlayStation2.

"We don't live in a fascist state. Please, have your opinion. If you want to hate it, that's fine. Just go back to the original because it still exists. You can still play it. This is just something new for a new generation. It's an endeavour for Konami to say that we want to bring this classic game back and give it a new treatment. We want to show you things that you never saw before.

"I find it funny when people who are reviewing me based on the new trailer and they don't even know who I am. They say that the new actor (me) displays his abysmal lack of acting chops. My reaction to that is OK, cool, that same person might have praised me for something else I've done before. But it's cool to see how people respond like that. It's kind of like a blind taste test."

Baker has played a number of roles in video games, including Ryu Hayabusa of Ninja Gaiden and Snow of Final Fantasy XIII. He is set to voice Booker De Witt in Irrational's BioShock Infinite, and plays Two-Face in Rocksteady's Batman: Arkham City.

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