Skeptic, cinephile, bookworm, gamer, history buff, armchair scientist, occasional YouTuber, habitual cringe inducer, reluctant realist.
The title says it all. After acting as the American voice of Snake ever since the very first Metal Gear Solid game in 1998, voice actor (and screenwriter) David Hayter has finally gotten the boot. Throughout the years, Hayter has been an outspoken and genuine fan of the Metal Gear franchise (even taking a paycut in order to have the original cast brought back for the 2004 MGS remake,The Twin Snakes) and has appeared in every sequel, prequal, and spin-off of the series that's spawned from that original PS1 game. He's beloved by fans, his delivery of lines have become iconic ("Metal Geeeear!"), and now he's gone. Tossed away like yesterday's trash and replaced with everyone's favorite Lost Boy, Kiefer Sutherland.
The question is... why?
Now don't get me wrong, Kiefer is great. I'm a big fan—really. He was awesome as the quintessential 80s jerk and he's still awesome as the ass-kicking Jack Bauer that he's known as today. Nevertheless, you simply don't replace the actor portraying the main protagonist of an ongoing, already successful franchise when you don't have to! This would hold true even if the actor was awful; which Hayter was not.
What's David Hayter's Perspective?
As you can probably infer from the above tweets, the man who gave voice to Snake doesn't appear to be especially thrilled by being replaced. Aside from the comedic value of watching a voice actor make passive-aggressive jabs and comments on Twitter, though, these sorts of tweets gave us another important piece of information: that it wasn't Hayter's choice not to return.
Before this, many believed that it may've been possible that Hayter simply turned down the role. Which, while that would have been sad news, it wouldn't be anything new in showbiz (plenty of actors are replaced after choosing not to reprise their role). Hayter eventually elaborated on his replacement in an interview with Game Informer where he brought up his encounter with a producer of MGSV while the game was still in production. Hayter asked if they should hammer out a deal for reprising the iconic role and was told merely that he wouldn't be needed. Hayter recounted:
“That was basically it, and then I talked to Kris Zimmerman (Metal Gear English casting and voice director). She said, ‘We’re going forward, but it looks like they are going to try and replace you.’ They tried to do that before, and it never worked. They tried to get voice matches, and it never happened.”
And so the plot thickens! As it turns out, this wasn't Kojima's first attempt at replacing Hayter with an A-list celebrity. Hayter went on to tell Game Informer:
“I had to re-audition for Metal Gear 3 to play Naked Snake. They made me re-audition to play Old Snake, and the whole time, they were trying to find somebody else to do it. I heard that Kojima asked one of the producers on Metal Gear 3 to ask Kurt Russell if he would take over for that game. He didn’t want to do it.”
And to make the entire debacle even more melancholy, Hayter continued by speaking about how hurt he felt to be replaced, and how much the series meant to him:
“It was annoying to me, because I thought that I had given a lot to the series and really helped promote it. At the same time, I genuinely feel that the run I had as Snake was remarkable. If you get that once in your career, that’s amazing. I don’t have any ill will toward Kiefer Sutherland or anything like that. The whole thing could have been handled better and a little more respectfully, but I’m not going to cry about it.”
“I was so annoyed by the Metal Gear V debacle, and people said, ‘Are you gonna play the game?' Yeah. That’ll be 60 hours of humiliation that I can’t get to. I haven’t played the latest two iterations, because it’s just too painful.”
For video of the above mentioned Game Informer interview, check below. The juicy bits start at around 59 minutes in.
According to Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima, his reason for replacing Hayter was due to a desire to recreate the series. In an interview with Gametrailers (the clip can be found on Youtube here), Kojima also added that motion capture factored into the reason.
"I wanted to make sure the actor who did the voice also acted out the facial expressions as well. Snake is now 49, and I was looking for someone who could realistically convey the feelings of this older, weathered Snake through both his facial expressions and his tone of voice. A friend of mine, producer Avi Arad, recommended Kiefer Sutherland, which made a lot of sense for us, so we approached him. ... The technology now allows acting to take center stage, so that's the direction we're taking."
I suppose the implication here was twofold. First, that they wanted to take a new direction with the series and, second, that Hayter wasn't actor enough to pull off the facial expressions required of Snake in The Phantom Pain.
Sounds reasonable enough... right?
But wait! If Kojima was wanting to recreate the series by bringing in new blood, why did he keep the guy who played Otacon when casting for the role for Otacon's father? And, come to think of it, why did he not change the voice of Snake for the Japanese version of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain? Was the recreation of Metal Gear only meant for Americans? I'm not one for conspiracy theories (see my other articles) but I've gotta say: something smells fishy.
I mean, honestly, do these look like the kind of facial gestures that only a master thespian like Kiefer Sutherland could pull off?
How Useful WAS Kiefer Sutherland's Facial Capture?
And now that we're here getting a good look at Snakes vast array of emotions, does anyone think this even looks like Keifer Sutherland? The answer is no. It doesn't. And in our previously mentioned interview with Hideo Kojima, he explains why:
"Honestly, I wanted to capture the looks, voice, facial expressions, and movements all from a single actor. That would involve making a 3D scan of the actor's face, then capturing that actor's facial and vocal performance, along with their body movements and applying all of that to the character. However, I couldn't go that far with Snake. The reason is that fans have known Snake for over 25 years, and he has an established look. So, instead, we needed to use a CG model of Snake as a base and blend 5 or 6 different people's faces on top of that to add realism. So the answer is 'no'. Snake's face does not look like Kiefer's."
So in one moment Kojima mentions how a real actor (as oppose to a voice actor) was needed to express emotions through his facial gestures, and in the next he's explaining that they had five or six different people in there to act as the model for Snake. And, ironically, his reasoning for Snake not looking like Kiefer is because players already have a pre-established idea of how Snake has looked over the years; but what about how he's sounded since 1998?
In the end, what was really left of Sutherland's facial capture work? Neither his face, body, or expressions wound up looking anything like the character he was portraying. Merely his facial movements as he spoke (which, honestly, didn't appear to be that special). And, of course, that voice. Which seems odd considering the previously mentioned quotes by Kojima. Quotes like the following:
"As for the changing of the voice with the new technologies we are now able to express emotions not only by voice, but also with the expressiveness of the faces.The main theme this time is revenge, and so far the Snake emotions could not match the words, but now that emotions can be expressed also with the faces we needed a real actor, not just a voice actor. So we decided to use Mr. Sutherland."
If we saw nothing of Sutherlands actual face, though, what really was being added to the story that a voice actor couldn't convey? Could Hayter not scowl correctly?
Speaking of Kiefer's Voice — Why Don't We Ever Hear It?
That's right. With all this hoopla over Snakes voice, the buckets of money they must've spent on getting an A-list celebrity in to do it, we barely even hear the guy utter a peep. The cutscenes in the game have been snipped to almost nothing, Snake hardly talks during the scenes that are there, and the codec is completely non-existent for the first time ever (there is a radio that you can call, but Snake never engages in conversations with it). The end result turns out to be that we have the first nearly mute Snake since, well... ever (unless you count the MSX2 and NES days, when no one spoke).
So, granted, even if Hayter had reprised his iconic part in the series (and the script were the same), we would've actually rarely heard him speak. Which probably leads the reader to ask: Then why do you seem so pee'd off? It wouldn't matter anyway if Hayter were there!
This is a reasonable question. And I don't have much of a defense for it. However, I'm the one writing this so it's my questions that count. And my question is: If they were barely going to have Snake speak, then why not just bring back David Hayter—the voice actor who the fans already know, love, and whose voice has defined the character(s) for the last 17 years? After all, how much damage could his voice do to the plot if it's rarely even heard? And how much could Kiefer's voice have helped?
A Serious Voice for a Serious Game?
A popular reasoning for the voice change, among both fans and Kojima, is that with the new graphics available, no longer are over-the-top voice actors required. In the old days video game graphics weren't polished enough for characters to express emotion through their faces alone so the dialogue often needed to be over explanatory and overdone to get the point across. In the original Metal Gear Solid, for example, none of the characters even had faces; they were just a blur of motionless pixels which vaguely implied a face. Because of this, no character could simply scowl to show anger, give a subtle look to show love, or even frown to express sadness. Everything needed to be verbalized and exaggerated for effect. This is similar to how stage actors need to speak loudly and make big, unatural body movements during performances so that audiences can better understand what's going on from a distance (this overblown method of acting, by the way, even carried over into early films before more subdued, naturalistic performances became the norm).
So yeah, admittedly this is a pretty good argument for replacing actors. Or, at least, it could have been; if the rest of the game were at all consistent with its reasoning. And assuming that Hayter couldn't have toned his own acting down.
This isn't a video game like The Last of Us, where the characters, environments, cutscenes, and scenarios all feel like real life (yes, even the parts with zombies). There's no exaggerated moments, no hiding in cardboard boxes, no corny lines, no fourth wall breaking situations where characters tell you to "press the action button", and, most importantly, all of the voice actors—big, small, and in-between—sound like real people. In Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, on the other hand, Kiefer Sutherland's "subdued" delivery of lines is actually an anomaly when compared to the rest of the games cast. Actors, left and right, from Emmerich's classic, whiney voice, to Miller and his goofy "They played us like a damn fiddle!" types of lines, to the constantly over-the-top Skull face, all sound just as over-the-top in MGSV as ever. So what's the deal? How would the Snake we've grown to know and love over the years be out of place here?
This is a game which includes an enemy made of fire who can absorb bullets. A game where you can distract enemies with life-sized balloons that look and talk like you. When you startle a bad guy, a giant exclamation point appears over the top of his or her head. You have a dog who wears an eyepatch. You have a horn-shaped protrusion on your forehead. Your most fearsome foe is a man in a Zorro mask whose face looks like a skull. The point being: There's nothing about this game which makes its tone appear more serious than the games that came before it.
Of course, this isn't a bad thing. I, personally, don't know of any fans of the series who are complaining about Metal Gear's silliness, weird easter eggs, or its over-the-top story and characters. In fact, we all love those things! But don't say you're changing the voice of your protagonist because you're going for a more serious or realistic tone when there's nothing else about the game that suggests that to be true.
This Is The Story of Big Boss/Venom Snake — Not Solid Snake
Like any good fanboy, I like to rationalize certain inconsistencies in the Metal Gear series when I can. I don't want to hate on a series which means so much to me. So here's how I tried to make the replacement of Hayter make more sense: Hayter was, is, and forever will be, Solid Snake. But this is the story of Big Boss/Venom Snake. Why not give him a new voice? Right?
It was a hard excuse to swallow and, clearly, I've since coughed it right back up. It simply makes no sense compared with the previous games in the Metal Gear series. Mostly for three important reasons:
- Snake is an identical clone of Big Boss. It's only natural that they have identical voices.
- In case there's any doubt to the above point, on the previous MGS games which starred Big Boss as the protagonist (Snake Eater, Portable Ops, and Peace Walker), each was voiced by Solid Snake's voice actor, David Hayter.
- In the Japanese version of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, there was no change of actors. The man who played Solid Snake (Akio Ōtsuka) continues to play Big Boss/Venom Snake today.
How can we possibly continue to trick ourselves into thinking the change makes sense with facts such as these staring us in the face?
Summing Things Up — And The Truth Behind Why David Hayter Was Replaced
Before we get into my conclusion of the truth behind David Hayter's replacement, here's a quick refresher of what we've addressed so far.
- David Hayter never chose to leave the Metal Gear series. In fact, he appeared to be genuinely hurt not to be included.
- This wasn't Hideo Kojima's first attempt at replacing Hayter. We know of at least one other time (during the making of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater) when Kojima actively tried to replace Hayter with another big celebrity, Kurt Russel (who turned the part down).
- One reason which Kojima gave for changing actors was because he wanted to have a recreation of the series. However, the fact that he didn't change actors in his own countries (Japan) version of the game could lead some to be dubious about the consistency of this statement.
- Another reasoning of Kojima's for changing actors was because he desired a "real actor" for the part, due to the facial capture technology involved that would allow a live actor to physically portray the characters emotions with his facial gestures. However, Kojima has also stated that — and players can plainly see that — MGSV's Snake looks nothing like actor Kiefer Sutherland. Kojima went on to explain that a CG model of Snake was used and a blend of 5 or 6 other peoples faces were added on top of that to add realism to the character. With that being said, Sutherland did do the facial capture (when he spoke, Snakes non-Sutherland mouth moved, etc.). But, in all honesty, how much of an improvement could that have been when compared to Hayter or most anyone else who possesses the ability to smile, squint, and frown?
- It's also been stated by Kojima and fans of the series that a more "subdued" and realistic voice performance was needed for the game, as its tone and drama were much more serious in nature. However, this doesn't appear to be consistent with the other over-the-top voices and sequences in the game.
- A popular fan defense is that since this is a story about Big Boss/Venom Snake and not Solid Snake, then it's only natural for another voice actor to be used. However, as mentioned above, the same voice actor is continuing to be used in the Japanese version of the game. Also, David Hayter has already voiced the same character in all of the past Big Boss-centered Metal Gear Solid games.
- In MGSV, for the first time ever, Snake barely utters a word. So how much of a difference was a voice change really making? Why bother making it inconsistent with the previous games when the new actor is rarely even heard?
So what's the conclusion?
While some of us may be happy with the change and some of us may not, the truth is that none of us can ever know for certain why Hideo Kojima chose to replace David Hayter in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. That notwithstanding, in my opinion the truth seems pure and simple: starpower.
That's right. As far as I can make out, it's as meaningless as that. In the acting world, it's known as "stunt casting."
It's nothing new in the vast and wonderful world of media. Kojima simply wanted a celebrities name involved with the project (any fan of the Metal Gear series knows that Kojima is all about publicity schemes). As talked about in our previously mentioned interview with David Hayter, this wasn't Kojima's first attempt at replacing the voice actor with an A-list, Hollywood action star; this was merely his first successful attempt. And as you can see in this clip (the video is set to begin at the 56 minute mark), even the MGS series' voice director, Kris Zimmerman, has stated:
"I do know that Kojima had always wanted to have a, you know, Hollywood star [as a] part of the process."
In the end, though, whether or not it was just a publicity move, or Kojima's longtime dream to work with a Hollywood action star, or if it really was an "artistic choice," no one but Kojima knows. My money is on publicity. However, then again, maybe I just miss the Snake that I grew up with.
As much as I've poo-pooed all over the casting of this game, I have to admit: It's still damn fun. For long time Metal Gear fans, such as myself, it's destined to fall short in many ways. However, as games in general go, I'd be lying if I were to say it wasn't a great video game to play for the mechanics alone.
I enjoyed the gameplay so much, in fact, that I've since 100 percented it and finally nabbed my fourth Metal Gear Solid platinum trophy for Playstation (albeit, I made sure to do so in MGS1 clothing). Which all just goes to show, even the most disappointing of Metal Gear games beats most other games out there.
What Does Hitler Think of Kiefer Sutherland Replacing David Hayter?
Questions & Answers
Question: David Hater was Snake in Metal Gear Solid for fifteen years, why suddenly change voice actors?
Answer: In a sense, the change wasn't too subtle. According to Hayter himself, Kojima had been on the lookout for a new voice for Snake since as far back as MGS3, when it's rumored that he attempted to cast Kurt Russell in the role. Kojima is a big fan of Hollywood action films (even designing and naming Snakes character after Russell's Escape from New York character, Snake Plissken) and has supposedly always wanted a real-life Hollywood action star to helm the role of hero in his Metal Gear series. The casting of 24 stars, Keifer Sutherland, may have simply been Kojima's first successful attempt at nabbing the kind of star power he wanted all along.
Kat on June 05, 2020:
1. Kojima clearly wants to be part of Hollywood and has developed quite the ego over the years, and having an actor like Sutherland aligns Kojima more with the Hollywood crowd. He may now believe he and his franchise are "above" voice actors like Hayter.
2. Combining Kojima's desperately wanting out of the franchise after MGS3, continued working on MGS from Konami's pressure due to the American demand for more Kojima written MGS, and American MGS gamers' love for Hayter as Snake, hiring a new voice actor was essentially sabotage to get out of developing MGS.
Solid Snake = David Hayter on August 02, 2019:
I think that Hideo is a genius, i do but i have been a MG fan since forever. I started with the first Metal Gear and have played all of then ever since, i love them as my absolutly favorit franchies of all time. However that they replaced David Hayter in the very last game was a really stupid mistake. I lost the feeling for the game and i felt really disappointed, WHY when they only had 1 more game in the series?!? Metal gear solid, the first game in the solid “part”, I played over and over again, same thing with metal gear solid 2 and 3 at least 4-5 over and again. But I was so disappointed with the fifth that I haven’t even finished it at all.... and a lot because I lost the feeling because Hideo wanted a KNOWN star.... this is bulls*hit in my opinion. David Hayter is Big Boss and Solid Snake and no one else. Bad mistake Hideo Kojima, a very bad mistake! You have lost a life time fan for good because you got greedy!
metalgearlazy on July 17, 2019:
kojimas new "game" is nothing but star power. hope he gets something out of it. personally, i don't think that game will do any good in term of sales. and iam not going to buy a game just because norman reedus is in it.
JustAnotherFan on June 25, 2019:
This was a great and insightful read, however, the only argument I have is if Snake being a clone meant that his voice should match Big Boss's then why didn't Liquid and Solidus have the same voice? Why didn't Hayter voice them all in that case? Don't get me wrong, he already voiced Big Boss in MGS3 and MGSPW so he for sure should NOT have been replaced just for V, but the idea that Big Boss has to sound the exact same as David (Solid or the Voice Actor) is inconsistent with every other clone of Big Boss from the story. Absolutely everything else I agree with. This was nothing more than a "Star Power" move.
MoonAmethyst on May 17, 2019:
Good article. My opinion is that it ultimately came down to David Hayter rubbing Kojima up the wrong way. I remember hearing once that David Hayter actually wrote a screenplay about/inspired by Metal Gear Solid and Kojima felt that was a huge liberty.
I also suspect that Kojima resented the level of fan loyalty David Hayter had in the west. Most of us loved David Hayter as much, if not more, than Kojima -- he was, is, and always will be Snake.
No offense to his fans, but Kojima often comes across as an arrogant bitch -- I mean, the sentence "now that emotions can be expressed also with the faces we needed a real actor, not just a voice actor" says it all. How belittling can you get? His behaviour over the Castlevania franchise is also a fairly good character reference -- if someone had swaggered into Kojima's franchise and told him how to run it, he'd have gone mad. Yet that's exactly what he did to IGA when Lords of Shadow was developed. Not a good sign.
On a final bitter note, replacing David Hayter was a huge f- you to the fans of MGS. Kojima can list as many reasons as he likes, but ultimately, it was a change none of the western fans wanted.
wats on April 28, 2019:
@That guy it wasnt that bad
Soffie on April 17, 2019:
It was less about facial capturing and more about movement. A lot of facial capturing really isn't about matching about how the face looks, but about how it moves, but that's beside the point. The real reason had to do with how a 40-year old soldier moves and behaves in certain situations.
If you check cutscenes like the Birthday scene (where he thinks he hears gunshots) or the low morale scene ("We don't draw on fellow soldiers" moment), we see natural movements and reactions matching what you would expect of a 40-year old Snake, and the gruff yet soft, father-like voice you hear in the morale scene in particular matching that of what you'd expect [the idea of] Snake to sound like after the events of Peace Walker and Ground Zeroes.
Hayter has a very particular style of voice acting and perhaps even movement, and it would not have been ideal for what was in this game. I love MGS3 and Hayter's work in it, but even then I can't deny that it's Sutherland's personality and behavior that defined MGSV for me.
TL;DR -- They didn't hire Keith for his voice acting. They hired Keith for his experience in moving and personifying a matured, middle-aged soldier (or agent).
Either way, I hope Hayter does have a solid future in his career. There are a lot of games he'd be ideal for.
Bb on April 11, 2019:
Venom wasn't a clone or a relative in any way. Using a different voice actor other than Hayter clues in on it with actually saying it.
Using Hayter for MGS V would not have made sense.
That guy on January 06, 2019:
Welp your mgs5 game sucked kojima, if by some miracle chance you could see this comment. Gamers (your artist outlet audience) dont give a shit who sits on the thrones of hollywood. We want good games. Just make a movie instead already christ.
Roboticplaguetv on November 27, 2018:
Phantom Pain was the worst Metal Gear. People say Konami is at fault but I believe it was
The Gutter Monkey (author) on October 27, 2018:
Thanks for commenting. But what Snakes do you think I'm mixing up?
Bob on September 03, 2018:
sadly, MGS V is a train wreck of a game that was never finished. Also, your getting your snakes mixed up.
Diego Escauriza on August 02, 2018:
David Hayter was unique I founded hard to believe that after working for Mr. Kojima for 15 years he would be replaced.... I was shocked and I wonder if Mr. Kojima made the right choice.
GR4VY_B04T on July 31, 2018:
Keifer does speak alot if you listen to the cassettes. Mgs 5 was an unfinished game that was pushed out by greedy publishers. I bet most of the cassettes in the game would've been made into a cutscenes if they had more time, but sadly we're left with the husk of a masterpiece.
GR4VY_B04T on July 31, 2018:
@Conspiracy Kool-Aid the real big boss appeared during the prologue & truth mission. Still voiced by kieth Sutherland. I guess if he wasn't people would've caught on to the secret way quicker. Maybe if we were told sooner it may have made the twist a little easier to get over. We only find out at the end of the game that the whole time we were lied to, and at that point there's nothing left to help get over that somewhat sour note, but if we had known from the beginning we would've had time to digest the news. Maybe then we would've come to embrace the idea Kojima was trying to push.
DutchBoy on March 12, 2018:
Is it possible that Kojima knew that he was hopping off the boat with Konami and wanted to inflate the bill for his opus and spit in their eye as he walked away?
The Gutter Monkey (author) on February 10, 2018:
@ Conspiracy Kool-Aid
Hi, Conspiracy Kool-Aid. Thanks for the comment! That's certainly a cool way of thinking about it. There doesn't appear to be proof either way for that particular reasoning, so I certainly can't think of a way of disproving it. And if we ever do find out a definitive, no-doubt-about-it answer as to why Hayter was replaced, I'd definitely rather your thoughts to be true than my own. Haha
However, for me, personally, it feels a bit like a stretch of the imagination (which, granted, feels like an odd sentence to say when talking about Metal Gear). It's just that the reasoning of stunt casting appears to me (for now, at least) to be more logical (albeit cynical) and more consistent of a conclusion when other factors are kept in mind. Such as Kojima's previous attempts to replace Hayter with a renown Hollywood action guy, the Japanese voice actor not changing, Sutherland taking on the role of Big Boss in Ground Zeroes (although I do enjoy your alternate idea of that part being a simulated mind-control memory), and the fact no one involved in the game has appeared to drop a hint about this before. As I believe someone else in the comments mentioned, it would have been a mind-blowing addition to the twist if Hayter had made a cameo as real Big Boss at the end of the game (assuming his appearance within game isn't an aforementioned simulated memory or schizophrenia, of course). Aside from the "holy-sh!t!" shock of it, it coulda shut down all us nay-sayers in an instant. Haha
But, once again, I do enjoy your idea. It's very clever. And I hope I may one day find out I'm wrong and that it's true. As for now, though, I believe I'd need a bit more convincing in order to not see it as just an imaginative connecting of the dots. After all, as the great Carl Sagan popularly voiced: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
Conspiracy Kool-Aid on February 10, 2018:
Kiefer Sutherland was casted to play the Medic. Big Boss never appeared in the game once. Ishmael was an illusion conjured up while the Medic was under hypnogogia. The entire game was lies and illusions. The Medic was essentially a schizophrenic and was talking to himself in that hospital. Kojima would not purposefully use the same actor for two different people at the same time unless he was actually hinting to something else and messing with the player (Which we know he loves to do). The game has a twist within a twist. The game tells you that you've been under mind control. The "psuedo-historical" events that took place in MGSV:GZ was actually the medics virtual indoctrination as the role of Big Boss and was all a simulation that even we as the player were duped into believing. In the end the real Big Boss never appeared ONCE in either MGSV's.
Now as to why David Hayter seems bitter about the situation, either he wasn't told about the reality breaking plot-twist to keep it secret, or he was told to act upset about the whole ordeal again to keep it a secret. Strangely there is a theory that Hayter does have a secret cameo role as Raiden in the MGSV:GZ side op Jamais Vu, listen closely. All in all the games focus is revenge and deception through and through. Nothing you're told is true and it's entirely possible Kojima is messing with us more than it seems.
The Gutter Monkey (author) on December 10, 2017:
Telenike's sorta got you there, Chris. The voice casting can't simply be shrugged off due to us playing as a different character this time around, as the original character had the same new voice actor as well. (Incidentally, this is all covered within the avalanche of words above these comments.)
And @Dwayne, I believe I may have actually enjoyed the actual game a tad more than you (although I think it stinks as an entry to the Metal Gear series) but I totally agree with your assessment of the lifelessness of the new characters.
In either case, thanks for commenting! (all three of you)
Telenike on December 03, 2017:
Yeah, but Ishmael, who led Venom Snake out of the hospital, was Big Boss and he was voiced by Keifer Sutherland too. If Kojima wanted the rug pull of Venom not being Naked Snake to go down to the voice actors, then Hayter should have played Ishmael. That would have been awesome and made sense. Solid and Naked have the same voices because Solid is a perfect clone of Naked (well dominant genes anyway), but Venom is a product of reconstructive surgery and therefore has a vaguely similar but distinct voice.
Chris Minglis on October 29, 2017:
If you played through the story mode and actually comprehend the multiple endings you would know that your not playing as big boss, your playing as his body double and second in command, with facial reconstructive surgery and some kind of schizophrenia, who happens to be the big boss you kill in the original metal gear game, LOL kojima deserves a friggen award for fooling all of you.
Dwayne on August 19, 2017:
Kiefer is an absolute disappointment to the character. Lifeless, emotionless acting. Even Ocelot was a disappointment. I can't get through 30% of the game because of these voice actors. In fact Hideo Kojima can shove it. If the original cast isn't returned I won't be supporting the franchise again. I've been a fan since I was a kid but seeing something I love being mutilated like this calls for me to hit them where it hurts, their wallets. I know I'm only one person, but I'm sure other people feel the same and they will see that when sales start to drop.
Lucas-san on July 31, 2017:
@The Gutter Monkey
You're welcome. I am just happy to see someone who isn't all "but Kiefer have so much emotion in his voice! You can hear the really hear the depth of emotions!"
Yeah, let's hope that we'll get to hear David Hayter voicing Snake, again, someday.
The Gutter Monkey (author) on July 31, 2017:
Hi, Lucas. Thanks for reading! Wish I had more to respond to you with but it looks like you've already covered most of the ground I already agree with. But here's hoping that someday, somehow, in one dimension or another, we'll get to hear Hayter voicing our beloved hero again.
Lucas-san on July 29, 2017:
So, well, hi. I am Lucas, nice to meet you.
Well then, yeah, you pretty much pointed everything out I knew about it. I still feel bitter about this.
I remember that I got a lot of angry replies when I brought it up back when the whole ordeal was new and fresh but since I agree with the majority of what you have written here, if not everything, I am going to post something that I need to get off my chest.
The whole argument about Naked Snake not being the same as Solid Snake hence why the voices are different, plus the voices are different in MGS4, with Richard Doyle being the voice there, is pretty annoying to me.
So, well, I believe that it's something about that the Japanese voice actors are father and son, but it's also the fact that having David voice Old Snake is one and then Big Boss whose been kept alive in a tube for a long time, he is old and worn out, so his voice could have changed; seen from a canonical perspective (I don't know if that's a term). I don't mind that. That change made sense and as funny as hearing Hayter voicing both of them might have been, I think this was the right choice.
Now, here is the obvious problem...
David Hayter was the voice of Big Boss in Peace Walker but he was replaced in Ground Zeroes, which takes place not long after that game. So the whole "but it was not ACTUALLY Big Boss in the first place, so that's why they used Kiefer"-theory is pretty much shattered.
I even stated back then that if they had David voice Big Boss in Ground Zeroes, then it could have been explained away with something like: "During the explosion, your vocal chords had been damaged, etc., etc.", and I would have bought that explanation. However, that never happened, sadly.
And at the end of The Phantom Pain, we see Big Boss....still voiced by Kiefer..
Imagine if they had Hayter there! It would have been perfect, maybe (at least to me).
Again, that did not happen, either.
What really makes me upset about this is also the fact that Hayter, you know, DAVID HAYTER, the VOICE OF SNAKE THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE SERIES up to this point, was not allowed any sort of involvement in the game. At least have some decency and do something with him....but no, like you said, he was given the boot, left outside and not allowed back inside.
There are many other things I would love to rant on about but those are just very personal opinions of mine.
Thank you for the article, keep up the good work.
The Gutter Monkey (author) on July 05, 2017:
Oh, and thanks for your comment too, Kat! Sorry, I had nothing left to rant about in reply to yours, haha. I do agree, though.
The Gutter Monkey (author) on July 05, 2017:
Hi, Noogie! Thanks for the comment, I appreciate it. I'm in total agreement. As much as I enjoyed sneaking around and tranqing guys, the game as a whole just didn't hit me like the previous entries in the series. I felt no real connection to anything going on or to any of the characters in it; especially the character I was playing. Snake not being played by Hayter was undoubtedly a big part of that. Snake being basically a mute was probably an even bigger part. I say this often but, to me, this will always be a good game but an absolutely terrible Metal Gear game. Due to the absence of Hayter and so many other reasons.
As annoying as constant codec calls and cutscenes in the previous games may have been (although, personally, I mostly enjoyed them) they really helped in fleshing out the characters and making you care about who they are and what was happening with their story. It added an extra bit of motivation to everything I did within the game itself because I always wanted to see what happened next in their story. In MGSV, however, I just felt like a random guy being repeatedly told by another random guy to go extract yet ANOTHER random guy (interspersed with a rare 20 second cutscene where my character just stares blankly at another person as they talk at him). Then, to top that off, I'm being voiced by a random guy (sure, I know who Keifer is, but he's pretty much a stranger to the series) and at the end of the game (SPOILERS) it turns out that I AM a random guy!
Whew, years later and my bittersweet relationship with this game still plagues me. Haha. Anyway, thanks again for the comment.
Noogie on July 02, 2017:
I'm a fan & play the game since the first "talking" MGS Solid Snake & I always thought Snake/Big Boss talks way too much, it gets on my nerves sometimes lol. But when I play Phantom Pain & all suddenly, he went dull & silent most of the time now, even Ocelot did more talking than the man himself ... It made me feel that I really miss the old Snake/Big Boss aka David Hayter terribly. Okay, I understand with this "Big Boss" is not *spoilers ahead* the real Big Boss but still... Not hearing that iconic voice after playing the games for so many years is just... weird. Even sister of mine who is not a fan of MGS noticed the dullness of the series so no wonder some, (or maybe most) of MGS fans here are still dissapointed till now.
Kat on June 24, 2017:
Metal Gear is not Metal Gear without Hayter. Period.
The Gutter Monkey (author) on April 26, 2017:
Thanks for leaving a comment, Sybato!
Putting aside my inclination to assume Hayter was replaced for more business-like rather than artistic-like reasons, I do have to admit that my longing for Hayter to be in this particular game is undoubtedly bias. I never was good at accepting replacements of main actors in either video games, movies, or TV shows. I suspect it has something to do with my emotional investment into each of the mediums and how the break in consistency really throws me for a loop and takes me out of the story.
If I tried to pull back and look at this games story in a more stand-alone fashion, I believe I can see better where you're coming from. I'd probably liken it to something such as seeing a new Matrix that had an awesome script (a boy can dream, right?) but starred Daniel Day-Lewis as Neo. Sure, I think he's a better actor than Keanu and, for this particular hypothetical part, he's perfectly suited (for some reason). But even if it was the best Matrix since the original I'd probably still always be longing for Mr. "Whoa" — due to character consistency alone haha.
With that being said, regardless of the many problems I had with the game, I did enjoy playing it for what it was. To me, however, it just didn't feel like Metal Gear. And Hayter's absence (among other things) was a big reason.
But anyway. Thanks again for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!
Sybato on April 25, 2017:
Having played MGSV recently it's pretty obvious throughout the main missions that this Snake is far more hostile and dark than previous ones. When he was tasked with killing those child soldiers in the jail cell, I was honestly more surprised that he didn't kill them, because up until that point he was largely silent and a jerk to everyone he came in contact with that wasn't Miller or Ocelot.
I definitely appreciate Hayter's performance more in both MGS3 and MGS4 (which are the only other games in the series I've played), but I do think that Kiefer Sutherland better fits this particular iteration of Snake. Not because Hayter couldn't do it, but because this Snake mostly acts in ways that are counter to Big Boss and Solid Snake.
The Gutter Monkey (author) on April 24, 2017:
Hi, thanks for commenting (politely haha). I understand the reasoning of your argument and have addressed my views of it within the article itself and within the comments section here (it's understandable that you may have missed it, I admittedly wrote a lot). I'll jot it down again real quick though, just to save you the time it may take in hunting it down.
I suppose it comes down to a matter of intention and consistancy. It doesn't appear to me that the choice of voice actor was made DUE to Snake being this new Venom fella.
• In the Japanese version of the game, there was no voice actor change. The guy who played Solid still plays Venom.
• While Venom and Big Boss may not be clones or at all genetically related, Big Boss (the real Big Boss) was also voiced by Sutherland in the new games.
• In other MGS games that revolve around Big Boss, David Hayter portrayed the character (aside from the unusual case of the end of MGS4, where he was for some reason played by a guy with what sounded like a mid-Atlantic accent).
• While Big Bosses other clones, Liquid and Solidus, were voiced by different people, the past times in which we played as Big Boss he was voiced by David Hayter.
Due to things such as these, and what was mentioned in the article of course, I have trouble buying the notion that the voice change was made for story-purposes or consistancy. As sad as it makes me, it seems likely that it could have been done due to more shallow reasons. My best guess, judging by the evidence I presented at least, is stunt casting.
I appreciate your input though. And your comment! Thanks!
Skirmich on April 24, 2017:
The answers is pretty darn simple... (SPOILERS AHEAD)
The Voice is different because the guy in MGSV is not the real Big Boss (From MGS3) you are playing as "Venom Snake" (If you recall MGS3 Big Boss code name was Naked Snake) which is a random soldier that was literally shaped and hypnotized to look and think he is Big Boss.. This explains why his voice is different gameplay wise.
Your argument of Solid Snake being a Clone of Big Boss and thus he has the same voice falls short because neither Solidus or Liquid (Both also Clones of Big Boss) are voiced by David Hayter.
The Gutter Monkey (author) on March 23, 2017:
I fail to understand your valley girl-esque reasoning. I'm assuming it's a classic argument from incredulity, though.
Rafaela on March 23, 2017:
Yeah, like, "hey I'm going to buy MGSV because it has a Hollywood actor's voice for Snake"... NOT.
Heres Something on March 20, 2017:
[EXTREME MGS5 SPOILERS AHEAD. Seriously.]
Here's an idea. Remember at the very end of the game, when you find out that your character "Venom" or "Punished" Snake was in fact, not Big Boss at all? Just some random soldier they face molded and hypnotized into believing he was? You get a letter from the real Big Boss at the very end of the game and he voices a small paragraph about what happened. WHY did they not get David Hayter to record that one measly part? It would perfectly explain the voice change, you get to keep Kiefer as your headliner/mocap guy, and the twist gut wrenching payoff behind this whole David Hayter being replaced debacle would have been the biggest Kojima troll of all time. You just had to get DH in the recording booth for like 20 minutes. Wasted opportunity.
For the record, I'm not confused as to "why" this didn't happen. This post serves more as a, 'hey wouldn't it have been nice if?' dealie.
Tony Horo on March 05, 2017:
Guys, I think the real reason is that only recently (since MGS3) Kojima begin to make contact with people overseas. He never really bothered with the english cast before, simply because he was only involved with the japanese side of things. When he started to make contacts with people from hollywood (like Avi Arad), he came up with the idea to bring actors he's a fan to the series he created. We all know that Snake is based on Kurt Russell, and that's the reason he tried to use him in MGS3, also, he's a fan of 24, enough to try to make Kiefer appear on his game. Kojima probably never had much contact with Hayter, and since he's not a famous actor, Kojima probably has the feeling he's not as good as the actors he's fan for years, plus, he doesnt have as much relation with the english cast since, as I said before, he was only involved with the japanese cast, so ditching David Hayter would be easy for him,. Kinda harsh, but that's probably the truth about this change.
The Gutter Monkey (author) on January 20, 2017:
All sales are final.
x on January 20, 2017:
"Why David Hayter Was REALLY Replaced"
3000 words later:
"the truth is that none of us can ever know for certain"
I want my click back.
Roflcopter on January 18, 2017:
Kojima really is going down hill. I haven't played MGSV yet and I don't plan on it. I like Davids voice and it's stupid to pay a big name actor to do it instead. Shows what bad decisions Kojima makes.
The Gutter Monkey (author) on January 12, 2017:
Why wouldn't they use stunt casting? I agree that the game would be popular regardless of who they chose to cast in the lead, but tossing a hugely recognizable name in there to star in it certainly doesn't hurt anything — especially if you're looking to bring in new players to the series as oppose to just retaining the old fans. And, as I've explained in this article, I've given my reasons for believing this as a viable likelihood.
Also within the article, I've agreed that I enjoyed playing the game. Because, as games in general go, it really was fun for what it included. As a Metal Gear Solid game, however, I couldn't help but feel very let down. Which I know these two statements may sound contradictory, but it's certainly how I feel (it's as if I payed for Pac-Man and got Pong instead — both are fun in their own ways, but I was wanting and expecting something different). And if you view comments by other fans across the interwebs, you'll find that even if you're not in agreement with me, I'm not alone in this view.
Now here's where I get long-winded...
I enjoyed many aspects of the game. But there were many other more particular aspects that were missing that I — with good reason, in my opinion — had expected from a MGS title. I get certain kinds of enjoyments from a Metal Gear game that many other games are lacking. Creative boss fights, for instance, such as having to change controller ports for Psycho Mantis, having to defuse bombs while dodging an obese man on roller skates, having to realize that the fight with Vamp isn't going to end unless I jab a syringe in his throat, the fist fight with Liquid Ocellot where we relive every fighting style in the past games, all those past epic hand-to-hand fist fights in general, the Beauties with all of their varies strategic fights, the seemingly neverending sniper battle with an old man in the forest (and the multitude of ways you can defeat him that include such weird things as letting him die of old age or killing him earlier in the game before that fight even happens), the weird time when we had to walk through a foggy river while The Sorrow has the ghosts of everyone we've killed in-game floating around us (and the trick at the end of that walk where we have to realize to come back to life as oppose to avoid dying in the first place), etc., etc. Within these past titles there was one imaginative scenario or fight after another that was as much of a puzzle as it was a battle. It was great stuff! On MGSV, however, the only strategy required appears to involve how well you sneak (which you also had in the previous games) or how fast you can run-and-gun. Even stranger, run-and-gunning, something unheard of and penalized in previous games, can often even end up in giving you a better game score within MGSV, due simply to how quickly it allows you to complete a level. The sneaking option is fun, and done well, but it's sad to me that this is all there really is to the game. The puzzles and imagination seem to all be gone. Heck, there's not even a real boss fight at all.
An open world seems fun. But then, this "open world" doesn't appear to include much of, well, anything in it. You're lucky to see a sheep on the side of the road. You can't even climb over a mountain to take a shortcut anywhere. Instead, the mountains act as funnels that lead to one base to another, with each base being almost an identical copy of the last. And you visit these same bases repeatedly within the game, too, later even repeating the same levels.
Several of these changes within the game actually go on to support a more selling-out idea that may be related to the aforementioned stunt-casting. If they were going simply for new players, unfamiliar with the series, then casting a new lead would be a move to make. The open world (if that's what we're going to call it) would be another. Then there's that ability to run-and-gun that non-fans enjoy, the auto-healing that makes the game easier, the slow-motion effect, the lack of long cutscenes and codec calls (the lack of a codec all together) that so many newcomers always complained about. I know it seems like a bold opinion, but it really does feel that this isn't a game for Metal Gear fans at all; however, they knew all the old fans would come along anyway.
I'm not saying that I'm definitely right about any of this, and I hope I'm not. With that being said, the pieces do seem to fit pretty well. And if the game didn't have "Metal Gear" in the title, I'd almost certainly enjoy it more.
James on January 12, 2017:
In total agreement with the man who wrote this article David Hayter is Big Boss! How can I possibly enjoy MGSV as a continuation of MGS3 when they have different actors voicing big boss!? It's stupid and sad Solid Snake is the true heir to Big boss that's why they share the same voice because out of all of the failed big boss clones Solid was the closest to Big boss legacy yes Solidus was genetically closer but Solid killed the other candidates to Big boss legacy Liquid snake and the phantom Venom snake. Solid lay beside a dying big boss in MGS4 Big boss respected Solid saw him as his own man. Just wish Hayter had voiced Big boss in MGSV wouldn't have minded Kiefer voicing venom for the majority of the game but for the tiny segment in ground zeroes and for final mission 46 in MGSV Hayter had voiced Big boss only on second play through when quiet Is also revealed that would have been incredible also mission 51 was truely required to complete the story! Otherwise a good game just a few missing elements mainly Hayter! That kept the game from being truely Great!
Ben on November 05, 2016:
Stunt Casting? Even if they don't give Snake even one line of dialogue it would still be popular as fuck. Seriously that game was so fun and is beautiful the only complaint I have is the obvious cut content!
The Gutter Monkey (author) on October 02, 2016:
Hi Babyfarts! Good to see a polite dissenting opinion plopped down here.
I don't know if I'd go as far as to call myself a "butthurt Hayter fanboy" (then again, I guess no butthurt fanboy would actually accept a label that immediately dismisses their opinions) but I certainly would have preferred Hayter's voice in the MGSV video games. No doubt about that. He was awesome. Also, I enjoy consistency in my characters.
Nevertheless, even if I were this "buthurt" guy you've chosen to classify me as, it seems unfair that this should dismiss my entire article (I tried to put as many sources in as possible to support my opinions). It would be much more beneficial if you'd address each point and give me a good reason to believe my idea's aren't really the case . I don't WANT to think Kojima was simply selling out or making choices due to shallow reasons, you know; I love his past games and don't like thinking of my favorite artists in that way. However, as far as I can tell, the evidence seems to point in that direction in this particular case.
I'll grant you that I'm not entirely sure about the "identical" part. However, they are still clones. And to be non-identical, it seems odd why then that Big Boss would look and sound exactly like Solid Snake in the previous Big Boss-centered video games Snake Eater, Portable Ops, and Peace Walker (the latter taking place only 9 years prior to Ground Zeroes). So even if they weren't identical clones, it had already been established that they had identical voices (incidentally, the Japanese voice actor for Solidus is the same who does the Japanese voice for Snake). At least at these younger ages they did. Apparently by the time MGS4 came along and Big Boss was in his 70s he'd suddenly developed a transatlantic accent.
Anywho. Thanks for your comment!
Babyfarts on October 02, 2016:
Another butthurt Hayter fanboy.
I stopped taking you seriously when you wrote ''Snake is an identical clone of Big Boss. It's only natural that they have identical voices.''
Except that he's not, the one who's closest to an identical clone of Big Boss is Solidus Snake and guess what? He's not voiced by Hayter, neither is Liquid Snake. Weird, huh?