Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Metal Gear Solid V - TPP (00)

When I finished Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, I was rather disappointed. I had been aware that Ground Zeroes wasn’t a full game, but the $20 price tag set my expectations too high for what amounts to a single-level demo (with a handful of remixes of that same level). It was an impressive demo, to be sure, but I was far less excited for the full game.

This lack of enthusiasm was a major departure from the insane amount hype that I experienced leading up to Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. The announcement of said game is what prompted me to purchase a PlayStation 3. And the months leading up to its released found me gobbling up every preview that I could get my hands on. If anything, my pre-MGSV days mirrored my general malaise toward the current console generation.

Metal Gear Solid V - TPP (1)
Vacationing in Afghanistan with Big Boss

That all changed when the first wave of reviews hit the scene, the general consensus being that Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was a game changer for the open-world genre. I decided to snag a (digital) copy of the game from some deal site that was offering a discount. Once I completed the strangely difficult introductory mission, I ventured out into the deserts of Afghanistan to sneak around and put some guys in a sleeper hold. This has always been a dream of mine, so my aforementioned lack of enthusiasm quickly transformed into a frenzied fervor.

In no time, I was thoroughly convinced that Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was the greatest game that had ever been made.

Metal Gear Solid V - TPP (2)
Hush, now, baby…

I think the greatest strength of MGSV is the mission structure. The entire game is presented as a series of missions, rather than single linear one. It’s a fundamental shift from previous games in the franchise. This granular structure may come at the expense of the cinematic presentation that fans of the series might expect, but the moment-to-moment gameplay loop of this game is by far the most addictive one yet. Kojima (series director) may have wanted MGS4 to be a blockbuster movie, but he wants MGSV to be a Netflix original series. It worked. It didn’t matter that I had to go to work the next morning; I just needed to play one more mission… and then one more mission… and then one more…

Some might complain that the missions are a bit repetitive. It is true that the mission objectives often bear similarity to one another, but the game allows a great deal of player agency. You can approach each mission however you like: with all of the explosive indulgence of a Michael Bay film or carefully executed stealth. Like I hinted at before, I prefer to systematically send every soldier to sleepy-time. While this was technically the case with previous MGS games, the noisy approach is far more rewarding in this game than any other.

And that’s only a portion of the game. One of the most satisfying parts of MGSV is the base-building that drives much of the variation of the rest of the game. As I made my way through the arid countryside of Afghanistan, I was constantly on the lookout for expert soldiers to recruit to the Boss’s Diamond Dogs team. Our Mother Base kept getting bigger, and with a larger staff came the opportunity to research advanced weapons technology, which affected the way I approached my missions in the field.

Steam tells me that I’ve played this game for 156 hours, and I still want to go back to replay a few more missions and continue to upgrade Mother Base. I know that’s what the Boss would want me to do.

…and I want nothing more than to make the Boss proud.

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