The thing about old games—even the truly great ones—is that the studios that made them often didn’t have the budget, the space, or the inclination to voice their many, many, lines of dialogue. I’ve said it before, but I reckon the thing that repels a lot of people from trying classic bangers like Baldur’s Gate, Planescape: Torment, or Morrowind is the sheer amount of reading they ask you to do (the fact that the combat in the latter two is simultaneously tedious and frustrating doesn’t help, either).
But the modern era, despite being an unrelenting nightmare, has given us the tools to rectify this situation. A pair of mods spotted by DSOGaming are slowly but surely adding full-on voice acting to Fallout 2, probably the most beloved of the classic, isometric Fallout games (although to be honest, I’ve always been more of a Fallout 1 man).
The mods in question are Goat_Boy’s Talking Heads Addon for the Fallout Restoration Project and Black_Electric’s Talking Heads That Actually Talk (THAT) Mod. The first mod has been around for a while, and expands Fallout 2’s roster of animated talking heads—a privilege reserved for major characters in the base game—to over 110 new NPCs. The latter came out in January, and gives those newly-animated heads actual, human voices.
The voice-acting mod doesn’t use AI to accomplish its magic, at least not yet. Black_Electric has drawn on a pool of talent from the Fallout community to set NPC tongues wagging, and the results are honestly impressive for an amateur effort “operating on a budget of no money”. A couple of dodgy mics aside, the voices I’ve heard have all done an admirable job of lending life to the game’s ordinarily silent dialogue.
It seems like everyone got bored of reading all at once. It wasn’t too long ago that I wrote about the impressive-yet-concerning effort of Morrowind modders to voice the entirety of that game using the latest and greatest AI tech, and now I guess we’ve all collectively gotten tired of reading Fallout’s dialogue, too. Unlike with Morrowind, I definitely feel like we’re on firmer ethical ground using volunteer actors than AI models “trained” on the performances of the game’s original cast, though.
Both Black_Electric and Goat_Boy have a lot of work ahead of them. There are still plenty of NPCs without animated heads and even more without voices, after all. If you fancy flexing your acting muscles, you can check out this list of characters that still need voicing.