In the most alarming gaming news of the week, some of the sheen has been taken of the recent reveal that Metal Gear Solid V and The Phantom Pain are in fact a single game (combining as Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain) by the subsequent confirmation that legendary voice actor David Hayter will not be returning as Solid Snake in the next-gen stealth actioner.
Hayter has played the soldier and his genetic blueprint Big Boss in each of the series’ major games since 1998′s Metal Gear Solid, as well as making a guest appearance in Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. Brawl in 2008. Although Snake appears in the new title, the trailer seems to confirm that he’s been recast. Apparently, Hayter simply wasn’t asked.
Now, I’m going to go out on a limb here and call shenanigans on this. Metal Gear creator, director and general allfather Hideo Kojima likes, if you’ll pardon my French, to fuck with us. From gameplay (consider the first Solid game’s battle with Psycho Mantis) to promotion (who can forget Sons Of Liberty’s marketing campaign that flat out lied to the entire world about who would star in it?), he’s made a habit of keeping us guessing. He’s even lied to us since the release of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns Of The Patriots, telling us he’d not be involved in the sequel’s creation and more recently, that he was only going to have a hand in Ground Zeroes’ development and that The Phantom Pain straight up wasn’t his game.
I understand it’s entirely believable that Hayter won’t be in the game: I just don’t believe it. Kojima’s a slave to the past, and though he’s made genuinely groundbreaking developments with each of his new titles, he’s also displayed a constant determination to tie things together with dialogue, themes and even physical gestures making regular appearances in every one of his games.
I’ve yet to read Hayter definitively state he is not appearing in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, and with the benefit of a knowledge of gaming history, that’s good enough for me. How about you? Do you feel iconic characters can be successfully recast if it’s only a matter of voicework, or is this sacrilege on the highest count?