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Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, and a brief review

Content of the article: "Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, and a brief review"

Alright, so I just finished up Metal Gear V. I want to preface this by saying that I have never played a previous Metal Gear game, although I’m a huge fan of stealth games in general. I played the 31 main missions, as well as a large number of side-ops.


I need to start this review with what is undoubtedly the crowning achievement of this game: the stealth gameplay. You’re given an overwhelming amount of choice in most encounters, and are given an insane number of unique tools to complete your objectives.

The stealth is finely tuned so that many of the systems that underpin the gameplay are opaque. Meaning, you’re never truly able to predict exactly how enemies will respond to a certain input from the player. Sometimes an explosion will cause every enemy in an outpost to go running guns-blazing to its position; sometimes they’ll take cover and prepare for a firefight; sometimes they’ll send a couple of men to check it out while the rest defend a prisoner. When someone catches a glimpse of you, it’s often very difficult to tell if they’ll trust their vision and go check out what they saw, or rather forget about it and go back to their routine. You usually aren’t sure exactly how camouflaged you are from enemies. This sounds like it could feel random or unsatisfying, but it never does, and you’re encouraged to play closer to what a stealthy soldier sneaking through a base would actually probably be like, rather than just learn the systems of the video game and work past them accordingly. It truly is phenomenal to play, and never gets boring across the entire main story.

The mission design wonderfully compliments the gameplay. The missions start off fairly simple and linear, as you’re still getting used to how the systems of the game work, and have relatively few tools available to you. As the game progresses, your objectives become more obscure, and less guided. Near the end of the game, you’re given very simple objectives, such as to assassinate a person before they leave a certain area, or to rescue prisoners as they’re moved between outposts. This is where the genius of the game comes into play, as you’re able to creatively figure out solutions to problems.

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If you’re trying to rescue the aforementioned prisoners moving between outposts, you can choose to rescue one or both of them at either outpost, or in transit between them. You can work out distractions to separate the trucks they’re being moved in, or to move the guards away from where they’re being held. There are dozens of ways you can solve each encounter, and I’ve only scratched the surface.

TLDR: the gameplay is very likely the best stealth-action gameplay ever in a video game, easy 5/5.


Alright, so I find it hard to really review the story of this game, as I haven’t played any of the previous games. All I’ll say is that the plot is serviceable even if pretty convoluted, and the characters are decent. I won’t say it’s awful, but it definitely feels like there were some internal troubles at Konami that lead to the story being pretty inconclusive.

Overall, the game feels like a small part in a very large story, which I’ve tried my best to understand, but can’t seem to work it out enough to appreciate this game fully. When the game tries to make big twists and plot developments happen, it stumbles and doesn’t execute what it feels like the developers were going for. Additionally, the game is glacially long and the major story moments are often too spread out to get meaningfully invested in.

I will add that the game’s story and world really do shine in the smaller moments. Rescuing a stray dog, or seeing a group of child soldiers for the first time are examples of moments where it feels like the developers took a break from trying to tie this game into the hopelessly convoluted plot they have set up, and rather focused on creating an interesting world to exist in. I only wish these moments weren’t so often overshadowed by the lacklustre main plot.

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Other Quirks

There are some very, very odd game design decisions in this game. Most weapon upgrades are very small and incremental, but are set up so they take real-time for your R&D team to develop. Meaning, I might want an upgrade for a weapon or vehicle, but it’ll take 36 minutes of real-time in-game before I can use it. I’ve heard many of the later upgrades have truly abysmal time-gates on them, as well. This is an incredibly strange choice for a AAA game, and works against the overall pacing and feel of the product. I’ll be honest, this along with many of the upgrades being so resource intensive that they’ll take many dozens of hours past the main story’s conclusion really soured the overall experience for me, and made it feel cheap compared to other major games today.

The base-building and staff management felt like a mixed bag. It was fun to extract high-quality soldiers and watch your base grow, but it’s locked behind an incredibly tedious grind, that I can imagine only hard core fans enjoyed to its conclusion. It killed the game’s pacing for me, and eventually I got so bored with this that by around mission 25 I decided I was happy with the equipment I’d developed, and completely ignored the base-building/development stuff until the end of the game.


Despite all the grievances I have with the more tedious aspects of Metal Gear Solid V, I really did enjoy the game, even if it’s just because the stealth gameplay is so damn engrossing that it kept me hooked until the end. I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys stealth-action games, and isn’t afraid to wade through a little dogshit game design to get to the incredibly open and innovative missions, as well as the occasional good world-building moment.

Note: This is my first time doing a review like this, so if you have any feedback I’d value your opinions.

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