When fans saw Keanu Reeves in Cyberpunk 2077, they went crazy. And when he appeared at E3 to charm them and promote the game, they went even crazier!
This arguably marked a turning point in games. In the past, celebrities appearing in games was a mixed bag. You were just as likely to get a dud of a game rather than something worthy of your fave celebs.
Wondering which celebrity games to try out and which to avoid like the plague? Here we go!
Best: Batman: Arkham Asylum (Mark Hamill)
Most fans know Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, the hero of a galaxy far, far away. However, he also has a robust voice acting career. At the center of this career? His performance as the Clown Prince of Crime!
Hamill voiced the Joker in the iconic Batman: The Animated Series. And he reprised this role (along with many of his cartoon colleagues) in the Batman: Arkham Asylum series of games.
And this isn’t just a good celebrity appearance in a game. Hamill offers the best Joker portrayal in history.
Best: Mass Effect 2 (Martin Sheen)
Martin Sheen is basically Hollywood royalty. And while son Charlie is known for his weird offscreen antics, Martin Sheen is mostly known for his serious onscreen gravitas.
And he brings that gravitas in heavy doses to the Mass Effect series. As the Illusive Man, he keeps you guessing about his motives even as you’re captivated by his performance.
You get your heaviest doses of Sheen in Mass Effect 2. Incidentally, this is the best entry in the series, so it’s very much worth playing.
Best: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (Phil Collins)
The Grand Theft Auto series of games slowly added more and more celebs. These included entertainers ranging from Axl Rose to Samuel L. Jackson. However, all of them had simply provided voices for fictional characters within the game universe.
That all changed with Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories. In this game, Phil Collins plays himself. And not in a brief cameo: he is the centerpiece of several different missions.
His appearance in the game is so weird as to be sublime. What could be weirder and wilder than saving Phil Collins from assassins while he performs his iconic “In the Air Tonight”?
Best: Saint’s Row IV (Keith David)
Keith David has enjoyed a very wild career. Whether he’s fighting aliens in They Live or hanging with students in Community, his presence is always one we enjoy.
In Saints Row IV, he plays a vice president who is kidnapped by aliens. What follows is a wild plot that reveals his character to be complex and multidimensional.
While the Saints Row games are intentionally silly, David walks the thin line between silly and fun that keeps the whole thing enjoyable.
Worst: Revolution X (Steven Tyler)
Fans have spent decades talking about musical revolution as a kind of metaphorical concept. Leave it to Aerosmith to take the whole thing literally.
Steven Tyler features prominently in the forgettable 1994 arcade shooter Revolution X. In this game, you alternate between shooting bullets and CDs at a series of generic wannabe Stormtroopers.
At the end of the day, this is a simple shooter whose peers (such as Terminator 2: Judgment Day) were far more memorable. And digitized Steven Tyler trying to act has not aged well at all.
Worst: Shaq-Fu (Shaquille O’Neal)
Shaquille O’Neil has always been charming, both on the court and off. So it’s no surprise that he has appeared in a few video games over time. Of course, most of those games reference his skills as a basketball player.
And then there’s Shaq-Fu, the 1994 game for Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo.
Instead of dunking on opponents, this game features Shaq using kung-fu moves to fight monsters in another dimension. While the premise is crazy enough to be cool, the game doesn’t know what it wants to be: it’s a crappy adventure game and an even crappier fighting game.
Ultimately, it’s the worst kind of celebrity game: a generic slog that seemingly just has a celeb slapped onto it.
Worst: Postal 2 (Gary Coleman)
It’s tough to fault a celebrity for loving video games. But it’s the love of gaming that landed Gary Coleman in 2003’s Postal 2, the sequel to the controversially violent first game.
Coleman does the best he can with a role that is basically built around his status as a pseudo-celebrity. However, the gameplay is bland and repetitive, and it’s tough to not view Coleman’s presence as a paper-thin marketing ploy.
Whether you love good games or just love Gary Coleman, it’s tough to love Postal 2.
Worst: Metal Gear Solid V (Keifer Sutherland)
Keifer Sutherland is a very gifted actor. From vampires to presidential saviors, he always manages to bring his A-game to the most unexpected roles.
However, his performance as Snake in Metal Gear Solid V was doomed from the start. Why? Because he’s no David Hayter!
Writer and actor David Hayter portrayed just about every voiced iteration of Snake in previous iterations of the series. Fans expecting his return performance instead got Keifer Sutherland.
We love you, Keith, but this is definitely the “dollar store” version of Snake’s voice!