An almost perfect goodbye
Let’s face it. This isn’t the first review of the MGS5 that you are reading so there will be very little that I have to say which is different. Yes, the game is awesome, yes the story is captivating for fans and confusing for newcomers, yes the open world structure is awesome and frustrating.
For years, the series developer Hideo Kojima has said that he would move on from making Metal Gear games and MGS V is finally his last. If you were living under a rock then here is the new for you. Konami and Kojima had a falling out to the point where Kojima’s name has been removed from the box art of MGS V. But that is a story for another day. Today, we take a look at MGS V. Should you buy it? Yes! Is it for everyone! Well, read on to find out. One more thing, I will do my best not to spoil any aspect of the game but if I do, I apologise.
ONE MORE CONVOLUTED STORY
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain kicks off where Ground Zeroes left off. Big Boss is in a coma for 9 years and awakes in a hospital to find that he has lost his left arm. I wish I could tell you otherwise, but then I’d be ruining the story for you. The story from there is pretty straightforward if you want it to be. Skull Face took Big Boss down during the events of Ground Zeroes and you are out to take revenge – Period. Let’s leave it at that shall we, especially for you newcomers. For veterans of the franchise, the story is way more complicated. There are about fifty story missions and over a hundred and fifty side-ops for you to do. Some side-ops tie into the story so, I suggest you stay focused on the happenings.
What more can I say about the story without ruining it? Let’s put it this way – the cut scenes that you have seen in the trailers are a tip of the iceberg of what is on offer here. As always Kojima has taken real world themes and turned them into stories that make so much sense you may be fooled into believing them. A simple example of this is how the game deals with language being an integral part of life and it is the language you speak that defines you. Another theme is revenge, which is a little more obvious. Of course, there is a “Metal Gear” involved in the game because you need that killer boss fight in the game.
What I’m trying to say about the story may not make a whole lot of sense but trust me when I say that if I say one more thing about the story, I will spoil it for you.
One more thing that Metal Gear fans are used to is really long cutscenes. If you enjoyed them like I did then you will be very disappointed. There are cutscenes here but not as long as MGS 4. The cutscenes do a good job of stitching the story together, but it still feels disjoint. This is because you will end up backtracking and doing side missions and then come back to the story and wonder, “where was I?”. It can get a little annoying.
Overall, this is the game that fills in all the blanks that have been left in the MGS saga. In a way, it is the defining story that will tell you why Big Boss went from being this awesome hero into being a villain and you will agree. You may not like it, but you will agree!
Boy-o-boy has gameplay changed over the years for the Metal Gear Solid franchise. This time around you have a massive open world in Africa and Afghanistan to explore and the way the open world is broken up is very interesting. To begin with, you have free roaming, which means you can go anywhere you like on the map. If you stumble upon a side quest, it will begin. You are free to exit a side mission as and when you like. Free roaming is ideal if you are in the mood to kidnap soldiers and build Mother Base army and resources.
Coming to the story missions, you have a starting point that you have to reach if you are in free roaming mode or you can initiate the mission from your ACC (Air Command Centre). The way a story mission functions is a lot like Ground Zeroes. There is a fixed area in which the mission will take place and if you exit the area you automatically forfeit the mission and have to start from scratch again.
Moving on to how the game actually plays, well put simply it’s the perfect third-person shooter mixed with some smooth hand-to-hand combat and very slick stealth. You have the ability to “mark” targets so you know their location, even if they are hidden behind walls. It will always be that one soldier that you forgot to mark who will eventually spot you. Thank god for the reflex mode in the game where time slows down for a few seconds and you can cash in on the opportunity and neutralise the enemy. Did you know Hideo Kojima was originally against the idea of reflex mode? Once he saw it in action he decided it was good for the game. We indeed agree that it’s good for the game. The number of times I have saved myself from detection is a few thousand thanks to the reflex mode.
The only downside is that the controls take a bit of getting used to and when you are using the iDroid (before you ask, no Apple didn’t make it) the game still runs in the background. So if you are in the heat of battle and looking for air support, make sure you hide first.
Moving on, there are four buddies at your disposal – D-horse, D-Dog, D-Walker, and Quiet. In my opinion, D-Dog and Quiet are the best of the lot. D-Dog can sniff out literally everyone in the enemy camp so you should take him with you on rescue missions. Quiet is the best sniper cover you could ask for. Once I upgraded my bond with Quiet and D-Dog to 100%, there was no looking back.
The game, of course, finds ways to maintain a challenging level of difficulty. If you are a master of headshots, guards will start wearing helmets. Shoot them in the face and you will have full body armoured guards ready to take you down.
The only downside I have with the gameplay is that there is little to do on the map when you aren’t near an outpost. Sure, the world is big and beautiful, but there isn’t much to do here if the guards aren’t around. Also, there is no fast travel hence going from the north end of the map to the south end can be a big pain. You need to ride across the map or drive or call ACC, then get in the chopper, wait for it to take off, find the place you want to land, select it, wait for the loading screen, it’s too much effort. I really wish there was fast travel!
Moving on, the best part of the game has to be the fact that you can play the game as you like. If you like walking in guns blazing, sure you can do that. But the best way to play the game is to try to be stealthy but don’t be afraid to pull out the big guns when shit hits the fan, which it will more often than you’d expect.
Stunning! Let’s move on. But seriously, considering the fact that the game was originally designed for the PS3 and Xbox 360, it looks very beautiful on the PS4 (the version we played it on). If you have a state of the art PC, you can play the game in 4K and we think that is where it will stand out. From a blood soaked protagonist to the sexy Quiet and the animations of shooting a guard in the face – the game looks good. Also, I’m not sure, but I think Snake’s sneaking suit looks stellar. I played a good chunk of the game on a 4K OLED TV and OH MY GOD it looks good.
I was one of those that were disappointed to the verge of tears when I heard that David Hayter isn’t donning the role of Snake but after hearing Kiefer Sutherland as Snake, I was satisfied. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have preferred David. I would have but the story, the script and the fact that Snake hardly talks, it all comes together much better with Kiefer Sutherland. Also, I don’t want to ruin the story and tell you why Snake is so quiet throughout the game.
The music, sound of the weapons and every voice actor in the game is great. There is no room for complaining here.
BIG BOSS IS WATCHING YOU!
So, should you play Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain? Well if you like third-person action adventure games or if you are a lover of stealth games then yes, this game is for you. If you are a running gunning kind of guy then no the game isn’t for you. So why do I call this game almost perfect? Well to begin with I love the linear nature that earlier MGS games provided. I loved the story and the long cutscenes. I loved the fact that everything you needed to experience in the game could be achieved by simply following the path. Out here, in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain there is too much happening. I could go through the game and never encounter Quiet or certain other characters. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon a certain article online that I realised that certain story elements would happen only when you do certain things at mother base. I don’t like the fact that despite finishing the story there are certain cutscenes and plot elements that I haven’t come across simply because that wasn’t my path. This is the final saga of Big Boss and I don’t want to be left in the dark. But yet I am and I have to put in an added twenty hours over the hundred hours I have spent playing the game. And that’s my problem with Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Also, there are a few rinse and repeat side quests but that’s okay. So yes, this is the perfect send off to Big Boss, but if you ask me, my favourite metal gear game will always be MGS1 on the PS1 and MGS3 on the PS2. These two games hold the number one spot and MGS V is at a close second.
After completing MGS V, I feel like the purpose of my life has ended. I have waited for over five years for this game and playing my heart out was a sad experience. I didn’t want it to end, I wanted to keep going. I wanted to hear Kojima announce that this is his last MGS game knowing the fact that another game is just around the corner. And by just around the corner I mean five years (ever since MGS2 on the PS2 Kojima had announced his last Metal Gear game). The MGS franchise is as old as me. The first MGS game arrived in 1986, the year I was born and I was fortunate enough to play MGS on the NES before moving on to MGS on the PS1 and so on. It’s the end of an era for me too. No, not an era, it’s the end of a bond that defined video games for me. Nonetheless, I’d recommend everyone to give the opening sequence of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain a spin even if they aren’t interested in the franchise. It’s the best sequence in video games since sliced bread.
Skoar: 140.15 (only an MGS fan will get it)
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Sameer "Psycho Mantis" Mitha
I live for gaming and technology is my muse. When I am not busy playing with gadgets or video games I delve into the world of fantasy novels.