'The Phantom Pain' Conspiracy. Metal Gear Solid V All But Confirmed In Trailer And PR Analysis

Without a doubt, this has to be some of the greatest viral marketing I have seen this year, as 'Joakim N. Mogren' has been slowly leaking details to the public about The Phantom Pain: a game unveiled at the VGAs, which bares a striking resemblence to a certain Kojima's Metal Gear universe.

While I don't make it a habit to report on speculation, there is no doubt that this game is not what it claims to be.  With the equivalent of a conspiracy theorist's wet dream underneath the vast layers of complexities in both the trailer and this viral PR strategy, you can't help but glance an analytical eye over everything that has occurred over the last 48 hours.

So that's exactly what I did.  And while it may not be QWOP 2, the game illustrated in this particularly hilarious GIF to the left of this text, it's certainly something to get excited about.

Trailer Analysis

Starting off at the beginning, the doctor figure who begins to tell you of your coma is certainly familiar!  Anyone who has played Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake will remember a particular Dr. Kio Marv, the Czech scientist who created oil producing bacteria OILIX.  While I may be mighty presumptuous for making this connection, there's no denying the eerily similar looks, and the strong Eastern European accent adds to this.

The car crash we see early on in the trailer.  Didn't we see this being captured by someone in the past?  Official Playstation Magazine UK archived the images of a motion capture session that Hideo Kojima was tweeting from, showing them utilising surgical tools (the table that was capsized by our protagonist as he tried to stabilise himself?), wire work (the explosion towards the end of the trailer) and recreating a car crash.

As you wake up, you notice white flower petals fluttering through the air, echoing the final battle between Naked Snake and The Boss in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.  Could this be Big Boss we are playing as?  Possibly. The Union Jack seen from our hospital bed POV could either represent location (but not really, I'll go into that later) or symbolise Liquid Snake's previous action in The Gulf War, as a member of the S.A.S.

The quote "you've been in a coma for quite some time" lends great importance in the Metal Gear Solid timeline also.  Big Boss fell into a coma from battle in 1972, after Snake Eater but before Peace Walker, and it was at this time that Zero extracted his genes to work on the Les Enfants Terribles project: forming Solid Snake, Liquid Snake and Solidus Snake.  

Still doesn't explain the whole 'not having an arm' thing...then again seeing petals while lying in a hospital bed would be weird too, posing another possible concept: that this is all a dream in his comatose state.  Symbols of your past appearing in front of your eyes is one of the documented thought processes of dreams, and comas especially.  And the arm could either be a plot point of the 'gene extraction' yet to be filled, or a dream-like foreshadowing of Liquid's arm being transplanted onto Ocelot.

Or in a third option, this could be happening within a series of hallucinations brought on by a character equivalent to Psycho Mantis...which would explain the shadowed character by the elevator early on in the trailer, and the floating character you barely notice in the final scene.  As it's Kojima we're talking about, my bet would be on this option.

The next key point would be the man with his face completely covered in bandages.  For this, I ask you to think back a few months to the Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes trailer.  I've put it below.

Two items to take from this: the man with the burned face and the quote "From 'FOX,' two phantoms were born."  Now these could be a subtle link between two characters, or this could be that actual character.  And where the quote is concerned, this has multiple meanings. 'FOX' is the name of the game engine used by Kojima Productions, identifying both itself and The Phantom Pain as two games (or Phantoms in this aspect), while also pulling the plot along, referring to the Twin Snakes project.

Could these be the Twin Snakes that started it all?

Add to this the appearance of Volgin (walking through the fire with near-identical leg armour), a Raiden look-alike (or Meryl, both are so feminine), the flaming horse symbolising The Boss' steed from MGS3, and then we come across a giant flaming whale of death, which eats a Helicopter.  No prizes for what this refers to, both in fake video game company name and literary works, this is of course a nod towards Moby Dick. 

For those uninitiated with the story, sailor Ishmael embarks on a voyage with Captain Ahab, who seeks to capture the sperm whale known as Moby Dick.  Through this battle, the whale destroys the boat and bites Ahab's leg off, which drives him to revenge.  While this could tie into the loss of a limb for our protagonist, I'd see this as rather flimsy.  

That was until I looked further into the symbolic nature the story: "The book portrays destructive obsession and monomania, as well as the assumption of anthropomorphism—projecting human instincts, characteristics and motivations onto animals."  

Monomania is a form of partial insanity that seems indivisible from both your seemingly sane conscious mind and the unconscious.  Understandably, this is a very basic explanation of the condition; but this plays into Big Boss' state of confusion throughout this trailer.  All you have to do is read the text presented on every screencut to get the picture of someone who isn't exactly mentally stable: "What Happened? / Where Am I? / Why Can't I move my body? / Am I in a dream? / Is this real? / Something is coming! / What is going on? / Do they want me dead? / What are they after? / Do they want us all dead? / Why is this happening to me? / No escape? / Have I gone to hell? / Open your eyes / Open your eyes already."

Anthropomorphism, or more well known as personification, is the personifying of something that isn't human: attributing qualities of a person to an animal or object.  This is just code-name Snake all over, and if this relation is deliberate, then I seriously admire this immense attention to detail.

Taking the physical details of Snake when he's kicked over by the guard in the final scene, a scar exists under his right eye, the mullet and bandana all but confirm this is, in fact, everyone's favourite character.

Then, of course, the title.  With some petruding straight lines at particular angles, map some letters onto it and you can literally spell the title 'Metal Gear Solid V.'  While this would solve the entire argument for anyone, I have to admit the whole conspiracy theory angle is really enjoyable.

Which brings me onto...

The PR

This seemingly original IP was presented by a 'Moby Dick Studios,' whose website is merely 6 days old, at a worldwide televised games award ceremony.  Somehow, something doesn't really stick true, especially if you go into further details.  The studio's CEO goes by the name of "Joakim N. Mogren:" forename an anagram of "Kojima," and surname includes the word "ogre" as in Hideo's much touted "Project Ogre," which many believe to be a new Metal Gear.  I'd also say his 'deceptive' display picture also hints that it could quite possibly be Kojima...

Moby Dick Studios Twitter account (recently deleted) constantly quoted lines from The Colonel in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, as you can see below.


While this all may not be so subtle, it has made for an extremely enjoyable night on social media for anybody with a hint of interest in video games.

All that has been found leads to one of two options in my mind.  Either this is a further promotion for Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes, Kojima has already trolled us extremely hard over the last two days, and some of the theories might be a little thin on the ground, so this could be possible.  Or this is, in fact, a trailer for Metal Gear Solid V, and the subtitle could be The Phantom Pain.

Or their actually is a Joakim N. Mogren of Moby Dick Studios, which is sort of unlikely...

Further Developments

Two videos have been tweeted by Kojima's alter-ego account:

In-case you didnt catch the text on these, the first reads "let it all end," and the second "the pain lives."  The first could mean this is a possible completion to the Metal Gear Solid saga: Hideo has expressed on multiple occasions that he would like to diversify from the adventures of Solid Snake, and ending it with some so visually diverse as this would be a way to go.  And the second could refer to "The Pain;" but I can't see a character like that returning, as he was killed rather ceremoniously.  Plus this could refer more to the phantom pain of a prosthetic arm?  I'll return with more findings.

Jason England