reviews\ Aug 31, 2015 at 11:37 pm

Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain Review

"V has come to"

Back in 1987, Hideo Kojima revolutionized the gaming industry with Metal Gear back on the NES, asking players to forgo the use of weapons and instead try to sneak around enemies, infiltrate bases unseen and carry out missions as if you were never there. Nearly three decades later, Kojima proved to be a force to be reckoned with when it comes to the Metal Gear series. Sure, they're convoluted, with twists around every corner, and also never releasing in any sort of chronological order, but they're an amazing fusion of cinematography and gaming that's yet to be matched.

It almost seems surreal to say that I've finally played through a hell of a lot of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, but that day is finally here, rest assured, and what a magnificent ride it is. I'm going to try and keep any Konami and Kojima disputes out of this, and simply appreciate it for what a masterpiece of gaming design it truly is.

Kojima's brand style of realistic and crazy is back in full force with Phantom Pain, which takes place directly after the rather fantastic PSP game, Peace Walker. In a way, it feels like Peace Walker on crazy amount of steroids. The formidable PSP title laid the foundation and provided the blueprints for what Phantom Pain would become, as it uses a whole lot of gameplay elements found in the title, but of course refined to a sheen.

The Phantom Pain is a massive game not just based on the scale of the two giant maps you get to traverse across, but also with so many of its layers of gameplay elements. Completing missions seems to only be one slice of the pie, as you'll be tasked with managing your very own Mother Base (like in Peace Walker), developing new bases with various specializations like R&D and Support, and of course recruiting, mostly by force, soldiers to work for you in Mother Base.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Review

Ground Zeroes was an excellent appetizer to The Phantom Pain, giving us a taste of many new gameplay mechanics that would shine even better in the full title, not to mention it gave us a small playground to tackle various missions how we liked. There was no predetermined path, and players were encouraged to experiment with different approaches to solving the same problem. It's one of the reasons I was so OK with Ground Zeroes' price tag. Once you realized just how different even the same mission can be, it opened up crazy amount of replay value. Now picture that, but 300 times bigger, and you have The Phantom Pain. It's absolutely nuts how many times I've replayed one of the game's main missions, and it never played out the same way.

Both Afghanistan and Africa are giant sprawling maps that give players the ultimate freedom of infiltration, and for the first time really feel like you're doing this on your own. Sure, you might still have an assortment of gadgets at your disposal, with more as the game progresses, but you're still the one calling the shots. You're the one surveying the bases, seeking out targets, and infiltrating on your own path, instead of one that's premade for you like in past Metal Gear games.

Look, I won't beat around the bush, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is an absolutely stellar experience, one that I probably won't be able to put down for quite some time, but it's certainly not without some annoying mechanics.

So without further ado, let's check out what's good, what's not, and what my final verdict is.

*Editor's note* The list and verdict you're seeing here is based on not experiencing everything the game has to offer, due to the servers not being live at the time of playing. With that said, certain aspects like microtransactions and FOBs were not touched because they simply weren't in the game yet. I'll update this review once I get acquainted with all the mechanics, when the servers go live.

The Positives / The Negatives

The Verdict

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Mike Splechta GameZone's review copy hoarding D-bag extraordinaire! Follow me @MichaelSplechta
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