September 1, 2015, is the day the likely final release to a game series that has been around for almost 30 years and possibly the best game in 2015. Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain is probably one of the few Metal Gear games that non-fans of the series can enjoy.
The first Metal Gear game I played was Metal Gear Solid on the first PlayStation, but it wasn’t until Metal Gear Solid 3 did I become a fan of the series. Unlike Metal Gear Solid 1, 2, and 4, 3 did not star Solid Snake. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater starred Naked Snake and took place during the Cold War. What made Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater my favorite was its story and small changes to the game’s stealth mechanic.
Metal Gear’s main Character Solid Snake is a clone of the world best agent Naked Snake, or Big Boss as he is called in later games. Metal Gear Solid’s story can get convoluted and confusing, and Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is a clear example of this. In that game, the only successful economy was war, Solid Snake rapidly aged 20 to 40 years in a span of a few years as a side effect of being a clone that was never suggested in the previous games, and Revolver Ocelot was possessed by Solid Snakes’ evil fellow Naked Snake clone Liquid Snake by attaching Liquid Snake’s hand to the stump where the hand Ocelot lost in the first Metal Gear Solid game use to be. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater had a straightforward James Bond like story. Naked Snake’s mentor has betrayed her country and handed over a portable nuclear bomb to the Russians that could make Russia win the Cold War. The plot of the story was to kill the trader that taught Snake everything he knew when it comes to fighting and stealth and to recover the nuclear weapon.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain continues the story established in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, two Metal Gear games released on PSP, and overpriced demo Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes as Big Boss tries to get revenge and build his own private army. It is the building your own private army part that is one of the biggest gameplay changes. The main thing this does is change the risks for not using stealth. In previous games it was extremely difficult to go through the game running and gunning, and the game did everything outside of instantly failing you for being seen to persuade the player to use stealth. Based on reviews and articles I’ve read, MGSV works as a good third person shooter for people that aren’t a fan of sneaking. Advance weapons, air strikes, and a sniper sidekick give players a lot of non-stealth options. But if you kill everyone, you will have fewer resources to make new weapons and technology. In MGSV any random enemy soldier could be a future valued ally. By sneaking behind them or knocking them unconscious you can place a balloon on their body that will float them up to your helicopter. Once you return to your base, the people you added a balloon to will be there working for you. These new employees lead to the creation of new weapons, improvements to your base, and the ability to do side missions for you.
The other main addition to MGSV is it’s open world setting. MGSV is more Far Cry than Grand Theft Auto with its two open world setting. The Africa setting has animals that can kill you and the ability to climb mountains, and the Afghanistan setting has sand storms. While I don’t know all the advantages or disadvantages changing a linear game to an open world game, the day-night cycle and weather affect stealth. It is easy to hind at nighttime, and a sand story has obviously benefits to stealth.
Stealth is also different in MGSV, and this something that anyone that played Ground Zeroes noticed. Unlike previous MGS games, enemies do not automatically appear on your radar and you do not start the game with a see through the wall ability. To be able to know where the enemies are you have to spot them using your binoculars, so there are bound to be times when you are sneaking into an area without knowing where the enemies are. This adds more strategy to a game that gives the player a lot to think about anytime they are on a mission.
As someone that loves action movies and watches anime, I have always enjoyed the cutscenes in Metal Gear Solid games. Some of the cutscenes can rival Hollywood movies, but MGS4’s cutscenes could last 20 to 40 minutes. I personally enjoyed the extended cutscenes, but it was an issue for new comers to the series and some fans thought they were too long. MGSV has much shorter cutscenes that still carry the Hollywood cinematic quality the series is known for, so there is more gameplay and less movie than previous MGS games.
The last thing that makes MGS games special is their boss battles. Stealth is usually thrown out when fighting an often super powered freak. I know nothing about MGSV’s boss battles, if there is anything as good as the first MGS game’s fight against a psychic that forced to player to unplug their controller to stop him from knowing everyone of their moves or the dream sequence boss battle in MGS3 that features zombies of people the player choose to kill earlier in the game.
A game that currently has a 95 out of 100 Metacritic score probably doesn’t need much convincing from me. But combining everything I wrote with combined scores of several critics, is why Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is a potentially great game in 2015.