Why They Went With A Soundalike For Portable Ezio

Is there a fundamental difference between the character voices we expect to hear from a 2D game and a 3D game? The makers of the Assassin's Creed II DS game thought so.

As a final curiosity regarding the Assassin's Creed II Discovery for iPhone that we've been covering this week, I had to share the interesting reason why the development team decided to use their own voice actor for their hero, Ezio de Auditore, in the iPhone and DS game Discovery and not the one who was Ezio for the console ACII.

"We recorded both the original Ezio [voice actor] and we recorded a second," the game's producer Ben Mattes told Kotaku. "We went with the soundalike because it worked better due to the fact that Disocvery is a 2D game."

That explanation made little sense to me when Mattes mentioned it, so I asked him to explain. He did: "Effectively,Assassin's Creed console is an open-world game. And in an open-world game, you want the audio to sound sort of omni-directional. You want it to sound coming all around you. So when they recorded the voice actor, they recorded him further away from the mic. And when we played him back on the iPhone and DS, it was lacking the sound quality we wanted. So we found a soundalike who did a great job at mimicking the voice actor of Ezio in a fashion more appropriate to a platformer where you want it to sound like the guy speaking to you is right in front of you."

I'd never noticed this kind of difference between character audio in a 2D game and a 3D game. I'd also never would have thought that a 2D game, which positions its lead character further away from the player than a 3D game often does, would establish such an expectation. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't, but this was one audio oddity that was too interesting not to share.