Konami for their 28 years of unyielding support to Metal Gear franchise since 1987. The Phantom Pain is probably the best installment of this stellar series both in terms of story and gameplay, and it provides that “missing link” that connects the 2010’s Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and the 1987’s original Metal Gear. Though I personally felt that there were quite a few questions left unanswered at the end but the game efficiently set up the events relating to the transformation of Big Boss from a compassionate hero to a well-known reprobate.   It was not long before when the degree of anxiety and avidness was mounting, but here it is, the end to an era of absolute awesomeness. Indeed, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain marks the perfect send off to Hideo Kojima, the greatest Game Designer of all times and his three decade long Metal Gear series. Much appreciation to
Released on September 1st 2015, The Phantom Pain takes place nine years after the events of Ground Zeroes, starting off with one of the most horrifying prologue I have ever seen. For those of you who didn’t play 2014’s Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, it can be a bit confusing to relate the story at first. Following the Big Boss’s comeback from a nine year coma, the game revolves around the deadly acts of vengeance by Punished “Venom” Snake and the two veterans, Ocelot and Miller, against the Cipher Organization who were responsible for the destruction of MSF( Militaires Sans Frontières).
Big Boss joins the new mercenary group, Diamond Dogs, formed by Miller which has it’s offshore Mother Base at Seychelles and ventures through Afghanistan on missions to defeat the phantom pain caused by Skull Face, Cipher’s new leader, together with ‘The Third Child’, a psychic, helped by the agonizing Man of Fire. Big Boss intervenes Skull Face’s plans to unleash a nuclear parasitic attack with the help of his new metal gear, the ST-84 ‘Sahelanthropus’ and the story goes on to set up the events for the ‘liquid’ Snake and the future installments.
“Kojima Productions, the finest and revolutionary developer of the 21st Century” - There is no denying to the fact that the developers, Kojima Productions did a splendid job developing upto 50 main missions with over 100 side-ops that gave us an enthralling 60 hours of intense gaming with mind blowing graphics and cinematography. After receiving bit of complaints about the franchise’s previously adopted style of having a particular approach to a mission, Kojima has effectuated a new sandbox style of gameplay which allows the players to complete a mission with the freedom of approach. Players take control of “Venom” Snake, a legendary 21st century soldier, and have the luxury to scroll through an arsenal of weaponry and equipments together with binoculars and an i-Droid.
“Confused what an i-Droid can do?”
The i-droid is a newly introduced gadget which can synchronize and organize the missions lists, carry out the development projects taking place at mother base and many more. Check out the three main parts of the i-Droid in the following.
- Mother Base:- The i-droid provides the features of developing and customizing new weapons and equipments using the raw resources like fuel, plants etc which can be collected during missions as well as it facilitates the staff management of the different departments available on Mother Base.
- Map:- Probably the most essential feature where the player can locate enemy camps, plan their attack strategies and execute the mission objectives efficiently.
- Missions:- It provides the list of main missions and side ops available. Players can call air support, supply drops, switch between their AI buddies during ongoing missions and even listen to cassette tapes for more information.
The Phantom Pain has some very unique features which actually made the game so special to me and served as the driving force to complete 50 long missions besides the side ops. Most interesting part is the buddy system, the typical AI companions who accompany Snake during missions. There are four of them, namely, D-Horse, D-Dog, D-Walker and the erotic female silent assassin, Quiet. One word to describe Quiet is that she is sexy. Yeah, she is! One of the typical areas where Kojima has focused is to build on the sexual glamour of the game and I sometimes feel that he may have overdone it. On a number of occasions, one can find the camera angle zeroing in to the breasts exposing her body in detail. It is captivating but it is annoying too.
The weather system and the dynamic day night cycle is probably the hall mark of the game on which depends the successful completion of a lot of missions. Sometimes, it may happen that you need to wait for a specific time in the night to complete a mission objective. Don’t get surprised, as this can be dealt with the use of a special phantom cigar that helps passing on time. Moreover, the special fulton surface-to-air recovery device which we experienced in 2010’s Peace walker installment, makes a comeback. We can extract out enemy personnels, prisoners, vehicles and even tanks to the mother base which can be used later.
There is also the stealth assist and reflex action modes which enhances the gameplay by many folds. Looking at the design of the missions, it can be deduced that kojima has emphasized more on the use of stealth tactics to approach a mission. There comes the essential use of the tranquilizer darts gun and Snake’s prosthetic arm, a deadly metallic arm which can knockout enemies while performing a CQC (Close Quarter Combat). Not to mention, the missions do get difficult at times, but the facility to use the chicken hat helps a bit as it reduces the chances of getting noticed by enemies. But personally I feel the hat gives the impression of being a noob.
The graphics of the game is very well developed with sharp desert characteristics of Africa making it more phenomenal and lively. Developers have provided an immaculate look of a soldier to Snake. During battle, his body and face gets covered with blood which imparts a deadly fear to the enemies. This even goes for Quiet, the female assassin and AI buddy. The cinematography is also appreciable with short lived cutscenes between missions and it is definitely improved from the previous installments where they tended to be longer and detailed. Coming to the voicing, Kiefer Sutherland replaces David Hayter as Big Boss. The 24 TV series protagonist takes up on the job quite well and being a fan of the TV series, it was fun listening to his deep and serious voice throughout the game.
The game has definitely lived up to it’s expectations and delivers the promises that it made. But, there are few concerns which have frustrated me at times and trust me, it’s really irritating.
- The game is very well customized for the console gaming but I think the PC experience could have been better. The keyboard configuration is troublesome regarding the fact that you may have to spend some time in the beginning to figure out the correct key combinations for actions. The hint system could be improved as well.
- The weapon switch during the intense boss fight missions is a real pain. The seconds which gets wasted while holding the weapon button and switching, can cause us the battle. Also, everytime you need to open your i-Droid for requesting supply drops and fire support which gets tougher during a continuous boss fight.
- Checkpoints don’t easily get saved and if you die during a mission, you may have to start once again right from the beginning of the cutscenes.
- Finally, kojima’s style of introducing credits after every episode is unusual and funny.
The Phantom Pain also includes two multiplayer modes. First, the new Metal Gear online, developed by the Los Angeles Division of Kojima’s production. Currently, this is postponed to October 6th for consoles and January 2016 for PCs. The second mode is the extension of the Mother Base base-building feature. It includes expanding operations to ‘forward operating bases’ to generate resources and income for the single player campaign which in turn creates a player versus player mode where others can attack and steal the resources. The defending team can call their friends for help, customize the security and staffing patterns and deliver counter attacks as well.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is one of the most marvellous third person shooting games I have ever played. There is an uniqueness in the gameplay style which separates it out from the others of this category. The environment setup reminds me of the times of Delta force while the level setup makes me think of the strategy plans I used while playing Elite Warriors: Vietnam (not sure how many of you played that game). Though its not the best of those sandbox games I played but it definitely pushes me to improvise innovative tactical strategies. The storyline is carved out in an exquisite manner which nicely establishes the relationship among the different characters and the events from the prequel and sequel. The game bids goodbye to an impressive three decade long Metal Gear series and the true legend of gaming industry, Hideo Kojima, on a high note. If not for the little nuisances, the game deserved a perfect score. For all the gamers and Metal Gear fans out there, the game is a must buy for its stunning gameplay and a spectacular end to a 28 years of Metal Gear series.