I F*cking Hate Kiefer Sutherland’s Voice: An Even-Handed Analysis of Metal Gear Solid V’s Voice Casting
From the first moment he dribbled out his lines like a baby spitting up its applesauce on its chin in Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, it was clear Sutherland’s casting had been a Raiden-level misstep. I don’t say that to mean it was clear to everyone; even Raiden had his defenders. But it’s clear a very large number of fans are very unhappy that one of the most distinctive voices in video games was ousted and left us trying to differentiate Snake’s voice-over from his second-in-command’s.
This is going to read sarcastic but I promise it’s not: no one repeats nouns back at people and adds “huh?” at the end quite like David Hayter. For fifteen years, Hayter’s deep-throated growl has elevated interminably long radio conversations into something that was always interesting to listen to. He’s as strongly associated with Snake (sometimes the modern-day Solid Snake, sometimes his, um, let’s just say “predecessor”) as Charles Martinet’s high-pitched “Yippeee”‘s is with Mario. So one would hope Kojima would have a damn good reason for sending back a steak and ordering a sloppy joe instead (Or at least, you know, call the guy and let him know he’s being replaced).
Apparently Kojima gave Hayter the boot because he wanted someone who could do both voice and facial expressions. But anyone who thought MGSV‘s face motion capture technology was going to reveal a hidden level of depth to Snake’s stony mug was probably pretty disappointed by Sutherland’s perpetual grimace. Because it’s Snake. Snake has one facial expression, which is “angrily grimacing.” a.k.a. “the Snake.”
Meanwhile, literally every other voice actor in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain outshines Sutherland, because they put a slightly exaggerated emphasis on their work. Voice acting in a game is different from “real” acting in a TV show or a movie, you need to give it some “oomph” to really tell the story. But this distinction is lost on Sutherland, who more or less imports his manly murmer from 24.
Unfortunately, the response has apparently been somewhat muted in light of the news of Kojima’s firing from Konami before Phantom Pain had even dropped (as well as a wealth of other bad decisions Konami’s been making). Many gamers apparently believe it might even be a hoax on Kojima’s part, or that Hayter is being “saved” to voice another character in the game.
I don’t blame them. Dropping the voice of Snake for an unremarkable TV actor is a pretty unbelievable decision. But we have to remember that this is, after all, the same Kojima who pulled the ultimate bait-and-switch back in MGS2.
So goodbye, Kojima. Phantom Pain is a goddamn masterpiece with a Snake who always sounds like someone just woke him up. You’ve simultaneously wow’ed us and pissed us off, one last time.