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Venom Snake

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Created by  Hideo Kojima
Voiced by (English)  Kiefer Sutherland
Creator  Hideo Kojima
Designed by  Yoji Shinkawa
Voiced by (Japanese)  Akio Ōtsuka
Venom Snake The Phantom39s Pain Turning Venom Snake into the Boss A Metal Gear
First game  Metal Gear (1987) (retroactive) Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (2014) (cameo) Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (2015) (official)
Motion capture  Kiefer Sutherland (facial) Erik Brown (body)
Voices  Akio Ōtsuka, Kiefer Sutherland
Similar  Big Boss, Revolver Ocelot, Solid Snake, Quiet, The Boss

Venom Snake (ヴェノム・スネーク, Venomu Sunēku), also known as Punished Snake (パニッシュド・スネーク, Panishudo Sunēku), is the protagonist in the 2015 video game Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. He is the leader of the mercenary unit Diamond Dogs who returns to the battlefield after waking up from a nine-year coma in an incident that also resulted in the loss of his left arm and a piece of shrapnel embedded into the right side of his forehead. Initially introduced as recurring Metal Gear prequel protagonist and series antagonist Big Boss, hints of his true identity gradually emerge throughout the course of the story until it is ultimately revealed that he is actually a former combat medic who underwent facial reconstruction and subliminal brainwashing to serve as Big Boss's body double. The character is voiced by Akio Ōtsuka in the Japanese version and by Kiefer Sutherland in the English version.

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Before Metal Gear Solid V

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The character of Big Boss debuted in the original Metal Gear, where he initially serves as Solid Snake's commanding officer and main radio contact while also serving as the leader of the enemy forces. Despite his apparent defeat, the game ends with a message from Big Boss vowing revenge against Solid Snake following the credits. At the time there was no indication that the character in the original Metal Gear was supposed to be a body double of the original. In Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, an optional radio call mentions a rumor about Big Boss being mortally wounded during the final encounter with Solid Snake in the previous game, only to be rebuilt with cybernetic parts. This was the explanation used for Big Boss's survival in the Metal Gear Solid 4 Database.

Metal Gear Solid V

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The character makes a minor appearance in Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes as an unnamed combat medic and then as Venom Snake throughout Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain as the player character.

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Under his original identity as an unnamed combat medic, he was employed by Big Boss's Militaires Sans Frontieres private forces. The medic's face is never fully shown, partially obscured when he is on-screen, and his voice is filtered to give him a lower pitch than Big Boss's. He accompanies Big Boss to Mother Base in a helicopter following the extraction of Ricardo Valenciano Libre and Paz Ortega Andrade from a U.S. Naval prison facility in Cuba in 1975. While the medic successfully removes a time bomb that was implanted inside Paz's abdomen, he fails to notice the second bomb within Paz's womb. When the second bomb goes off, the medic shields Big Boss from the blast, causing the helicopter to crash in the process. The two men, along with Kazuhira Miller, survive the crash, but the medic ends up losing his left arm while fragments of bones and teeth are buried within his body, including a large piece of shrapnel lodged within his cerebral cortex. Both Big Boss and the medic fall into a coma for the next nine years. During his coma, the medic was transferred to a hospital in Cyprus, where he was subjected to a process of subconscious brainwashing and facial reconstruction in order to become Big Boss's mental doppelganger and draw attention away from the real Big Boss.

Venom Snake Metal Gear Solid V5 The Phantom Pain Venom Snake and XOF

After awakening, he escapes the hospital following an attack by Cipher's XOF strike force and is extracted by Ocelot. Given the code name Venom Snake, the double takes command of the Diamond Dogs mercenary unit along with the new Mother Base constructed near Seychelles. Snake then engages in a series of missions in Afghanistan and Central Africa as he seeks revenge for his lost comrades and pursues the Cipher organization. Along the way he recruits several individuals into his army, including companions such as the sniper Quiet and the canine D-Dog. Snake ultimately comes face to face with Skull Face, the man who plotted the original Mother Base's destruction. Throughout the course of the story clues to Venom Snake's true identity are gradually revealed, starting with the presence of his roommate Ishmael in the Cypriot hospital. When Snake asks Ishmael's identity, the bandaged patient simply replies "you're talking to yourself." Later on, a DNA test is conducted on the child mercenary leader Eli, a suspected product of the Les Enfants Terribles cloning project (and ultimately revealed to be a young Liquid Snake), ultimately turned out to be negative when Eli's DNA is compared with Snake's. The story mission "Truth: The Man Who Sold The World" depicts an alternate version of the events in the prologue in which not only Snake's true identity is revealed, but also Ishmael's who turns out to be the original Big Boss. The final scene shows Venom Snake in Outer Heaven during an unspecified time period, receiving an audio cassette tape from Big Boss, with one side labelled "Operation Intrude N313" (which is Solid Snake's codename mission in the original Metal Gear), which he plays on a Sony BitCorder device connected to an MSX2 computer (which is the platform the series started on). The timeline shown afterward establishes that Big Boss's phantom would later die fighting against Solid Snake in Outer Heaven.

Physical appearance

Venom Snake is distinguished from the real Big Boss by his bionic left arm, the numerous facial scars and the shrapnel "horn" protruding from the right side of his forehead. His eye-patch also differs from the one usually wore by Big Boss, as it has three straps instead of just two. The player is given the option to use the avatar's natural face in place of Snake's after clearing Episode 46, although the avatar's face can be seen prior to that on Snake's reflection in the aerial command center. The decision to have Snake lose his left arm was made early during the development of Metal Gear Solid V, although originally he was supposed to wear a regular prosthetic rather than a bionic arm.

The game features a hidden "karma" system which causes Venom Snake's appearance to change based on the player's behaviour. Negative actions such as killing people and animals or developing nuclear weapons earn Demon Points. Earning 20,000 causes Snake's horn to grow, and reaching 50,000 makes it grow even longer, with Snake becoming permanently soaked in blood. This demonic appearance is accentuated by Snake's belt, which resembles a tail. Positive actions such as extracting animals and child soldiers, earning certain achievements, or visiting Mother Base's zoo will eventually reverse these changes, which are purely aesthetic.

Casting

In Metal Gear Solid V, Venom Snake is portrayed by Canadian actor Kiefer Sutherland through voice-over and facial motion capture, briefly appearing as the medic in Ground Zeroes and then as the player character throughout The Phantom Pain. Sutherland plays both Venom Snake and Big Boss but the official credits makes no distinction between either character, with the role simply billed as "Snake". The casting was announced by Konami on June 6, 2013, during the annual Konami Pre-E3 show. Kojima's reason for selecting Sutherland rather than Snake's usual voice actor was to "have a more subdued performance expressed through subtle facial movements and tone of voice rather than words", and that he "needed someone who could genuinely convey both the facial and vocal qualities of a man in his late 40s". Hollywood producer and director Avi Arad suggested to Kojima that Sutherland could fulfill his requirements. Akio Ōtsuka was unaffected by this casting change and continued to voice Snake in the Japanese version. On March 4, 2015, Kojima said that Snake would have less dialogue in The Phantom Pain than in previous installments, explaining that this would make Snake more an extension of the player, and that he would act based on the player's actions "rather than doing things like making spontaneous comments or flirting with women."

Naming

The character was initially introduced as "Punished Snake" in the E3 2013 trailer for Metal Gear Solid V, but this moniker would fall into disuse in favor of "Venom Snake", which is the name that was used in most of the promotional imagery and merchandising since E3 2014. Although the final game bills him as "Punished 'Venom' Snake" in the opening sequence of every mission, the codename "Punished Snake" is never spoken by anyone, while the name "Venom Snake" is only mentioned once in the actual script - otherwise the character is simply referred to as "Snake" or "Big Boss".

During the prologue sequence of the game, the player character is briefly given the name Ahab (エイハブ, Eihabu) by the medical staff protecting him in Cyprus, while the original Big Boss (whose face is covered bandages) assumes the identity of Ishmael when helping the player thwart off the enemy forces pursuing them in the hospital. These are the names of the protagonist and the narrator respectively in Moby-Dick. According to Kenji Yano, who wrote the novelization of The Phantom Pain under the pen name Hitori Nojima, these names were chosen to symbolize Big Boss handing down the role of protagonist to Venom Snake while he takes a supporting role in the story.

Reception

Asserting that Metal Gear Solid has always been a primarily metafictional series, Dave Thier of Forbes praised the game's substitution of a player-created avatar for Big Boss: "It's not ending the actual plot – lord knows how anyone would actually go about doing that – it's ending the game, and the series as well. You’ve made it through every mission, you've backtracked, perfected, gotten your S ratings and employed perfect stealth. That's it, you're Big Boss, you're Snake, You're 'you.' And you're done." Chris Carter of Destructoid said that Venom Snake made sense within the context of the series, as the games have "always dabbled in the concept of 'the legend' being stronger than the actual person", but suggested that a depiction of his death at the hands of Solid Snake (recreating the original Metal Gear from the villain's perspective) would have been a stronger ending.

Writing for PC Gamer, Samuel Roberts called the revelation of Venom Snake's identity "one perfect moment in a bad story". The reviewer elaborated: "The epilogue takes away the pillar of his identity as Big Boss, and all you're left with is every unscripted experience you've had in the battlefield, no backstory other than the one you’ve just created. The ending is about what MGSV 'the game' is ... a freeform experience shaped by your intent – and such an ending is a perfect thematic match for this game Kojima Productions has created, a true military action sandbox where few situations ever play out the same way." Roberts also noted that the twist worked on a literal level, making the medic a "tragic and unsettling" figure whose only meaningful relationship is with a woman who thinks he is someone else.

Writing for Kotaku, Jason Scherler said: "Scrutinized in a vacuum, this twist is kind of neat – turns out the 'legend' of Big Boss had always trumped the man himself – but the harder you think, the more it unravels, leading to all sorts of questions with no clear answers ... Turns out that while we thought we were experiencing Big Boss's revenge-driven evolution from noble soldier to misguided villain, we were actually watching someone else entirely, which seriously cheapens the emotional effects of Mission 43 and just about everything else you do in The Phantom Pain."

References

Venom Snake Wikipedia


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