Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain is undoubtedly Hideo Kojima’s last Metal Gear game. The famed game developer will reportedly leave Konami later this year and it seems that he will be going out with a bang given that The Phantom Pain is shaping up into a game that he always wanted to develop. But will he complete his legacy with The Phantom Pain? Will he truly find the missing link in The Phantom Pain and give the series a grand closure?
Note: Spoilers from previous Metal Gear games ahead.
The majority of Metal Gear games have traditionally focused on Solid Snake, an agile operative that we all came to know and love in 1998’s Metal Gear Solid. However that was not Solid Snake’s first appearance. Back in 1987 and 1990, Hideo Kojima had already pioneered a generation of stealth games in Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake but there is no doubt that his vision for Solid Snake in the 1998 sequel was what bought the series to worldwide fame.
“We have not yet finished with Solid Snake, despite the fact that I wanted to let him die at the end of Guns of the Patriots,” – Hideo Kojima.
This was followed by Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty which saw a bait and switch approach, with players taking the role of Raiden instead of Solid Snake. There was a ton of negative reaction towards this, although I found it to be cool to play as a rookie under the guidance of the legendary Solid Snake. However, Sons of Liberty had an awkward ending wherein the conclusion was left to the player’s imagination but fans wanted more and Kojima was forced to make a direct sequel, Guns of the Patriots. The point here is that Metal Gear Solid games have always been about Solid Snake but ever since Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Kojima has shifted his focus towards Naked Snake a.k.a. Big Boss.
Kojima explained in an interview that he finds Big Boss more compelling to write on than Solid Snake, which is why he is probably more invested in the character. I can understand why Kojima thinks that way. Big Boss is not a clone so people can probably relate to him more than Solid Snake but you got to admit…Solid Snake is what made the series so popular in the first place. It feels rather odd that Kojima has totally left out video game history’s greatest stealth operatives in a hiatus.
But is this really the case? Apparently no. Back in June 2012, Hideo Kojima admitted that he is not done with Solid Snake, despite the fact that he wanted to let him die in Guns of the Patriots. Commenting on Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Kojima stated the following:
“Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance never claimed to be a Metal Gear Solid. This is not a game about our beloved Solid Snake. It is a spinoff that tries something different. We have not yet finished with Solid Snake, despite the fact that I wanted to let him die at the end of Guns of the Patriots.”
“About Metal Gear Solid 5, I can tell you two things. There will be much question of infiltration, espionage, and convincing people to give you ‘a favour’ like in the last Metal Gear Solid.”
There are two important bits to consider in these quotes. First, Kojima is explicitly confirming that Solid Snake will be back in Metal Gear Solid 5 and second, he plans to do a favor just like in the Guns of the Patriots. What favor is Kojima exactly talking about? If you have played through Guns of the Patriots then you must be aware that the game ends with Big Boss appearing out of no where and making peace with his son. What Kojima means here is that he wants to deliver yet another fan service. And what better way to deliver the ultimate fan service by having Solid Snake show up in the upcoming The Phantom Pain?
Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain is set to take place in 1984, a full nine years after the events of Ground Zeroes. There is a likelihood that we will be coming across the entirety of the Foxhound unit in The Phantom Pain. Psycho Mantis, Ocelot and Liquid Snake are already confirmed to be in the game. According to the Metal Gear lore, Sniper Wolf, Naomi Hunter and Frank Jaeger a.k.a. Gray Fox were rescued by Big Boss during the 1980s so there is a possibility that we may see a mission or two rescuing them since the game takes place in Afghanistan and Africa.
Unfortunately, we do not know much about Vulkan Raven and Decoy Octopus but if Kojima plans to show the formation of the Foxhound unit in The Phantom Pain, I have a feeling he will somehow put all these characters in some way and in the process explain how Big Boss comes back to the United States and makes amends with Zero.
Official figurine of a Diamond Dog has a striking resemblance with the official emblem of Foxhound, a unit founded by Big Boss.
We may see all major characters from the original Metal Gear Solid returning in The Phantom Pain given the timeline and the possible time jumps the story can make. So that only leaves Solid Snake. According to the Metal Gear lore, Solid Snake and Big Boss met for the first time in 1991, a full four years before the events of Outer Heaven. During this time he also met Master Miller who trained him with survival techniques. There is a period of just seven years between The Phantom Pain incident and Solid Snake meeting Big Boss. Could the game possibly make another time jump from 1984 to 1991 and then from 1991 to 1995 showcasing the events of Outer Heaven?
I don’t have any proof for that to happen but Kojima has left subtle hints in the past. First of all, as I mentioned before he confirmed that Solid Snake will be present in Metal Gear Solid 5. He said this around 2 months before the reveal of Ground Zeroes on August 3oth, 2012. I don’t think Kojima’s vision for the game, specially the story, can change within 2 months of his next game announcement.
In The Phantom Pain Big Boss is already aware about the Les Enfants Terribles project, which means he knows that Solid and Solidus exist besides Liquid. I read through the Metal Gear lore to find anything about Solid Snake during this time period, however there is no information regarding what he was doing from 1974 to 1991. In short we may never see a teenage Solid Snake at all which adds to my assumption that an adult Solid Snake will be showing up later in the game.
In June 2013, French based website conducted Jeux Video conducted an interview with Kojima in which he was asked whether Solid Snake will make an appearance in Metal Gear Solid 5 to which he stated that he would not ruin any surprises so he would rather not say anything on the subject. It’s interesting to note that he does not deny the possibility so this is a pretty good indication, at least in my opinion.
During E3 2013, CVG met with Kojima and asked him an interesting question:
Keither Sutherland was cast as Snake because of their comparable age. Solid Snake would be about 12 in this time line… who would be your ideal candidate to voice him?
Well he’s a child… I don’t know if I have someone to recommend but let me think! (laughs) At the same time I don’t even know if Solid Snake will make an appearance in this game. If we said anything right now it would be a spoiler and bad for the fans, so we’re going to stay away from that question.
Moving ahead, around the launch of Ground Zeroes, Gameinformer conducted an in-depth interview in which he was asked the following.
Is there a chance that The Phantom Pain might finally close the gap between the stories of Solid Snake and Big Boss?
Kojima’s answer is surprising. “Like I said, you will put things together. Please don’t look me in the eyes because I’m so tempted to tell you and I shouldn’t. What I should say is that there is a specific way for the games to put things together.”
Once again, he does not deny Solid Snake’s presence in The Phantom Pain and in fact goes on to indicate that it’s going to be so exciting that he is tempted to reveal what it is.
It’s interesting to note that Kojima confirmed that Solid Snake is in the game, only to later on give answers that will further confuse the fan base. For example, back during E3 2005 Konami released the following poster which more or less confirmed Big Boss in Guns of the Patriots but Kojima did not talked about him at all thereby maintaining the suspense factor intact.
Big Boss was always going to show up in Guns of the Patriots. This poster revealed during E3 2005 clearly shows an aged Big Boss.
One of Kojima’s controversial moves with Metal Gear Solid 5 besides the eye brow raising themes he plans to include in the game is the recasting of Solid Snake and Big Boss’s long time voice actor David Hayter. But before I go into this, let us go a few years back. Back when the Guns of the Patriots’ English cast was announced it was revealed that Cam Clarke won’t be reprising his role as Liquid. This was met with negative reactions but if you have played through Guns of the Patriots, you must have understood that Liquid Ocelot wasn’t actually Liquid, it was Ocelot acting as a doppelganger to fool the Patriot’s AI, so it made sense to have Ocelot voice acted by Patric Zimmerman. A similar situation is witnessed when Big Boss shows up in the epilogue and he is not voiced by David Hayter. He is instead voiced by Richard Doyle. This was done to develop a difference between the two characters.
The keyword is difference. It also means developing separate identities. If my assumption is correct and if Big Boss and Solid Snake do cross paths, how odd it will be to have Hayter speak to Hayter? It does not make sense. So Kojima did the right thing by giving Big Boss his own unique identity.
In the past Hayter has denied his involvement with the game. Konami or Kojima did not cared to give any explanations or reasons to Hayter as to why he was removed. Hayter gave up half of his pay check to get the original cast for the The Twin Snakes remake for the Gamecube. The guy has a Metal Gear ringtone on his mobile. David Hayter IS Snake. And removing him makes no sense, given how he is so well versed and involved with the franchise and the community that surrounds it.
For some strange reason, he is still being asked by Youtubers and websites about his involvement with The Phantom Pain. What I mean to say is that some fans still believe he is going to play a role since he has been such an integral part of the franchise. And don’t tell me Kojima does not know this. He knows fully well that for the English speaking audience Hayter is Snake.
In a way this has created a division among the Metal Gear community. I have been a regular reader of several Metal Gear communities on Reddit, Neogaf and many more and the divide between the people who prefer Kiefer over Hayter and vice versa is clear. In the Metal Gear lore, there is a clear division between Big Boss and Solid Snake’s motives and this divide has clearly developed within the Metal Gear community, knowingly or unknowingly resulting into more discussion and hype.
As I mentioned before, Hayter has explicitly stated on many times that he is not involved with TPP but I have no doubts that his tweets have been rather strange. Of course, Hayter can tweet whatever he wants but some of his tweets and a past interview have hinted his involvement with The Phantom Pain.
On July 30th, 2011 David Hayter answered a few fan questions on Youtube.
Q. Are you working on any Metal Gear Projects?
A. I can’t tell you if am working on any Metal Gear Projects.
Q. Are you disappointed that the Metal Gear Solid series is over?
A. Umm…Is it over?
Interestingly, he does not want to talk about any future Metal Gear Solid game he might be working on which is kind of odd since he could have outright denied it. He also hints that the series is not over. Of course, he might be talking about Metal Gear Rising Revengance in his second answer or he might possibly be aware that a new game starring Snake is being worked on.
In February 2012, David Hayter tweeted the below [which he has deleted since then but has been on the internet forever. Here is the broken Twitter link: https://twitter.com/DavidBHayter/sta…21698650542080.] Some might say that they were there for recording some lines for the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, but the collection was already released few months before that. Plus Hayter specifically states that he can’t really reveal why he was there. There could be a counter argument that they might be recording voice overs for The Star Wars Old Republic, which would make sense since Paul Eiding is also doing a VO in the game. But why stand in front of a Metal Gear Solid 4 poster? Is he returning back as Solid Snake? Furthermore, why did Hayter delete that tweet? Your guess is as good as mine.
When the voice actor recasting was announced, Hayter was switching his Twitter profile phot back and forth to that of Sutherland. I saw it too but did not took a screenshot but fortunately someone from Reddit took. In June 2014, Hayter tweeted that he is not involved with The Phantom Pain only to delete the tweet later. There are numerous other cases where he has hinted his involvement whereas in some other cases he has possibly taken shots at Konami and has expressed his eagerness to return to the series now that Kojima will be leaving the company. In short, ever since the news broke out that he is no longer Snake, his tweets have been weird.
Whether David Hayter reprises his role as Solid Snake in The Phantom Pain is something that remains to be seen but till date fans believes this is a ruse cruise and Kojima is setting it up for a grand ending. Hayter versus Sutherland. Solid Snake vs. Big Boss.
Furthermore, there is a lot of stuff we don’t know about The Phantom Pain. One interesting information was revealed by Gamestop that the game will also take place in Cold War Russia and United States. According to the game’s lore Big Boss comes back to the United States and forms Foxhound but what about Russia? Why would the game take us back there?
The answer perhaps lies in Project Itoh novelization for Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. The author claims that Tselinoyarsk features similar terrain to Zanzibar Land and the two are actually the same. As you must be aware, that Zanzibar is the setting of Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake wherein Solid Snake defeated Big Boss by burning him with a make shift flame thrower. Food for thought.
Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake are in Big Boss’s timeline for some reason.
Another interesting bit of information was revealed during TGS 2014 when Konami revealed a timeline of both Big Boss and Solid Snake.
See how Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake are in Big Boss’s timeline. Odd, right? Could it be a possibility that a certain portion of The Phantom Pain will focus on Big Boss witnessing Outer Heaven and Zanzibar fortress getting destroyed by Solid Snake and thereby giving the player the ultimate Phantom Pain in return? Destroying the fortress that you, the player developed after investing a ton of time and energy? The Phantom Pain of a final boss which you cannot defeat in order to maintain the series’ canon?
Metal Gear Solid games has always been about what the player should pass to their future generations. In January this year, Kojima spoke about how things were passed from The Boss to Big Boss and and beyond from father (Big Boss) to son (Solid Snake). If Kojima wanted he could have also mentioned Liquid or even Solidus since the latter perhaps understood his father’s vision the best but Kojima instead chose Solid Snake. This is perhaps another indication that the game will most likely end with Solid Snake taking down Big Boss..
Kojima has been long quoting the missing link to Outer Heaven. He failed to implement it in Peace Walker where the story did not spanned enough years to see the formation of Outer Heaven. With The Phantom Pain, this is his last chance to finally fix this and close the loop in such a way that no one else can tamper with his legacy when a new developer reboots the Metal Gear franchise in the future.
And what better way to give the series a final good bye with Solid Snake taking down Big Boss with Outer Heaven [or Zanzibar fortress] burning in the background.
Image credit: Reddit.