Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is Hideo Kojima’s finest work
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It’s no secret that early reviews of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain were organised by Konami themselves, by requiring reviewers from high-end media outlets to play the game for eight supervised hours solid for four days. I prefer playing at my leisure, making sure I experience the game in its entirety before submitting my opinion. Hence why the review is here now.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is one of the most anticipated titles of the year and it’s finally upon us. Big Boss wakes from a coma as a result of the closing events of Ground Zeroes, only to find the hospital is under attack. The infamous Revolver Ocelot soon comes to Boss’s rescue and after recovery, sends Boss out to rescue his old comrade Kazuhira Miller.

They then devise a masterplan to revitalise and build a new Mother Base to reap revenge on those who brought down Militaires Sans Frontieres. The plot goes deeper in true traditional Hideo Kojima style, exploring a fair few close-to-the-bone storylines such as child trafficking but hey, films have gone there without backlash and besides, you’re the guy who saves the day.

The surprising thing about the story is although the cut-scenes are superbly created with second-to-none voice acting, Big Boss actually says very little in comparison to earlier titles. Most scenes just find him standing there, talking more with his face and body language. This mildly frustrated me as Keifer Sutherland does a stellar job at playing the Boss. Luckily though, the supporting cast are up to the task.

A sequence of masterfully designed missions make up the main body of the game. Rescuing prisoners, taking out armoured units or stealing materials are among the goals. The magic of The Phantom Pain is that it feels different every time. Yes, you may be rescuing yet another unfortunate soul, but getting to them may be easy or hard – there’s no telling.

The AI is unprecedented. Enemies act and react like I’ve never seen before in a game, and Big Boss’s posture makes all the difference here. Crouching may not be enough to hide but crawling along the grass like a ‘Snake’ is advised. Or you could use a cardboard box with a model poster on it to make them drool in front of you making CQC a cake walk.

CQC acts as it did in Peace Walker. You can grab an enemy, then you have options as to what you can do with him. Interrogate him for information on mission objectives or blueprints or even where his buddies are located and afterwards choke him out or stick a knife in his throat. The choice is yours, make sure you hide the body though or they will go on alert, which will certainly ruin your day. Or you could let your buddy do the work. Your starting D.Horse is only really useful for transportation but later you can unlock D.Dog who sniffs out enemies and can kill on demand, or the infamous Quiet, a super assassin Sniper who can take out enemies quickly and even draw fire. The buddy system is a superb feature that is sometimes vital to success.

When it hits the fan, things get heated quickly and it’s hard to escape. Fight or flight certainly comes into play and gun play feels fantastic. There are so many options here that it’s almost overwhelming. Use inflatable decoys, use grenades to blow them to kingdom come, call in your chopper to help out or just simply hide it out; when the tension mounts, think fast or you could be mince-meat quickly.

On the battlefield though, you can use your trusty iDroid to manage your organisation. Assign staff to different departments within Mother Base or build new ones. It’s quick and easy, so much so you can do it in the middle of a firefight. These new platforms on Mother Base unlock more development options and can even kit out your staff so they can defend your base in case it comes under attack.

That’s where FOB (Forward Operating Base) missions come in. Online, players can come to attack and steal your materials. You can come back to defend it yourself but if you’re offline, you have to rely on your staff. Once they’re defeated, you can seek revenge as the game informs you who attacked you. Really cool.

In summary, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is possibly the best stealth open world game in existence, possibly the best action game in existence, and possibly the best looking game in existence.Kojima’s swansong is without doubt his finest work to date. It’s so easy to lose yourself in its world and wage your own war. Kept you waiting huh? It was worth every minute.