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Review: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (PS4)

MGSV_The_Phantom_Pain_boxartGuns, ninjas, giant robots, weird goth themed psychic characters, and lots of military soldiers. I don’t know who in Japan ever thought it was a good idea to combine all of these elements together, but someone at Konami gave this the go ahead and it led to a franchise that blew people’s minds. Since then, The Metal Gear Solid series has stood up there with the very best of games to deliver fans a title that could bring home the bacon. From the hidden genius of Hideo Kojima comes a masterpiece that has revolutionized the gaming industry as we know it.

Since it’s critical success on the Playstation 1 with Kojima’s first project (because let’s be honest, how many of you have actually played the previous titles?), the franchise has become such a huge hit that even people who don’t play games seem to reference these titles in some form or another. Be it the iconic alert sound that’s used in almost everything, or the large exclamation mark over someone’s head, the Metal Gear series is definitely a title that is known by plenty across the planet.

With titles spanning over several consoles, Hideo Kojima and Konami teamed up once again to deliver one last game to quell the hunger fans have had since the last installment that came out, which was nearly a decade ago (Who feels old now? I know I do…). While we’ve had a spin-off series that proved to be somewhat of a decent title, fans weren’t given a real Metal Gear game for quite some time, and it pained plenty of people (myself included) to wait this long for a new game that could satisfy us. I preordered the game the moment I heard it was available over the PSN, and have been patiently waiting for the countdown timer to finally hit zero, so I could tear this bad boy apart. Needless to say, I was left pretty speechless…

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain continues where MGSV: Ground Zeroes left off. For those of you unaware, Kojima released a prologue back in early 2014 that set up the story of The Phantom Pain. One of the biggest things I was against was the fact that Konami and Kojima had essentially broke off the intro to this game and charged $40 for it. With this being nothing more than a glorified demo, I was hesitant about even playing Ground Zeroes altogether. In fact, one of the only reasons I actually did play it was because Sony allowed Playstation Plus members to download the game for free back in July. While I enjoyed Ground Zeroes, I definitely would have regretted purchasing the game as it wasn’t worth the money, despite all the extra side missions.

I’ve never been one to care too much for the story of Metal Gear so much as the gameplay, as Kojima tends to go a bit overboard on writing the overall story. Most of the Metal Gear titles tend to be convoluted, feature way too many references to government, military, and historical figures that more often than not make me hover over the skip button during cutscenes. Some of the cutscenes are just so brutally long that I’ve actually fallen asleep through them. All this usually keeps my expectations pretty low for the plot simply because I just don’t care about the content very much. Metal Gear Solid 5 has a better grasp on the overall story. With a heavy emphasis on foreshadowing, this title serving as a prequel, fans of the series tend to have a general idea what’s going to happen to our lovable Snake (voiced by the lovely Jack Bauer Keifer Sutherland) simply because we know the fate of Big Boss already. Sort of… Wait, do we?

Either way, as I’ve said, I don’t play these games so much for the story as I do the gameplay and graphics, and boy oh boy (or girl, depending on the reader…) do these games truly know how to entertain. While the Metal Gear games have been known to be pretty linear, in terms of plot and content, the amount of possibilities to go through the game are pretty varied. While there is always the standard murder-everything-in-sight-because-nobody-will-see-you-if-they’re-dead method (Which I’ve been known to dabble in this style during moments of pure rage and frustration…) the player can also go through the game like a silent ninja, avoiding all confrontation and relying solely on stealth and tranquilizers to subdue your enemy rather than kill them, you know, hard mode. Mmmmm nothing beats that final moment when you’ve reached the end of the game and have that clean record (Well, I wouldn’t know. I’m still working on it…).

Metal Gear Solid 5‘s core gameplay is truly amazing. Kojima boasted about his the Fox Engine back at E3 of 2013, and it doesn’t disappoint. The game is as smooth as a baby’s bottom, as beautiful as that fake model girlfriend you lied to your friends about, and as efficient as the Borg from Star Trek. The powerhouse combination of those 3 elements aims to give players a fantastic experience in being either the ultimate assassin or a silent fart in the wind. Needless to say, I’m very pleased with it.

While I’ve always known the Metal Gear series to be riddled with fun Easter Eggs, I’ve never been one to play the series again immediately after beating as it’s a lot to take in. With how linear the game is, I usually need a break before diving back into the game. Metal Gear Solid 5, on the other hand, changes the dynamic of the game altogether by allowing you to free roam your maps to do plenty of side quests. There are so many side quests in this game, that I’m pretty sure you’ll be spending more time doing those than the actual story campaign. The side quests, while a bit repetitive at times, are both unlocked through main scenario campaigns or through interrogating enemy officers who will disclose extra locations on your map. This gives players a near endless amount of content to go through as they’re forced to interrogate every enemy soldier if they want that sweet 100% completion achievement.

I don’t know who decided adding a Sims-like system into this game was a good idea, but it’s been one of my absolute favorite features so far. Players are given a Mother Base they can upgrade over the course of the game. This allows the development of new and more powerful weapons that can really give you an edge on the field. Be it simply upgrading your tranq gun like I’m using it for, or giving yourself a bazooka to blow up bases and tanks, the list of weapons is also pretty enormous.

While I’ve yet to dive into it, MGS5 also has two online modes (one getting released in October) that allows players to combat one another. The current one that’s up now, involves you sneaking into another player’s mother base in order to steal their supplies, or simply wreak havoc and be the worst person in the world, ever.

Seeing as how I’ve only given decent to negative reviews for the previous titles I’ve posted on here, it pleases me very much to finally review a title seriously worth recommending to other gamers out there. While I’m sure the sales for this title are already off the charts and many of you probably already own this game, I highly recommend Metal Gear Solid 5 to add to your arsenal, if you haven’t yet. It’s the very definition of what a gaming experience can be. While it breaks my heart to see that Kojima will no longer be working on future titles, I wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors and know he’s got a bright future ahead of him. You know, so long as he doesn’t use vagina bombs again…

Story: 8 Gameplay: 10 Side Quests: 9 Re-Playability: 9 Overall Score: 9

Almost American

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