If you've ever played a game so much that you dreamed to its soundtrack (I'm looking at you, Age of Empires II with the expansion pack), you know music makes or breaks the experience after a few dozen hours of gameplay. Luckily a lot of game developers do what radio stations do to break up the musical monotony: add a DJ, make them distinctive and funny, and when they're truly great make them larger-than-life characters in the world around you. Here's ten in-game radio hosts worth looking forward to as you push yourself to finally beat that goddamn level.
10. DJ Atomika (host of Big Radio in SSX 3)
Why do we love Ryan Seacrest? (Don't disagree with me. If you live in America, years of ratings and focus group testing prove that you and everyone you know loves Ryan Seacrest.) We love Ryan Seacrest because he's undistinctive, professional, and an efficient way to move us from the entertainment we had to the entertainment we're going to have. Long-running SSX host DJ Atomika (voiced by Mark Hildreth) moves us from snowboarding event to snowboarding event with Seacrestian panache. He's the radio personality equivalent of a ski lift, and exactly what we want on the mountain.
9. Mr. DJ Radio, host of L.E.G.O. Radio in LEGO Island
"Oh right, that game" is RIGHT. Yes, LEGO Island's story isn't very well fleshed out. You're a pizza delivery boy named Pepper Roni, you've got to defeat with a criminal named The Brickster, and there's a guy called The Infomaniac who created your whole world and gives you cryptic clues about your mission (he's basically every neutral character from The Matrix Trilogy, condensed into one guy). Still, LEGO Island's writers had lots of fun with DJ Mr. Radio (also called DJ Jackitt), who provides a constant stream of news, jokes, ads, updates from nasal-toned sportscaster Marty Snaps. It's so much more than you'd expect from a toy company cash-in for PC, and hey, he's got snap-on broadcaster hair.
8. Edward Newton, host of Radio Free Manhattan in Crysis 2
Things are NOT going well in the New York City of Crysis 2. Manhattan's under martial law, the alien Ceph are running amok, and the "Manhattan virus" bio weapon is killing people left and right. The government isn't talking about it, but Edward "Truth" Newton's pirate radio show is, and as you find working radios around town his broadcasts give you story exposition, a fun sense of panic, and a much deeper experience than the average FPS. Best of all, the guy makes phrases like "tentacled motherfuckers" sound like poetry.
7. Tony Bruno, host of EA Sports Radio in Madden 2005, 2006, and 2007
Forget those stupid fake newspaper cover stories where "[TEAM 1] BEATS [TEAM 2] IN THE GAME YOU JUST PLAYED BUT OF COURSE YOU KNOW THAT". Back in the heady days of George W. Bush's second term, a Madden player could enjoy specially tailored between-game broadcasts by real life sports radio host Tony Bruno, complete with interviews, trivia, and listeners call-ins. Tony's show brought that generation of Madden the closest a video game's ever come to making all that pointless virtual NFL action feel like pointless real NFL action.
6. "Big" Ben, host of The Mix 107.77 in Saints Row: The Third
Listening to a depressed person can be depressing, but you know what's really depressing? Listening to a "lite" radio DJ who's too inauthentic for you to feel any human connection with them. Darius Masters spinned '80s classics and kept his personality on an even keel in Saints Row 2, but The Mix 107.77 went to the next level in the third game of the series. Ben breaks up a steady stream of pump-up jams with his cycle of low self-esteem and regret, which is tough to listen to in real life, but a lot of fun after a pretend shooting spree soundtracked by Bonnie Tyler's "Holding Out For A Hero".