KerryMike’s Thoughts on Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain

Yes, okay, I know. We are coming up on this game’s one year anniversary but I would still like to share my thoughts and opinions if you all don’t mind! Thank you!

November of 1998 marks a special time for me. It was a Friday, and that meant going to my local Blockbuster Video (Remember that place???) and searching for my weekend rental. My parents gave me a meager allowance every week and there was no better way to spend it. This was before we searched for Metacritic scores and thoughts from our favorite gaming journalist online. I simply searched for a game that looked interesting and tried it out. It was as simple as that. One Friday evening I saw a game that intrigued me to no end. The cover was white with glossy red letters reading, Metal Gear Solid. Tactical Espionage Action. What in the world is Tactical Espionage Action???? I had to find out. That weekend marked the start of my long and entertaining history with the Metal Gear Solid franchise and the creator, Hideo Kojima.

Let’s get one thing straight, I am not a real veteran of the franchise. I have not played every Metal Gear ever made. I have played Metal Gear Solid, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of the Patriots, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater and Metal Gear Solid 4. I have dabbled a little with the “offshoots” of the franchise such as Metal Gear Ac!d, Portable Ops and Peace Walker. None of them stuck with me although I still plan on finishing Peace Walker eventually. But the games have always made a major impact on me and kept me wanting more. Is the overall story bonkers? Absolutely. But it’s also enchanting. I can’t think of another franchise that gracefully mixes reality with the supernatural as well as Kojima’s work. After Metal Gear Solid 4 I thought I had come to the end of the Metal Gear franchise leaving on a high note. I was satisfied with the end of Solid Snake’s story although I would miss him. But little did I know I would find myself engulfed in another major Metal Gear title. Metal Gear Solid V: TPP has surpassed expectations and continues to draw me in even deeper.

I won’t go into all the mechanics and technicalities of gameplay but I will share my feelings on one of 2015’s best titles. Taking place in the 1980’s, Snake finds himself in a big “open” world. There are only a couple of locales, the Middle East as well as the lush jungles of Africa, but they are big enough to feel as if you are in a much bigger world. The detailed gameplay of Kojima’s creations are all here from shooting out lights, throwing smoke grenades into a moving vehicle, even making a horse poop to cause a truck spin out. Although the world is big and full of potential though, the story as well as the missions feel very redundant. Main story missions will add a thrill but a lot of the side missions will range from thrilling to just “blah”. But of course, that is all up to you to tackle all of these missions. If you choose not to, however, then you will miss out on some very important chances to generate income for upgrades around your base and some particular story events that may be passed up if you are not careful. The base in which I am referring to is the “Mother Base”, literally, of all your operations. As you play and gain currency, you will be able to upgrade, expand, and create different departments and entire sections of the base. You will also be able to expand into building entire separate bases to rival the original Mother Base as you progress.

So many people criticize Kojima for the elaborate stories and cutscenes but I have always enjoyed the craziness. Yes, a lot of this stuff is soooooo far fetched but it has a story that is entertaining and that is more that can be said about a lot of games hitting the market these days. That would be one of my main disappointments with MGS V: TPP. Despite an exhilarating intro, the story is very bland and “tame” when compared with the other games in the series. Most of the story missions will provide a little more by way of cut scenes and information but it all feels very sparse overall. There aren’t any twists or major revelations outside of one at the end of 100% completion of the story and side missions. That in itself is an injustice to me. Why should the player have to grind through hours of side missions and extra tasks to get the “real” ending of the story. Isn’t paying the retail price enough to earn that?

For a game that marked the departure of Hideo Kojima, it seems as if it really didn’t have his complete influence. The gameplay is amazing and the visuals do not disappoint at all. But for me, it feels as if I am looking at, and playing, a “made for TV” Metal Gear Solid instead of the grand spectacle I had come to enjoy over the last 17 years of the Metal Gear Solid series.