Let’s Look at Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

I planned on doing a Day One Review for this game but where would I even begin? There is so much to talk about. I have twelve hours into the game and still feel like I’m getting my first impressions down. However, I have plenty to talk about and wanted to share my thoughts on the game so far.

I stayed away from most of the media surrounding the game leading up to it. MGSV is a huge title with huge expectations. I played Ground Zeroes so I was familiar with the look and feel but had no idea what The Phantom Pain would be like as far as presentation and story. What I found was very familiar to me, and I have mixed feelings on it. Don’t get me wrong I am loving this game so far.

METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN_20150901150925My first impression of the game was one of confusion. The prologue in the hospital was an ok tutorial and introduction to the games story but it just didn’t feel like Metal Gear. That’s not necessarily bad, it was fun but not what I was expecting. It’s not something I’d play again if I could help it though. I get what Kojima was doing and I’m glad that I had the experience but it was very slow and drawn out. It felt like it took forever to finally start the actual game. Once it was over and the real game started I breathed a sigh of relief. I’m very much a believer of “In Kojima We Trust” but the prologue tested that belief for a bit.

“This feels like the game Kojima wanted to make when he made Peace Walker on the PSP.”

Once the game got rolling I was once again surprised at what I saw. The game was familiar to me, almost too familiar. This feels like the game Kojima wanted to make when he made Peace Walker on the PSP. The game is like a reimagined Peace Walker, my opinion of course. I had no problems grasping the Fulton, Mother Base and Development mechanics since I’ve done it all before. But it’s nice to be able to actually visit the base and see first hand what you are doing with it. The mission system is also ripped right from Peace Walker even down to the type of “Side Ops” missions. Anyone that has played Peace Walker can jump right in and do very well as the same kinds of tactics seem to apply here.

METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN_20150901120842The mission system is cool and I really enjoy the freedom the game gives you in tackling your objectives. Given that Peace Walker was designed for the PSP there wasn’t as much freedom since the areas were not able to be very big so this is definitely a welcomed change. Many missions will recommend different weapons and tactics to use but it’s really up to you how you play the mission. One mission was proving to be difficult for the way I was playing it, so I changed up my tactics and had a completely different experience.

That experience is this games party piece. Because there are not many scripted events all the stuff that happens on screen is whatever you make. Whether you escape by the skin of your teeth, walk in and dominate a guard post or methodically pick off guards one by one. It’s your choice on how the game plays out. All the exciting events you watch are the ones you create. You really do have the freedom to play your own game and thanks to the Mother Base mechanic each kill or stun should come with a reason since it can have a big impact on your development. Later in the game you get the ability to scan your enemies and see what area they are proficient in and decide who you stun and send back to base and who is disposable. It gives a game that requires careful planning even deeper tactical strategy.

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It wasn’t until I had completed my sixth mission that I started to feel like something was missing. Once I realized it I felt a little disappointed with the title but not so much that I stopped having fun. Something felt different, the game is lacking in the story department. It feels odd to type that but from the original Metal Gear Solid on PSOne to Metal Gear Solid 4 the games have been a long, story driven cinematic experience. Metal Gear Solid 4 is still one of my all-time favorite gaming experiences. It’s such a good game. With MGSV being a numbered entry into the series it seems odd to share the design of the game with the PSP title rather than continue the cinematic experience that brought the series to where it is now in the first place. I am already missing the iconic cut-scenes and ridiculousness that came with them. MGSV has a much more serious tone with, for now, only a bit of goofiness sprinkled in.

I took a break from the game to reflect on that once it hit me and then fired it back up with the mindset of just play the game and enjoy it. Since then I got back into the initial groove I found myself in and clocked many more hours. I’m very excited to get deeper into the game and see what Kojima has in store for me. Knowing him there has to be something wacky planned and I am on the edge of my seat, waiting for that iconic “Metal Gear” moment to show up.

I may not walk away from the game feeling that it’s the best in the series but I know I’m having a damn good time with it. I realize I may be analyzing the game a bit too much but that’s what I do when I’m invested in a series like I am with MGS. It’s such an important series. And as I’ve said before, games are a very personal experience so you may not feel anywhere close to how I do about the game. That’s why I love gaming, and that’s why I love this series. Finally if you are also loving this game and have not yet played Peace Walker, you should. You’ll love it.

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