With Kojima having ended his contract with Konami, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is the final game of the Metal Gear series involving Kojima. The series has always been about tactical skill and strategy, asking you to think about your actions instead of rushing in blindly. By creating the optimal strategy which caters to your choices, different experiences can be had. While you might favor a stealth approach to avoid conflict, other players could go into planned gunfights to get the job done. Both ways are perfectly valid, as long as they are executed properly. This notion of choice is heavily evident in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and is used as a theme in which the game’s mechanics revolve around.
Playing as Big Boss, you set out to lead the military group The Diamond Dogs. The mission types given are usually very simplistic. While backstory is given to the missions you carry out, they ultimately boil down to simple objectives: get to a place, kill a person, or rescue another. The simplicity of the objectives is necessary in order to give players the option of choice.
Rather than have you stealth your way through guards without alerting any of them, a well placed C4 could kill or lead the guards away.
The goal is simple, but it’s up to you to find out how. This amount of freedom can be somewhat overwhelming in the beginning, especially to those new to this method of gaming. It goes directly against the grain of modern gaming in which players are told what and how to do something. Yet in this game, that gets thrown out the window. Everyone gets to tell their own cool stories of how the missions played out because everyone had the opportunity to approach the same scenario from a different angle.
The game is set out in an open-world environment.
This comes with the large amount of side missions expected out of open-world games. These missions are still usually fun due to the open nature of all the missions; however, it can mess up pacing. By allowing you to pretty much do whatever whenever you want, the game lacks a sense of urgency. When you do take up a mission, there is usually a good distance that needs to be navigated to get to your goal. The distance is somewhat necessary to allow you to tackle the mission from all sides, but it does mess up the pacing. With the fast paced and engaging story, the game seems to contradict itself by having you take your time. It can be argued that you can do the main story missions as fast as possible to follow the story, but that ruins the point of having an open-world. For many of the story missions, some seems to feel more important than others. This can make rushing story missions feel awkward at times even if you decide to do so. It feels as if the notion of choice was so heavily focused upon, that choice was given where it wasn’t beneficial to the game.
A feature that most games do not expand upon is the effect that failure has upon the gameplay. In most games failure results in replaying the level in order to win, which makes the game extremely limited. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain takes a refreshing break from the typical results that games have with failure. If you mess up sneaking around some guards, you’ll find yourself being forced into an unwanted gunfight. Ambushing a couple guards only to realize that they had reinforcements might have you improvising a sneaky retreat. The game doesn’t end when you fail, rather it expects you to adapt to your failure and make the best of it. This makes failure just as fun and exciting as success. It also adds variety to the choices that the game allows you to make. While failure may not seem like a choice, it becomes a choice through smaller decisions that led to the plan not working. To not have failure as an option would mean that the game could only be completed if done in a way that the developers had already thought of. With failure giving missions more depth rather than stopping the game outright, they feel much more dynamic and player focused. You don’t try to read the developer’s thoughts as you play, you make your own stories.
As a new addition to the Metal Gear series, Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain sets out to innovate new mechanics while evolving existing ones.
The new mechanics and the old ones all come together to create personal choice. Playing the missions allow you to create your own experiences which feel like a unique extension of your choices. How you play and succeed is a result of the choices you made to create success, even through your failures. One of the few possible issue with this is that the pacing of the main storyline can seem awkward at times. This seems to be an unfortunate result of giving an open-world that caters to your choices. Even with the pacing issues, the story still feels incredibly compelling. At times the main and side missions seem to blend together. While this may seem like a negative, within Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain it’s only due to the result of how involved each mission makes you feel. For fans of the series, this final Metal Gear game created by Kojima will feel like a proper sendoff. Combining the strategic play found in previous games along with new mechanics involving a more involved failure system makes the game both an evolution and innovation within the series.
● Players given freedom to play how they want
● Exciting side missions
● Open-world full of purpose
● Problems with story pacing