SPOILERS: You have been warned, It’s pretty obvious but I’m going to spoil this game. If you have yet to finish the game and/or don’t want the story ruined, please leave. I won’t take it personally.
Before we get started:
- Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
- Metal Gear Solid
- Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain
- Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
- Metal Gear Solid IV: Guns of the Patriots
- Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
In that order, just to boil some piss really.
Now, down to business…
Where do we even start with Metal Gear Solid V? For most part I’m going to ignore the whole Kojima and Konami fallout, I feel that’s a conversation for another day.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Pre-Release
Let’s go back to before The Phantom Pain came out to when Ground Zeroes was released. Now, I quite liked Ground Zeroes and although people slated it for being a glorified £20 demo, I thought it set the scene for Phantom Pain really well. It also came to my attention that people were saying that it didn’t ‘deserve’ the ending it got, which was Paz jumping out a chopper with a bomb which you assume is in her vagina and she blows up, plus the base you were working on in Peace Walker goes up in smoke which is hard to watch because I spent countless hours in Peace Walker sorting that out, I would argue with them that the end was only the beginning to Phantom Pain, it was to Phantom Pain what the Virtuous Mission was to Metal Gear Solid 3. Imagine the backlash if they sold that separately back then… A sign of the times I suppose.
The more coverage MGS V got it was clear it was going to be Peace Walker 2. This was fine with me, Peace Walker has its critics but I for one think it’s brilliant, held back by the limitations of the PSP, but still a solid game, part of me always wished it was a ‘Proper’ entry into the series, no disrespect. Furthermore it was, you make remake Mother Base if you will using the Fulton recovery system again, the only differences this game has is a weaker story, you are given a choice of buddies in the game who can help you on you missions and also use vehicles, it’s open world and it looks prettier (that last one was obvious).
A few months pass and Konami start to drop more of these trailers slowly introducing you to the world that is going to be Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, fan favourite Ocelot is going to be back (voiced by Troy Baker), you’ll get to ride a horse, there’s this weird woman called ‘Quiet’ walking around not leaving much to the imagination if you catch my drift, the more time goes on the more hype is behind this game, and rightly so, it looks amazing from the footage which was shown. There’s a few delays and the game is finally released in September 2015… What could possibly go wrong? Well… For starters, Hideo Kojima was concentrating on giving the gamer a more immersive, longer experience, he forgot that some of Metal Gear’s selling points is the story and the set pieces. Now, the Metal Gear story arch has always been over convoluted and a bit confusing to follow, I believe Hideo Kojima to be a terrible writer (also another conversation for another day), something which divides opinions but that’s where I stand, however, the man is a gifted game developer and that is evident in the games he has made or has been a part of over the years.
The Uninspiring ‘New’ Cast of Characters
The characters that this game introduces are mostly uninspired and not very interesting at all, I mean, if I had to listen to Code Talker explain to me about ‘Vocal Chord Parasites’ one more time I would have thrown my controller out the window. Code Talker was not a good character, boring, not very interesting, every time I listened to him talk I found him so disenchanting.
I did like Quiet though, she was the best buddy by a mile and she sacrifices her life in Mission 45 so that she can save Big Boss, which means you lose her and all the equipment and outfits you purchased and developed for her. This has since been patched so that you can recruit her again but it’s a pain in the arse. You may have noticed that Quiet doesn’t wear much the excuse Kojima gave for Quiet not being able to wear clothes is ridiculous, she paraded around in her underwear was because she ‘breathed through her skin’. No, honestly. The video game industry has a severe lack of strong female characters when you compare it to the males and Quiet was a bad ass female character tainted by such an irrelevant part of the character. Imagine if The Boss, a woman and an awesome character from Metal Gear Solid 3, ran around in a bikini, she wouldn’t have the same appeal as she does today, one of the bad ass female characters in video game history. Maybe I’m being too hard on it, I mean, provocative female characters are nothing new to the series, there’s Sniper Wolf from Metal Gear Solid who wore a flight suit zipped down past her belly button, Fortune from Metal Gear Solid 2 wore a skin tight one piece bathing suit and Eva from Metal Gear Solid 3 wore a suit similar to Sniper Wolf’s but zipped up a bit higher and she had a black bra showing, maybe I let these off because their risqué appearances are a bit more subtle.
Another big problem I have with the game I have is the The Parasite Unit, also known as The Skulls. Although The Skulls had a certain ambience about them they lacked the personalities of the units from the previous games like Foxhound from Metal Gear Solid like Raven, Psycho Mantis and Sniper Wolf and The Cobra Unit from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater with The Pain, The Fury and The End, these groups of outcasts had so much more personality whereas the Skulls, who’re kind of cool, feel like blank canvases compared to them.
Finally we get to Skull Face, who had so much potential to be an awesome villain, there was a sense of mystery about him in Ground Zeroes and when that game ended you were curious as to what he was going to do in The Phantom Pain, what his ultimate goal was. That unfortunately fell flat on its face with one of the most melodramatic plot points I’ve ever heard of. This is a villain that tried to eradicate the English language from existence using Vocal Chord Parasites. I won’t go into detail about the parasites but how it works is if you’re infected by them and speak English, you die. Really? A nuclear warhead would of done.
Oh, and Paz who jumped out of a helicopter and got blown to smithereens by a bomb in Ground Zeroes is apparently still alive, she has lost her memory and as you discover 10 photographs throughout the game’s side-ops she starts to recover her memories and fills you in about what happened in Peace Walker (via cassette tapes mostly, of course), but that’s not the stupid thing, the stupid thing is that when you gather all the photographs you realise that she was all just a figment of Big Boss’ imagination and she wasn’t really there. Preposterous.
Eli ‘Liquid Snake’ as a child soldier and Tretij Rebenok (Russian for “The Third Child”) ‘Psycho Mantis’ as a young boy in this game are really intriguing and well portrayed could of done with some more screen time.
Story and Ending
Metal Gear Solid V wasn’t short of media coverage and trailers (You can watch the launch trailer below) and in each of them we are promised that we’ll see Big Boss’ ‘Descent into villainy’ and this is the game which will ‘Complete the Saga’ and all that but none of this actually happened now did it?
Think about this logically for a second, throughout the whole game what caused Big Boss’ descent into villainy? Nothing. Keep in mind that the character you’re controlling is NOT actually the REAL Big Boss, which was nonsense by the way, I know it explains why Big Boss was alive at the end of MGS IV and when he died at the end of Metal Gear and all that, but for real? The REAL Big Boss is off hiding somewhere yet you don’t find this out till right at the end of the game in a rehash of the first mission and when it gets to the end you’re not surprised anyway because you had to make your own character right at the beginning like an Elder Scrolls game, which I was confused with at first but when I got to Afghanistan as ‘Big Boss’ and Ocelot was ordering me around I thought nothing of it, it’s a kick in the teeth when you find that out, it felt like the Raiden reveal all over again.
I don’t like the ending to The Phantom Pain. At all. The game as a whole felt rushed, throughout the second chapter most of the missions were just rehashes of previous missions albeit a rise in difficulty or some other handicap. Add to that the game was unfinished, Eli nabs Metal Gear from Mother Base with no explanation as to where he went and what he planned to do with it, this was supposed to be in the game as mission 51 but the mission was cut from development, you can watch a video (below) if you have a spare 19 minutes which walks you through what was going to happen and that the mission was a much more satisfying conclusion to the game than what was put in its place. Instead we get some pep talk from the REAL Big Boss to the FAKE Big Boss who then smashes a mirror and runs off into the distance, you then have to listen to what feels like 100 cassette tapes, which pretty much everybody who was on Mother Base was siding with Zero in some shape or form, I won’t bore you with every detail and try and explain everything, that’s what wikipedia is for. The cassette tapes were well portrayed and everything, but I won’t lie and say a part of me wanted to watch what I was listening to in a cut scene.
The fact the game is unfinished means I couldn’t help but wonder that quite a lot of the major plot points in The Phantom Pain were found in cassette tapes you didn’t have to listen to, this could be a result of Konami cutting Kojima’s funding (for the sake of arguments, I’m going to assume it is) so he couldn’t afford to make the cut scenes relative to the cassette tape. One of Metal Gear Solid’s main criticisms is the fact that the cut scenes in the game go on for far too long and Metal Gear Solid V seems to be the opposite end of the spectrum, where in the 100+ hours I have played of the game, there’s hardly any, but I’ve listened to a lot of cassette tapes though, so there’s that.
There you have it, the new characters are a shadow of the characters introduced in the previous entries to the series, the plot is a joke and the cut content is insulting…
That being said, I was addicted to this game for a few weeks, the hook it this game has is almost unrivalled, the way it introduces new ways to play at a steady pace is what makes the gameplay special. The game also controls really well, there are better controlling third person action games out there but this is more of a stealth game and it works really well, the only time the controls don’t work for me at least is in the OTT action missions, like The Skulls boss fight where you have to protect Code Talker from them, far too fiddly.
I do have to say that on a gameplay perspective this is my favourite Metal Gear Solid game it’s just tainted by a terrible story and I hate to say this again but it’s unfinished.