Reviewed by Mason Manuel
“Sun will soon be setting.” I smiled to myself. This was the announcement I had been waiting for from my nifty little iDroid gadget. Ahead of me lay a base with some very yummy resources ripe for the taking if I could pull it off. The problem? I needed to do it stealthily or else I would be swarmed by a gang of Russian soldiers. Luckily I had come prepared. Unbeknownst to the Russians, my sniper buddy Quiet had been marking each and every one of them from an undetectable location, letting me know which paths I could take to enter undetected. I also had in my arsenal a silenced sniper tranquilizer rifle that I swiftly used to knock out the guards manning the perimeter search lights. Seeing the coast as clear, I quietly entered the camp undetected. Most of the best stuff is hidden in the center of the camp so I slowly made my way there, grabbing little bits of ammo and resources along the way. Amazingly, I got to the center building without a hitch, and found a valuable blueprint inside that I could task my R&D team with creating so that I could take it out into the field as soon as possible. Just when I was feeling like a badass and sauntered out of the building… everything went to hell. Despite Quiet marking all of the soldiers with giant red triangles over their head, I had somehow missed a pair that had been patrolling the base. Thanks to a new “reflex mode” which allows the player to go into slow motion and fire a quick shot into an enemy’s head to keep from being detected, I would normally be able to take care of these two no problem with my silenced Riot SMG that I also had equipped, but not this time. Due to my previous infiltrations in other bases, the AI got the hint of how I usually hit bases and equipped the soldiers with annoying upgrades like riot gear and helmets to keep me from one shotting enemies to keep them quiet. I was not equipped with a silenced weapon that could take care of them both and had no choice but to pull out my very powerful, but very LOUD assault rifle. The punishment was nearly instantaneous. Although I eventually took care of the well-armed pair in front of me, others were already on their way. With bullets already flying around me, I decided the time for subtlety was gone. Giving Quiet the order to take out any enemy she could, I quickly called in y support helicopter to provide… well, support. The other resources would have to be grabbed another time, I needed to get out of there, otherwise all of the progress I had so meticulously planned would be for naught. I ordered the chopper to land so I could escape. Despite being hit a number of times, I reached the chopper and used the on board turret to take out the opposition trying to shoot down my VERY expensive chopper. Finally we got to a safe distance and I could breathe again. All in all it was a very trying experience but it was one that would be normal in video games if not for one simple thing. None of what had just happened was scripted in any way. I was the maker of my own destiny… and it felt damn good.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is something of a revelation in today’s world of video games. Where other games hold your hand from day one to teach you the mechanics, MGS makes sure to throw you into the fire with your “tutorial” being an intense escape sequence from a hospital. This can all be a bit fast for more casual players, and while some may be put off by the game’s forward nature, those who can stick with it are rewarded. You play as Big Boss, the precursor to the solider that Solid and Liquid Snake become so well known for much later (if you are familiar with the series). Big Boss is meant to be the ultimate fighter with a mind that can think its’ way out of any tight situation. That’s good, because you are going to be placed into an ungodly amount of rough spots, and you will only escape with your tough fighting skills and your ability to imaginatively use your immense arsenal of wacky gadgets. There are decoy devices, a number of prosthetic arms with a variety of abilities, annnnnnnnd the classic cardboard box (either you get it or you don’t, either way it’s damn handy if you know how to use it (that’s what she said)). Most notable is the Fulton device, which is used to parachute (or teleport depending on how much you upgrade it) out enemy soldiers, animals, and resources as I previously discussed in my adventure. All of these items are fun to experiment with and can be immensely powerful if you can learn how to use them strategically. That can be said for the entire game. Learn how the systems work and you can become a juggernaut of unstoppable force. Try to run and gun your way into every situation and you will be eaten alive. The game forces you to learn, and more importantly adapt.
In my close to 60 hour play through (dear God, I could’ve learned the beginning principles of a new language with that time) I found an unfathomable depth of content, from secret materials I could use to upgrade my arsenal to hidden missions that only reward those brave enough to explore. The systems of the game itself have hidden uses that can only be found through deep exploration. The explorable areas of Afghanistan and Africa are massive, if somewhat repetitive as far as the geography goes. There are a vast amount of side missions that will easily keep you busy for hours on end and the story missions are littered with fun objectives and beautiful cut scenes. Unfortunately, although the cut scenes and dialogue are fun the story is lacking any real depth. In fact nothing much really happens at all in the story until the very end. This leaves a feeling of whiplash especially for long time fans of the series. The MGS universe is deep and detailed, almost overtly so, therefore this lack of narrative is jarring.
This latest addition to the Metal Gear series is rich and detailed, but dammit I want more. More story, more gameplay, more funny posters for my box. Luckily, the recent addition of the (so far) fun multiplayer in Metal Gear Online will allow fans more time to spend in the already enormous game. There is tons of potential in this world but it will only reveal itself to you if you actively try to dig deeper into the world. That is a standard of gaming that has not been demanded since the Super Nintendo days and it being back feels right. RDR gives Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain a 9.2 out of 10.
(P.S. To see more MGS:V Let’s Plays from yours truly, click here ;b)