Published on September 14th, 2015 | by Michaela Buckley0
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
2015’s biggest game got off to a rocky start, with the endless Konami drama and the controversy with microtransactions, game director Hideo Kojima leaving and the terrible work conditions for Konami staff, a lot of Metal Gear fans are even boycotting the game due to the situation.
The biggest question on everyone’s mind was is it good? Early reviews said so, but were also suspiciously written, the fact that reviewers weren’t allowed to progress past a certain point and other details came to light and made the game look even more dodgy. This review is SPOILER-FREE.
Thankfully The Phantom Pain is a great game, but still a very disappointing one.
Following the “game” Ground Zeroes, Snake has discovered that US intelligence and military unit Cipher is on his case and kicking up fuss with close friends of his, The Phantom Pain opens with newly monikered Punished “Venom” Snake waking in a hospital 9 years later and discovering he has lost his forearm and a large piece of shrapnel is stuck in his head. Soon enough Cipher begin a large assault on the hospital and Snake escapes to form another nation like MSF, this time called – Diamond Dogs.
Henceforth the game consists of base management and story and side-missions, of which roughly every other mission in that are story-based actually contain story. In order to progress in the story, a certain number of the side missions also needed to be completed.
The Phantom Pain is the first Metal Gear game that has an open-world, although not as large as other games of recent memory, the large number of missions and filler make the world feel a larger and bigger part of the game.
Missions usually take place within a small area on the map, but the occasional task deviates to another area.
Snake and the base are very customisable, pretty much everything costs money or resources and to truly max out the game could take nearly a hundred hours. The base can be developed, adding room for more soldiers that can be used to go on both main missions and their own missions to get more stuff for the base, it’s a cycle where at the end, weapons and items can be developed.
The combat system and general controls are extremely tight, finally this is a Metal Gear game where you truly feel like you can play as you like. The biggest system in place is the intial ‘alert’ phase as when you are spotted, time will slow down enough for you to take out the person that saw you before they can raise the alarm.
This is not an easy game, some missions will take several retries, in my case, nearly a dozen. The main difficulty is the number of soldiers that are placed in a stronghold during missions, their unknowable cone of vision twinned with their placement being of varying levels in height makes it very tricky to navigate without being caught or at least arousing suspicion.
The opening is where a lot of people will probably be most polarised, a cutscene-heavy interactive experience that I would consider one of the strongest parts of the game, there are virtually no more scenes like this in the game and in fact, there are barely any meaningful cutscenes, instead opting to use cassette tapes to tell the story, most of which, again, are optional. That’s one of the main problems with this game, complete lack of story, almost as if Hideo Kojima was determined to make a Metal Gear lacking so much story it gives puzzle games a run for their money. The story that is there is rather good, however the the character development for certain people is thin at best, and awful at worst, take for instance most of Quiet and her story (this isn’t even including a certain dreadful scene with her towards the end – and no, not the puddle scene).
It’s easy to see that Konami’s recent behaviour had an effect on how the game was made, from the infuriating change of voice actor to the lack of real cutscenes (or even an ending) to the game’s narrative, it seems it was a development plagued with middle management. The resulting game’s popularity has mostly been very positive but your opinion on it will vary based on what you play Metal Gear games for. I have the most fun with the complex and engaging story as well as how the game is full of lots of unique and wonderful innovative ideas and easter eggs.
Hideo Kojima has pulled through with a surprisingly good game despite sanctions from Konami, sure there are a few missing hallmarks found in usual Metal Gear games, but the end product almost makes the series a good note to end on, but not quite.