The Phantom Pain had a lot to live up to. It’s predecessor MGS IV was visually stunning and immersive. It’s one downside was that there was far more watching than playing. Having got my hands on the PS4 version I was pleasantly surprised to find out that The Phantom Pain was a sandbox game. Giving it the potential for days of free roaming game play.
Following on from the prologue Ground Zero. Big Boss awakens in hospital after being in a coma for nine years. He soon finds himself in charge of a mercenary group called Diamond Dogs. So he begins to build his forces and track down whoever it was that attacked Militaires Sans Frontières in Ground Zero.
Graphically the Phantom Pain is stunning. Kojima Productions seems to have squeezed every ounce of graphical power out of the latest Playstation. It delivers a world that makes you stop to take a look around. Days and nights come and go a bit too fast for my liking. However the changes in lighting as the sun goes down are realistic. You can move around on foot, in a vehicle or horse or later in the game you get control of a weird looking walker thing (technical term lol) so getting about these large maps are not a problem, you can also use a helicopter to take you clear across the map if need be. This helicopter also serves as a forward command base.
Combat is a lot like previous metal Gear games which actually fits in well to the new sand box setting. You can approach a target area from multiple directions and either employ long distance sniping or sneak in close and silently take down each enemy soldier one by one.
The Phantom Pain is brill, a fine addition to a succession of great games that pushes Metal gear out into a new age of gaming but in my opinion it does have a few niggling things wrong with it. The first is the plot twists. I love a good plot twist however The Phantom Pain twists, until finally I was wondering if I was following them all. Then there is Quiet, a female soldier sent to kill Big Boss as he recovers in hospital. Only to be horribly burned when a mysterious patient helps Big Boss escape. Later she returns as a sniper to try again, Big Boss has no choice but to face her in battle. You have a choice to either kill or capture her. If you decide to take her prisoner (best way is by tranquiliser rifle) She will for some unknown reason become your companion providing spotting and sniper cover for you on missions.
Many people have criticised the lack of clothing her character wears which is explained by her being giving a life saving treatment a side effect of which is she now breathes through her skin. The fact you can unlock clothes that fully cover her body makes this excuse as flimsy as her bikini.
Another niggling little thing about The Phantom Pain is all the talking on cassettes that you can unlock. Some are up to ten minutes long and apparently you have to at least start listening to them all to unlock certain missions later on. I skipped through a lot of these as listening to them got boring quickly. Technology in the game also doesn’t match the era or the games own time line. Sure you have a cassette player to listen to music but then on the other hand you can open worm holes too? I didn’t see any worm holes in Metal Gear IV so what happens to them in the future?
There is also an odd way in which you build your forces, you can collect resources some are already processed so you simply pick them up and somehow they make their way back to Mother Base to help build new structures however others are not processed and can be found in shipping containers around the map. To take these you have to unlock a Fulton device and use it to lift the shipping container up into the air to be collected by a plane. Fulton devices are also used to collect vehicles and unconscious enemy soldiers.
Once captured somehow you convince the enemy soldiers to join the Diamond Dogs. I actually found it fun in an absurd kind of way sneaking up behind enemies, knocking them out and tying a balloon to them before watching them float up into the air however I can understand that a lot of people would find it a monotonous task.
Metal Gear solid V: The Phantom Pain is brill. It combines real world settings with fantastical technology, stealthy take downs or all out fire fights and an in depth if however sometimes hard to follow plot. At times I was bemused or bewildered by it, at others slightly bored and irritated but few games have made me feel all this and still made me want to play it more. That is something other game developers should take note of. I can’t wait to see if any DLC comes out.