Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Review – Why it Worked, Why it Didn’t

This serves as my game review for the Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain game.

Don’t get me wrong, like the many rave reviews for the MGSV I too, loved the game experience, but the truth is the game left me wanting more.

Phantom Pain


What I Liked


The Phantom Pain finally made the transition to open-world genre. As with what we experienced in Snake Eater (which had a pseudo open-world vibe), Konami and Kojima have finally made that transition to open-world genre. The two maps (Afghanistan and Africa) were vast and posed different terrains and challenges for the gamer. Strategic outposts and patrolling foot-soldiers only added to the challenge. The side-missions and mission proper were neatly laid-out though, in my opinion lacked substance (more on that later).

The game also started off with a daring rescue of Big Boss (Punished Snake), which made an awesome opening sequence especially when Big Boss was that weak coming out of a coma from the Ground Zeroes game.

prologue

Another plus was the buddy system setup by the game. Several buddies were made available to the player with their own unique abilities to help you survive and accomplish your missions, for example D-Dog helps determine where certain enemy soldiers were placed within the immediate area, Quiet provides cover fire, and D-Horse could help as a means for transportation or distraction depending on how you use D-Horse.

buddies

The Fulton extraction and building of your Mother Base also adds another layer to the gaming experience by looking for skilled soldiers to help you develop your weapons and tools, which gives the player the added incentive of knocking out enemy soldiers as compared to outright killing them.

mother base

The game also added to the mythology of the whole Metal Gear Solid universe, as it gave us a glimpse into the life of Big Boss and the inception of the Diamond Dogs and probably Fox. It also gave us an early look into the relationship of Big Boss, Master Miller and Revolver “Shalashaka” Ocelot building on previous Metal Gear titles.

Another thing that I loved about this game was the whole stealth mechanics and the idea of escalation or how the A.I. reacts to/learns from the player. With stealth mechanics, players are left to decide on their course of action (C.O.A.). Take for example, the game has a faster in-game 24 hour period where you could decide to attack or infiltrate an enemy base or commence your mission during daytime or nighttime, once you decide when to attack the A.I. takes that into consideration along with the procedure of how you attack. If you prefer taking headshots, the game will react accordingly and an increase of soldiers wearing helmets will appear, if you target the body expect padding and armor to appear, if you attack at nighttime expect more guards carrying flashlights. In short, the game learns from your preference and adapts accordingly, thus creating a more challenging experience.


What I Didn’t Like


First thing that comes to mind when a person mentions Metal Gear is the outstanding story and the corresponding cut-scenes. Unfortunately Phantom Pain did not deliver on both. Sure, there were cut-scenes, but were dialogue and exposition heavy, and neither paled in comparison to how sharp the dialogues were in previous games.

Story-wise, players were left wanting more. The preview of Chapter 2 for the game didn’t do favors otherwise, leaving players to ponder on what could have been had the game and story been fleshed-out. Overall, I felt like the whole story took a backseat to the open-world genre and never gave us the same experience as that of the previous titles in the Metal Gear Series.

Skull face

Having said that, the recent drama between Kojima and Konami come to mind. Had Konami cut the whole game short leaving Kojima accomplishing only part of the epic game? Or could this have been the final straw for Kojima to finally decide and pack-up his bags?

Additionally, questions surround the whole Metal Gear franchise if it could continue since Kojima left Konami.

skull snipers
Snake vs. 4 Snipers!

Lastly, the highlight of every MGS game is often the memorable boss battles. If you remember that epic sniper battle with The End in Snake Eater, then you’d enjoy the sniper battle with Quiet, and 4 skulls, respectively. But aside from that, there is really no other memorable boss battle. Furthermore, there are fewer boss battles here, and unfortunately they are very ho-hum. While challenging and all, the bosses were simply bland. Skull Face, the main antagonist here, also suffered from poor character development.  For the entire game you are chided to recruit soldiers to fight for Mother Base to battle against Cipher and Skull Face, and yet there was really no pay-off whatsoever.

true ending

And the tiniest detail that really irked me was that they chose Kiefer Sutherland over David Hayter. Hayter is definitely the better choice as the voice actor for Snake.

(Side note, this could be very well be in Konami/Kojima’s plan all along to subtly tell players that there are two versions of Big Boss even before accomplishing the final mission of the game.)


OVERALL: 8.5/10

As much as it pains me to give this score, being a Metal Gear Solid game, Phantom Pain failed to deliver a story that would be comparable to the entire franchise. Sure, it provided a lot of freedom for gamers and superb game play, but the heart of the whole franchise, the story, was lacking and dull coupled with that twist at the end.


Gino is the Gladiators’ resident TV and comic book reviewer. He is a lawyer in the making at day and full on geek by night. He believes that the lightsaber is the best weapon during a zombie apocalypse. And he can make a mean impersonation of Snake grunting. #AgeOfTheGeek

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