The long awaited fifth installment of the Metal Gear Solid series has finally arrived, and Kojima has promised to reveal the last chunk of untold story of the Metal Gear saga. Fans will know that the Metal Gear story spans from the 1960’s all the way to the early 2000’s. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is a direct sequel to Peace Walker for the PSP, and includes some familiar faces from the franchise. In terms of breadth, Ground Zeroes was simply a demo that introduced the world and a few elements of The Phantom Pain, and trust me when I say, this game is huge.
Even for a Metal Gear veteran, the story in Metal Gear Solid V is confusing, and that’s something many would think would be impossible. So gamers that are new to the series and want to get into Metal Gear now will definitely struggle, but I’d still recommended giving it a go. If you don’t want to commit to The Phantom Pain, give Ground Zeroes a go first and see how you feel. The reason why the game will be so confusing for newcomers to the franchise is because MGSV: The Phantom Pain assumes that you already know most of the Metal Gear lore, and it will definitely enrich the experience if you know about it.
Despite that, many gamers that are familiar to the franchise will feel a little short-changed as there aren’t as many story cutscenes in The Phantom Pain as you may have come to expect. I’ve gotten used to coming into a Hideo Kojima game and expecting a great story and a vast amount of cutscenes, it’s the one game where this stuff is actually worth watching, but coming away from The Phantom Pain I feel as though the story is spread very thin in comparison to the previous games. Perhaps that’s a good thing, but MGS fans may find that slightly disappointing. The pacing of the story can be a bit off-putting, especially towards the end, where the story missions randomly occur after you complete several Side Ops.
Metal Gear Solid has always been a little quirky to play, but The Phantom Pain plays a lot better than any other Metal Gear Solid title to date. The camera in particular is very good and you tend to feel in control at all times. There is also a slow motion reaction feature, which makes this the least frustrating game in the series as it gives you a few seconds to react to being spotted before everyone gets alerted. Some may argue that this makes the game too easy, but on the other hand, it’s a lot more realistic if the person who spots you has to initiate an alert via radio or something, so it makes sense. It also means that if the enemies do get alerted, you can’t blame the camera any more, it’s your fault.
There is quite a steep difficulty curve in this game, as some missions are simply too difficult to complete. The game forces you to complete side ops in order to increase your GMP (the currency in the game) and allies in order to complete the more difficult missions. You can also collect intel and blueprints, and develop items that will give you an edge over your enemies. If you do attempt a difficult mission without preparing like this, you will find that you simply will fail over and over again. However if you complete the side ops, you might be able to complete that same mission within 5 minutes. In a sense it is similar to the grinding aspect in many JRPGs, and it extends the game further by forcing you to do relatively menial tasks like finding and extracting objects or people. There’s also quite a lot of travelling from one point to another point, and not a lot happens in these moments unfortunately.
There are too many mechanics to mention in this game, each one layered with various levels. These skills range from camouflage, slow-motion reaction modes, sneaking, extraction of guards, killing, stunning, tranquillising, collection of materials and even the creation hundreds of weapons, base and recruitment management, the list is endless. There is so much depth within this game, I can’t imagine any other game can match it.