Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Review
Trying to review Metal Gear Solid after most major outlets already gave it a perfect 10/10 score is really difficult. Going in, expectations were too high. From what some outlets wrote, I was about to play and review the game of the generation.
Well, I won’t be passing on any surprises: Metal Gear Solid V is probably one of the best game I have played yet on Xbox One – battling with the Witcher 3 for that top spot! – despite the fact that, frankly, I suck at it.
There really isn’t a point to trying to explain Metal Gear Solid. In fact, I’m not even going to try, because telling you what happens leading up to this title is not as good as, A) playing it yourself, or B) watching the necessary backstory videos on youtube. According to former writer and MGS series expert, Mat Growcott, new players should read up on Metal Gear Solid, Metal Gear Solid 3, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, and Metal Gear Solid Ground Zero. Ground Zero was actually a free Games with Gold for Xbox One a few months back, and only takes a few hours to complete. It is worth playing through prior to beginning The Phantom Pain.
PS4 the Ideal Version?
I have not played The Phantom Pain on PS4, but I assume it plays better than on Xbox One. It all comes down to the controller. To be fair, The Phantom Pain has one of the MOST complicated control schemes I have ever seen in a video game, and when you begin playing you will understand why. However, one control mechanism on Xbox One really doesn’t work.
One of the items you will use more than anything else is the binoculars. Don’t scoff at that statement. You will use them more than any weapon, grenade, or item. On PS4, players activate the binoculars by pressing one of the two right triggers. On Xbox One, they are activated by holding down the right bumper. In no world is the holding down a bumper as easy as holding down the trigger, so using the binoculars on the Xbox One is incredibly aggravating. This is my biggest, and only main issue with The Phantom Pain. If you can play it on PS4, that is the route you should go.
Some players have mentioned minor tearing and frame rate issues on Xbox One, but these are issues that were incredibly infrequent, and generally unnoticeable.
So Much Content, All Delivered to Perfection
Most games that come out now try to do more than they probably should. Games like Mad Max, for example, are fun titles, but do a lot of things OK, and very few things great or outstanding. It is hard to blame the developers really: with so many quality games coming out year after year, they attempt to provide more bang for the consumers buck.
Metal Gear Solid V delivers on everything it sets out to do. In fact , I kept looking for flaws in the game and couldn’t find them. Even the lackluster story doesn’t make this game bad. There is so much to do, so much lore to read into, audio cassettes to collect, ect. Getting bored with Metal Gear is nearly impossible, and Kojima should be applauded for that.
When watching game play videos from E3, I was excited to see what Metal Gear Solid would offer. I have been blown away. Reading previews form many outlets, I assumed I would be doing the same task, over and over again, with slightly different objectives. This is generally a reality of open world games: fetch quests, kill ‘x’ quest, and the like. While Metal Gear definitely follows this same philosophy, each mission feels unique and different. Whether it is the time of day, the lay out of a base, or even the desire to score a better end-of-mission ranking, each level feels and looks fresh. There is always suspense, there is always action, and you always feel rewarded.
One of the things I’m not a big fan of, however, is the games desire to give you a ‘score’ based on a number of factors: shot accuracy, how long it took you to complete the mission, whether or not you alerted guards, and so on. This feels really out of place in an open world game. The point of playing an open world vs a linear title is the ability to tackle a problem (mission) how you the player want. The game shouldn’t penalize you for doing that, even if it is just a simple letter at the end. Someone who lays C4 near a truck in order to lure enemies nearby and blow them all to bits should be rewarded for creativity, not docked because he or she didn’t remain in the shadows. It’s not a problem that it exists, but more an annoyance.
Maximizing Game Play
Metal Gear solid isn’t just about being stealthy in a series of missions. There is plenty of planning that must go into each new mission. This is where Mother Base comes into play. Players have the ability to air-lift (via a Fulton recovery unit) animals, soldiers, captives, and even shipping containers to their base. The reason for doing this is to build a team back at the base that will provide translation services, defense, and research and development. Without a solid team backing you, the ability to get new and more powerful weapons and armor is nearly impossible. Players will need to decide on who to air lift, and when. Loading up on Grade D personnel isn’t the best idea, but getting those Grade A soldiers and developers on your team will take a lot of extra work. First and foremost: you cannot kill them when doing a mission, and often you will be required to carry their sleeping/stunned bodies out of the base before using your Fulton unit. Organizing and operating Mother Base is just as fun as participating in missions, and players should make sure they understand all of its moving parts to maximize the amount of time they will spend with Metal Gear Solid V.
Another fun addition to Metal Gear is the ability to take a partner on missions with you. Whether you use sniper extraordinaire Quiet or D-Dog’s ability to tag enemies within a base, deciding who will tag along with you is as important as what you decide to take with you. The more you spend in the field with your partner, the stronger the bond and trust you will have. This is just another added level of depth that Konami has added to this title.
There really isn’t much to say that hasn’t already been said by many reviewers already. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is probably one of the best – if not THE best – game available on current generation consoles. It will be hard for any game this year to top Metal Gear. However, I’ve said it once and I will say it again. I’m not convinced that the Xbox One version is the best version to play. If I had my pick, it would be PS4 all day long.
We will be updating this review and including our best tips and tricks as we play more of the game.