Five of the Best Celebrity Appearances in Video Games
Video game performance has become a very specialized discipline. No longer does it require a voice actor to do a few days of grunting and screaming in a booth. It’s the whole package now with voice acting only a part of a performance that includes 3D modelling and performance capture. But what about the people that are already famous? The artists who could have cashed a cheque for a days work but instead dedicated time to not just giving a performance in a medium they wouldn’t ordinarily show up in but giving one of the most difficult performances they can possibly give: playing themselves.
So, from one scene wonders to amusing cameos and from Keith David giving it his all to 50 Cent giving it his least these are the best appearances by celebrities in a video game.
Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson – 50 Cent: Bulletproof, 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand
Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson has had a long and varied career. He’s a rapper, actor, successful vitamin water investor and a video game character. How many rappers can you say had their own video game? Now how many rappers can you say had TWO of their own video games? While 50 Cent’s performance in both Bulletproof and Blood on the Sand can’t really be called good by any measure they are entertaining. Of all his ventures it’s clear that the leader of the G-Unit cared the least about his video game appearances even when he was the main playable character. Whereas his associates from G-Unit soldiers like Tony Yayo and Lloyd Banks to rap icons Dr Dre and Eminem at least put in effort in Bulletproof 50 Cent sounds like he’s waiting for Wall Street to open so he can pump more money into vitamin water stocks. By the time Blood on the Sand hit shelves in 2009 it was clear that much like gangster rap the tie-in shooter was ceding the way to bigger, better but ultimately less unique things.
Avenged Sevenfold – Call of Duty: Black Ops II
There are few things that align perfectly with Call of Duty but the heavy metal band Avenged Sevenfold (along with Monster Energy drinks and slurs) is one of them. Any player that successfully completed the campaign of Call of Duty: Black Ops II in 2012 was rewarded with a mid-credits scene in which protagonist Alex Mason and antagonist Raul Menendez have buried the hatchet and joined Avenged Sevenfold as drummer and rhythm guitarist respectively. It’s a strange scene just because of how well it fits the image of Call of Duty rather than the actual often very self-serious games themselves. But someone who has never played Call of Duty would expect the joke of a Call of Duty character to be using a wheelchair because they’re lazy not because they need it.
Danny Trejo – Far Cry 6
Before he was a video game character Danny Trejo was a character actor often known for playing the heavy on hundreds of movies over a forty year career. Before that he was a bank robber but that’s another story. In Far Cry 6 Danny Trejo pops up as himself in a free mission. Still in his prime at 78 Trejo commits to everything he does whether it’s From Dusk ‘Til Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter, Michael Mann’s Heat or Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. So it’s no surprise he goes full bore here, growling in his distinctive snarl alongside player character Dani in the DLC mission Dani and Danny VS Everything.
Keith David – Saints Row IV
Keith David is no stranger to video games. An accomplished voice actor with decades of experience in the recording booth he’s lent his sonorous, buttery vocals to two of gaming’s most popular franchises. First as the disgraced soldier known as Arbiter in the Halo series and second as Captain – later Admiral or Councillor – David Anderson in the Mass Effect trilogy. But it was in Saints Row IV where he came into his own, literally. After conquering acting David moved into politics becoming the player character’s Vice President after the Saints street gang effectively take over America. From there aliens invade, earth is destroyed and the Saints abducted. Saints Row IV takes a few cues from Mass Effect in that completing loyalty missions levels up your rescued crew members and Keith David’s is a doozy. In a parody of the film They Live the player and wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper, David’s co-star in the film, must team up to fight David in order to free him from his eternal torment.
Run the Jewels – Gears of War 4
Who doesn’t want to slaughter endless waves of aliens as your favourite rap duo? Unfortunately OutKast haven’t been available for a while now but there’s plenty to fill the gap. Run the Jewels did so admirably in 2016 when they appeared as themselves in the Gears of War 4’s Horde Mode. The game really capitalized on the duo’s popularity as they were everywhere around this time dropping bomb track after bomb track in the lead up to their third self-titled album. What better way to promote it than to appear as themselves in one of that year’s most popular and most violent games?