Developer: Kojima Productions
Release Date: September 1st, 2015
Author : Adam Daniels
Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain is Hideo Kojima’s swan song to the franchise he has been working on for over 20 years. Kojima put his heart and soul into this last game to give his fans everything they have loved about the franchise, and making it even better than before. Phantom Pain starts you out nine years after the events of Ground Zeroes, and ten years after the events of Peace Walker. Without spoiling anything, the game starts out in a classic Metal Gear way with an epic cinematic, but with something a little different; it’s playable. The beginning portion of the game plays out before you with the ability to move around a little bit, but not enough to actually affect the cinematic, it is more interactive. The prologue to the story is more like a 45-minute video than a tutorial beginning, but still teaches players the need-to-know basics. It sets the tone for the rest of the game, ensuring fans that this will be as crazy and fun as the previous Metal Gears and that this is in fact, a Kojima game.
Phantom Pain follows in its story-line predecessor, building up the game design of Peace Walker more than any of the previous numbered titles. In Phantom Pain players are set out into two large, open world maps where you can explore, do side quests, do main quests, and collect resources at whatever pace the player chooses. This differs from other Metal Gear games where you are set out on a linear path to complete the story being told. Another part that is different than previous games is the cinematics, any fan of the series knows, that there are many jokes about Metal Gear Franchise being more like a movie than a Video Game. Kojima fixed this by taking out a large portion of the cinematic for shorter and optional cut scenes instead of the long 10-30 minute videos that fill out the previous games. The story is still there, it just isn’t shown to you in the same way.
In previous games, David Hayter voiced Big Boss and Solid Snake, but with Phantom Pain, the David Hayter was swapped out for 24’s lead actor, Keifer Sutherland. This is a strange change to the franchise, and with their being less monologue throughout the game, you never really get used to hearing his voice. Fans of the series might be slightly disappointed by this, and it loses part of its Metal Gear history by doing so. Sutherland does an amazing job, but with the lack of monologue you never really get a chance to fully appreciate his work.
After completing the first two main missions, which start automatically, Big Boss is taken back to a new home base, which will be built upon for the rest of the game, and where Big Boss’s new army, the Diamond Dogs, will be stationed. After an emotional and motivational speech from Miller, Big boss is set on a path to revenge for the events that occurred in Ground Zero 9 years prior. Big Boss jumps on a helicopter and is taken to the first map available, Afghanistan, to either continue the next main mission or do the first few side quests.
Throughout the next couple hours players are set free to continue the story or build up the newly created army. Phantom Pain does a great job at making either choice worthwhile without to much consequence to whichever is chosen. Players can go the entire main story without doing any side quests, and would be completely fine, beating the game with little trouble. It is beneficial to building up your base though, doing so gains players access to new weapons, tools, resources, and more as it is built up.
Part of the loss of doing this is the loss of enemy boss fights. Metal Gear games are known for their unique boss fights that help make Metal Gear a unique series. There are a few boss fights, but none of them live up to previous boss fights such as The End, Boss, Fat Man, and other classic boss battles that made Metal Gear history.
Kojima’s final game gives you another action packed, heart-racing story that will truly feel like perfect conclusion to his story. He does this while successfully completing his hopes of having an open-world game without diminishing the story. Phantom Pain is a perfect final entry in an amazing series.
Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain introduces a slew of new gameplay mechanics and refined mechanics from Peace Walker. Phantom Pain being an open-world style game has opens the Metal Gear franchise up to open-world tropes including side-quests, resource collection, random encounters, and more. Although there are some changes, the gameplay mechanics that matter still feel embedded in the Metal Gear franchise, and fans should feel right at home with the new addition.
Phantom Pain at the start keeps the feel of previous Metal Gear Games by keeping the menus, weapon windows, button layout, and other features generally the same. There are additional menus in the game that allow you to control your mother base from the iDroid. This is a useful tool they add in so that you don’t have to return to the base each time you want to develop weapons, add on to the base, or change around your military. The map gives you a display of the terrain and allows you to see where missions are located around you, as well as useful items. In the missions portion, you can look at the objectives of current missions, what side and main missions are available, or send your soldiers off on missions to collect useful resources. Phantom Pain utilizes its menus in simplistic ways that make the game more enjoyable.
Phantom Pain continues the tradition of stealth-style combat, where you try your best to get through each missions without setting off an alarm or alerting the enemy to your presence, but in this game, it doesn’t have the level of consequence of previous games if you are found, in fact, you can go guns blazing if you choose. That is one of the best parts of this game. It is a change of pace from previous Metal Gears, allowing you the option to play the game however you want. Of course, you are rewarded more by playing missions stealthily versus blowing everything up. As you level up Mother Base, it gives players the ability to craft new weapons, items and upgrades. That allows, for example, players to go all in with stealth by making every weapon silenced with tranquilizer ammo. Or, forgo stealth and create weapons with the highest level of damage and accuracy, it’s the player’s choice.
Now to get into what makes this game unique and fun in its own right. Phantom Pain allows you to capture enemies, animals and resources by using a tool called a Fulton, which is like a balloon that shoots whatever into the air to be caught up by an airplane, ala The Dark Knight when Batman is in Hong Kong. You can tranquilize or knock out enemies, and then Fulton them back to your base, where they then betray everything they have ever lived for and now work for you. This isn’t even the weirdest part, these little Fulton balloons will later allow you to Fulton tanks into the air to bring back to base. There is nothing funnier than Fultoning a bear into the air seeing its confused look as it is launched up to meet the plane.
Phantom Pain takes everything that has been established with Metal Gear, but then gives you even more options that make this game unique, fun, and enjoyable.
Metal Gear Solid: Phantom Pain returns to form with an epic sci-fi, alternate history tale that is seeped in Japanese Pop-Culture. Metal Gear has always been rich in Japanese culture with the inclusion of giant mech robots and super powered humans. While the story doesn’t develop in the usual manner, it still holds strong to the Metal Gear tropes.
Phantom pain was created using Fox Engine, a brand new engine for the new generation consoles that creates dynamic effects and beautiful maps. Afghanistan and Africa maps bring you to those places as you go through them from the layout of the maps to the random weather appearances. When running through Afghanistan the geography of it is rocky, mountainous, and desert that staying true to that country. Even the animals that inhabit these areas are true to its nature. While going to Africa is vastly different where it is flush with plants, animals, and open plains. While you will find areas of forest and hills, the majority of the Africa map is grassy plains. You will find zebras, water buffalo, hyenas and more stalking the land as you venture through it. Each one is meticulously created to bring each area a unique life-like experience for each map.
Another aspect of the Fox engine is the dynamic weather changes and solar cycle. These bring the game to life as they change the way players will interact with enemies. When a desert storm comes blowing in, players are able to sneak up and take out enemies without noticing, thanks to the way it distorts vision. During tropical storms they can sneak around with better cover and less worry about sound. Fox Engine also allows players to sneak around better during night than during the day depending on the outfit equipped. The solar cycle also affects the cycle that enemies are stationed. These events happen randomly with only a short heads up from your intel team which then quickly overcomes the entire map. The Fox Engine brings the game to life in a masterful way.
The Phantom Pain is vast game with endless hours of fun, unique gameplay and missions that make this game great. It isn’t just that there is hours for you to go through the game, but the experiences that can happen while playing it. Phantom Pain allows you to do any mission you want, the way you want it. Calling down Walker, fully loaded with missile launchers, automatic pistols, grenades, and more while storming through a base eliminating heave-armed guards is extremely satisfying. Alternatively, playing as stealthily as possible, trying not to take out any enemies and finish the objective is just as satisfying, though much harder. This game creates events that create stories that will make players want to tell people all about it.
While Phantom Pain is already a huge game, Konami is set to release Metal Gear Online on October 6th. A new free addition to anyone who purchases Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain done with it. In Metal Gear Online players create their own avatar online, and continue to use the same control scheme as you will be use to from the main game. Metal Gear Online offers 3 classes to play; scout, enforcer, and infiltrator. Metal Gear Online offers missions that players can go head to head with other players to work together to complete objectives.
Entertainment Value: (25/25)
Overall Score: (98/100) A