Paul Barclay

Review of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

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Where to begin with Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. It is almost a game that defies reviewing, due to it’s sheer size and amount of detail. It is filled with ideas and mechanics that have not really been done before. It attempts to transcend the boundaries of being “just a game”. Does it achieve?

Following on from the previous game, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, The Phantom Pain is a very different experience to the Metal Gear games of the past. While previous instalments in the franchise may have focused too heavily on cut scenes (MGS4) or totally nonsensical stories (MGS2), The Phantom Pain is very simple. Your character, Big Boss, is attempting to rebuild his army, The Diamond Dogs while finding out who betrayed him 8 years ago. In terms of story, that is pretty much all you get. It is a very different approach to the overly cinematic entries in the franchise previously.

In terms of gameplay, this is an open world game. You are given a list of missions to choose from, either story based or side ops and have almost free reign on how you attempt these missions and it what order. Stealth is still the best way to achieve your aims, but if you wish to go into an enemy outpost all guns blazing, it can be done. Just be prepared for the mission to be harder. On more than one occasion, I cleared an enemy base of all soldiers, before realising that I maybe should have interrogated one of them to find my target. Oh well, reload a checkpoint and go again. Unlike most modern games, Phantom Pain doesn’t really hold your hand through it. You are given an objective and that is it. How you achieve that objective is entirely up to you.

This does not include all the extra bits within the game as well, such as finding treasure, rescuing animals/hostages and the main one, rebuilding your base, Mother Base. This is your main aim, outside of the storyline missions. You recruit soldiers to various departments on your base, based on their abilities. You can expand your base so that you have more staff and this is vital if you want better equipment.

It is hard say much more about The Phantom Pain without giving much away. There is not much storyline, but enough that you would not want it spoiled. Where you stand on it and it’s conclusion is down to your own feelings. I have always been on the fence with MGS games. I either love them or hate them. I often feel they are pretentious and have an enormous sense of their own self worth. The Phantom Pain does not do this. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t perfect. Whether you mention the lack of story, the at times juvenile humour or the incredibly unnecessary sexualisation of female character Quiet, you can’t deny that this game is an astounding technical achievement and plays incredibly well. However, it doesn’t feel like a MGS game. For me that isn’t a problem. For others, it is a deal breaker.

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