One day while fiddling around in a character creation screen, I realized something important: I like playing as a female when I get to choose. Take whatever you want from that, but ever since I stopped attempting to put my ugly mug into a game and embraced my inner femininity, I am now happy to play as a girl. So when the “create your avatar” screen popped up in the very beginning of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain – Tactical Espionage Operations; A Hideo Kojima Game Directed & Produced by Hideo Kojima, I couldn’t bring myself to care about what this avatar looked like. Epic trolling on the developer’s part since you don’t play as that character after you design them.
But then something interesting happens later on in MGSV:TPP-TEOaHKGD&PbHK, as you find out you actually can put people you recruit into the field, not only to play the side-ops missions, but full story missions too. Now, you don’t get to see this character in the cutscenes, you are still Snake in the cutscenes (I don’t expect them to pre-render thousands of characters just for this sake), but the prospect of playing as Not-Snake is not only fun, but beneficial to your character as it raises his/her stats. That’s right, his OR her stats. Because sometimes women get recruited to your base, and if you put them in the Combat Unit Staff, you can then play as them. One of the earliest recruits you get is “Amber Fox”, a blonde woman with a crew cut and a foxhound tattoo on her face. So, essentially she’s some sort of combination of Faith from Mirror’s Edge (tattoo-wise) and Jean Seberg from some pretentious french films you’ll never watch.
What started as just one mission, taking this character out in the field for funsies, quickly became the default character I use for almost all missions. 10 more story missions in and as far as I’m concerned, Amber Fox IS the main character at this point. Everyone calls her “boss” at mother base, the main characters call you boss on the walkie, it all checks out. The boss can be whomever you want to be and for me, it’s her. I have come to embrace everything about her, and the subtleties she expresses even lead me to create my own narrative for her.
For one, when she stops running, she sounds like an overweight smoker who started at age 12 trying to catch her breath after a brisk jog. So, she avoids sprinting when on-mission. With a tattoo on her face, permanent scowl, and a fairly menacing demeanor when interrogating soldiers, she’s more ruthless out on the field than Snake. She attempts to be stealthy, but one bad trip up and it’s murder-spree time for Ms Fox. What does she do with guards in her grapple? Execution. The only people she can manage to fulton extract after these bouts of carnage the enemies where it’s simply more convenient to punch them than shoot. Then Quiet joins the fold and all bets are off as we both take point on opposite ends of the base and have sniping competitions with our silenced bolt-action sniper rifles. Amber would make sense as a sniper too, because of the aforementioned ruthlessness and lack of affinity for running.
My teams is now effectively “Teen Girl Squad!” now that I have two more female recruits. Amber Fox is the leader with Quiet as her number two. Laughing Wallaby shows up after a rescue and serves as my prisoner/soldier extraction specialist. Spitting Phoenix also joins the fold later as the demolitions expert. What game am I playing again? METAL GEAR? Excuse me, I’ve already forgotten because I’m too busy playing all the missions and ops with my all-girl strike team and ignoring the plot that really doesn’t seem to be interested in showing its face anyway.
Not sure what I’m actually trying to prove here. I guess this whole thing just goes to show how much freedom The Phantom Pain really gives you. This game is really giving you a “play it your way” feel that most eastern games shy away from, and that’s really important. It’s important for the Japanese gaming market, for Hideo Kojima as a developer, and the industry overall that we acknowledge how much impact the focus on player choice truly has.
~~And yes, Amber Fox does sound like a porn star name. Because it is.~~