Real Talk By: The AX
Notice: There will be no spoilers in this review.
This is because after plunging roughly 35-40 hours into Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (PS4, PS3, XO, X360, PC) and completing the main story, I still have no idea what happened. I should have expected nothing less from a Metal Gear Solid game, as the overall story of the franchise is confusing on many levels and convoluted to the point where reading Wikipedia summaries of the chapters help to set me straight. None of this matters though because MGSV personifies the saying “ignorance is bliss;” I seldom knew what I was doing or why I was on most missions, but I knew how to complete the tasks at hand and could do so in the way of my choosing. Current findings are that this is due to the game missing a crucial third chapter, but let MGSV be a lesson (now exemplified in many early access titles) to all games: works of awe can be achieved without finalizing your product.
That’s not to say that MGSV isn’t polished. In fact, it is arguably the most gorgeous game I have played to date. An abundance of love and passion was poured into this experience and it is notable on many levels. The attention to detail is obvious in aspects like the banter between soldiers when Boss isn’t listening and the fact that you start to smell if you haven’t taken a shower. Metal Gear Solid 5 truly is a marvel of what video games have the ability to accomplish and demonstrates how the inherent greed of some publishers can hold developers back from realizing their true potential. Not that Kojima cared about the disagreements he had with Konami; it’s incredible that an unfinished game with no story DLC planned can be as good as it is.
The Phantom Pain plays a lot more like a modern third-person shooter than it does any of the previous entries in the Metal Gear Saga (except for Peace Walker) and with the new control style comes a new way to play. No longer are we forced to stick to the shadows if we don’t want to. The controls along with the standard difficulty level allow for multiple ways to carry out missions. Stealth is almost always the easiest option, but sometimes you want to try out that new gun that you have saved up enough resources and money to research. TPP has a rich and deep inventory system which consists of material resources, money, and staffing. Using these three together and in different ways can allow you to buy/upgrade your gear, build more housing for your staff, or even buy outfits for your buddies. Hours upon hours were spent doing side missions just so I could collect more resources and recruit more skilled soldiers for my Diamond Dogs. TPP is one of very few games where the side missions I found to be as entertaining as the main quests.
The main story of the game was enthralling as always, but left a lot to be desired. Again, this is largely due to the now common knowledge that 1/3 of the game was scrapped in order for the game to be released on schedule and bring about a finite end to the Kojima/Konami era. That being said, while the game does not bridge the gap between Peace Walker and Metal Gear and bring the overall Metal Gear Saga to a close, some story arcs were tied up very nicely and some cliffhangers are better off left to our imagination.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is a modern work of art. There may be some cheese here and there, and some otherwise unnecessary additions (Quiet’s physique), the package is completely worth the $60 investment, even with extremely limited online functionality at this point. With Metal Gear Online on the horizon (releasing October 6th, for those who are curious), TPP will give you plenty to do until you can stealth kill your friends online. Here’s to you, Hideo. The world has collectively tipped our hats to you. And may all raise the proverbial middle finger to the monsters that are Konami, lest they reach an agreement with Kojima to complete the 3rd episode of the game.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Gets
4.5 Out of 5
+Polished Gameplay Mechanics
-Missing Story Elements