In our discussion of the 2012 Spike Video Game Awards winners post we cited how decidedly barren the show was in terms of mystery reveal trailers. Last year’s show, for example, was chalked full of trailers many never saw coming, or at least were not sure would make an appearance.
This year, however, the only big mystery came in the form of a new game from an unknown studio. And this new game, titled The Phantom Pain, has sparked quite the debate across gaming forums everywhere, leading many to believe it is little more than a clever rouse, meant to lead gamers on a wild goose hunt for its true purpose.
For those that have yet to see the trailer, all you really need to know is it stars a man with bandages over his face, whose arm has been replaced by a wooden shaft and a hook. That alone would be an intriguing concept, but it only gets more and more mysterious from there.
As the unidentified character is guided through a war torn hospital filled with military troops, tons of fire, and several odd occurrences as well, he is never shown from the front, neither do they do anything beyond crawl or stumble across the floor. So to say that the content contained within the trailer definitively points towards anything would be stretching credulity, however a few minor details suggest this game might not be called Phantom Pain at all. In fact, the popular theory running rampant around the Net right now suggests this is actually a new Metal Gear or is part of Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes.
Just one look at the main character’s salt-and-pepper mullet instantly calls to mind Solid Snake or Big Boss without so much as seeing his face so in that regard the connection is clear. And then there’s the mysterious figure that appears at the end of the trailer, a character who is wearing a uniform that looks eerily similar to the get-up of Volgin, one of the main villains in Snake Eater. Yet another detail that is hard to explain away, but isn’t set in stone.
And while these details can be contextualized by stills from the trailer, other hints that point towards Metal Gear come by way of some clever investigation into The Phantom Pain‘s developer Moby Dick Studio. That company, a developer with no previous credits to its name, claims to have been founded by its current CEO Joakim Mogren.
Now it’s a little tin hat and crop circle-y for our blood, but if you swap the letters around for Joakim you end up with the name Kojima, the man behind the Metal Gear franchise. However, more investigation into Moby Dick reveals it is a Swedish-based developer, and in Sweden the name Joakim is somewhat common.
And there’s a gif going around that proposes some vague lines in the game’s title are actually meant to spell out Metal Gear Solid 5, which is the least credible of the theories out there as it connects dots that may not even exist. However, the person who managed to connect those dots did so in such a way that you still end up seeing the title. Check out the gif here.
More theories are popping up by the minute, and as they grow so too does the feeling that we have a Half-Life 3 level conspiracy theory on our hands. On a very surface level there are some connections to the Metal Gear franchise, but even then that could be stretching it.
The easiest route to dismissing the game as Metal Gear related comes courtesy of Spike TV’s Geoff Keighley who tweeted:
Thanks for all the VGA feedback. The Phantom Pain is an a completely game, nothing that has been shown before. I assure you of that.
– Geoff Keighley (@geoffkeighley) December 8, 2012
Now Keighley is the man behind these exclusive trailers — he secures them, he promotes them, and he knows way more about them than we ever will until launch. So for him to say The Phantom Pain is a completely new game — or at least to imply that by a hastily put together tweet — should definitively put the theories to bed.
The real smoking gun will probably have to come from Hideo Kojima himself, who, if he wants to prove Pain is not MGS, can simply mention that this new IP runs on the Kojima Productions Fox Engine and therefore has similar visual qualities, but it is by no means the same product. Or does he even need to explain himself? The man has already tipped his hand towards his future projects already.
We already know that Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes is a thing — we’ve seen 10+ minutes of footage from it — so why would Kojima stoop to such secretive tactics? And if it’s Metal Gear Solid 5, why are all the connections that are being drawn up related to Big Boss and Snake Eater?
Personally, this sounds more like gamers trying to find connections to current IPs rather than accepting a product as something new. It happened with The Last of Us, where many thought that game was simply Uncharted 4‘s new direction, and it happened to a lesser degree with Watch Dogs, Ubisoft’s open-world, technology-based title.
Until such a time as the stars align, and all the details come together, AND Kojima comes out from behind his curtain to say, “You got me,” it’s hard to believe Kojima Prod. would deliver a trailer, a title, and a studio that are all part of some elaborate magic trick. Why can’t this just be a new and potentially exciting game that has caught our eye with some intriguing concepts?
Feel free to share your theories in the comments. Why do you think it’s a new Metal Gear? Why do you think it’s not?
The Phantom Pain currently has no release date.