I must admit I have not played the previous Metal Gear titles, I have touched a controller while one was running but that was for no more than 10 minutes. The series didn't seem to fit me and I didn't really give it a thought one way or the other. Then I grew up, and here I am today, or more so there I was three days ago looking over the steam page and instantly bought it. Why? Because it was so compelling to me. This "Informative review" is to help you decide if it's for you as well.
Full disclosure: I really like this game so far. I will try to remain as objective as possible, but there may or may not be a tad bit of bias.
Plot (no spoilers - of course)
Metal Gear Solid V: The phantom pain is a direct continuance from the events of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zero. In order to keep this spoiler free I will not state what those events were. To say direct continuance may be a bit misleading seeing as the game actually happens 9 years after the events of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zero. At the start of Phantom pain you wake up as "Big Boss" who has been in a coma for 9 years. It's not long from the moment you wake up to the moment that the hospital in which you woke up is attacked by unknown individuals. These individuals want you dead and that's all you know. The story is that is that of revenge. It takes place in Afghanistan during the Afgan-Soviet war. "Big Boss" code name "Punished Snake" or "Venom Snake" meets his rival Ocelot during early hours of the game. An assassin with supernatural abilities is involved and Punished Snake must hunt down and exact his revenge, for what? I won't tell because that would spoil.
My notes: I never played Ground Zero, I highly recommend that you do because as you may be able to tell from the excerpt above, I barely understand what the heck is going on. It may be a bit to steep for some to spend 20$ extra on a short game that lays down the groundwork for the story of this one. Honestly it's not required, I love the game just because of gameplay. But non the less for those who love and want the story above all else. I apologize for this bit of the review for seemingly being poorly written. But I blame that a bit on the complicated nature of the game's dialogue and story.
How it looks and sounds
The game I will have to admit looks a tad bit dated. Don't get me wrong. It's a great looking game no doubt. And there's nothing that really bothers me at all that much. It just feels like it could have been more.
Afghanistan and Mid-Africa are the two locations that will be mainly featured in the game. Both look absolutely astonishing. The texture quality is good for a 3rd person open-world game, even surprisingly good. Both locations have the bad luck of being quite barren and this led me at one point to drop the game for the night because it was just getting to be too much of the same. But for the most part the world looks absolutely beautiful. It feels open, free and has endless opportunities for you to do your scouting how you want to. More on that in gameplay.
It's an open-world third person game. The sound surely doesn't matter much... in this case it does. And in this case it is great. Metal Gear Solid is a stealth based game. Hearing enemy footsteps when you listen quietly can be both extremely useful and immersive. There's also this little thing, maybe that's just me, but putting a bullet through a mans skull with a silenced pistol sounds almost mortifyingly satisfying.
This is the area of the review where the game really get's it well deserved praise. The stealth is by far the best I have ever played. With so many angles of attack. So many ways to go about the either killing or not killing of enemies to complete your objective. When you get an objective, that is about all you get. You get a location and an objective and then it's up to you to choose how you go about completing it. This sort of freedom is one place where you have to ask if it's for you or not. Do you like to take a long time to plan and then execute that plan in the most methodical way possible? If yes, then buy this game now. If no, then you're not out of the game yet, but read more before you even consider buying this game.
Sneaking is probably your greatest advantage, you can't just shoot people constantly with your silenced gun, at least not at first. This is mainly because your silencers don't have endless durability and you don't have an abundance of ammunition all the time. This is to some people tedious. And if you are not the kind of person that likes having to be timid and maybe give up a shot to save your silencer/ammo for later. Then do not buy this game and click away now. There are tons of clever places to hide and wait until a baddy walks by. Hide in dumpsters, on the side of your horse, in cardboard boxes. It's over all the most comprehensive stealth system ever made.
Gun-play is great in the game, the aiming is quite interesting with the over shoulder view being possible but less accurate than the first person (down the sights) aim mode that is possible to enter into. Like stated above silencers can break and ammo isn't super cheap. This is not the spray and pray game. This is the aim game.
Movement and horse mechanics are unfortunately a weak point compared to the rest of the gameplay. I have been playing the game on PC but I've heard complaints about this on the consoles as well. The movement mechanics tend to land you in a spot of trouble seeing as you sometimes don't stop exactly when you mean to. That is to say you mean to stop at this corner but run right into the guards line of sight. A gun fight ensues bringing your beautiful stealth gameplay to a grinding halt because you're now stuck with a whole town of guards hunting you down. The horse is annoying in a similar way as to it glitches a lot, it spasms and goes to far sometimes, once you start sprinting you just don't always stop immediately when you mean to and that can also land you in a spot of trouble. Although the ability to be able to hide on the side of your horse does redeem that little feller a bit.
The resource collection and upgrade systems are a little bit generic, but do we really expect a lot of innovation from there, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. There's a lot of customization to be had and cool new gadgets. So that's definitely a fun gameplay aspect. It really keeps you investing a whole lot of time to upgrade as much as possible. If you're the kind of person that likes that sort of stuff. Then go on. Drop 60$ on it.
This list does not cover all the gameplay mechanics, only the most basic and essential ones.
I have immensely enjoyed my time with Metal Gear Solid V: The phantom pain, it has it's flaws no doubt. The story is very hard to follow and almost impossible to fully understand, whether that's due to poor writing or lack of attention from me I cannot fully say, but I think it's the writing or maybe a bit of both. The game world is very open and very beautiful. The multiple angles of attack make for never ending fun. Especially for a methodical murderous maniac such as my self. I'm comfortable with claiming this THE best stealth game ever made despite it's occasional clunky movement controls.
The game has scenes that are so overly cheesy and funny they just make you laugh, whether the game knows this and does it on porous or if it just takes it self too seriously I don't fully know. But I hope they know how silly it can be. Then there are scenes that almost bring just a tear to your eye, both of epicness, sadness and just pure raw awe.
Is it for you?
Do you like: Comprehensive stealth, methodical gameplay, planning and intel gathering, recourse accumulation and upgrading, a massive open world - if this all sounds good to you and you can do with the lack of story quality then by all means. Buy that game, right and in the f*** now.
If you dislike any or all of that, then I am sorry. Truly sorry, because this game is not for you.
Pros: Great stealth, good world, epic moments, comprehensive in every aspect
Cons: Lack of story (possibly because I haven't played other MGS titles), clunky movement system, even beautiful worlds can get boring at times
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain - Is it for you? | Informative Review
Whether it's the environment or the dazzling stealth gameplay... there's something about MGS V: Phantom pain that makes it just that extra bit of...
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