One big issue I have with the story of Ground Zeroes is one of the most confounding to me: The new voice of Snake. After David Hayter was fired and Kiefer Sutherland was hired, it really wasn't easy for me to accept. It still isn't. The voice of the english version of Snake for over 15 years and let go without notice because they were shifting focus from voice acting to facial capture.
|I need an adult|
The issue with this isn't over the messy breakup by Kojima and David, but rather the result of the new facial capture technology. One thing in particular is my love for David Hayter and him making Snake's voice as memorable as he has for the past 15 years. In the same way Kevin Conroy brought the Batman to new heights and Michael Ironside giving Sam FIsher the cold profile of a lifelong soldier and secret agent, David Hayter turned what should have been a one-and-done job into a 15 year long journey that helped cement Snake's gravelly, growly voice as an icon. The ship has sailed and while fans won't forget what David Hayter has done for Snake, it's tough to wonder exactly how Hideo Kojima planned to translate the iconic growl into subtle facial movements by an unfamiliar voice.
|NO I DON'T LIKE YOUR SUNGLASSES CAN'T YOU SEE I'M BUSY|
The most obvious of this is the major emphasis on facial expressions. In the words of Hideo Kojima himself, "In previous Metal Gears, Snake's emotions were expressed in phrases like, "Kaz? Are you okay?" But this time, all he says is, "Kaz?" I wanted everything else to be expressed to the player through Snake's facial expression & vocal performance."
While it sounds ambitious, especially seeing how intensive the face-scanning technology is in their behind the scenes videos, I found it very hard to be awed by playing through Ground Zeroes. Knowing that every single detail of Kiefer Sutherland's face was captured for the performance of Snake made every cutscene even more underwhelming than the last. Most of the time you don't even see Snake's face and when you do, you don't get a very good look at it. It was difficult for me to be immersed by this new technology when all of the faces look, well, typical and "video gamey". I should point out that they don't look bad, they just look average. If you would have told me that the faces in Ground Zeroes weren't captured and are just hand animated back in a studio, I wouldn't be surprised.
What is surprising is the lack of dialog by Kiefer Sutherland's Snake. As Kojima pushed for more focus on facial capture, he also pushed for a more "subdued performance" for Snake. So much change in the way of how you record and even who you hire to record, and there is less dialog spoken by him overall. And as Snake speaks less and less, so too must someone fill the empty space. And in doing so may have led to Ground Zeroes being a weaker experience overall with constant codec calls interrupting your every move.
Hell Master Kazuhira MacDonell Benedict Miller returns from Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker to carry the reigns as the active voice in Ground Zeroes and manages to get in the way of everything you will ever do. Trying to sneak next to a guard?
|I'M TRYING TO SNEAK CAN YOU PLEASE JUST LET ME BE!!|
|YOU JUST TALKED RIGHT OVER THEM NOW I'VE GOT NO IDEA WHERE TO GO|
|KAZ I SWEAR TO GOD WHEN I GET BACK TO MOTHER BASE I WILL KILL YOU|
|STRANGER DANGER!! STRANGER DANGER!!|
To be continued in Part 3.