Hands on Review of MGSV: Phantom Pain a Hideo Kojima Game

It’s the beginning to end it all. Technically it’s not the very beginning— but close enough. Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain is Kojima’s final game to be released through Konami. Konami fired Kojima for overspending, but he gave us one last venomous snake bite to satisfy our Metal Gear urges.

Phantom Pain is set in the 1980’s, just nine years after Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker.  Any newcomers that want to play this game with no previous knowledge of the Metal Gear lore should probably read up on Snake and the other protagonist characters if they’re planning on knowing what’s going on.  I’m sure there are a couple of fanbase websites to skim through just to get you by. 

To put the plot simply— Snake has been in a coma for nine years. When he finally wakes up, he fights for revenge against the people who destroyed his mercenary group in Peace Walker. In order to do this, he starts a new military group known as the “Diamond Dogs”.

Now I would continue to explain what happens later on, but I wouldn’t wanna spoil it for anyone else— including myself. I’ve been playing for around 40 hours and I’m still only around 15% completion. Phantom Pain is claimed to be about 80 hours and more to finish, and for good reason.

Phantom Pain is not the same old stealth tactical like its predecessors. In previous MGS editions, you go through missions with linear tactics in small places. This time it’s different.

For the first time, we have Metal Gear in an open world environment, with some minor limitations. You only get to run around in Afghanistan and Africa. Don’t worry, the battlefield is fairly large to travel around, and you don’t have to worry about any civilians wandering around, getting in your way because multiple military outposts are scattered across the map. It’s just you, the enemies, and nature— and yes, nature can be an enemy or ally to you depending on how you play.

For starters, the weather can change on you in a middle of a mission. You might end up being caught in a sandstorm which you could use to help cover for stealth, or it could hinder you if you want to go in guns blazing. You can play missions however you want, but certain factors can change in the outcome in every mission you choose.  There’s a bit of cause and effect in every choice you make.

Let’s say that you are a top notch ace shooter that constantly does head-shots. The more you do head-shots, the more the AI will learn about your skills to try to find a way to counter-attack. They could start setting up soldiers with bulletproof helmets or even better equipment to strike back harder depending your gameplay experience.

The way to stop them from getting ahead of the game  is taking out the facilities that manufacture equipment and weapons. You can’t do it alone, though— you need soldiers to help with the cause.

Creating a Mother Base in the beginning of the game helps you start start acquiring soldiers to join the Diamond Dogs group. As the game progresses, you will upgrade the base to make and upgrade all the nice gadgets and toys to take out in the battlefield.  

It’s not that simple, however. You don’t want to just go out and kidnap soldiers left and right and assume your base will become all-powerful. Each soldier you find actually has a different ranking in skills to choose. As you capture soldiers with higher skills and ranking, you can assign them to different teams back at base for certain research and development. That way you can create new weapons and tools—or create a group for intel on enemies and resources and in the field.

You can create a support team to send out on missions to take out enemy facilities and prevent them from acquiring those helmets and equipment that I mentioned earlier. Acquiring the right kind of soldiers can make a huge impact for you as the AI adjusts your play style.

Another new feature is the buddy system. Along with soldiers to help your bases, you unlock new characters to support you alongside the battlefield. Each buddy you choose has their own unique of skills and methods to help even the odds of the battlefield. Your partners in crime are D-horse, D-Dog, D-Walker, and of course the scantily clad sniper Quiet. The more missions you complete with your buddies, the more your bond with them, and the more you bond with them, the more new abilities you can unlock for them to test out.

As for the multiplayer portion of the game; it’s not yet ready. All we have is FOB online mode, which is an acronym for Forward Operating Base. Players can expand their Mother Base with added materials and personnel by invading and infiltrating other players’ bases.

It’s an okay concept to play online, but it gets annoying. You can potentially be invaded while being away from your game offline, especially if you’re away at school or work. You can intervene and try to stop the invader if you’re online, but it gets aggravating when it happens while you’re in the  middle of an important mission.  To stop the invasion, you have to abort the mission and hitch a helicopter ride back to base. Unfortunately, with all that time trying to head back, the damage is usually done already and the other player has already walked out with your stuff. I pretty much play offline and just stick with the solo gameplay of the game. Konami will add a new PvP multiplayer mode in due time.

Phantom Pain will definitely keep you occupied for numerous of hours to come. The Fox Engine graphics are top notch and you may find yourself making the time to admire the beautiful scenery around you. This is true for both PC and consoles.

Now I’m not going to say the plot of the game is perfect. I’m going be honest, it’s not as good as the other Metal Gear Solid games.

Nevertheless, but it’s still an impressive game. With such a huge amount of content to explore, and the in-game changeability that affects the outcome of every mission you complete; Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain is the one game to keep you playing for many hours to come—hell, even for weeks.  Players around the globe are constantly finding new secrets and gameplay hidden in the game even after beating it, so the replay value is high. This is one satisfying and meaningful experience of a game that most gamers will be pleased with.

I give Phantom Pain a 4.5 out of 5 on the rating scale. For Kojima’s last hoorah of a game, I salute you sir!

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