Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, a much anticipated title, was released on Sept. 1, 2015. It was exactly what the Metal Gear Solid franchise needed after the disappointment caused by its predecessor’s scant length.
The Phantom Pain’s plot details the aftermath of the events in Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes. At the beginning of Phantom Pain, Big Boss, the game’s protagonist, has awoken from a 9-year coma and is immediately thrust into a combat situation between himself and a would-be assassin from an organization named Cipher.
The prologue is very dramatic, with its adrenaline-pumping action sequences and the sneaking portions that left me anticipating certain discovery. It certainly does a great job of setting the theme for the rest of the game.
Though the prologue was set on a linear path as in every other Metal Gear game before it, the rest of the game is very open-ended, and there seems to be an endless number of things to do. It is a scope that rivals that of games like Fallout 3 or The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Every main story mission took me to a new area to be explored, and the more story missions I completed, the more other activities became available.
For instance, after completing the second story mission, Big Boss’s base is unlocked for customization. Customization takes many forms, and was highly influential on how I chose to play the game.
I could have eliminated every enemy that crossed my path, but most of the time I chose to capitalize on skilled enemy combatants because of the benefit that came with capturing them alive. Every enemy that I captured alive became an essential addition to the ever-growing ranks of the Diamond Dogs.
I found myself spending just as much time completing the side missions and FOB mission as I did the story missions, because each side-op had the potential to provide useful items or NPCs with extraordinary abilities that could accompany me on missions.
All of the extra items and companion characters I gained from being dogged in fully exploring the game gave me more play-style options. This gave the game great replay value, as I found myself replaying many missions with different weapon loadouts and companions to see if I could complete the missions more efficiently.
The only real disappointment I had with the game was the lack of an easily understandable story. The game provided just enough cut scenes to give me a general idea of what was going on during missions. It was frustrating, because I would often find myself being confused during the cut scenes, only to have my confusion cleared up later when I took the time to listen to the post mission recordings that appeared upon completion of every mission.
Metal Gear Online
Metal Gear Online is relatively small in scope compared to many of its other online first-person and third-person shooter counterparts, but even so, the online component of the latest Metal Gear game is done tastefully and adds to the overall experience. While the game resembles other shooters to some degree, certain aspects that are original to the Metal Gear franchise make the online mode unique.
The player can choose from three distinct player classes (Scout, Enforcer and Infiltrator) as well as three online modes (Bounty Hunter, Cloak and Dagger and Comm Control). The maps could also be separated into regular or “rush” maps, which reduce the size of the maps, forcing players to encounter each other more often.
The scout class specializes in long-range tactical support, and it uses sniper rifles to tag and remove enemy players from the field from lengthy distances. The enforcer class sports heavy bullet-resistant armor and mid-range weaponry that encourages mid-range to close-quarters combat. The infiltrator class is purely stealth-based, and uses tranquilizer pistols, CQC and active stealth camo (a special type of camo that temporarily renders the user to have a chameleon-like camouflage).
Bounty Hunter mode is where I personally had the most fun. It encourages players to try different tactics, and rewards those who chose stealth over the standard “run and gun” playstyle. By adding the function to recover lost tickets by “fultoning” out enemy combatants instead of killing them and placing bounties on players who rely on lethality, it adds a new dynamic to what might have been another team death match replica.