3rd Apr 2006 | 14:30
Last month we met Brian Blessed, this month we met someone even better. That's right: we fired questions at the beautifully peroxided bonce of Simon Pegg: celebrity bastion of scruffy sci-fi fans everywhere, co-creator of Spaced, writer and star of Shaun Of The Dead, bloke out of Big Train and general best person ever. Best.
But why our sudden dabbling in the murky underworld of celebrity? Well, you see Pegg lent his voice (well, we say lent - we assume there was a fee involved) to the neat WWII jaunt that is Commandos: Strike Force. Playing one Lieutenant William Hawkins (known by Commandos hacks throughout the ages as 'The Sniper'), he was called in to play a man whose origins as a cheeky ragamuffin never diminished while his remarkable skill with a long steel cylinder became apparent - until he finally became a vital part in the Strike Force commando triptych.
As the joker in the pack and a man of maverick tendencies, Eidos decreed that only Pegg, a man who once attacked a zombie with a swingball set, could do justice to such a war hero. Whether or not there's a few easter eggs in Strike Force in which Lieutenant Hawkins decries Kiora for being too orangey for crows, or indeed asks Commando Francis O'Brien to do his impression of Clyde the Orang-utan from Any Which Way But Loose is as yet unknown. All we can say is that he brings an unsurpassed aura of cheeky-chappiness to his voice-acting. We can also say stuff like "We're not worthy",
but that goes without saying.
What do you think it is about WWII that appeals so much to gamers?
Pegg: I think it's at once contemporary, yet long enough ago to be romantic. Our modern perception of the conflict is now drawn from films and TV, which despite recent more visceral interpretations, still paints it as being a simple war. The enemy was easier to define as aggressive and morally corrupt-we were fighting fascism and fascism is bad. It's hard to romanticise contemporary warfare without cynically exploiting it. I suppose you could have a game where a technologically-inferior opponent is fending off wave after wave of relentless attacks from a vastly superior power. No wait, that's Space Invaders.
How long have you been into computer gaming?
Pegg: Probably since the '70s when I was very young and fresh out of the swimming pool, waiting for my mum in the leisure centre foyer, eating salt-andvinegar crisps, smelling of chlorine and playing Galaxian.
What are you playing now?
Pegg: I'm still enjoying Half-Life 2 - it's the best game I've ever played, so engrossing and wonderfully interactive. It's absolutely head and shoulders above anything else - I love it. To be honest, I haven't been gaming that much recently as I'm pretty busy. I played four-player Crash 'N' Burn round at my mate's house on Xbox the other night, which he projected onto an 8ft screen - that was brilliant fun. I'm not a huge fan of driving games, but it was such a laugh. Elsewhere, I tend to enjoy the solitary danger of the first-person shooter. The new Resident Evil game was a really nice evolution in a series which was becoming a little tired. Homicidal villagers? I love that shit!
Have you dabbled with multiplayer?
Pegg: I've played a few multiplayer games on the PC: Half-Life and Half-Life 2, also Jedi Outcast and Jedi Academy. I had a good run on the latter - I just used to jump into the middle of pitch battles and throw my lightsabers around. It was my one perfected special move and it was devastating. That and the old forward roll into a jab. I f***ed up a fair few Rodians, I can tell you.
What do you make of all the haXx0r and their 1337 speak currently favoured by 12-year-olds the world over?
Pegg: I find them really scary. When I play multiplayer, I feel like a dad playing football with youngsters in the park. I shouldn't mind that they're better than me, but I do. I get really hacked off when some 13-year-old uses the zeropoint gravity gun to chuck a bench in my face and then types 'fck u nuB'. Joining a game is sometimes like walking into a room full of hoodies and saying, 'right guys, let's steal some mobile telephones.
It's a hugely underestimated subculture because most social commentators have no idea it exists. There's an entire synthetic universe of smart-mouthed little thugs out there having the time of their lives. It's the closest reality has ever come to the condition of super-humanity. By day, mild-mannered Timothy Simpkins from Reading (12); by night, a rocket launcher-wielding psychopath from hell, bent on destroying all who cross his path. They should make a multiplayer version of the Daily Mail. You'd have a huge online community of outraged conservatives, bemoaning the rise in teleportation and stealth beheadings.
A few of the current voice actors must be getting a little long in the tooth. Ever fancied becoming the new voice of Master Chief or Sam Fisher?
Pegg: Quality of voice-acting is vital. Games can be undermined or ruined by cheesy acting - and by the same token, they can also be improved by good characterisation. Sure, if the right character came up, it'd be fun to do more. I met Shelly Blond who did the original voice of Lara Croft a few years back and I was really impressed. We hung off a wall in an Indian restaurant and made grunting 'effort noises'. That sounds weird; the restaurant was full of people. No, that still sounds weird...