Legendary voice actor speaks with IGN as part of Icons Month
IGN’s Summer of Gaming is officially underway and as part of their Icons Month, they spoke to the voice of a generation. For a time adding voice acting to video games was idealistic, due to the memory size of old cartridges and the high cost there little reason to when the time and money could be put to better use. When it came to the fifth console generation the launch of the PlayStation popularised the use of compact disks, allowing more storage space and offering higher quality audio.
In 1998 Metal Gear Solid set the standard for what voice acting in video games would become. What couldn’t be shown through character models shined bright in the way David Hayter brought life to the voice. When talking about the character’s development, Hayter explains “I got the script and I started reading it, and I realized that he had already become a legend as a special forces guy, he had already quit and retired, and he was bitter,” This extra layer of thought made Snake stand out among the rest, in a time where a character’s voice only needed to fill a purpose, Hayter used his to enhance the experience.
“I started to feel like my voice was too young for him, too unphased by the world so far, I just didn’t feel right doing my natural voice”
The Twin Snakes
The Metal Gear series spans generations telling the stories of not only Solid Snake going toe-to-toe against Robotic and AI in the modern world, but his predecessor who’s biometric data would go on to influence soldiers of the future. Because of the time jumps and similar yet completely different personalities of either Snake, Hayter had a lot to consider when playing, genetically, the same character differently.
“‘David Snake’ is a pretty good guy who’s been trained to be a soldier and he genuinely cares about people, he’s very much a tragic figure, whereas, in Metal Gear 3, I felt like Jack was just starting out. You know, he’s young, and he’s at the height of his powers”.
The heart of the series is in the characters, stuck in a bleak world where everyone has their ambitions and reasons. Humanity shines through in the enemies that, in different circumstances, could have been friends. Because of this tactful approach to character building Hayter considers the end of Snake Eater to have “possibly the most emotionally devastating and beautiful climaxes to a game”.
Later installments and the future of Metal Gear
Hayter was the embodiment of Snake, from crossing paths with Mario in Brawl to giving COVID-19 survival tips but Kojima remains at the heart of the franchise. It’s known that Kojima had been apprehensive about Hayter’s reprisal of the role on multiple occasions before replacing him altogether in The Phantom Pain. But Hayter can understand a director’s vision when talking about the bait and switch in Sons of Liberty he recognizes the evolution of the series. “My personal theory is that Snake is Kojima’s creation; he’s his interpretation of a classic American action star, whereas I think that Raiden is Kojima. It’s Kojima’s personality coming through saying, ‘I can be an action hero too.’”
Whispers of a Metal Gear Solid remake float by now and again but if Hayter were to reprise the role is a different story. “I don’t think a studio can pull it off, I think the only way it could be pulled off is if another brilliant game maker came in and put their own stamp on it. Like Jim Cameron doing Aliens after Alien.”
David Hayter has had a successful career outside of the gaming world and known for his talents as a scriptwriter, director, and producer. What’s your favourite Hayter performance in or out of the Metal Gear series? Let us know in the comments below!
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