Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Review

Post by Patrick

METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN_20150901005600

Trying to write about Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is tricky because it’s such a massive game. I love a lot of things about the game, but there are also a lot of things that bother me about it. It’s a love/hate relationship.

For those unfamiliar with the series, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is an open world, stealth action game. It’s possible to play this game without having played the previous Metal Gear games, but you’ll obviously find some parts of the story confusing. Luckily there are a lot of Youtube videos that do a decent job explaining everything someone new to the franchise would need to know.

I’ll be avoiding specific story spoilers

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I’m going to get right to it. Every Metal Gear Solid game has had their share of special moments. The Metal Gear Solid franchise is known for its cast of memorable villains and variety of interesting boss fights. MGSV isn’t very memorable in that regard. In the 65+ hours I’ve played, it had less than a handful of those moments. Gone are the cutscenes and in are the cassette tapes. Cutscenes in previous games were lengthy (especially in MGS4) but I believe cassette tapes are a step back. The game development had budget issues, so maybe this was a way to cut back and save some money? Either way, listening to cassette tapes can be annoying. One of Kojima’s inspirations for MGSV were tv shows, so credits appear before every mission revealing the cast of characters that will show up in that particular mission. So there isn’t an element of surprise when the games villain suddenly appears because you already knew he was going to be there. So story twists and narratives are kept to a minimum. A big aspect of the game is Mother Base. You can visit your base in-between missions but the problem is Mother Base is pretty horribly integrated into the game. There is no reason to go back to Mother Base except for a bunch of dumb target-practice related side-quests and to activate some cutscenes. It’s a dull place. On top of that the menus for Mother Base (where you can micromanage your troops and equipment crafting) are confusing and convoluted. Lastly (and if you follow me on Twitter this comes as no surprise) I find Quiet (a deadly sniper with paranormal powers) to be a dumb character. It’s a shame because she had the potential to be memorable. Instead Kojima designed a character purely for the sex appeal, to be eye candy. This wouldn’t necessarily be wrong, but Kojima stressed that there would be a good reason to why she was barely dressed. The reason turned out to be stupid. It doesn’t help that while you’re in the helicopter in-between missions, Quiet is in the background “stretching” and sticking her butt in your face (not joking). While in cutscenes camera angles tend to focus on her chest, so it’s hard to ignore her.

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But even with all those negatives, MGSV has a lot of positives. Previous games in the franchise were strictly stealth games, MGSV has opened that formula up a bit and you can go into a base guns blazing. Depending on your objectives some missions will punish a non-stealthy approach, you won’t automatically fail the mission, but it will make it much harder. Kojima created a great sandbox experience that features a ton of flexibility. Everyone will have a different experience based on how they play the game and on how the game reacts to their actions. For example in one mission my objective was to find a specific target and catch him before he left the mission area on helicopter. As I was doing it the first time around, I barely caught up with him before he was able to escape. When I tried the mission again, I got to the base before him and saw the helicopter crash while trying to land in-between some trees. This caused the target to hide in a tent while his guards investigated the surrounding area for enemies. Making it easy for me to sneak in behind the general and capturing him. The fact that the game has AI that can make mistakes like that and adapt to a situation like that is amazing.

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Afghanistan and Africa feature huge maps and even though they’re quite empty, they’re pretty to look at. Technically this game is a marvel. It’s locked at 60fps and runs smoothly with no framerate issues. MGSV also features the best dog side-kick I’ve ever come across in a video game. Dogs in games tend to be dumb or just unnecessary. D-Dog on the other hand is incredible. The only downside is he makes the game kind of easy. If you bring him along on missions he’ll be able to pin-point every enemy and every hostage in your surrounding area, even if they’re in a building. Quiet can make the game really easy too. She can scout a base be able to pin-point enemies as well, the difference being that she can only pinpoint the ones that are visible to her. The advantage Quiet has over D-Dog is the ability to snipe enemies. The problem is enemies start to adapt to your play-style so you can’t milk one tactic over and over again. If you snipe or use Quiet to snipe, enemies will eventually start wearing helmets and body armor. They’ll have scouts patrol areas around bases and have their own snipers looking out for you. If you do most of your missions at night, guards will start wearing night-vision goggles. You use a lot of sleeping gas and smoke grenades? They’ll start wearing gas masks. The game features a crafting system that unlocks more equipment as you recruit better soldiers for Mother Base.

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There are aspects of this game that could have been polished more and (like the story) that feel unfinished. The world, the freedom you have as a player and the amount of content in the game are aspects of this game that are just amazing. Is it the best game in the series? In terms of story, not at all, but in terms of gameplay? Definitely.

Score:


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2 comments, add your own...


  1. Bader says:

    Great review Patrick. Been a fan of MGS since PS1. Enjoyed it until PS3 MGS4. It was just too many cut scenes to be honest.

    I’ll give this a try.

    P.S. I think this part of the post needs an edit:

    “She can scout a base be able to pin-point enemies as well, the difference being that she can only pinpoint the ones that are visible to her.”

    Hope it helps

  2. aaa says:

    IMO I would give it 5 stars. I know the story is not great and really weirdly paced (2 hours upfront, but I’m at a point where I’ve played 10 hours with no “real” cutscenes) but the gameplay is so, so good. This feels like what they’ve always wanted to make an MGS game into, I know Kojima is gone but I kind of want them to use this engine for more stuff… every single MGS game up until now has been building up to this game in terms of how it plays. The only gameplay dissapointment is the boss fights which are probably the worst in the series and don’t have the crazy gimmicks of past MGS games.

    The cassette thing didn’t bother me because MGS1-3 had HUGE bits of story content hidden in the codecs. This way at least you can listen while you’re out doing a sideop or something. You could miss very important MGS3 sidestory stuff because you don’t stop every 3 steps to talk to everyone on the radio, and a lot of really funny optional stuff was also extremely easy to miss. There was unique dialog for every weapon, item, and thing you can eat in the game that I bet 10% of the playerbase saw tops.

    Seriously play MGS2 again – there are literally HOURS of heads talking, especially near the end of the game. It gets crazy.

    I do think the voice actor change was unnecessary, especially since Snake is super quiet in this one. He does a good job but I feel like he speaks so little because he was probably too busy. Instead Ocelot and Miller are just talking all the time. There’s a spoiler that explains it a bit but I dunno.

    That said Quiet is dumb as hell and I actually modded her to be wearing more clothes (I’m playing on PC).


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