DOW2: So That’s What An Ork Looks Like

By Alec Meer on March 16th, 2011 at 9:15 am.

She's not an Ork, actually. But she ain't no Eldar either. SO WHAT IS SHE?

Oddly, I have never once thought to question what faces really provide the voices for the Dawn of War games’ assortment of space bastards. Did I think there was really an ork behind a microphone somewhere? Did I truly believe there was a man who naturally spoke like Patrick Stewart x1000? Of course not, but a testament to good voice acting is when you don’t think “oh, that’s just a guy pretending to be an Eldar.” In the below video, Relic show just who’s providing the snarls, hisses and achingly earnest exposition in DOW2: Retribution. While some performances are better than others (that sure is a lot of North Americans doing British accents), for the most part it’s enormously impressive. Particularly, you can’t fault either the gusto or the very visible effects upon the faces of those who make the noise of war. For instance, the lady above – take a guess who she plays?


Fred Tattershaw Tatasciore can make noises no human being should be able to make.

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79 Comments »

  1. Qark says:

    My god, this is amazing. It’s really great to see voice actors get some exposure for once.

    • jonfitt says:

      This is great. It’s fascinating to see the voices behind the characters I’ve been listening to for a long while now.

      But more than that it’s great to see voice actors who are clearly engaged in the work. Sometimes you hear voice actors (e.g.Liam Neeson) who voice a character like they’ve just been commanded to do a fungal cream radio ad by their accountant. These actors might not care about 40k, but they sure do know their character.

      That’s why the voice acting in DOW2, while overwrought (as it should be), is excellent.

    • subedii says:

      Even in games like Company of Heroes, they really nail it with the voice acting. Sure it’s still Hollywood Hero stuff, but it’s often a little more subdued and sounds more realistic than the naked bombast of 40K.

      It actually did a really good job of humanising the units that you were supposed to be ordering around. The different voiceovers for when they were in and out of combat really made a difference. When you order a retreat from combat, they sound desperate to get out of there.

      I also agree on Liam Neeson, and “celeb” casting in general. You can spend loads of money on “star attraction” names who then sound bored because they’re not into the role and they’re poorly directed.

      OR you can do what Relic do, and do proper voice casting and direction, and get VA’s that are into the roles and really become a part of the game’s atmosphere.

      Few people are ever going to know the name of the guy who did “Kaptin Bluddflagg”, but they’ll know he sounds hilariously right. Some publishers might push for a celebrity name on the box, but I don’t see that stunt casting someone like Samuel L. Jackson instead would have made things better.

    • Arathain says:

      Relic put a great deal more thought and work into their voice acting than anyone else, and it really shows. I’ve been playing some Company of Heroes recently, and the British in particular stand out as being compelling and full of character. The range of regional dialects is a particular plus.

  2. RaytraceRat says:

    Good stuff!

  3. TheTourist314 says:

    That really made my day. Also, it’s 4:30 AM (in my time zone), what am I doing still awake?

    • Mr_Initials says:

      Apparently listening to people make noises and making faces

    • The Army of None says:

      ^ This. I was doing the same thing. Wot a shame.

  4. node says:

    That was brilliant! Great seeing the people behind those wonderfully familiar voices.

  5. Hoaxfish says:

    None of these people are famous Hollywood celebrities! Why would anyone want to buy this game!?

    • Phinor says:

      Bah, Robin Atkin Downes was in Babylon 5 thus he’s a legend in my books. Seems the guy has been doing *some* voice work after B5 (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0235960/)

    • Icarus says:

      Steve Blum was pretty rocking in Cowboy Bebop. And he did play Wolverine in pretty much every X-men game ever. So yeah.

    • Shatners Bassoon says:

      In future mark all posts containing sarcasm with the tag /s, this stops people from looking silly.

  6. Ging says:

    The talent going on in that video is actually scary, who’d have thunk that people could shift their voices so quickly between what are quite wild extremes!

    • jonfitt says:

      Voice actors are a weird breed. They can’t be thinking “I need this next voice to sound like X”, that would almost certainly require them to hesitant. They must be somehow putting their mind into the new character/voice and letting it come out naturally. But being able to do that mid-sentence is crazy.

  7. El Stevo says:

    I love the way the most gravel-voiced manly man characters are voiced by speccy geeks.

  8. BooleanBob says:

    Man, Relic just get voice acting. A shining example to the entire industry.

    • subedii says:

      What’s also amazing isn’t just the quality, but the sheer volume of voicework for all the races and units. In DoW 2 there is a ridiculous amount of contextual speech, and it really adds tremendously to the atmosphere of the game.

      When encountering enemies and combat they don’t just have a few stock lines like in Starcraft 2, they’ll often comment very directly on the nature of the threat. The unit type, the race, whether it’s ranged, melee, suppression, infiltrated or AV fire. They’ll often contextually sound different if they’re in combat or in a bad situation. They’ll comment on their allies in the field, they even have lines for when moving aside for allied vehicles (“One side for the Ork machine! It corners poorly!”). They’ll have lines for receiving upgrades. Or getting cover. Or using abilities.

      Then the commanders have a whole host of additional contextual lines as well, like helping incapacitated ally commanders. Eldar will often comment on the laughable state of enemy psykers. Space Marines will have plenty of hostile things to say about Chaos.

      Really it just goes on and on. Each unit has hundreds of lines, and they all fit. That they managed all that voicework with such high quality, little repetition, and all matching the races and units that they’re done for, is pretty amazing.

      I mean, this is a selection of stuff from Space Marine Terminators.

      And that’s just part of the voicework for one squad. Then you’ve got to also consider that whenever a new race is release, they go back and record all new contextual lines relevant to them. For EACH of the previous races. It’s nutty.

    • BooleanBob says:

      No doubt. I’ll never forget my amazement in COH when ordering my Wehrmacht anti-tank gun to activate its camoflague ability, only to hear the NCO remark, with pitch-perfect incredulity (and just the right amount of Nazi campness),

      ‘Sure, ve’ll hide zis… giant gun.’

      Amazing stuff.

    • subedii says:

      Ordering regular infantry to attack armour:

      “Sir, with all due respect… are you high?”

      My favourite lines were probably the airborne though.

      “We’re airborne! We’re meant to be surrounded!”

    • Wilson says:

      It is stunningly good. I don’t think there’s a single line in CoH that I’ve got tired of hearing, even the stuff that gets played a lot. And when you get the rare line that you haven’t heard before, it’s great. The only voice acting they have that I don’t like is your assistant when you play Orcs in DOWII, but even that isn’t badly acted, it’s just good acting of a very annoying voice.

    • BooleanBob says:

      Capturing a fuel point with a British Tommy squad,

      ‘Duffy, fuel? And you’re smoking a ciga-fucking-rette?’

      I could do this all day (but I won’t). What was great was that Duffy became something of a recurring character, with several other responses commenting with exasperation on his antics.

    • Bhazor says:

      Reply to Subedii

      It was the same in Company of Heroes (Sherman attacked by light infantry – “They’re attacking our Sherman… Ha Good luck with that” . Infantry pinned by MG “That MG is tearing us up”). As well as adding to the atmosphere it makes it much easier to tell when someone is in trouble or is attacking the wrong unit type. So that really makes it so much more easier to tell where you’re needed for microing and you don’t have to try to read a dozen health bars to tell whether your winning like in “that other sci-fi RTS game”.

    • CMaster says:

      It’s something Relic have got right from Day One in Homeworld.
      The sound design, including voicework adds to the emotion dramatically (the combination of just stunned, numb voices, rather than the obvious anguished ones and of course Agnus Dei is a big part of what makes that moment so powerful. Meanwhile, the incidental work is spot on – your forces will call out by command group (so you know who is talking) and give appraisals on the battle situation, combined with calls for what they need (refueling, mine clearing, etc). It’s great how they’ve kept that up through the DoW and CoH games too.

      In CoH, the unit that always sticks in my head are rangers, simply because they lie through their teeth (they claim to be both bulletproof and to never miss, something dispelled upon first engagement with almost anything). Also, both the Brits and the Panzer Elite have almost a whole new set of voicework for maps where it rains. The Brits whinge about how wet they are (they compare the Bren Carrier to a bathtub, genius) while PE become even more raving lunatics than usual.

    • mcnostril says:

      Relic sound design is the best in the industry as far as I’m concerned.

      I feel like they still haven’t topped CoH though.
      Vanilla DoW2 was very average in this respect, but Chaos Rising and Retribution definitely brought the quality back up, although in my opinion they still fall a wee bit short of the level of quality from CoH. I still haven’t figured why I feel like this is the case, since in both games they have pretty much achieved the ideal of being able to tell what’s going on without even looking at the screen.
      I think it might actually be down to the explosions – the sci-fi explody of DoW2 doesn’t seem to have that same thundering bass that artillery had in CoH, and distant explosions don’t have the muted presence (huh, this is rather hard to explain, innit? if you’ve played coh you must know what I mean) that they did in CoH. The same applies to distant gunfire, but the more I think about it, the more I think it might be because of how familiar we’ve become with WW2 sounds and so the quality tends to shine a bit more (I mean, as great as the quality is, eldar guns will always sound like, well, eldar guns. The pointy eared gits).

      I think one of my favorite bits of sound design is that not only can you instantly know what’s going on at all times, but occasionally you hear sound cues from the enemy if they’re on your screen. That’s just brilliant.

    • Ateius says:

      Oh lawd, CoH unit voices. One of the things that keeps bringing me back to it instead of Men of War’s silent soldiermans. The varied and context-based responses do so much to bring them to life.

    • ValourAndArms says:

      On the RelicOnline forums there was a program that could open up the archives and there were heaps of sound files that weren’t actually used in the game.

      One of my favourites of these was a rifleman screaming “I’ve got shrapnel in my balls!”

    • Grinnbarr says:

      I always felt sorry for my Panzer Elite blokes when they said something like ‘When ze var is over, I’m going to learn to play ze piano’ and then they got chewed up by an MG. Sad times.

  9. subedii says:

    The voicework really is one of the highlights of Dawn of War 2. Well, all of Relic’s games really, leagues ahead of most other games. What’s amazing isn’t just the quality of the voicework itself, but the way that each voiceover seems to match the races and units they’re done for. Which in a varied mix like 40K, is quite a freaking amazing thing in itself. I mean, I wouldn’t have thought a Pirate Ork voice would even be possible before I played Retribution.

    One of the other major highlights of Relic’s games is the soundwork as well. Company of Heroes with surround sound turned up could give you freaking shellshock.

    Would interesting to see those guys get their own video as well sometime.

  10. Davie says:

    This is great. More voice actor videos, if you please.

    And Hivemind lady was scary.

    • Nova says:

      Agreed, these voice acting trailers are brilliant. Even better than many game related trailers.

  11. RogB says:

    as a brit who thinks warhammer voices should ALWAYS be british, and frequently winces when americans do regional british accents in films and TV, these guys do a fantastic job!
    the RSC theatrical style is great too. a little OTT but that suits warhammer to a tee.

  12. Mike says:

    Patrick’s voice is amazing. I mean his regular voice. I would just listen to a tape of my own voice all day.

  13. Fetthesten says:

    That’s Fred Tatasciore – not Tattershaw – by the way. He’s in a bunch of videogames and cartoons, and also great.

    • Kevin says:

      There’s two words I primarily know Fred by:

      “Tonight… you.”

      And…

      “Only words I know are ball, and good… and rape.”

    • BooleanBob says:

      You know, he’s supposed to be spayed, and, uh… he ain’t that. Go ahead, ask me how I know. Go ahead. Ask me.

    • frenz0rz says:

      Bloody hell, he’s the voice of Saren?!

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      You’re there, haunting my dreams.

  14. DaftPunk says:

    Really neat stuff you got there :D

  15. Zepposlav says:

    Totally amazing. Voiceacting is one of main reasons I love warhammer themed games.

  16. starclaws says:

    Orc fool

  17. Mr Wonderstuff says:

    Wow impressive. Listening/watching to an american suddenly become English is strange, very strange. Think I may pick this up even though it wasn’t on my list.

  18. Kevin says:

    When that woman said “all (she) knew about Eldar was eating them”, at first I thought: “Hang on, did Slaanesh make a cameo in this game?”

    From the Homeworld games to CoH, sound design is one of the things that Relic has in spades in comparison to other great devs like Blizzard and Valve. For example, did you know that the Commissar will say: “Drive me closer! I want to hit them with my sword!” when you put him in a Chimera? Or that the Catachans say “Git to da Valkyrie!” when you retreat them?

    Fun fact: The guy who voices the Sentinel did Fenris from Dragon Age 2, and, more importantly, a vastly overlooked role as the ensemble darkhorse that is Balthier in Final Fantasy 12.

    • ezekiel2517 says:

      I haven’t played FFXII in years, but I played DA2 earlier today. He even looks like him a bit.

    • Commisar says:

      the “hit them with my sword” was great. I have recently been playing Homeworld 1 and 2 and even back then, relic just nailed sound design

  19. Choca says:

    Awesomeness

  20. Sarlix says:

    Gugh! We lost a power node!

    haha good stuff.

  21. Inigo says:

    Imagine my surprise when I found out that DoW 1′s Commissar is also responsible for this.

  22. McDan says:

    This is brilliant, even more so to see that these voice actors actually can actually sound like that themselves, rather than it going through a load of tech manipulation stuff.

  23. Archonsod says:

    The voicework brought the 40K world alive in a way not seen since Final Liberation.

  24. cytokindness says:

    DRIVE ME CLOSER!

  25. Bhazor says:

    Voice work with no Jennifer Hale? Why that’s almost crazy enough to work!

  26. Navagon says:

    Wow good stuff. If you didn’t add a staring eyes tag to this post I think I’d have lost some faith in you guys though. :P

  27. Anarki says:

    Steve Blum is an absolute legend, I seem to hear him in every anime I watch or video game I play. He’s voiced main characters in:

    Cowboy Bebop
    Afro Samurai
    Naruto
    Samurai Champloo

    Call of Duty
    Bulletstorm
    Final Fantasy 7
    Madworld
    Prototype
    Also is Male Troll in WoW.

    That’s just a selection of some of my favourites http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Blum

  28. Axyl says:

    Gabriel Angelos…saying “Broccoli”

    Mt life is complete. <3

    Awesome article, guys. Kudos to all involved, including the video. :)

  29. hills says:

    That video made my day.
    DoW-II has its problems but the voice work has always been top notch.
    (Wish the campaigns for Retribution had a few more missions in them for instance.)

  30. Moraven says:

    Awesome.

    Fred Tatasciore looks like he did some infected sounds for L4D.

    Largo from Valk Chronicles, Saren MA, Bane in batman, and just goes on the video game work he has done. Now curious to see what the rest of the voice actors have been involved in.

  31. Ubik2000 says:

    How much would it cost to get the guy who plays Gabriel Angelos to do my voicemail message?

    Or just follow me around and narrate my day?

  32. Bloodloss says:

    Pretty awesome, but I did prefer the voicework done in the original. These guys are awesome and very enthusiastic.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-gSJW3sHXE BLOOD FOR THE BLOOOOOOD GOOOOOD

    • Starky says:

      Most of the people who recorded the voices for the newer games are actually the same people – due to contracts with the artists (but more importantly union rules, and laws) limitations on usage are set so Relic are not allowed to actually use those recordings again. It’s an odd situation where you end up with actors coming in to record the EXACT same lines for a game, because legally the company can’t use the old ones for a new game.

      All came about from when Crispin Glover sued the Back to the future 2 producers for using his appearance without permission.

  33. Prolepsis says:

    Thankfully, Blum has a role or two in this that aren’t just Blum being Blum. There are games/anime that I simply cannot watch because I am so sick of hearing his normal “Blum voice.”

    • Dao Jones says:

      It almost seems like what happened to Nolan North. They can do amazing things with their voices, but when they’re hired for a job, they’re asked to do what they’re “known” for. :-\

    • Metonymy says:

      I have to agree. I heard his Spike first, and now every time I hear him, it’s “Oh God, Spike is here too.”
      I really love the Autarch and the Farseer. They’re just so pretentious. The chicks who play them are pretty Milfy too. Hivemind <3

    • Prolepsis says:

      So, Metonymy has replied to me… anyone named Synecdoche care to join in?

      Back on topic: if there has been an anime, Mr. Blum has acted in it. At least, that is how it feels these days. And games too. I can only hope that his voice does not penetrate my brain to the point that I begin to hear it when I am reading books, or RPS, or anything!

  34. Geralt says:

    lol, loved the orc voices.

    And Steven Blum is awesome as always

  35. Sarkhan Lol says:

    Ork guy is still the most amazing for me, because it is just so strange to hear that voice just… so perfectly coming out of someone’s mouth, no filtering or production tweaks.

    That and GUO guy, just purely on the merit that noises like that shouldn’t be ABLE to come out of someone’s mouth.

  36. JB says:

    I like the way it looks like the voice actors are all having a whale of a time doing it.

    And what a good job they’re doing.

  37. Pijama says:

    Holy crap, Tarkus just got more awesome.

    And I surely must not be the only one who finds it DEEPLY IRONIC that Gabriel Angelos also is the voice of Chaos Space Marines? HA

  38. The Magic says:

    Rock it Scott Mcneil. You king of anime.

  39. vodka and cookies says:

    Amazing voice work, Relic do really manage to find some great talent.

  40. Sassenach says:

    “She is gathering any force she can muster. Beans, Brocolli…”

    ALIEN BEANS.

  41. amishmonster says:

    I always think that Tarkus is the same guy who played Batou in the Ghost in the Shell dubs, and he never is.

  42. Hoaxfish says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYuxXWEjqRw … Daddy pig == the narrator/mentor from Dungeon Keeper 2

  43. ElPoco says:

    I’d like to see the same for the French version of some games:
    “Hello, I’m Paul, I’m unemployed, I was walking down the street when someone asked me to record some voices. You probably know me better as the big guys, the small guys, the strange guys, the aliens-thingy, the big machines, the monsters and pretty much any other people in that game.”

  44. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Amazing. Props to these people.. and to Relic for keeping such a high standard in voice acting.

  45. Starky says:

    Steve Blum is one of the greatest voice over artists in history – his body of work is astounding, and his acting quality at his absolute worst, in the shittiest projects is still better than 90% of VO artists.

    He’s most famous for his gravely action man voice (wolverine, the examples above) and he does it well – but he’s got a massively wide range.
    Just his gravel voice is so damn good most people want him for that.

    He’s probably only second to Simon Templeman (Kain) as my personal favorite voice artist of all time.

  46. Armante says:

    That was awesome. Great voice acting can make such a difference.

    Also, reminded me of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ljFfL-mL70

  47. RegisteredUser says:

    Kirsten Potter, will you marry me and for the rest of my life read me sexy bedtime stories in that posh voice?

    Please please please pleaaaaaaase say yes!

    P.S. You may have to share the bed with Megan as well.