|Platform||XB1, PS4, 360, PS3|
OK, so maybe Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes underwhelmed you with its tiny, traversal-in-60-seconds terrain. Maybe you wanted to do something more than rescue all of two hostages on an American black-ops site. Hell, even three hostages would’ve been a start! Well, get ready for approximately 200 times the fun in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, where we can hopefully put the bitter taste of Ground Zeroes behind us and focus on what has the potential to be Hideo Kojima’s most impressive opus yet.
I’ve made it known quite publicly that I’m firmly in the camp of Team Hayter for life, and while I’ll never accept Kiefer Sutherland as the rightful voice of Snake/Big Boss, another, less-publicized actor has me excited for The Phantom Pain after hearing his familiar tones during the game’s E3 demo.
That man’s name? Troy Baker. Yes, while Kiefer seems to have sleepwalked through his role, the actor who brought Kanji Tatsumi and Booker DeWitt to life shines as Ocelot. In fact, it wasn’t Sutherland’s voice front and center during the demo—it was Baker’s. It almost feels like Konami paid Kiefer by the word, since he was strangely silent even during moments that you’d expect Hayter’s incarnation of Snake to be gruffly yapping away about nanomachines. Instead, Baker’s Ocelot did all the talking, vividly framing the untamed frontier of mid-’80s Afghanistan that serves as The Phantom Pain’s intriguing backdrop.
Of course, voices aside, I was already excited for the promise of The Phantom Pain’s open world, and the demo showed a vast, rugged terrain that should offer plenty of diversity. Snake’s not there to sightsee, though, and Kojima Productions has provided him plenty of tools in order to make exploration and infiltration more engaging, including revamping tried-and-true formulas. Every Metal Gear fan knows the cardboard box, and everyone knows that Snake can’t crawl out of the box and sneak behind a corner when he suspects someone might be getting the drop on him. In The Phantom Pain, however, he can do just that, and he can even pop out of the box to tranq some unsuspecting fools. And do you ever get annoyed in a Metal Gear game when you’re not near a wall and can’t tap your surroundings to lure the enemy? Well, thanks to Snake’s newly prosthetic arm, he’s more than capable of attracting attention all on his own if he so chooses.
Really, I’ve always had high hopes for The Phantom Pain, even if Kiefer Sutherland is doing his best to douse that passionate flame. But I’m excited for what Kojima has in store for the open world, I’m pumped for the 1984-in-Afghanistan setting, and I’m thrilled with the prospect of Troy Baker. The Phantom Pain is on a very short list right now for my game of E3 2014.