While Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain has garnered near-universal acclaim for its gameplay, ardent Metal Gear fans – myself included – were disappointed by a polarising conclusion and the lack of both a coherent story arc and the connective tissue that was expected to tie the modern Metal Gear Solid series to the Metal Gear games of the MSX.
Since the release of MGSV, rumours have pointed the finger at publisher Konami, blaming the company for forcing the game out before it was completed, supposedly evidenced by the excised Chapter 3 material. But, in the Japanese novelisation of the game, creator Hideo Kojima has not only taken responsibility for the “blank space” left by the game’s ending, but has revealed that it was intentional; a metaphor for the end of the series, and the absence of its hero.
In a translation courtesy of redditor _notanything_, Kojima wrote in the Phantom Pain novelisation:
“Metal Gear was born as a game in 1987. From there 28 years, within me the circle of the Metal Gear story has been closed with the latest release “MGSV”. A respected author, Dennis Lehane with the popular series “Patrick Kenzie & Angela Gennaro” declared that at the peak of his popularity “No matter what kind of series it is, there is a time that it must end”, and he himself closed the curtain. No matter how popular a series is, someday the end will come. However, that is by no means a parting. Even if you can’t touch it, you can feel the influence of that story. A story is a thing without shape. Assuming physically nothing is there, nothing to be lost. As long as stories and legends are desired, they will continue forever. The brilliance will never vanish. It’s in everyone’s heart. It is not always true that saying “goodbye to a hero” ignites a phantom pain. By saying “goodbye to a hero”, you can for eternity leave behind lost joy as a blank space.”
“In MGSV, we hand the story (the legend) over to the player. That’s how the player becomes the Big Boss in the MSX2 Metal Gear. You play the game as you will, raise up your Mother Base. That’s the way I want the player to create his own story, thinking of things like “war” and “peace” as Big Boss. Up until now, the Metal Gear Saga was told by creating video games, but I want each player to think and come up with their own story (legend) on their own.”
“There is a blank space, but it will not be filled. In that blank space there is always a hero. Because there is a blank space, you can advance ahead. It is this blank space exactly that is “V”.”
Even the position of the novelisation, written by author Hitori Nojima, as canon is a void, with a typically cryptic Kojima adding:
“Language remains even if existence vanishes…”
Phantom Pain, indeed.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia.