With the game coming out nearly a month ago, this seems like the perfect time to check in
on Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Why? Wel, because due to the game’s sandbox style play combined with its Metal Gear history it seems to me that this is the sort of game that you’re either going to tear through in a week or two, devoting hours and hours every single day, or grow very bored of very quickly. What then does the middle ground, the continual slog, look like?
Well, first off, there is certainly enough content present in The Phantom Pain to keep one going if they play a couple hours a day for a full month. Some of the missions feel repetitive and some of the locations do get old, but The Phantom Pain wants to make you play them better—or at least differently—every time you revisit a spot, even if you’re on your fourth or fifth fetch quest there, and that really is the key.
That is to say, while you may have been to a barracks or hideout or whatever before, the first time you there you probably didn’t have an NPC companion with you, and then maybe the next time you go you will have a different companion. The enemy forces will be arrayed differently as well. So, yes, it’s the same place, but it’s not the same setup.
The thing is, depending on an individual’s point of view, that makes a difference or it doesn’t. There are definitely some locales in The Phantom Pain that I hate visiting, every single time, while there are others that are certainly more my speed. Metal Gear fans who are already okay with the franchise moving to this open world setup as opposed to the more linear fashion of previous entries will probably not mind the revisit, whereas people who prefer to progress from A to B to C to end credits are not going to like it.
The Phantom Pain is certainly not what people have come to expect from Metal Gear Solid, even if Ground Zeroes got us prepped by having a single location exist for multiple missions.
Oh, this is clearly a Metal Gear game, but it’s a Metal Gear game that changes some of what we’ve come to expect from the franchise and more than just in its open world-ness. There are cutscenes, but fewer and shorter than we’re used to and that means no stupendously extended soliloquys (which some would say are better left behind).
My biggest problem with the game after playing it for so long is not any of the above, or auto-regenerating health, or any one of the other differences/updates (at least not directly). It is the amount of time it can take to get from place to place. To get from one mission or side quest to the next, especially if you don’t have a horse with you, can take a long time. It ends up feeling like the game desperately wants you to “borrow” a vehicle from your enemies, and the mountainous terrain regularly means that you have to stay far too close to the roads for my liking.
But, what the game does have going for it, is that it is incredibly long (if you choose to do the sidequests) but that length is broken down to manageable, bite-sized episodes. There are regular chances for upgrades, and you can direct, to some extent, which weapons you want your R&D team to work on.
For me, Metal Gear has always been much more about sneaking around and getting the job done while firing as few bullets as possible than it has discussions about the military industrial complex or sitting there while someone talks for 45 minutes, and so The Phantom Pain is just what the doctor ordered.
I don’t think it’s perfect (the depiction of Quiet, a sniper you meet along the way, doesn’t sit well with me), but I do think it’s great, and it’s something that I’m going to still continue with for a long time as I edge ever closer to 100% completion. If you’re one of those who was on the fence with the changes in the franchise with this new entry, I can only encourage you to jump in.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is rated M (Mature) for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes by the ESRB . This game can also be found on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.
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