The developer of the upcoming Command & Conquer remaster re-hired the voice actor behind the game’s announcer to re-record her lines after the original audio tapes were lost.
Developer Petroglyph, which was founded by ex-Westwood staff after EA shut the studio down back in 2003, brought Kia Huntzinger in to re-record her dialogue for announcer EVA.
Any Command & Conquer fan will be familiar with EVA’s A.I. dialogue, which notified you when units were lost, the enemy was attacking and, of course, when silos were needed. Here’s a reminder of Kia Huntzinger’s work for the original real-time strategy classic:
The video, below, compares Huntzinger’s announcer dialogue from the original Command & Conquer, recorded 25 years ago when she worked at Westwood, to her new announcer dialogue recorded this year. Huntzinger has done a remarkable job of recreating her original work accurately – despite the huge time gap.
In a post on EA’s website, Command & Conquer composer Frank Klepacki revealed the original EVA recording process:
“Because C&C Tiberian Dawn was breaking new ground for us at the time, and the first game in the series to kick things off, our audio department was really experimenting with trying to see what would work well. We only had just begun acquiring improved gear, but we were making do with whatever limitations we had to work with, such as average microphones, preamps, and the not-so-practical rooms we recorded in.
“It was the wild west of development – we cast people within Westwood Studios for various voice roles. One larger voice role however, was the part of EVA. Kia Huntzinger worked at Westwood, and our audio director Paul Mudra thought she might be a good fit based on hearing the recorded voice messages she left on our phones and paging she did over the intercom system. In many ways, she was the unofficial voice of the company once you made it past the front door because we listened to her throughout the day. She was excited to give it a shot, and the original voice session was recorded in a padded closet! Everyone liked the quality of her voice in that role, and the rest is history.
“Unfortunately the original tapes of Kia’s performance were not found – but that being said, there is definitely inherent noise, and noticeable rumble throughout the original games files, which would have needed a lot of clean up. So we did the next best thing – we hired her to reprise her role, this time in a professional recording room! And fortunately for us, she still sounds very close to the way she did years ago.”
It’s worth noting that you can play the Command & Conquer remaster with the original voiceover for nostalgia’s sake, if you fancy it.
— Kia Huntzinger (@KiaHuntzinger) December 10, 2019
Thoughts now turn to how EA will go about handling the announcer audio for Red Alert, which is also being remastered.
Unfortunately the voice of the Red Alert announcer, then president of publisher Virgin Interactive Entertainment Martin Alper, passed away recently. EA producer Jim Vessella said the development team “didn’t feel it would be the same to replace his performance with another actor”, so it’ll keep the announcer audio in its legacy form for the remaster, with the developers cleaning up the original recordings as best they can.