Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Review Overview
+ The best action and stealth gameplay in the series
+ Play any way you wish
- The story is lacking in some ways that fans didn't expect
- No real ending to the saga
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain INFORMATION
Release Date: September 1st, 2015
Developer/Publisher: Konami Productions/Konami
After playing every one of Hideo Kojima's Metal Gear Solid games, beginning with the PS One original, the game that is considered a favorite of all-time by many, the hype for The Phantom Pain was high. The fact that this would also be Hideo Kojima's last turn with the franchise also sent expectations beyond fair. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain had no way to meet these lofty expectations, with everything to lose, but somehow Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain meets and in many ways exceeds most fans' and critics' conjecture.
Metal Gear Solid V Review Story - The Phantom Pain's Non-Story is a Non-Story
While the stories in MGS have always been slightly (at best) convoluted, fans of the series have come to expect that. Most of the criticisms of this game have stemmed from the fact that Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain veers from this. Part of the complaints deal with, in comparison to previous entries, Metal Gear Solid V's scant story. While it is essentially a story of revenge, there are nuggets, new and old, that drive it. This is the story of Naked Snake's transformation to Big Boss, an antagonist of previous games (set after these events), motivations which have been building over the past two games (Snake Eater and Peace Walker). There are still the convoluted plot devices and slight self-righteousness when trying to make a point bigger than that of the game, but the essence of Metal Gear is still there, albeit in less quantities. Wasn't an argument of past games that the story was indeed too far-fetched with overlong cut scenes? Now that this has been remedied it's not meeting expectations? In my opinion it's just the right balance, and while some story content and character development is hidden away on cassette tapes (acquired throughout the game), if you want more, you can get it, but it isn't necessary.
Technical - Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Review
Despite Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain being developed for the last generation and current generation consoles alike, MGS V is stunning. The word, "clean" is heard when describing technical prowess and it applies here, especially on the PlayStation 4. The graphics aren't the best on the system in terms of style, color-palette or even character models, but what MGS V does well is textures and lighting. These traits are especially important considering the stealth based gameplay; blending into the environment with camouflage and sneaking into the shadows at night. And with such big environments to traverse and enemies lurking, being able to see, anywhere, clearly, identifying and planning your route becomes so important. This won't be a game that is put on a pedestal for the best graphics of the generation, but they are so functional that Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain standing the test of time may stand on a pedestal all its own.
Music - Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Review
The Metal Gear Solid series has always had that Tony Scott action film-like score, and that continues here in The Phantom Pain. Metal Gear Solid V makes another interesting addition to their score; original pieces. Popular songs of the area can be found throughout the game on cassette tapes. These cassette tapes can be played when Snake chooses to whip out the old cassette player or on the Helicopter from mission to mission. Cool enough, you can choose a song to play as the helicopter drops you off and picks you up (it's cliché, but how cool is it to have Flight of the Valkyries blasting as you drop into a hot zone).
There also is a particular scene near the beginning of the game that so excellent sets the mood. It's a remake of a classic David Bowie and it just fits the scene, the series and Director Hideo Kojima excellently. There are a couple of similar moments throughout the game that remind you of the time and why the series is so profound.
Metal Gear Solid V Review Gameplay - What's not to like?
There has never been a smoother, more varied approach to an action game. Stealth has been the series' calling card, and it's ever-present in The Phantom Pain, but it is in no way exclusive. You can play this game in literally any way you can think of; load up with armor and weapons, while calling in air strikes, or go stealth with sneaky infiltration, hand to hand combat and silencers only. Sometimes you try one, it all goes to hell and you've switched tactics mid-mission in order to pull it out. Older Metal Gear Solid games punished users for losing stealth and made completing a section nigh impossible, in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, there is no right or wrong way. In fact, even how you approach a compound, the primary infiltration target, can be done from basically anywhere. Another aspect that makes going about infiltrating is that the controls are nearly flawless. Snake can be manipulated in about any fashion, with climbing obstacles not detracting from the normal running and traversal. Snake naturally hugs walls, can duck, go prone, walk, crouch, crawl, all easily implemented. The shooting mechanics are solid, the hand to hand combat is a welcome, useful tool and popping in and out of vehicles is literally the accomplished at the press of a button. Everything just feels satisfying.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Review Roundup - Does it End Here?
With the news that director Hideo Kojima is out at Konami, and considering he's created, nurtured and seen this series through six console generations, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is a fitting end to one of the best game series ever created. If the series does continue without Kojima it's hard to imagine a way to improve upon any aspect that's been presented here.