Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Review (PS4)


Developer: Kojima Productions
Publisher: Konami

Main Review

Review Context: I have played all previous Metal Gear Solid games many times.
Date of Playthrough: September 1, 2015

The objective was to extract a target POW. The base was heavily guarded, but managing to sneak through was easy. An interrogated guard tells me the location of the target and then collapses into an unconscious slump when the tranquilizer dart hits his head. Find the target, Fulton him out, and get to the extraction zone. This is just a fraction of what Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain has to offer.

Metal Gear Solid V is massive. With two main areas located in Africa and Afghanistan, you have a ton of room to explore, extract, infiltrate, or straight out invade. There is no limit to what you can do when you are sent to the field and the world feels very much alive by adapting to how you play. You can be making your way to an objective when an enemy patrol passes by while your not paying attention. Making simple mistakes, like not checking corners or simply not seeing a guard will put the base into an alert state. If you return to the base later it may have more guards stationed there, or have a raised alert level. Infiltrate too much at night and you’ll find guards using more flashlights, spotlights, and night vision goggles. If you succeed with too many headshots then more helmets will be issued to soldiers. Even if guards notice soldiers, materials, or prisoners missing, they could raise the alert level. If you truly wanted to, you could play various hits from the 80s like Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” from your helicopter as you enter or leave the combat area.


Building your home, Mother Base, becomes like managing a business. From Mother Base you can build FOBs (Forward Operating Base), order new weapons, gear, outfits for the field, send soldiers out on missions to earn extra income, or go on story missions or side ops. The bigger you build Mother Base means you can recruit more soldiers, unlock more weapons or gear to develop, as well as more field support options like an air strike. Visiting your Mother Base will build the moral of soldiers, as will sparring with soldiers as they eagerly salute you, so be sure to visit often. When you do visit Mother Base you may have spent a while in the field, so taking a shower at Mother Base will be important if you want your soldiers to respect you (because nobody wants a smelly, blood covered boss).

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain’s story is very well done. Immediately following the events of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, the story starts with you, Big Boss, waking from a nine-year coma and things going into chaos. Like normal Metal Gear fashion, there are plenty of head-turning moments and supernatural elements that keep the plot tense and interesting. The story is about revenge; Revenge for the events of Ground Zeroes, as well as other motivations to build a massive army to confront Big Boss’ nemesis Cipher. Unlike past Metal Gear games, the story detracts from the very cinematic storytelling that fans have come to expect. This does lead to pacing issues with the story, with a lot of missions feeling like filler slowing the story down. Each mission is also reminiscent of a TV series show opening and closing credits at the start and end of each mission. Not only does this become tiresome when the story spans across fifty missions, but it also cuts story segments off in the middle of really tense cutscenes that are trying to drive the plot forward, but ultimately break the immersion that the writing can easily wrap you up in.


A lot of plot pieces are also played through cassettes, with each being an average of two to three minutes. The cassettes are trying to avoid the long winded codec calls from past games, but also if left unheard, can leave a lot of information crucial to the plot out of the story. A lot of background information is passed through cassette tapes, and had these just been cutscenes or codec calls while you continued the mission it would have been implemented a lot better than they did. Big Boss is also a lot quieter than previous installments, even though he is now voiced a Kiefer Sutherland. Kiefer Sutherland does well as playing Snake, but the only time you hear him in a lot of dialogue is through the cassette tapes where you can truly see his performance. The few lines he has in the story just do not flow well. Other voice talents, whether reprising a role or like Kiefer, newcomers bring together a great cast that drive the choppy story to an enjoyable level despite the pacing issues. The story is split into two sections: Chapter One, which is the main plot of the game involving revenge for the events of Ground Zeroes, and then Chapter Two, which is set tying up the loose ends of Big Boss’ story as well as connecting this game to the rest of the Metal Gear games. While the ending of the game does answer a lot of questions they opened up at the beginning of the game, there are a couple things the ending did not close. Keeping you on the edge of your seat, the ending may cause some concerns to some topics unanswered. 

The FOBs are a part of Mother Base that act as an online multiplayer, not to confuse it with Metal Gear Online 3, which isn’t available at the time of this review. As you play through Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain you will be able to unlock the ability to build an FOB, a Forward Operating Base. This base allows you to collect even more soldiers and materials to your ever-expanding Mother Base. The catch is to access this you need to be connected to the internet, as the base is eligible for invasion by other Metal Gear Solid V players. When this happens you will be contacted about the attack. You can either let your security team defend the base, or go yourself to stop the intruder in a one vs. one match. The attacking player has an objective they need to make their way to before they are eliminated by the defense. The attacking player can also take soldiers and materials as they progress through the invasion, and if they succeed, they keep everything they extract. However, the problem with FOBs is the connection. Since launch and up to the time of writing this review, servers for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain have been spotty with disconnections and slowdowns quite frequently. This means if you are in the middle of an FOB invasion and you are disconnected, it will be considered a loss. This isn’t the only time in the game the servers had issues. The IDroid, the menu system where you manage everything from Mother Base actions to choosing missions also has huge slowdown issues when connected to the servers.


There are also microtransactions in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. They mostly revolve around the FOBs to help players who may not be able to clock the sixty, seventy hours that other players may have achieved. However, additional FOBs are also locked behind a paywall, so you can only have one FOB that the game provides and have to pay extra for additional FOBs. Nothing in the game prompts you to use these options, and they can easily go unnoticed if one isn’t looking for them.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is fantastic! I have completed all story content and many side ops with 60 hours clocked and many more to come. Many games claim to let you play the way you want, but Metal Gear Solid V truly lives up to that promise. While primarily stealth focused, there is nothing limiting a player to going guns blazing. The amount of customization is top notch, and the gameplay is the best that this series has to offer. While the game does have pacing issues and some technical problems, they hardly put a damper on the amount of fun anyone can have with this game. It’s clear to see the developers put everything they had into making a great game, and because of that a great product was released that everyone should check out.

Similar Games Liked:
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (PS3)
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (PS4)


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