Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Be stealthy. Sneak in, complete your mission and sneak out without anyone realising you were there. Be crazy. Launch some rockets, blow-up stuff and run in guns blazing to get the job done. Be your own “Boss” and do things how you see fit in The Phantom Pain. This feature presentation of Metal Gear Solid V, continues where Ground Zeroes left off and with more of everything.

Pros

The following pro points from Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes also applies to The Phantom Pain: the audio, the AI, the on-rails shooting and the ability to replay completed missions.

The Phantom Pain takes the open world-ness of Ground Zeroes and expands it to gigantic proportions. It might not be Skyrim or Just Cause 2, but there are still very large areas to explore. Main missions have an area that you cannot leave, but outside of missions, can free roam a region and do whatever you want, including completing side-ops.

The introduction is really something. All the cutscenes being skippable can save time if you start again, but you must still play through some very slow moving parts. It is very long, but makes for a very good beginning for the game.

The graphics have improved since Ground Zeroes. Not sure what they did, but everything looks more realistic.

The ultimate in stealth technology returns in Metal Gear Solid V; the cardboard box! I absolutely loved the cardboard box in Metal Gear Solid 2, for the humour and for its effectiveness. The weird thing about The Phantom Pain is, rather than having boxes lying around, you summon them and they drop from the sky, even indoors!

Time flows continually unless you pause the game. Be careful where you check your map or information. A patrolling enemy may bump into you. On the plus side, waiting for nightfall to sneak around in the dark is a workable tactic.

Sneaking around is fun, but stealing a rocket truck to launch rockets at the enemy and rushing in to extract a prisoner makes for more creative fun. Vehicles and fixed weapons provides for more ways to get jobs done.

Learning to play The Phantom Pain is much easier than Ground Zeroes. Everything is explained as you play the game and with greater clarity. For people new to Metal Gear Solid, I recommend learning the ropes with The Phantom Pain before going back to Ground Zeroes.

You get a horse and a dog! What’s not to love. There are also other buddies you can call to your aid and each has different abilities. Animals are cooler though!

There is an interesting online mode of play called FOB missions. You build a FOB (Forward Operating Base) and you can try an infiltrate other players’ FOBs to steal stuff (or people). Other players can do the same with your FOBs. Unlike normal missions, there is a 30-minute time limit and you cannot pause. Plus, aborting the mission before completion means failure and there are penalties that go with it.

Cons

It does not look like anyone plays the Metal Gear Online part of the game anymore. I did not try it out many times, so it could be that I look around at the wrong time.

When I have the joystick plugged in, it stops the mouse from working. There is no option to disable the joystick, so I have to unplug it to make the game playable. Annoying!

Other Points

The following other points from Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes also applies to The Phantom Pain: being a points game, having side missions on the same maps, having checkpoint saves with only one save slot and continuing the interesting but confusing story.

Apart from FOB missions, there are also special online tasks and rewards for the single-player component of the game. Unlike HITMAN, if you play The Phantom Pain offline, you still get access to all the single-player missions and side operations.

There is a lot of base management. Research weapons and upgrades, assigning staff to jobs, managing resources. It felt like X-COM. Everything is explained in-game, but I just cannot remember what is what. The system works well and I am sure some people will welcome the extra variety to the game. Personally, I just wanted to quickly get into the action and found the whole management thing a bit in the way.

The Phantom Pain no longer deducts points for kills like in Ground Zeroes. Instead, you get bonus points for not killing anyone.

You can select other people to play missions. It was a bit weird, because all the dialogue still refer to you as Boss or Snake, even when you are not.

There are no difficulty settings for The Phantom Pain. Because of this, I found it to be more difficult than HITMAN 2.

There is no PDF manual for the game. There is an online web manual located here: http://mgstpp-app.konamionline.com/manual/pc/eu/en/index.html

Biases

According to the game, I have only completed 26% of it.

I only played a little bit of the FOB missions component of the game.

I bought Metal Gear Solid V: The Definitive Experience and played Ground Zeroes before starting The Phantom Pain.

HITMAN (2) was the only recent stealth action game I played before MGS V. I did enjoy HITMAN a lot.

A long time ago, I had great fun playing Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.

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