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Metal Gear Solid V, reviewed by someone who’s never played an MGS game

Content of the article: "Metal Gear Solid V, reviewed by someone who’s never played an MGS game"

None of my friends care to hear my ramblings on the game, so what better place than here to put them? (Spoilers below, skip to the TLDR if you wanna avoid those)

Story MGSV's story has gotten a lot of flack for having a terrible ending compared to the storytelling of other MGS games. While I can't compare it to the other games, I can appreciate that I got the general gist of the story just by playing the game and listening to the tapes (and a bit of wiki reading). The ending did feel a bit flat, but I got the impression that it was meant to plug some plot holes in the overall MGS timeline, namely the concept of Snake's phantom dying in one of the games set later in time. Some of the loose ends like Eli just peacing out with the Metal Gear and disappearing forever make more sense when you find out he's actually Liquid Snake, so his story is supposed to stretch beyond this game. So while it's messy and kind of vague, I don't think it's the shitshow it gets criticized as being.

That said, it's got some bad problems I can't defend. Namely, the characters. Snake, Kaz, and Ocelot are basically the same macho-man character with rough voices and tough demeanors, with Kaz being a little more hit headed. Hell, it wasn't until I was almost done with Chapter One that I could tell them apart on the radio. They're paper-thin, cookie-cutter tropes of strongmen, which is a pity because I've heard the larger MGS story is actually quite good.

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But the absolute worst offender of this is Quiet. Such a badass character with so much story potential, but instead we get next to nothing story-wise and she's extremely over-sexualized. We don't learn anything about the motivations of this badass superhuman sniper beyond "vengeance drove me to join " and she loves the Boss. Of all the interesting directions the character could go in, they go with a boring female sidekick trope with zero depth.

And her presentation. The plot device of Quiet needing to breathe through her skin is plainly an excuse to have a scantily clad female character. And there's an obvious plot hole: why doesn't Code Talker need to walk around in a speedo if he also gets energy from photosynthesis? Well the answer is plain: he's a 100-year old man, not a young woman. It's such a regressive take on female characters in gaming that just kept bothering me.

Chapter 2 also feels less like a second chapter and more like an epilogue. Whereas Chapter 1 was pretty linear and almost every mission feels important, Chapter 2 is almost entirely old missions with added challenges. These should be under their own menu, not lumped together with the storyline missions. Plus, if they're labelled as "episodes," it makes no sense for several episodes to be the same as previous ones. That just messes with the timeline of the game when you have to repeat the same tasks with characters that have died before. On a similar note, while I get the reason for replaying the hospital mission at the end, couldn't they have at least removed the tutorial prompts?

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Gameplay Despite the story's shortcomings, the gameplay is too good for this game to be written off. I love the strategy of scouting out an outpost or base from afar, and the suspense of navigating around enemies in the shadows. Couple that with the traps you can place and the ways to distract enemies and disrupt guard rotations, and you get a sense of great satisfaction when things go right; with a bit of planning and scouting, you can have an entire base in the palm of your hands without the guards ever knowing.

One aspect I really enjoyed was that I always felt encouraged to use stealth instead of blasting through everyone. Put simply, the AI isn't as easy to gun down as enemies in, say, Call of Duty. Between the snipers, armored units, armored soldiers, and various weapons, these guys can and will kill you if you try to enter a lopsided, straight up fire fight.

The biggest gripe I had with gameplay was Mother Base. It's a giant empty block. The only thing you can do is drive or fly around while catching up on tapes, or take pictures to Paz (the hallucination of whom, by the way, was an incredible little storyline). I wish I could interact with characters like Kaz or Ocelot, or at least see them. That said, at least it's a quiet place to get away from the battlefield now and then.

TLDR; Get this for the gameplay. The story is OK at best, muddled at worst, but it's the gameplay that makes this my game of the year. I love the array of bases and outposts to infiltrate and the plethora of tools at my disposal. Despite its issues, it's got me interested in playing other MGS games in the future, and I had hours of fun playing. I'd give it an 8.5/10, 4 stars.

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