I never intended on getting Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, mainly because I had never played any other Metal Gear game before and the trailers didn’t really interest me either.
That was until the reviews for the game started coming out. As of now the game has a 93 on Metacritic and big websites like Gamespot and IGN gave the game a perfect 10. Not wanting to be left out I went over to the store and picked myself up a copy to see what all the fuss was about. So what did I, someone completely new to the Metal Gear series think of the latest instalment?
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain picks up nine years after Ground Zeroes with Big Boss waking up from a coma. From there the story kicks off with Big Boss having to assemble a private military group called Diamond Dogs to stop an evil villain from destroying the world. Of course the story is a lot more complicated than that but that’s really all you need to know. The story and narrative while at times hard to follow, was very well done. The cutscenes all had a cinematic flair and the story took some pretty interesting turns as it went on. One of my problems with the story though, was that just too much of it was explained through optional audio tapes and cassettes. It kind of felt like stories and characters were just brushed aside to audio tapes instead being fully realised in cutscenes.
Unlike most other Metal Gear games, gameplay is the main draw this time around. Stealth action gameplay has never been this satisfying or fun, there’s nothing better than stealthily extracting targets from a base using a giant balloon while also using a tranquilliser gun to great effect all while remaining undetected. Except maybe running into an enemy base equipped with grenade launchers and machines guns while riding around on a mech, with “The Final Countdown” blaring from your support helicopter. Metal Gear Solid V is the epitome of sandbox gameplay, where the player decides how they want to tackle an objective. The shear amount of options when it comes to equipping yourself before an infiltration is amazing and it is all made better by the excellent A.I of the enemy.
The Fulton device is the cherry on top of the gameplay, it gives the player incentive to play stealthily and non-leathally so you can fulton out the guards, equipment and vehicles to your mother base. Mother base is where it all comes together, everything you do and extract in the main open world goes toward making your Mother base stronger which in turn gives you more goodies to play with in the main game.
There’s also a pretty cool meta-game going on, as you send out troops to attack rival bases and to recruit more soldiers, thus increasing the might of you and Diamond Dogs.
While the open world is big, it’s also bland with not much to do but infiltrate the same few enemy guard posts over and over again or collect plants and animals. You start the game in Afghanistan and later you can move on to Africa. While it is a good change of scenery, there’s nothing really that separates the two worlds gameplay wise and they feel essentially the same. Getting around in the open world is also quite a chore since you can really only travel on the main paths and roads which is hard when there are often guard posts and bases planted right in the middle of the road so you can’t just drive or ride past without alerting someone. Alternatively you can fast travel by calling the helicopter but even this takes forever since you have to wait for it to land, get on, go through the menu and pick a drop off point, and then wait for it to land again.
Metal Gear Solid V is at its best though when your playing through its main story missions with an arsenal of entirely your choice and a buddy to help you along the way, be it the half-naked Quiet or the adorable D-Dog. Pretty much every play style is accommodated here.
As you crawl through the open world, side ops begin to appear and while they’re a fun distraction at first soon they start to become repetitive as you begin doing the same fews tasks again and again.
The game itself looks amazing, it’s astonishing how the game always remains steady while looking as good as it does. The weather effects look equally great and being in a sandstorm almost feels like the real thing. The overall presentation of the game is nothing short of excellent, from the selection of 80s music and the orchestral score to the beautiful visuals and graphics.
Sure the open world itself is bland and things get repetitive during the second half of the game but overall, Metal Gear Solid V is a game I’m glad I played. Not only was the story enjoyable even from a series first timer but the game itself is polished to near perfection and the gameplay is a terrific example of how to do stealth action right.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Is A Great Game