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Veteran Member - Level 12
Living in Italian part of Switzerland, all the games on the
shelves of the local game store are in Italian. During my first year
living here, I ordered all my games from Amazon UK because I was
intimidated to play a game outside of my native tongue. This year, I am
determined to play most of my games in Italian to better my grasp of the
So, a week ago I picked up a game I’ve held off on playing for one reason or another: Uncharted 2: Il Covo Dei Ladri.
Roughly translated, it means “The Cave of Thieves,” but you all know it
as “Among Thieves.” It’s the same game that all gamers enjoy, but it’s a
much different playing it in a different language.
first thing that struck me as strange was that the game didn’t first
load in Italian. The first time I popped the disk in I was staring at
the English title screen. I’m chalking it up to the fact that I’m
playing on an American PlayStation 3 and the game supposes the language I
want to play it in is English (I’ll have to see if it does the same
with future games). As tempted as I was to stick with it, I changed the
language to Italian. Even then, the game had a large square button on
the screen with the word “ENGLISH” emblazoned with gold lettering, like
it was trying to change my mind. Every time after that, the game loaded
up in Italian and the square button urging me to switch to English was
I played the first Uncharted in English, so hearing all the characters suddenly speak Italian was jarring. It’s like when I watched The Simpsons
in another language for the first time (Spanish was the first, but
Chinese was by far the strangest); it’s a surreal feeling. Much like
with the Simpsons, there was a nagging feeling at first that this was
wrong, that anything other than English coming out of their mouths is
imagine that people who are used to them speaking Italian and then play
in English feel the same way. I know that happened to me with the
original Loony Tunes cartoons. My first time watching them was on old
VHS tapes in Spanish that my grandma brought over from Mexico. I grew up
with Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam and Daffy Duck speaking
Spanish. To this day I still prefer watching them in Spanish than
The Italian voices are very close to their English
counterparts. If Nolan North was speaking Italian, I imagine it’s
exactly how he would sound. Voices in different languages will never be
the same because of the different pitch languages have. Nathan Drake and
company sound higher pitched because, for the most part, English is a
deep sounding language compared to the more sing-songy and higher
The Italian Cast (Elena Fisher returns scene)
only major difference in voice actors I noticed was in Chloe Frazer. In
the English version she has an Australian accent (yes, it sounds
British to me and surely you, but I passed it by several British friends
and they assure me it sounds like an Australian who spent a few years
in Britain. I trust them because I can’t tell the difference between an
Australian/New Zealand/British accent very well). The Italian voice
actress wasn’t able to pull off the accent so she just played Chloe with
her natural Italian voice. Personally, I much prefer
the Italian voice on Chloe than her original Aussie voice. I feel the
former has a much more sensual and sarcastic tone that better fits her
character, which I don’t get the same feeling of looking at English
YouTube videos of her. Chloe even looks more Italian to me. I think this is a great example on how a voice can change how a character is presented.
The English Cast (Elena Fisher returns scene
Though I prefer playing games with subtitles enabled – so I don’t miss
tiniest bit of story – I played through the game without them after
having them on for a bit in the beginning. My eyes were constantly
trying to read and understand the text instead of the action at hand,
and since I can’t read Italian as fast as English, I found myself
frustrated when I didn’t finish reading and the words disappeared. It
was much easier to understand and immerse myself in the game’s language
without the subtitles and the language was able to wash over me easily.
Contextual commands and in game tutorials would still appear, but those
would stay on screen longer and so I was able to read them fine.
I was surprised to find that the lip syncing was very good.
There were moments where it was obvious that the voice didn’t match the
lip movements, but those were far and few in between. I was expecting
the game to be blatantly obvious it was dubbed over, but it seems that
developer Naughty Dog and the Italian localization took very good care
with the dubbing.
The script was translated very well. There were never
crippling flubs in translation; all the jokes were still funny, phrases
like “go to hell” made sense, etc.There
were however, three huge translation mistakes. At a point in the game
when Nathan is in Nepal and he is speaking to a local who neither he nor
the player can understand, Nathan asks him in Italian, “Does anyone
speak English?” Later on the same mistake is made when Nathan says, “Are
you sure you don’t speak English?” The script is originally English,
but why on Earth wouldn’t they tweak the script to say “Italian”? If
this happened in this version, I’m sure this mistake is in every foreign
version of the game. I know that the characters are American (except
Chloe. She’s Australian), but surely it takes the player out of the game
when the character asks for a language that they’re not speaking.
there was Nathan Drake’s journal that was not translated.
Every page of the journal that he carries around and jots notes down in
was still in English. It must be frustrating for people who don’t
understand English have to decipher the notebook when looking at it for
help with puzzles. They are also missing out on funny notes jotted by
Nathan. It’s an important detail that was overlooked.
the credits are still in English. The bigger offense is that the
Italian voice cast is not credited at all. Both the English and Japanese
casts are listed, and the European translators/localizers are credited,
but all other language casts are not there. I think it’s a disgrace not
to list them or the other casts because I thought they did a fine job.
So my first foreign game was a very interesting and
enriching experience. I was amazed at how much I understood; I
understood just about all of it except for a few words. I learned a lot
of vocabulary, many of which I will need in life (“SoB” and “Go to hell”
are must have phrases in any person's arsenal). I also learned about
translations between games and what shortcomings there in foreign
translations. It really interests me how many problems there are in
translations to other languages because, when you think about it, every
game that is not in either English or Japanese is translated. I think
after every foreign game I complete I’ll write up differences between
that version and the original if there are major differences.
experience has inspired me to continue to keep playing games in
Italian. It really is a great way to practice a language. My
recommendation to everyone this week is to change the language of the
game you’re currently playing to a different one, preferably one you’re
currently learning or somewhat know, and try playing that way for a day.
Even if you don’t understand everything, think of it as a cultural
experience. If you do play it in a language that you know but English is
your first, perhaps you’ll come out with a better appreciation for
being able to play games in their original languages; I know I did.