‘Metal Gear’ reinvented for a climactic finale

Video game review: ‘Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain’


Coutesy of Konami Digital Entertainment

Big Boss (left) teams up with Ocelot (right) to build a mercenary force for hire.

Tyler Newhouse, Staff Member

The “Metal Gear Solid” franchise wraps up on a higher note than any series could hope for. “Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain” maintains the charming tone of the previous games, but flips the series’ core gameplay on its head, introducing entirely new elements and expanding on old ideas.

The game continues the tradition of stealth game play that the series is famous for. Offering a blend of science fiction and fantasy, the “Metal Gear Solid” series houses a unique experience with a cult following. While previously available for Sony consoles, “The Phantom Pain” is available for Xbox, Playstation and Windows platforms.

The game’s greatest strength is the freedom of choice allowed to the player thanks to a new, explorable open world. “The Phantom Pain” departs from the previous games and allows players to explore Afghanistan and Africa with complete freedom, akin to “Skyrim” or the “Far Cry” series. This open design offers several different ways to complete missions. You could go in guns blazing, sneak past every guard unnoticed or find a happy medium between the two.

The game oozes customization options at every turn, reinforcing the theme of player choice. Before departing on a mission, you can choose what gear to take and at what time to deploy. Departure time affects the enemy AI, which is phenomenal. Enemies actually adapt to your play style in some impressive ways. Choose too many night missions and they’ll start bringing flashlights and night vision goggles. Employ head shots too frequently and they’ll start to wear helmets. The game does not leave you defenseless to these changes, however. After developing your offshore Mother Base, you are able to send soldiers on missions to destroy the supply of enemy flashlights and helmets, freeing up your play style again.

Throughout the game you will pick up blueprints to weapons and other helpful tools that can be developed on Mother Base, expanding your arsenal of weaponry. There is also a “buddy” system that allows you to take a companion out with you on missions. These companions have different talents, such as a dog that can snuff out and mark targets automatically, or a mute sniper that keeps her eyes on the battlefield as a whole and helps from afar.

“The Phantom Pain” fills in the gaps of Big Boss’s story by showing how he goes from American war hero in “Metal Gear Solid 3,” to a world power in “Metal Gear”.  What makes the storytelling strange is that the infamously long winded cutscenes from the previous games are all but gone, resulting in a sort of bare bones plot that doesn’t seem all the better for it.
Despite the lackluster plot, the emergent gameplay will create unique moments for everyone who plays. The game will also last anywhere from 25-50+ hours, making the purchase well worth the investment.