Game review: Fitting end to The Metal Gear saga
The fifth and last installment in the Metal Gear solid series is here. And you shouldn’t miss a chance to play Snake, a.k.a Big Boss
Snake, a.k.a Big Boss, wakes up from a coma after nine years, minus a forearm, his body riddled with shrapnel and an especially large one sticking out of his head. To make things worse, everyone is out to kill him. After a nail-biting escape sequence that’s an action movie in itself, Big Boss sets out to build an army, to show the world that the greatest soldier to have ever lived is back and he wants payback. Not to mention, he’s voiced by Jack Bauer himself — Kiefer Sutherland.
The Metal Gear series has been around for years, sharing the same legendary status as Mario and Prince of Persia. It gained popularity with Metal Gear Solid on the PlayStation, propelling creator Hideo Kojima to cult status. Metal gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is the newest and the last game in the saga, closing the door on Big Boss and his sons.
Storywise, The Phantom Pain is a bit lighter than other Metal Gear games. Though, considering how complex the stories of those games are, it is still quite a handful for newcomers.
Thankfully, this time the overarching plot is more direct, while the rest of the story can be discovered in little tidbits as you play the game, in the form of finding cassettes strewn around levels or in the environment. A treasure trove for fans of the series.
Metal Gear Solid V drops you into various missions zones around the world which are large open sandbox levels with a bunch of objectives, and lots of gadgets and weapons at your disposal. The idea is to scout the terrain, then infiltrate and neutralise enemy bases, gaining intel. How you go about it is completely up to you. While you are by and large alone, later in the game you do get a support character, either your horse, a wolf or a female sniper character called Quiet who wears too little clothing to be taken seriously as a sniper, in direct contrast to the stark realism of the rest of the game.
This game rewards stealth play. Each encounter starts grading you on how you play. Progressing through the levels, knocking
out enemies and hiding from them, rescuing prisoners, all at a quick pace are rewarded with a coveted “S” rank. Not to mention you can send knocked out soldiers to your MotherBase to be part of your army.
In between these extremes are the fun bits. Being a sandbox, the magic lies in doing your own thing, getting creative with what’s there. You can call down a support helicopter. Later in the game, you get an array of neat gadgets to wreak all kinds of havoc, or get in and out like a ghost.
The environments are well-designed, and have day and night cycles with a functional weather system. Stealth under the cover of darkness works, so don’t waste it. Rain masks footsteps, while fog and sandstorms make for perfect cover.
For the average gamer not initiated into the series, Metal Gear Solid has a steep learning curve. Once mastered, the dynamics of the battle and stealth system is a lot of fun, and deep enough to get into. Solid V makes things a lot easier, adding fluidity to the control scheme. With intelligent contextual buttons and general responsiveness, it’s easy to jump into. What’s amazing is the way Snake moves in reaction to his environment. Pull your weapon out when prone and Snake moves his body around realistically when crawling. Excellent.
Some aspects have been streamlined. For instance, the codex calls, which now come in as you move around. The Phantom Pain is a lengthy game, taking you easily 30+ hours to finish. Apart from the stealth parts, to take on the bad guy Skull Face and his army, you are tasked with building your own army called “The Diamond Dogs” at your stronghold “MotherBase”. Here you can put your rehabilitated soldiers to go about doing their various jobs at the base which is managed in a very X-Com style. As you build the base and manage the resources you get off the field along with the in-game currency, GMP. The customisation options too cost GMP.
The game looks amazing on next generation consoles and on PC, with consistently smooth frame rates. The characters loom large on screen, with fluid and detailed animations. The sound and graphics really shine, especially at the cutscenes which show cinematic prowess, to rival movies out of Hollywood. Despite the graphic violence, this is a visual treat. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is very close to Kojima’s Metal Gear Saga and is highly recommended.
Developer + Publisher: Konami
PC/PS4/Xbox One/PS3/Xbox 360
Price: R3,599 for PS4 & Xbox 1; Rs 2,999 for Xbox 360 and PS3; Rs 999 for PC