Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Rating: 10
Happy Price: 59.99

When all the parts are summed up, this is probably the best game that has ever been made. I'm not saying its the most fun game ever created, but when the elements of design, programming, sound, story, and writing are all put together, this game stands above them all. This game is truly the benchmark of what a AAA game should be, and we won't see anything compare to this for years.


Even though its touted as an open world game, it's more of a "do a mission any way you want" type of game. Open worlds usually have things to do other than the side missions or main missions on the map, Metal Gear doesn't achieve that. However there is more freedom to complete a mission than I've experienced in any other game.


Each mission usually consists of three main phases to be successful, but the player need not follow these if they don't like to. It goes Recon, Strategy, Execution. First thing that is suggested is the player get to a vantage point far from the enemy base. Use the special binoculars to tag all the enemies in the base, see their ratings across multiple categories, see who's wearing a helmet, and hopefully identify the main target to assassinate or save. The player must also know if there are communication relay outposts setup, resources to steal, and Anti-Air detection. These all play a factor on how the player will approach the mission. If all the communications are destroyed, the base can't call for backup. But if you are spotted while still active, there will be a world of trouble ahead if spotted.

The next thing the player has to do is figure out how to infiltrate or attack the weak point of the base, and using which weapon loadout. Are the anti-air and communications network close to one another? Can I C4 both of these at the same time and call in a gunner chopper? These are things the player has control over, and its great feeling like your intelligence can result in the success or failure of a mission. There are two main countries the game is played in. One has mountainous terrain while the other is more flat. The mountain terrain offered better vantage points but there were limited ways to infiltrate due to natural borders. There is usually the front door, back door, and then a secret way that must be found which had the best advantage. As the game progresses, it becomes more essential to find that secret way in order to successfully complete a mission. The more flat country offered poor vantage points but the player could attack a base from any point in which they like. Having both offered different ways to strategize and kept gameplay from becoming static.

Next comes the execution. At its core MGSV is a stealth shooter, but killing is optional and often not recommended. The entire game revolves around building a base, and kidnapping enemies is more efficient than killing them in order to build that base. Kidnapped enemies are "convinced" to join your cause once they reach base. An airstrike is not recommended, but as the game goes on you can unleash a cloud of sleep gas instead of a bombardment. This knocks out everyone that can then be transported to the base via kidnapping balloons. Researching different weapons, armor, and types of hand propelled explosives make each mission different. For example in an "eliminate" mission a confiscated tank and light machine gun would be the approach. In a hostage rescue mission, powerful tranquilizer would do the trick.

Base Building

The more the base is built, the more weapons and armor can be researched. This drives behavior during missions, because 90% of the time the player is trying to accrue assets so they can upgrade their stuff. This means temporarily stunning enemies with tranquilizer guns, sneaking up and choking them up, or shooting them with flat rounds. The downside to that, is if an enemy discovers a sleeping enemy they will wake them up, and the the victim will alert the base. Things must be approached where the player will knock an enemy out, then be in position to kidnap them and add to their base. Enemies have different ratings that range from: E, D, C, B, A, A+, S, S+, S++. Extracting an enemy with a higher grade and assigning them to a base platform raises that platform's level, allowing for new upgrades. Enemy mortars, anti-air, and mounted machine guns can also be stolen in order to build up the base's defenses. However, every time something is stolen it costs money to transfer that, so as money is accrued, it's also spent rather rapidly depending on how aggressive the player is in building their base. 


It has been a while since I've played a game with such complex and developed characters. The narrative drives gameplay and assists in making it more immersive with cut scenes that deliver great voice acting and animation. The world is combined with an interesting mix of supernatural elements while also being very calculated and military. It's a strange mix that shouldn't work, and at times seems unbelievable. But then again, the motives of all the characters isn't always clear, so the viewer is forced to pay attention as things unfold in a unpredictable manner. The story is also told through level design and cassette tapes in case the player wants more narrative. It's a great approach because everything ties in together, and the world is more cohesive and developed. The main villain, Skullface, is a complex character that you can't help but secretly like. His motives, even though evil, have some logic behind them. If the viewer is as cold hearted and calculated, they can easily get behind the villain and appreciate his character. Although, the guy looks like a ghoul from Fallout.


Very bold colors and clean character models, while maintaining a very crisp 60fps frame rate that never went down ONCE. It was amazing the experience of having a piece of software that run on the xbox one that looked this good, without any issues. This is especially different when comparing to Fallout, which has inferior graphics and tons of frame rate issues. This is an example of technical excellence that any AAA game should follow. The only other game that compares is MKX, but that is a 2D fighter and doesn't have to deal with canyons, vehicles, helicopters, explosions, and all the other stuff in this game. The animations of the cut scenes were precise and conveyed emotion, it felt more like an animated theatrical film rather than a video game. I don't know how MGSV did not get the amount of hype it should have. 


Never have I played such a complete game end to end. It's nothing like any Metal Gear I've ever played, nor any game I've ever played. Combining the freedom of choice and large variety of weaponry creates a different gameplay style for everyone. While one person might go in with a tank, another might go in with a suppressed pistol. There is 100+ hours of gameplay in this masterpiece, and everyone should purchase this game at full price. Hideo Kojima puts his name everywhere in this game, but I think I would do the same. He created one of the best games ever produced and now the world knows it. 

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