'Sonic 2' Is Not Idris Elba's First Dive Into Video Games
The character Knuckles, from the Sonic franchise, is known for one thing: sex appeal. Indeed, many parents over the years have complained about such an oversexualized figure being featured so prominently in kids' media. So when Idris Elba, sometimes known as the World's Sexiest Man, was announced to voice the role in the upcoming movie, it sounded like stunt casting.
And yet this wasn't Elba's first foray into the world of voicing video game characters. He also voiced a character named Truck in 2011's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. This meant that he got to record lots of lines saying war stuff:
Call of Duty regularly hires inappropriately huge names for its games so they can put the actor in trailers, but this was a bit different from when they cast, say, Kevin Spacey or Kit Harington. They didn't advertise his involvement prominently, they didn't model his character using his face, and it's not exactly a huge role. Players aren't even sure whether the character dies as part of the storyline.
Elba wasn't as famous in 2011 as he is now, we suppose. He was a lot more famous when the time came for him to get major billing for his other video game voice role: a coach in NBA 2K20:
You might think there's no need to get big names from Hollywood to sell a game like NBA 2K20, since they're already getting big names from the NBA for voice roles, and NBA names are what gamers are really interested in. If so, you severely overestimate the voice acting skills of your typical professional athlete.
Have you ever made fun of LeBron James in Space Jam, or groaned where an athlete hosts SNL or cameos on The Simpsons? "Ouch, these guys just cannot act," you said to yourself. Well, you were wrong. That's actually some of the best acting you can get when you grab athletes and put them in front of a mic. The alternative is the way players talk in the NBA 2K series, reading lines off a sheet of paper with no clear understanding of what they mean and no desire to start over and try again:
NBA 2K20 didn't get as much criticism for the voice acting as past installments, both because of Idris Elba's presence and because it became one of the most hated games of all time for an entirely different reason: gambling mechanics. While players criticize many video game progression systems as gambling mechanics, and rightly so, NBA 2K20 went all the way by including literal slot machines in the game.
You could say we don't recommend you play NBA 2K20, not even to hear Idris Elba. But our recommendation is irrelevant. They switched off the servers last year, so you can't play the campaign now even if you already sank thousands of dollars into it.
Top image: 2k