The latest and possibly the final installment of the Metal Gear Solid franchise is finally here, and I can tell you without a doubt that this game was well worth the long wait. This chapter answers the question that all long time MGS players have been asking since way back in the 80’s on Nintendo. Why exactly did the legendary soldier know as Big Boss go rogue and turn his back on his nation? Looks like we will get the answer with all the gritty details Hideo Kojima is notorious for filling his games with. Like I was saying earlier, this could possibly be the last Metal Gear game we see. In light of the fact that Kojima and Kojima productions have been removed from Konami studios with Konami retaining the rights to the Metal Gear franchise, this could be true. But that may be the very reason that we have the masterpiece that is MGS: Phantom Pains. Kojima has truly put a lot of love into this game, and it shows in tremendously in just the 10% of the game that I’ve managed to complete at this point.
The first thing you will notice about the game is the change in the format that other Metal Gear titles have shown us in the past. Prior to Phantom Pains, the games were very linear and straight forward when it came to the progression of the story. This time around Metal Gear is an open world free roam sand box for Big Boss to explore. It’s filled with enemy outposts, P.O.W prison camps, and heavily guarded strongholds to infiltrate. All of the rules of past MGS games apply. You can run and gun throwing caution to the wind with your guns blazing. But, you will get better results taking your time and using stealth to you advantage. Sneaking up behind unsuspecting guards and planning your infiltration carefully will prove much more rewarding in this game. For all you long time MGS players, try not to get miffed at the fact that Metal Gear is an open world game now. It’s actually a really good addition to the franchise. There is plenty to do and the world comes complete with weather changes in the form of sandstorms, wild life and even day and night intervals. I usually like to do all my infiltration missions in the dead of night so that’s it’s a lot harder for me to be spotted from a distance. Sand storms will lower your visibility in the middle of missions making it harder for you to find your way to specific locations. Enemies are effected in the same way by sand storms, allowing you to use the random weather changes to your advantage. My strategy when a sand storm arrives is to take out as many enemy soldiers as I can while the visibility is lowered and the sound of movement is muffled. Once I’ve downed 4 or 5 men, I find my way to the nearest hiding place until the storm clears up. This is just one of the many ways you can turn the random occurrences in the open world of Phantom Pains to your advantage. So in short, be crafty and stay on your toes and you will find yourself thriving in this new play style.
Being the legendary soldier Big Boss is about more than just what he does on the battlefield. It’s also about being a charismatic leader and strategist. That’s where the new and very ambitious addition of mother base comes into play. The over-arching focus of the game is that you are building your own private army. Building your Mother Base to house that army is now a pivotal part of the Metal Gear experience. The first part of that process is finding good soldiers for the army. While in the field you can scout enemy troops with your special “intel binoculars” and see what skills they have and what unit in your army they would be best suited for. If you see a potentially good recruit simply take them down with a non-lethal technique and send them back to Mother Base with the ”fulton” device (a portable balloon that can be hooked to various targets and then have them airlifted back to base). Once back at base they will either agree or decline to join the army. Right now it seems like there is a 95% chance of a captured soldier agreeing to join. I’ve only seen a few rare occasions of refusal at this point. In past games Mother Base was nothing more than a set menus in which you designated orders to different units and sent squads on various missions. This time around Mother Base is an actual location that you can visit in between mission ops. You’ll need to visit mother base frequently to keep the troops morale high and to make sure that things are running smoothly. There are several different specialized units that you will need to manage. Each of these units will be able to assist Big Boss while he’s in the field on missions. For instance, the Intel unit will be able to provide boss with information on his surroundings and pinpoint target locations. The effectiveness of each unit is determined by the skill level of its members. You’ll need to make sure that you balance out the members of your units in order to ensure that they perform at their best. I know this all sounds complicated, but trust me you will get lost in making mother base as effective as possible.
This is just the bare basics of the game and since I try to keep these reviews short and sweet, I can’t possibly tell you every detail. Just rest assured that Metal Gear Solid: Phantom Pains is one of the most immersive and detailed open world games to date. The sheer scale of missions, side ops and other hidden treasures are absolutely amazing. The tight combat controls, finely tuned sneaking mechanics and brand new open world play style combined with the epic story telling we all know and love make for a classic game. I can safely say that this is probably one of the best games in the franchise. If you’re a veteran player or a first timer to Metal Gear you will definitely enjoy this one.
I score this game a 10 pf 10
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