The Phantom Pain is the kind of game I thought would never exist – one where every minute gameplay detail has true purpose. Its lack of story focus is sure to be divisive for the Metal Gear faithful, but the resulting emphasis on my story, my tales of Espionage Action, easily make it my favorite in the series. There have certainly been sandbox action games that have given me a bigger world to roam, or more little icons to chase on my minimap, but none have pushed me to plan, adapt, and improvise the way this one does. Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain doesn’t just respect my intelligence as a player, it expects it of me, putting it in league that few others occupy.
Despite the fact that I hit a few snags along the way, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain feels like a simultaneous celebration of the series, and a decidedly new chapter. It's equal parts tough and flashy, and it's fitting that if this is Kojima's last Metal Gear, he goes on a high note.
Every fan of Metal Gear has their favorite game in the series. For some, it's the unique gameplay quirks, memorable set pieces, or specific plot points that dictate their adoration for one game over another. When defining the best Metal Gear game, things get trickier, but with The Phantom Pain, that problem is finally resolved. There has never been a game in the series with such depth to its gameplay, or so much volume in content. The best elements from the past games are here, and the new open-world gameplay adds more to love on top. When it comes to storytelling, there has never been a Metal Gear game that's so consistent in tone, daring in subject matter, and so captivating in presentation. The Phantom Pain may be a contender for one of the best action games ever made, but is undoubtedly the best Metal Gear game there is.
I've Played 30 Hours Of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain And It's Friggin' Great
Hideo Kojima’s original Metal Gear was a top-down, screen-by-screen stealth title. Compared to the massive and ambitious world of The Phantom Pain, it’s hard to believe both games are products of the same creative mind. A series can’t survive this long without evolving, and The Phantom Pain is a testament to the importance of taking risks. An open world, a customizable base, a variable mission structure – these are not traditional aspects of Metal Gear, but they are what makes The Phantom Pain such an exceptional game. The gameplay, storytelling, and protagonists in Metal Gear may shift with each new installment, but Kojima’s ability to surprise and enthrall gamers remains unchanged.
Metal Gear Solid V is a game that always had a lot of potential. A great deal of this rests on the game’s replayability, as the player can return and approach missions from a range of different angles. I must also praise Kojima for offering up a game that is not simply engaging and cinematic, but is one that also grants the player some agency in how the story plays out. From the start, I was hooked, despite this being my first foray into the Metal Gear franchise. That being said, while the game serves as a sequel to Ground Zeroes, it works equally just as well as a standalone.
The Phantom Pain's story is, like other Metal Gear Solid games, complex — and frustrating in that complexity. It can be clumsy, silly and puerile, but we're still hooked. There are dozens of audio tape conversations we've listened to to flesh out the backstory, with dozens more still to soak in. Without a doubt, this game has series creator Hideo Kojima's touch throughout, a fact we're reminded of the dozens of times the game says The Phantom Pain was directed and produced by Kojima.
Aside from being a mildly engrossing troop management feature, Mother Base acts as a narrative precursor to Big Boss’ Outer Heaven fortress. It’s just one of a number of key elements in The Phantom Pain that adds gravitas to the events that preceded this chapter in Big Boss’ stor—and the known Metal Gear-related incidents that have yet to come. It takes talent to make the player think that a game director is “phoning in” a story only to realize later that every narrative beat had some degree of meaning. It’s only when I completed the story that I realized that every scene that made me rub my chin in puzzlement is a proverbial breadcrumb that offers a new perspective upon second viewing. A couple revelations are even significant enough to make one rethink the series as a whole. This is one of those rare instances where marathoning a game series is more meaningful after the latest sequel is released, not before.