Many say Japanese games are lagging behind their Western counterparts. There are arguments for and against that theory but for the most part, it seems obvious.
But in which categories are the Eastern video games falling behind? Well, we could cite graphics but titles like Gran Turismo 5 and Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots make us hesitate. That being said, few would argue that the best visual presentations of the generation are found in Western titles with names like Uncharted , God of War , RAGE , and upcoming titles like Bioshock Infinite and The Last Of Us .
But after reviewing games throughout the generation, there is one section that stands out in contrast when comparing high-profile Western to Japanese games: voice acting. The Japanese actors – the English actors they hire, that is – just aren't on the same level as the professionals we've heard in games like L.A. Noire , Red Dead Redemption , Heavenly Sword , Heavy Rain , Uncharted , etc. I mean, it's not even close. While I actually think the voice performances in Final Fantasy XIII-2 are better than what we heard in FFXIII, the overall voice package pales in comparison to last year's Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception .
Really, it pales in comparison to a lot of recent Western titles; this includes Assassin's Creed: Revelations , Battlefield 3 , Batman: Arkham City , and Gears of War 3 . Now, I thought the aforementioned MGS4 had great voice acting but there were still a few exceptions in that game, and I can't think of any other Japanese title that excels in the all-important category. It could just be the translation issue; these games could have awesome Japanese actors, but the developer only gets amateurs for the English versions.
I'm sorry, but that doesn't cut it anymore. It's one of the reasons Japanese games are seen as less refined, less accomplished, less cutting-edge. The dialogue is a part of this as well; it rarely flows naturally in Japanese titles and again, this could be due to translation problems. But great voice acting in games have become movie-esque; we really have to buy into the actors/characters on screen. I'm always distinctly aware I'm playing a video game whenever someone speaks in a Japanese title; that's all I'm saying.
There are exceptions, of course. But in general, I think this is a clear albeit disappointing observation.