Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Review

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Posted September 29, 2015 by Ryan Campbell in Video Games

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Developer : Kojima Productions

Publisher: Konami

Release Date: September 1, 2015

Platforms:  PlayStation 4 (reviewed), PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360,

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain gets a 10…. Are you shocked? No, because we here at WeTheNerdy are just the next in a long line of sites to give it a 10. In fact, by now you’ve read so many glowing reviews of MGSV I’m not sure what I can tell you that you haven’t already heard.

First, let me apologize for my late review, but this game is just freaking massive. There are many definitions of “massive;” it can represent the physical size of the play area in a game, the depth of playstyles and combat situations, the amount of weapons and upgrade trees at your disposal, and the sheer amount of missions all presenting varying levels of difficulty and methods. MGSV is all of these things. Every single one of them. This game is so deep and vast it can actually be intimidating to take part in. You constantly get the feeling you’re missing something; you keep seeing weapons and tools available that you simply have no interest in using, outfits and box types you just don’t have the resources to spend, and cool upgrades for buddies you don’t use.

You’ll skip and abandon enough content in this game to fill another game easily.

Then there are the mechanics. I’m a die hard Metal Gear Head; I never thought twice about Ground Zeros and played it for around 40 hours! The rock-solid mechanics in that game have been expanded dramatically. In Phantom Pain, your imagination is actually the only thing constraining you to how you want to achieve the mission goal. Wanna strap c4 to a goat and balloon it up into a helicopter? Do it. Wanna snipe everyone in the vicinity and stroll through the base while blaring 80’s rock on your tape player? Do it. When they removed”A Kojima Game” from the front of the box, they should have put “If You Can Dream it You Can Achieve it.”

One thing I couldn’t help but keep coming back to as I played through MGSV is how refined and complete it is, how well it runs and, and how stable it is. It made me see just what a team can achieve when they take their sweet time making a game. Guns of the Patriots came out in 2008, and that is a long time between installments, especially in this industry. Just look up how many Assassin’s Creed games we got in that time!

It’s a tad depressing that there are so few articles around about all the tiny details in The Phantom Pain. Don’t shower and guards and animals are drawn to you. Shoot enough guys in the head and they’ll start to wear helmets. Attack enough at night and guards will wear night vision goggles. Shoot guards through shield eye slots and they will cover them up. Shoot power lines and they can fall and electrocute guards. Fulton weapons from guard posts and when you come back guards will be talking about how they got in trouble for missing equipment. I could go on and on, and all of these things are things you can’t squeeze into a game you’re making on such strenuous time constraints!

So, would you rather have an AC game every six to eight years that is this detailed and fully envisioned, or six decent-to-good games released annually? It’s a tough choice, but I have to admire the reverence and perfectionist attitude Kojima and crew put on this franchise.

So I think I’ve driven the point home that this game is a gameplay masterpiece, but one common thread in most reviews is the story just didn’t feel very “Metal Gear Solid-y”. I can see the point there. Metal Gear is traditionally a linear experience, and while “Mission Zones” have grown over the years to be a bit more open, we’ve never seen anything like we have in MGSV. Again, it’s not a bad, just different. This represents a challenge with all open world games in general: How do you present a plethora of missions and content but guide players on a self-contained story that delivers big emotional hits at precise times? I believe Phantom Pain tip-toes the line as well as it can, and while I miss the 30+ minute cutscenes at the end of missions, Phantom Pain makes me feel more “Snake-like” than any previous entry in the series.

If Konami wanted to go with the most cliche, obvious, ham-fisted marketing possible, they could have put, “Be Snake” on the back of the box.

That all being said, the story is solid, and while it doesn’t answer as many questions as I had hoped, it is refreshing to see MGSV’s story not bogged down or warped to fit in with the rest of the saga. Stories can become too limited in the need to squeeze into too many gaps. Kojima seemed to tackle this as a contained story, only to drop crumbs here and there for us fans to gobble up.

One big point of attention leading up to release was the character Quiet. Her design turned heads, Kojima defended it, everyone had an opinion. Kojima was pretty much right about everything though. Poople love cosplaying as her, and her character is one of the high points in the game. Some of the scenes with her and Big Boss tell us just as much about Boss’s character and his mindset as it does hers’. Beyond her own story, she represents a window to see much of what Boss feels and thinks beyond the bravado he tends to put up in front of Miller and his other comrades. Many of the most emotional and beautiful scenes in the game center around her character.

The story structure has definitely been reworked and tweaked, but there was still enough Metal Gear to get me on board and excited whenever a cut scene began.

One thing I also want to touch on is Mother Base and the whole mini-game centered around it. It’s fantastic and extremely rewarding. Essentially, you are rebuilding Mother Base after the events of Ground Zeroes, which works much in the same way it did in Peace Walker; you upgrade platforms, add team members, and get materials in the field that are utilized back at base. The big twist now is that you can explore it all! I loved strolling around Mother Base seeing the fruits of my labor and exploring what new additions had been completed since last time I was there, boosting staff moral, and discovering new secrets that were hidden in the base.

After achieving a certain level you can start invading other bases and stealing soldiers and equipment. The flip side is, however, others can invade your base, so building up defenses and troops to patrol is extremely important. It’s a fabulous addition and keeps you coming back, constantly thinking about what you need when in the field or putting yourself in tough situations because you salivating over a piece of equipment you need. Something about spotting a gunship, fultoning it out, then seeing it parked back at base gives the feel that you are Boss and Mother Base is your baby.

You’ll also never look at containers sitting in a parking lot the same way again.

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As a huge Metal Gear fan, and knowing this is Kojima’s last (he’s said it before, but this seems to be it), I didn’t find myself sad or see Kojima moping in his game design. This game is too fun and amazing to be sad about! Some creators on their last game run the risk of being too retrospective. Arkham Knight was good, but the whole think had this gloomy, “Our last game” feel to it. Kojima just seemed to be like, “Nah chicken hat that would be hilarious!” The game get’s nostalgic in the end, but Kojima seemed to make this game like it wasn’t his last and wanted to just make an amazing game in his amazing series. I admire this series so much.

Metal Gear represents so many key points in my life. Playing the Metal Gear Solid demo over and over off the Playstation Underground disc and thinking, “Nothing has ever been like this.” Marathoning MGS 2 in one night and making myself sick in the process. Playing MGS 3 at a time I was growing more mature and the story of Boss just hit me at the right time. Being on my honeymoon knowing Metal Gear Solid 4 was at home just waiting for me. It seems each iteration in this series hit me at a new stage in my life. This series means a lot to me, and it will always hold a special place in my heart.

Thank you Kojima. Now ride of into that sunset with the Hollywood ending you always wanted.


About the Author

Ryan Campbell

Avid gamer from Cincinnati Ohio. Also love Star Wars and Wrestling. Big basketball fan and dabble in really every other nerd thing out there. I would rather have a Gundam then Superpowers, so there is that.