What2Play: Metal Gear V: The Phantom Pain
Arnold Remenár / April 5, 2019
( 3 min read )
After spending 80+ hours in the world of Metal Gear V: The Phantom Pain I can only say this: "If you don't already own this game, do yourself a favor and buy it right now!" Whether you are a veteran of the Metal Gear series or a complete newcomer like myself I cannot stress enough that this is a title worth every penny. The sheer quantity of content kept me playing for endless hours and combined with truly stellar quality gameplay I have enjoyed every single minute of it.
Let's start with the best part - the gameplay. Phantom Pain gives the player a unique blend of tactical stealth elements set in a free roam sandbox environment. You play as Snake the "Big Boss", legendary mercenary and leader of the supranational military organization called Diamond Dogs. The game takes place in two separate large maps in Afghanistan and Central Africa complete with a dynamic day and night cycle. Both locations are full of military outposts, patrolling soldiers as well as plant and animal wildlife. After being dropped off via helicopter, you will have to either sabotage and capture enemy outposts or extract key personnel - sometimes dead or sometimes alive. But the real magic of MSGV comes from the fact that it allows you to complete these objectives in a plethora of different and creative ways. Although the core concept of the game is centered on its excellent stealth mechanic, it is only one of the ways in which you can play the game. Say there is a heavily fortified enemy outpost you need to capture, but how might you accomplish this task? Perhaps you wait until nighttime and sneak in, neutralizing one soldier after the other while remaining completely undetected. Maybe you will start sniping them from afar, triggering an alarm and forcing the enemy to chase after you thus abandoning their well defendable position. You could also just call in your support helicopter and let it mow down the whole base with gatling guns and rockets while you mop up the remaining enemies.
The fact is, that the beauty of MSGV lies in the absolute freedom it gives you with regards to completing objectives. The weapons and loadout are extensively customizable so you can adapt your gear to whatever play style you choose. However, the enemies can and will adapt to your tactics as well. Say you have been head-shooting soldiers frequently. Don't be surprised once enemies start wearing helmets for extra protection. Maybe you have a habit of infiltrating outposts at nighttime. Pretty soon the soldiers will invest in some night vision goggles to combat the darkness. All these little details add up to a great sense of immersion and create a gradually increasing difficulty where you are trying new strategies to counter the enemies' ever-increasing protection against your own tactics. But fear not, because you need not face the enemy alone. There is a great buddy system offering four different companions that can drop into battle alongside you. Each of them has a completely unique support role and the more time they spend with you the more abilities and equipment will be unlocked for them. All in all the solid gameplay offers one of the most consistent and fun experiences I have had in a long time.
The Metal Gear franchise is known for being a heavily story driven saga. Although my knowledge of the lore was absolutely zero, I never felt that this is hindering me in The Phantom Pain. However, the story is not absent here and it is far from being boring. Set in 1984 during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Snake and the Diamond Dogs are trying to hunt down the elusive terrorist only known as Skullface who is developing a new biological weapon that could completely alter the course of the Cold War. The story is surprisingly deep although most of the lore is discovered through audiotapes that can be played in-game. However, even without the tapes, the story is rich with themes such as effects of genocide, PTSD, alienation as well as the reality of child soldiers. As a complete newcomer to the series, I was still able to relate and care about the plot and its characters. Although I have to add that the endgame felt a little anticlimactic. Especially with regards to Skullface, I was expecting a little bit more from a villain that has been hyped this strongly through the story. Though there could be improvements to the endgame and story conclusion, I still was not bothered by it too much. I think an extended final cutscene could improve the conclusion greatly.
Although I came into the universe of Metal Gear with absolutely no prior knowledge, The Phantom Pain was still a very fun and satisfying experience for me. In fact, after finishing the game I have become so curious about the deep and complex story of the Metal Gear saga. If you have never heard of the series, this is definitely the best place to start. Metal Gear V: The Phantom Pain simply manages to create such an addicting blend of gameplay that few other games have accomplished. It has rightfully earned the title of Best Adventure/Action Game in 2015. There is no other way to say it, this title is must own.