Review by Pong_Ping
A Not So "Solid" Entry in the Metal Gear Series
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain... I really wanted to like this game, considering that I am a fan of most of the other games in the series, and it's effectively the last one directed by Hideo Kojima, as well as, quite possibly the last Metal Gear game before Konami goes under.
As I mentioned earlier, I have played and completed several of the other Metal Gear games in the main series, including, Metal Gear 1 (MSX), Metal Gear 2 (MSX-2), Metal Gear Solid (PSX), Metal Gear Solid 2 (PS2), Metal Gear Solid 3 (PS2), and Metal Gear Solid 4 (PS3). I have also briefly played Metal Gear Solid: Peacewalker, but quickly lost interest in it after noticing its drastic departure from the rest of the Metal Gear titles in the main series.
Unfortunately, MGS:V TPP, in terms of gameplay, is just an improved version of Peacewalker (I endearingly refer to it as Peacewalker 2.0). Like Peacewalker, you will advance through most (if not all) of the storyline in the main campaign by selecting and completing missions. This is opposed to the other titles in the series, where you're typically given one main mission that encompasses the entire storyline for that game. This may just be a personal preference to me, but I am a traditionalist, in the sense that I don't like fixing what isn't broke. All the classic Metal Gears, in my opinion were great just the way they were. As the series progressed, they improved upon the stealth mechanics, as this is supposed to be a primary focus in most Metal Gear games.
Not so with Peacewalker, or The Phantom Pain, for that matter. Your focus shifts drastically. Rather than having to rely on your stealth skills to ensure you don't compromise the mission, it feels like what you do in the Phantom Pain instead either involves you recruiting every single enemy soldier you can find, or just charging straight into the enemy base, guns blazing, not giving a damn who or what notices you. Trust me, if you want to get "S" ranks on your missions, this is the best way to go. As long as you can kill everybody before they hit you, and you do it fast, you're good to go. To me, it just doesn't feel like a Metal Gear game anymore. You're not sneaking into a seemingly inpenetrable fortress. You're not going in practically unarmed, and you're not collecting keycards and various other puzzle-related items to help you navigate through the fortress, and you're also not trying to avoid detection.
It seems like by and far TPP follows the generic openworld format that several other modern games unfortunately decide to go with. While superficially, this may seem like an improvement, it's cumbersome and tedious to race your horse through the Middle Eastern or African wilderness that the bulk of this game takes place in. Again, this is generally not my cup of tea, and it's just another way in which TPP departs from what made the rest of the series great.
As mentioned earlier, this game in terms of mechanics basically just improves upon Peacewalker. A major aspect of the game requires you to recruit and manage personnel that you capture while exploring the open world of TPP. Each person will be ranked from S (best) to E (worst) in various categories which can be used to determine how you want to staff them in your FOB. For example, a weak, flimsy civilian may seem useless at first, but he/she may make up for it by being really good at R&D, Engineering or Medicine. When enough skilled personnel are staffed in a certain category, this opens the door to being able to develop new technology in your FOB, which will allow you to better prepare for your missions, as long as you have the money and the resources to develop the technology. Money is collected from successfully completing missions, among other things. Resources can be found randomly in the openworld, and can be harvested for later use at your FOB. None of this appeals to me. It feels like a grind that is typically found in openworld RPGs or certain strategy games, but not in a fast-paced action stealth game like the Metal Gear series.
There is also an online feature, which I won't comment on too much since I haven't taken advantage of it. All I do know from what I heard is that it's annoying because there are a lot of microtransactions involved. I paid $60 for this game; I don't want to keep paying money for in-game services.
Now that I've gotten all of the bad stuff out of the way, I will mention some of its more positive aspects. You could tell that Hideo Kojima put a lot of effort into the game's story, just like he does with most of the other mainline Metal Gear games. If you want to go out of your way, you can spend countless hours listening to several mission briefings "recorded" on casette tapes, which piece the story together for you. There are also plenty of cutscenes that help unfold the story as the game progresses as well. If you're like me however, and you don't have the time to sift through all of the ingame content, you will probably look up most of the story online and skip through the ingame extras.
Another really good thing about this game is that it looks absolutely beautiful. You can tell that Hideo Kojima and his team put a lot of time and effort into making sure that the animation, character models... everything looks immaculate. With a good enough graphics card and CPU, you can even see the individual pores on Venom Snake's face. The game is gorgeous.
The sound effects and music for the game are also really well done, although again, just due to the way the game is designed, the OST feels almost like it's optional, and most of it is obtained by collecting random tracks while you're completing missions, rather than just integrating it directly into the game, again, like most other Metal Gear games. Instead, what you'll be hearing for the majority of the game is ambient sound effects and soldiers talking in Russian. This is probably a personal thing for me, but I don't like it as much when the OST is not utilized as well as it could be.
The last positive feature that I'm going to focus on before closing is the amount of content this game offers. There are lots of things to do in The Phantom Pain. You can easily clock over 100 hours on this game, if you're a completionist and want to earn all of the achievements ont his game. You can easily spend even more time playing online and invading other players FOBs. If that isn't enough for you, you can spend even more time perfecting your game and earning "S" Rank on every single mission in the game, which can easily add up even more time. In other words, this game is cram-packed full of content, and you certainly won't run out of things for a long time. If all else fails, just start over.
All in all, I feel like this game caters to a lot of people, which can be both good and bad. It's good for most other people, because it welcomes them into the series. It's bad for the other fans, because it just doesn't feel like Metal Gear anymore.
-Great Music, SFX, etc.
-Tons of content.
-Doesn't feel like Metal Gear
-Stealth Mechanics Suffer
-Caters to everyone except the fans (IMO)
In closing, this is another example of a AAA Production game that lacks soul.
Rating: 2.0 - Poor
Product Release: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (US, 09/01/15)
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