Game Review: Metal Gear Solid V – The Phantom Pain

I hold Metal Gear Solid very near and dear to my heart – probably in my top 2 or 3 PS1 games of all time. It’s up there with Final Fantasy 7 and 10 and Tony Hawk Pro Skater. Those games were so good and, in my opinion, the best entries in their respective series. And, in all of the above mentioned series, the following entries were disappointing – to me. I don’t mean that they were bad, but I ended up not being nearly into FFXI, FFXII, or THPS2 than I was into their predecessors. I actually went back to FFXIII and found that Final Fantasy had moved past me. I was so distracted by the corny dialogue that I had to quit playing. Had I gotten too old for JRPGs? Or Japanese developed games in general? Based on this, I was SO worried about Metal Gear Solid V that I stalled on buying it, at least until the price dropped to $20. Even after I purchased it, I waiting a month before jumping in. I just didn’t want to be disappointed.

It turns out I had very little to worry about.

Edit: IT’S $13.91 ON AMAZON RIGHT NOW!!! STOP READING AND GO BUY IT!!!
(but please come back and continue reading…)

First off, this game plays like a dream. While the controls are a little complicated at the start, once you adjust they are silky smooth and intuitive. Within the first couple of hours, switching weapons and items or engaging in close-combat moves feels natural and fluid. The stealth action is by far the best I’ve played. It’s fun, tense, and due to some slightly dumb AI, is forgiving. Head shots, take downs, and hand-to-hand combat feel really good.

The game is easy to digest in small doses as well as day-long marathon runs. Most of the main story missions, depending on how you choose to do them, take around 45 minutes to an hour. There are about a million side missions that you can use to explore the world, practice you stealth or combat skills, or simply take a break from the main story quests.

The game is MASSIVE. There are 150+ missions and two huge, wide-open areas to explore. Which makes the freedom within the story and missions really nice. When you enter a mission, you get the objectives and then are dropped into the area with no further instructions on HOW to complete the mission. You can go in stealth or guns blazing, depending on how you like to play. The scoring system encourages you to be as quiet as possible, but if scoreboards aren’t your thing, you can have some fun playing with explosives and machine guns.

Overall, I felt the story is where this game fell a little short. The opening is gorgous and very cinematic. I was expecting it to be more interactive, but it was fun to run through and gives a good introduction to the main characters in the storyline. The main plot is solid and the pacing, for the most part, it really well done. My problem is that after chapter 41 some of the missions are repeated with a higher level of difficulty. I don’t mind having to do the same missions again but it was kind of jarring in the story because there wasn’t ever an explanation for WHY I had to do the mission again.

Technically speaking…
This game is nothing short of amazing from a technical standpoint. It looks gorgeous, the environments feel authentic and lived in, and the character animations are really well done – body slamming a guard looks and feels as enjoyable as I would imagine it would be. The sound and music is also really well done. The use of audio cues to indicate potential danger is really nice and the sound affects make the world come alive. The dramatic music during some of the post-mission cut scenes is kind of heavy handed at times, but otherwise it’s all spot on.

Verdict: 9.0
This is the most fun I’ve had in a video game since my first go-round with Fallout 3. The game play is amazing, graphically it’s nearly flawless, and the audio cues, sound, and music are masterfully done. The story gets a little choppy at the end and the game is so big that I lost track of the story from time to time, but the game itself is so fun that it didn’t really bother me much.Coming home to play MSGV is akin to coming home to your favorite sweatpants. It’s so much fun that it doesn’t really matter WHAT you’re doing, just the activty of being IN the game is enough to kill an evening or three. If you haven’t already bought/played this game, I can’t recommend it enough – even if you’ve never played a Metal Gear game.

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