Who is this man? This stranger with muscular arms and a drinking habit, speaking with a redneck accent and looking more like a backwater marshal than a freedom fighter mercenary captain? Have we met him before? It seems we have, ten years ago in our sector of the galaxy, four years ago in the Koprulu Sector. This seeming stranger looks more like a backwater marshal because that’s exactly who he is – this man is Jim Raynor, captain of the Hyperion, leader of Raynor’s Raiders.
What has happened to Raynor in the past ten/four years, that we barely recognize him? His voice has changed, his hair has grown back, his uniform is gone, and he is much more dour and mysterious than last we met him. Has Blizzard cleverly switched out Raynor for a doppelganger that is Raynor in name only? Or is this truly the same character StarCraft fans know and love? The answer to that question is as complex as Raynor himself; yes and no. One must remember, in Raynor’s world it’s been four years. Four years may seem a short time, but it is not. It’s the length of time of a typical high school term, the length of a presidential term in office, the amount of time between the Olympic Games. A lot can happen in four years, and much has happened for Raynor.
In StarCraft, Raynor was a vigilante hero. He fought the oppressive Terran Confederacy and liberated entire planets with the Sons of Korhal, then when they betrayed him he took control of his own destiny, and led a splinter group to a campaign against the Zerg. Raynor's adventures would make him a vital ally of the Protoss, and he took part in the final battle against the Zerg Overmind on Aiur. Then, Raynor would continue to fight the good fight, but when the UED took control of the sector, Raynor was forced to make what was surely a difficult decision - to bury the hatchet and ally himself with the Queen of Blades, his former love Kerrigan, and Arcturus Mengsk, the very man who betrayed Raynor and sent Kerrigan to the Zerg. And the three once again betrayed one-another, and Raynor was again on the short end of the results - Kerrigan seized control of the Zerg, Mengsk was granted power over the Terran colonies again, and Raynor has little more beyond his Hyperion battlecruiser now.
Raynor's crusade against Kerrigan has failed, and his crusade against Mengsk isn’t faring any better. His former Terran friends have become his worst enemies, tyrants controlling the fate of entire species, while Raynor has lost almost everything he holds dear. The only allies who didn’t betray Raynor are the Protoss, but Fenix and Tassadar are dead, Zeratul has gone missing and Artanis has his hands full dealing with the unified Protoss race on Shakuras. In terms of his relationships during the Brood War, Raynor is more or less alone. His efforts to fight against Mengsk have been largely useless, he’s an outlaw and a criminal, and as we learned in the single-player campaign demo from last year, even his own crew is beginning to lose faith in him. Jim Raynor is a man alone, fighting a losing battle against an entire sector of space.
Raynor has undergone a great deal of tribulation and strife since Brood War’s final cinematic faded to black. As a result, the man we rejoin four years later is bitter, jaded, and with good reason. Raynor drinks, he places things closer to the vest, and is forced to do mercenary work just to keep his crew and ship running. Marginalized in every way by Mengsk's Dominion, Raynor is simply not the same person we left behind, flying alongside the Protoss fighting the Zerg. Whatever heroism and glory his name may have carried among the residents sector is gone. The man who was once a hero has become little more than a rogue battlecruiser captain.
|But obviously, Raynor’s changes can’t just be attributed to four years of demoralization. His appearance is quite different from what we remember. But, ask yourself; when did anyone ever truly get a good look at Raynor in the first place? All we ever saw of him was his unit portrait. We saw a bald man with a beard, moustache and thick eyebrows, apparently in Marine combat armor judging by the collar. Raynor may have hung up his armor and let his hair grow back in, but his basic facial structure is identical. As for his rugged and muscular body, we have nothing to compare it to, we never saw Raynor from below the neck in Brood War – there’s only so much one can show in a portrait window the size of a postage stamp.
Also consider Raynor’s original concept art, done by Chris Metzen. Raynor’s Vulture hoverbike may be locked up in the Hyperion’s storage bay somewhere, but otherwise Metzen’s vision of Raynor looks exactly like the Raynor we’ve seen aboard the Hyperion. So while Raynor looks slightly different than what we the community
have spent the last ten years picturing, he now looks spot on with what Blizzard was picturing when StarCraft was being made.
That said, there is no disputing Raynor’s voice has changed. The sacrifice of Robert Clotworthy's iconic voice is one that the community is hesitant to accept, but is also one that Blizzard has made. The as-of-now unnamed new voice actor for Raynor sounds very different from what we remember. But again, Raynor has undergone a lot of trouble during the four years since Brood War. The voice must fit the character – Raynor in the original StarCraft would simply not be the same person were he to be voiced by James Harper (Zeratul), or by Allen Adham (Ghost). If the voice does not fit the character then it’s a poor choice of voice actor. Also recall that Raynor has spent the last four years drinking, perhaps smoking, and now is largely confined to the Hyperion's steel corridors than the open fields of combat on say, Aiur or Mar Sara. To say that such things would not affect a person's voice is foolish.
So the question now is, does this new voice actor fit the changed character of Raynor? Blizzard has said yes. Raynor is now bitter, jaded, and is a much darker and sombre man. Does Robert Clotworthy fit this new interpretation? The answer will vary from person to person, of course. However, based on Blizzard’s comments and the demo of the campaign we’ve seen, the new voice actor does fit Raynor’s character now, and is more in-line with what Blizzard originally envisioned for him. Chris Metzen himself has stated that Raynor is his favorite character in the StarCraft series – would it truly be in his interests to choose a voice actor that didn’t fit the backwater marshal? Furthermore, would it really be fair to cast Clotworthy again, but to request he change his iconic voice?
Blizzard has access to new technology and new talent. Their storytelling, technology and characters have all evolved since the time of StarCraft, allowing them to paint a much more vivid picture of the Koprulu Sector, and in turn they have given us an image of Raynor closer to what they saw when Metzen first completed Raynor’s concept art. Simply put, this is who Jim Raynor has always been – it’s simply a new interpretation of him closer to what was originally desired. Blizzard is now able to give us the Raynor they always wanted, and while there will always be a place in the hearts of the fans for Clotworthy’s armored, bald backwater marshal, it would be folly to say that this new Raynor will fail to earn similar respect once StarCraft II hits stores.