Movie Stars in Video Games – Silent Hills, Until Dawn - Prima Games

Movie Stars in Video Games – Silent Hills, Until Dawn

by Bryan Dawson

The power of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have made games look and feel more realistic. While the bump in graphical prowess from the PS3 to the PS4 hasn’t been as significant as what we saw from the PS2 to the PS3, as developers spend more time with the new generation of hardware, we’re starting to see games that look better. A few of the games that are due out soon clearly show this generational gap. The Order: 1886 and Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain both look exceptional on the new generation hardware.

With graphics and visuals making a big jump, and animation also being kicked up a notch, developers are starting to use more Hollywood assets. Story has become important, as we see games like The Last of Us and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End focus on the narrative just as much as the graphics and gameplay. However, it doesn’t stop with the plot. A few developers took one more step towards bringing games and movies together, as popular actors and actresses are not only providing voice over for video game characters, but their likenesses as well.

The most prevalent example of this is the Silent Hills teaser at the end of the P.T. demo Konami released last year. Your reward for making it through the puzzle of seemingly empty hallways is to find that Norman Reedus, most famous for his role as Daryl Dixon in The Walking Dead TV show, will be the main character in Silent Hills. Reedus is providing motion capture work, along with his likeness and voice to the character in Silent Hills. In addition, famed director Guillermo del Toro will assist visionary Hideo Kojima in the creation of the game.

Integrating Hollywood into gaming doesn’t stop there. The upcoming survival horror game Until Dawn also features a cast of known Hollywood actors and actresses. They may not be as well known as Norman Reedus, but all but one of the eight teenagers in the game have a fair amount of acting experience in TV and film. The headlining star is Hayden Panettiere, best known for her role on the Heroes TV series, but actors and actresses from Ben 10, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Twilight, The Pacific from HBO and the Disney Channel are all included.

While this isn’t the first time famous actors and actresses have provided voice work and their likeness for a video game, the additional graphical power of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One give their addition more meaning. Hayden Panettiere is easily recognizable in Until Dawn, and Norman Reedus was one of the biggest draws for Silent Hills as soon as the character turned to face the camera. It’s almost the same effect people get when they see one of their favorite stars in the trailer for an upcoming film. These stars have marketing power, and it’s more effective now than it’s ever been.

Unfortunately, including these famous actors and actresses in upcoming games means that budgets will grow larger. With a bigger budget comes the need to add more downloadable content (DLC) to the game, or at some point, we may even see game prices go up again. It’s already common practice to see collector’s editions of games with astronomical prices, and that’s for games without the big Hollywood star power. Four different limited and collector’s editions of Mortal Kombat X were recently announced with prices ranging from $90 to $180, and the highest-priced bundle doesn’t even include everything found in the lower-priced packages.

As games become realistic, it requires additional effort and money to develop and release these products. The publishers have to make up that money somewhere, but it’s not a total loss for gamers. While DLC may seem like a sly way to make more money with less work, we’re getting extensions to our favorite games. In addition, companies are backing games for considerably longer than they used to. There was a time when companies would stop supporting a game a week after it hit store shelves. Now it’s common practice for a publisher to continue marketing and supporting their products months after release.

It’s an expensive time to be a gamer, but also one of the best times to play these promising titles.

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