24 star Kiefer Sutherland will voice iconic video game character Solid Snake in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain according to a reveal at today’s Konami pre-E3 press event. Cue fanboy outrage… now.
The raspy-voiced actor will replace series stalwart David Hayter in the title role, a move that already has Metal Gear purists up in arms, and rightfully so. Hayter has become synonymous with the character over the course of the previous games, and switching at this point is puzzling.
Series creator Hideo Kojima had this to say about the change:
“I wanted Snake to have a more subdued performance expressed through subtle facial movements and tone of voice rather than words. Furthermore, the game takes place in 1984 when Snake is 49 years old. Therefore, we needed someone who could genuinely convey both the facial and vocal qualities of a man in his late 40s. It's different from anything we've done before."
That all sounds pretty legit – until you realize that Hayter is 44. Is five years really going to make that big of a difference? Could this be a subtle hint that Sutherland might play the character in a Metal Gear Solid film?
Sutherland seems excited about voicing the character, even though he acknowledges he’s never played a Metal Gear game in his life.
“It's an honor to be able to play this character. This character has an unbelievable legacy. There's a real personal quality to the character that I've connected to. I'm not a gamer, and I even knew about this game. I was certainly keenly aware of the legacy of these games, the unbelievable success of these games.”
Look, we love Sutherland – the guy’s great in stuff like 24 – but it’s hard to shake the feeling that this is a move designed to bring even more mainstream gamers into the franchise solely through name recognition. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, except that it’s not particularly fair to Hayter or the fans who’ve come to view him as Solid Snake.
Hayter, for his part, seems to be having fun with the reveal. The actor tweeted the following:
Are you on Team Kiefer or Team Hayter? Is this an issue for you at all? Shouldn’t we also be upset about the The Phantom Pain subtitle? It sounds more like something old people talk about at the doctor’s office, or a Star Wars prequel, than a subtitle for an over-the-top action stealth game.