Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

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Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Post by JaySevenZero »

Here's where you can contribute your memories and opinions of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain for potential inclusion in the forthcoming podcast.

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Re: 393: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Post by ashman86 »

Metal Gear Solid is one of my absolute most favorite series, and I rank MGS 3 as one of the most personally important games I've ever played. I have purchased entire consoles just to play the latest Metal Gear games: first the PSP for Portable Ops, which was touted as the first full-canon spinoff in the lead up to release, and again for MGS 4, which was one of only 2 games I ever played to completion on my sadly underused PS3. At a certain point in my life, I made peace with the fact that I would pay any price for Metal Gear.

Many of us are probably familiar with the Metal Gear cycle that Kojima perpetuated up until his split with Konami. He'd release a game to critical acclaim and then vow never to make another. Years would go by, and they'd announce the next entry in the franchise, but this time, he'd publicly promise himself, it really would be the last. And every time, I believed him.

MGS4 felt like a fitting send-off to the series to me. It may not have been perfect, but it gave me a sense of closure on Snake's and Big Boss's stories. I was content for the series to end there. But then we got Peace Walker. Another chance to play as Big Boss himself? Sign me up!

And then MGS5 was announced: "Metal Gear goes open world," the early teasers revealed. Did I say I was content after MGS4? Well it turns out I was painfully wrong! I needed an open-world Metal Gear in my life, and it was on the way!

And then they splintered MGS 5 into two games, which was all right. I was happy to pay $20 for a pricey but impressive demo-not-a-demo of the game, and Ground Zeroes turned out to be great. In fact, I bought it twice: first on Xbox One, and then again on PC after I'd built a new rig.

Sure, I missed David Hayter in the role, but Sutherland wasn't bad, and MGS 5 looked like it was ready to tackle some really interesting (and controversial) topics. My hype levels were maxed out. I consumed every bit of media I could, voraciously and repetitiously. Kojima's trailers for this game were his most masterful and his most self-indulgent, which, hey, is probably part of what made them so great.

When I finally got to play The Phantom Pain, I was immediately hooked by the stealth gameplay, which felt like the inevitable conclusion of the series' evolutionary trajectory up until then. I sank 50 hours into the game over the first few weeks, and I remember telling my wife one night about how I couldn't believe that two of the greatest games I'd ever played (i.e., The Witcher 3 and this) had launched so closely to one another.

I was compelled to play it with every spare moment I could find in part because the gameplay loop was so addictively good and in part by the tension that seemed to hang over every second of the game. I wanted to learn more of the Metal Gear story, and MGS 5 was drip feeding it to me, but I just knew that a flood of new revelations, retcons, and twists was headed my way.

At last I confronted Skull Face and defeated him, but there were still so many questions left to be answered. Was Eli actually Liquid? What was going on with young Psycho Mantis? When would Quiet make me feel ashamed of my words and deeds? Would we ever see any of the other characters from MGS 1 who spoke so highly of Big Boss? I couldn't wait to get some answers, and I also couldn't wait for Keifer Snakerland to start speaking up more.

But that tension never really went anywhere; it just sort of fizzled out. What's worse, the gameplay loop devolved into a monotonous recycling of missions. Extract this prisoner. Take out this tank unit. Clear this minefield. Again and again and again to the point of boredom. It took me well over a year to finish the main campaign as a result. I'd wanted so badly to do and see everything the game had to offer me, but I finally had to just power through to the ending, and I was left with a bitter taste in my mouth.

So many story threads were left hanging loose while others were tied up abruptly and awkwardly. There was a sense of earnest in many of the late-game cutscenes as if though Kojima had something he desperately wanted to say to players, but, eager as I was to hear it, there was just so little of substance to grab ahold of. The cinematography was almost invariably wonderful, and Sutherland's performance was fine, even moving at times, but it just felt like there was so much.. fluff.

The final cutscene in particular was very visually striking, and I genuinely liked the (not unexpected) revelation that Venom Snake was in fact a doppelgänger of sorts, which neatly (sort-of) explained how Big Boss died in Metal Gear 1 only to reappear in Metal Gear 2. But after I'd seen it and I'd returned to the gunship ready to select my next mission, I closed the game down and walked away. This was the finale we got to a series that had spanned five generations of hardware?

Where the gameplay had felt like such a wonderful perfection of stealth action before, now I could I only think about how limited the not-actually open world had felt and how limited our interactions with it had truly been. The promise of Ground Zero's single enemy base, with all its complexity, had been left largely unfulfilled. TPP's levels were generally smaller and shallower in design. And the story seemed so utterly inconsequential to the larger narrative of the series. Whatever unanswered questions we'd had about Big Boss and his ultimate fall to villainy were left unanswered. We hadn't even played as him this whole time! Venom was just another Snake to throw atop the already crowded roster.

As I've put some time between me and the game, too, I've thought about how the game treated Quiet. The scene of V and her splashing around in the rain, for example, was such a bizarre and sharp turn for the story, but it verged on something beautiful if only--if only--Quiet hadn't been so repeatedly objectified and fetishized throughout the game. Mostly, I've considered the scene where she's violently throttled and drowned by a soldier and about how that should have been enough. The scene was shocking and violent and visceral, but it wasn't until you hear the sound of a zipper that I felt truly disgusted. It wasn't enough throughout the course of the game to burn Quiet, to deprive her of a voice, to choke her to the point of unconsciousness. There had to be that threat of rape and then, and only then, did she finally spring into action against her assailant.

Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain is still, I believe, a good game, but it's such an unsatisfactory conclusion to a series that has meant so much to me. In my head, I know I enjoyed playing it, but in my heart, there's something else, like a shard of shrapnel, poisoning my memories of the game and, if I'm being utterly honest with myself, of the series.

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Re: 393: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Post by Kacey »

Being born the year after Metal Gear Solid released, I was never old enough to play any of the games during their period of relevancy until The Phantom Pain. So it's no big mystery then that I didn't take issue with what many fans see as shortcomings, or simply a lack of time and thought forced by Konami. I had done enough reading into the lore to realize that MGS V was lacking in the story department- something I'd be able to tell anyways due to the anticlimactic manner in which the story's loose ends are tied. Great writing is well and good, but its absence doesn't ruin Metal Gear Solid V for me- even the most kneecapped story can create atmosphere for gameplay given enough thought. And that's where The Phantom Pain shines. The Phantom Pain's gameplay features some of the tightest, most refined design I've ever seen, doubly impressive when considering the scale of its open worlds and the amount of agency the player is given. For all of the polish credited to games like Max Payne 3, it exists because that game is so narrow in scope that each encounter can be meticulously orchestrated and detailed without missing deadlines. For The Phantom Pain to achieve a similar level of polish in an open world game that gives you as many approaches to each encounter as you can think up is simply remarkable. The Phantom Pain may not be the epic conclusion to the Metal Gear franchise that fans had hoped for, but even after playing the other games, it holds a special place in my heart, not only as a masterclass in game design, but as the title that ignited my love for the stealth genre.

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Re: 393: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Post by Peditis »

I've never been more conflicted about a game as I am about Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. I love it and hate it in almost equal amounts.
I played all the previous Metal Gear games in the span of a year back in 2014 and it immediately became my favorite videogame franchise ever: gameplay so tight yet so flexible, which allowed me to tackle each challenge in many ways; and a story and characters that, albeit sometimes bizarre, sometimes over-the-top, sometimes everything in between, engrossed me like no other series of games had before, that made me laugh as much as it made me cry and had me on the edge of my seat at all moments.
This is why I was incredibly excited for the then upcoming fifth numbered entry. I fully boarded the "hype train", so to speak. The trailers hinted at a story that would finally unearth the missing link of the overarching plot: Big Boss' turning point, his descent from hero to villain.
And Ground Zeroes served to fuel this idea. With Mother Base destroyed and Big Boss put into a coma and awakening 9 years later, it seemed like a great starting point for Phantom Pain.
The first mission, while a bit of a slog gameplaywise, felt very MGS in terms of tone, storytelling and cinematics, which were the things I was most excited about: a new MGS story.
But after that initial excitement this aspect of the game seemed to be left by the wayside. The first red flag was Big Boss' lack of dialogue. I was disappointed they didn't recast David Hayter, but I also thought that Kiefer Sutherland could bring a somewhat more serious tone compared to Hayter's iconic-yet-sometimes-campy performance, but he barely spoke throughout the game, making some important moments feel weird by him just staying silent.
Many of the missions felt like they had no relevancy to the plot, they were just “kill this”, “rescue that”, “destroy this”, etc. The game also took the criticism the previous games had to heart and went the complete opposite way: instead of long cinematics, it relied on long cassete tapes to deliver the story. Admittedly the cinematics in the other installments were too long, but they were far more entertaining than to just sit and listen to hours of dialogue. There were a few interesting ones, like the final moments of Dr. Strangelove, but as a device to tell most of the surrounding plot it felt lackluster.
MGS V has its moments storywise. Huey Emmerich's story arch not only served to establish him as a fully-formed character instead of just Otacon's father that looks and souns just like him, but it could be argued that he is the villain of the game: he hates Big Boss and the Diamond Dogs and he completely believes that all of his actions are justified, that he has the moral high ground. The use of languages to spread a disease was an interesting concept, and trying to desperately figure out why a lot of your recruits were getting sick put an unexpected kind of pressure, which shows how well handled that story moment was. This leads to one of my favorite moments: Mission 43, in which you have to manually put to rest several of your soldiers, brought memories of having to actually pull the trigger at the end of MGS3, and recognizing some of the names before killing them was heartwrenching.
But these moments are far outweighed by several other problems.
Overall weak characters was of them: Ocelot served only to tell you basic information about the gameplay and deliver some exposition, but, contrary to his every other appereance throughout the series, he had no actual character nor he contributed to the game's plot in any relevant way
Quiet is a divisive character for me. Initially I didn't much cared about her appereance since I was intrigued to see her story unfold, but when she started to suggestively pose in the helicopter and after that embarrassing “dancing in the rain” cutscene, my interest started to wane.
But the most disappointing character was Skull Face. He could've been one of those villains that is compelling not only for making you empathize with his personal reasons behind why he is doing what he is doing, but also because he fights you with his brain, masterminding several events and putting people against you, all while always being one step ahead of you. But as the game went on he started to feel less threatening and more boring, specially after that awkward silent car ride (I'm still baffled and somewhat amazed by how Big Boss' didn't say a single word during or after Skull Face's villainous speech, not even a SINGLE retort).
My other major problem with the game (and in my opinion, its biggest) is the final plot twist.
The reveal that you're Big Boss' “double” felt very rushed and out of the blue, but most of all, undeserved. You're supposed to believe that your character, someone who was never mentioned before outside of this game's context, is as good as "The Greatest Warrior of the 20th Century”. If it was someone we knew, like Frank Jaeger for example, it could have been a great reveal or at least have a little more gravitas, and the suspension of disbelief wouldn't be ruined since the facial reconstruction technology they have in the game seems to be way more advanced than the one we have in the real world, but as it stands, it falls flat on its face because at no point we have any sort of attachment to the unnamed medic.
Where the game truly shines though is in its gameplay and graphics. The Fox Engine is one of the most beautiful and smooth engines I've seen, and I have to give props to Kojima Productions for releasing a flawless PC port from the start.
You're given so many different options to face each mission. There are endless loadouts that you can select and customize, and each one is as valid as the next one, since the game doesn't punish you for picking one playstile over another, on the contrary, it encourages variety, adaptability and exploration, and after 130hs of playtime I still feel like I haven't seen most of what it has to offer.
If I have one complain about the gameplay is the bosses. Given the track record MGS bosses had, I expected this to be no different, but they felt incredibly lackluster and uninspired in this game. The Parasite Unit were interesting conceptually, but facing them devolved into shooting bullet-sponges, and the one-off bosses like the Man on Fire and Psycho Mantis were boring as well. The fights against Sahelanthropus provided some variaty, but still, they weren't all that great.
All in all, the gameplay aspects are what makes MGS V an amazing and very enjoyable experience, but with such a disappointing (and unfinished) story, and knowing that this is probably the last “true” game in the series, I can't help but feel that it fails as a Metal Gear, and that it sadly marks a bitter end to such an amazing franchise.

PS: English is not my first language, so if the post is intended to be in the show and it has any grammar or cohesion inconsistencies feel free to edit it.

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Re: 393: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Post by caponeadam »

MGSV was the conclusion of the action stealth system that Kojima introduced back in 1998. MGS4 was the first real attempt at making this often fiddly system appeal to a much wider mainstream audience with mixed results but I felt MGSV was where this now more western influenced system was perfected.

Just like Uncharted4, MGSV's game mechanics felt like they hit the pinnacle and that they had gone as far as they could without ripping up the foundations.

The story, characters, bosses, pacing and ending however were the weakest of the series. I couldn't quite believe how bland Ocelot felt. What was going on with Quiet, she was incredibly jarring and out of place which is really saying something for a MGS game. There was no emotional connection at all with these characters, this really felt at odds with the MGS series that I had grown up with.

I think like many, I finally came to a section where I defeated a boss and was soon met with a 'end of chapter 1' or something just as I thought that the game was wrapping up. It's absolutely baffling to me how huge this game is yet the final third feels so incredibly rushed to the point where it makes you repeat the long opening mission again. I was desperately convinced that something incredibly clever was about to happen during this repeat mission. I was sure Kojima would soon introduce a twist where you suddenly play a new perspective but it just never came. As the end played out I remember this feeling of sadness, I could tell even then that this wasn't Kojima's intention in regards to the journey to the conclusion.

I do genuinely believe that we will find out what really happened one day in great detail, it will probably just be an article but I'm secretly keeping my fingers firmly crossed for a 10 part Netflix series that covers the entirety of this tragic production. In my mind it will be the most thrilling and emotionally draining documentary since Making a Murderer.

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Re: 393: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Post by Superuser »

FYI I gave my thoughts on both MGSV games here (the previous topic, before it was split into two like this conflicted game was ;) ) and don't feel I have anything further to add. I hope you get something out of them.
Cheers :)

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Re: 393: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Post by Mechner »

Gameplay is pitch perfect and the story suffered greatly for it, it was an anaemic version of Kojima's usual prowess (or insanity) as a story teller and world builder, it obviously suffered mostly from Konami's recent and unusual, business practice. I found myself longing for the 70 minute cutscenes... to be honest I am one of the few that thoroughly enjoys sitting back and taking in a nice long Kojima exposition dump after a hard boss battle.

The staggered release of Ground Zeroes/The Phantom Pain was also highly unusual... and again is down to Konami "jumping the shark". Sure, it was lovely getting to play MGS5 earlier than expected, and the Camp Omega mission was a great introduction to a new, more mature, MGS.. it still felt wrong, not being part of a bigger whole.

If I was to pick one thing I absolutely hated about MGS V, it is the credit sequence you had to sit through before every single mission. I understand it was a way of Kojima making sure, you knew it was a "Hideo Kojima game"... though, it often ruined missions for me by spoiling characters involved... I was covering my eyes before each mission by the end of the game.

The game itself is though is absolutely amazing to play, fluid, responsive, fun and gorgeous. Nothing to say negative on the gameplay front.

The change of voice actor from series veteran "David Hayter" to 24's "Jack Bauer" is a bone of contention for me... When many famous video game series, axe a character's regular voice actor, it often feels like a betrayal to the audience, certainly, it feels like a betrayal to me. Many people often point out that David over egged it, more and more as the series progressed, and that he lacked the subtle performance of a "professional actor" that was needed for this game. This story went to much darker places than any of the previous games... but I just don't see the point in changing the voice actor this late in the "game", particularly when David brought so much "character" to the series himself. I feel "Kiefer" did do a fabulous job, though I think this could have been fixed way back in Metal Gear Solid 3, if they followed through with having a different voice actor than "David" for Big Boss, like they did with "Richard Doyle" at the end of MGS4. Solid Snake is a clone of Big Boss sure, but that doesn't mean they have to sound the exact same. If they cast someone else for Big Boss from the start, it wouldn't be as much of a bone of contention for me, and would have been a smoother transition for the audience. I do feel sorry for "David Hayter" as well, unceremoniously kicked from the series he helped define. Though, when all is said and done, "Kiefer" did a fantastic job, and definitely brought a weight of seriousness to the series previously unseen.

I have to commend the ending as well, I think it hit home more for me at the time because I played "Metal Gear (MSX)" shortly before The Phantom Pain's release, without knowing it had any involvement with the story line, it had a really nice cyclical feeling to it, and in my opinion nicely wrapped up plot lines and explained why Big Boss comes back in Metal Gear 2.

I must say despite the lack of many of Hideo's hallmarks, No "David Hayter" and the decidedly darker tone... I enjoyed every second of "PLAY"... all 100 hours... though, the lack of typical Kojima story and cutscenes has left me with a phantom pain.

(Maybe that's what Kojima intended to do to us... as he often trolls his audience)

I always came to the MGS series for story first and gameplay second.

This is a gameplay game.. not a story game.

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Re: 393: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Post by FemalePheromones »

Copied from the original double thread which ended up as the GZ thread as I didn't play that game:

I only played Phantom Pain a couple months ago after seeing you were doing it on the podcast and getting it when it was free on Games With Gold last year or the year before. I did intend to play Ground Zeroes first as it was on Game Pass but by the time I got around to it it had rotated off so I just dove straight in to Phantom Pain.

At first I really wasn't sure I would be able to get into it knowing how weird Kojima's games could be but actually pretty quickly got the hang of it and realised it was more like any other open world game than a typical MGS game. I quickly got into the gameplay loop of choosing a mission, picking the loadout and then dropping in again and again and again. I thought the progression system worked really well and I was always keen to extract more enemies to build Mother Base to unlock upgrades and new weapons.

I actually got to 94 hours in the game which is way more than I have ever spent on a single player campaign before which shows how much I must have enjoyed it. However, I ended up giving up on the game early when I got to what I would call a game breaking mission. Mission 42: Extreme Metallic Archaea. I'm sure everyone knows the one. The super hard redux of the mission after the helicopter crash where oyu have to fight off the Skulls at the airfield. I lost count of how many times I attempted it and no matter what I did I just couldn't seem to complete it. I came close quite a few times but even when I was down to the last Skull with not much health left it would end up killing me. I was actually enjoying the game so much that I tried a lot more times than I would have expected to as I really wanted to carry on with the rest of the game but after a certain amount of retries I just gave up and uninstalled the game which really is a shame. I can't remember ever doing this on a game before (unless we count the first level of Metal Gear Rising Revengeance on the hardest difficulty) so it really left me looking back at the game with a different view than I would have done if I could have got to the end.

One quick thing. Quiet's design is a joke isn't it? I don't buy into the nonsense they tell you about how the parasite makes it so she can only breathe through her skin so she has to be nearly naked all the time or she will suffocate. Bollocks. They just wanted some sex appeal in there which is bad enough as it is but then they make damn sure you are paying attention to it it when you extract in the helicopter for her to jump on board right next to you with her boobs always being right in the middle of the screen or when you are browsing the menu while on board the helicopter and she starts getting onto all fours and either basically thrusting her arse in your face or making sure you can see a full shot of cleavage. IT is completely necessary and really stood out to me every single time. I was really happy when I finally unlocked costumes for her and could actually fully dress her.

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Re: 393: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Post by Alex79uk »


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Re: 393: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Post by TheColorUrple »

It has been a bittersweet experience to see the Metal Gear Solid series slowly transition from a high water mark in video game storytelling to a masterclass in gameplay design.

This didn't have to be the case. The Phantom Pain's cutscene direction is superb - the opening hospital scene features a single uncut shot, with all of the visceral camera and effects work that made grounded films like Saving Private Ryan so compelling. There's a moment where an elevator door blows open and our heroes are flung backwards above the camera's position - so naturally the camera flips over, viewing the falling bodies upside down as the world goes into slow motion, with a high-pitched ringing drowning out all sound except a titanic sub-bass rumble. When the player character hits the ground and the environment falls into confused chaos, the scene's colour desaturates as a menacing figure made of fire and shadow slowly approaches the fallen player character, with sound design that can best be described as elephant trunks and heavy machinery underscores the supernatural and dreamlike apparition.

The attention to detail on display here is superb, and the game's cinematic quality never lets up throughout the hour-long opening. If only The Phantom Pain had been serviced with an equally-compelling narrative. This full scene plays out twice in the game - once in the beginning, and again in a nearly-identical fashion during the final chapter, wherein a few key elements are changed slightly to reveal a "twist" that anyone paying attention will have seen coming from the very beginning. That's not good story design.

Combine this with the typically problematic open-world structure, where plot details are delivered in a piecemeal fashion amongst scores of superfluous missions, and you have a game that never quite knows how to hold narrative tension. The original Metal Gear Solid excelled at this tension 20 years ago, where even a 5-minute elevator ride in a redundant backtracking sequence could feature 3 different compelling plot twists.

I worry for Death Stranding. Kojima has long been surpassed in the industry by better writers delivering more naturalistic dialogue and tighter stories. He and his team still have a stellar eye for cinematography, presentation, and ambitious world building, but even seasoned voice actors don't seem to know what to do with their games' awkward translations and wooden dialogue.

So is it worth trading narrative for excellent gameplay design? In my mind, no. The Phantom Pain is one of the most brilliant games I've ever played, no doubt. But in 20 years' time, were I to revisit a Metal Gear Solid game, I would do so to relive the highs and lows of Sons of Liberty's prescient take on information control, or Snake Eater's brilliant exploration of platonic love and patriotic violence. These stories may already feel clunky and old, but as works of art, they will endure longer than tight, refined gameplay design ever could.

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Re: 393: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Post by KSubzero1000 »

Fantastic post, TheColorUrple. Perfectly sums up my own thoughts and reservations about this game as well.

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Re: 393: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Post by Vwhite724 »

Metal Gear Solid was one of the first games I had ever played on my Sony Playstation, with Final Fantasy VII and Resident Evil on either side of it on my shelf. Metal Gear Solid 2 was the only game I had for my PS2 for the first few months. When Snake Eater was announced, I remember watching the E3 trailer again and again. My friends and I had so many theories as to why the setting was so different. Some of us had wild theories that it may be a re imagining of the original MSX games? Is this Solid Snake, of course it is but then why does he look so much older?

No, silly child.

This was Big Boss, this is not the story you know. This is a NEW story. It wasn't... and I think the argument can be made that it was not intended to be, that'll be for later though. Metal Gear Solid 4 Guns of the Patriots. FINALLY! Solid Sna.... he's old? Raiden is an arm-less Ninja, Oceliquid is now in the final stages of his Borg assimilation, and Otacon ... is still crying about something. Even still, of course I played it. I waited the 20+ minutes for the game to INSTALL EACH MISSION to the hard drive, while watching as old snake drags from his cowboy killer and tells me to make better life choices, like go outside. Who had time for that nonsense? This was Metal Gear!

Acid 1, check. Acid 2 check. Peace Walker, Portable Ops, Revengance, MG1. MG2, Substance, Subsistence... I've owned or played every title I have been able to find in this series. I've loved them all, I can't help myself. The series resonates so much with me.

By the time MSGV was announced, sure I watched the trailers. Part of the fun was always dissecting what the new chapter was going to bring but I avoided the rabbit hole this time. Unfortunately, this meant that MSGV would be the first title in the series to take me nearly 3 years to play.

I purchased Metal Gear Solid The Phantom Pain from the Xbox Store, in December of 2017. Sitting in the Chopper menu, unable to play while the game continued it's install. I attempted to see the story being told in the menu. Import Save from Ground Zeroes? What is Ground Zeroes? Thankfully I took the time to find out, and placed GZ on top of TPP in my Queue

Why do I not see David Hayter on the credits of this game? Snake sounds different.... What has happened here? No worry, it's probably just because they released this part separately. I had no idea about the controversy behind this game, the meta was irrelevant. Kojima's games always have some sort of hype/controversy. (Part of his charm perhaps?)

Either way, it took a few months to chew through the story. Some nights I would laugh, some I would shut it off in a bout of rage, others still would have me weeping. Kojima did what he always does, he told his LAST story, again.

MGSV's game play is fun, the aesthetic is just as beautiful as one would expect from this series. The stealth, prisoner extraction, recruiting of soldier's, equipment, vehicles, etc. I loved it. I loved being able to drop in outside of a base, plan my approach, execute that plan, watch the plan fail, react quickly on my feet, fail to go unnoticed, gun down or knock out everyone within a mile of the objective. I loved that I could grind through the campaign, or ignore it almost entirely.

MGS's story though ... is boring, it's campy, it is predictable to fans of the series, and it is NOT the huge spectacular conclusion to the series that most would expect. Instead it is this console generation's version of MG. Women are objects, ninja's are cool, war is ugly, governments lie to their people, people will piss themselves in scary situations, and genetics are sorely misunderstood by this storytelling team.

As a whole, this game is amazing, and this game is utter nonsense. It has a multitude of options of what you will do with the world, yet the world is small and the goals are repetitive. It ties some loose threads, yet unties so many more. Parts of it feel incomplete, and it ends in a way that makes you feel lost and wanting answers while almost beating you over the head with the theme. This makes it the perfect Metal Gear game, and the typical Kojima story. It does all the things that every Metal Gear game has done up to this point, and I love it more AND less than the others in the series.

I'm grateful that this group has revisited the MG series for this game, I grateful for all the content you provide and proud to be a part of the community. Thank you all.

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Re: 393: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Post by Stalkedbycats »

Three word review: Actually, its good

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Re: 393: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Post by The Baboon Baron »

HI folks, I've re-written my post to make it more Phantom Pain focused. Its still a grumpy post mind!

Discussing Metal Gear Solid 5 is difficult, because for me, it’s a question of how much we separate the game from the story, and how much do we separate the story from the creator. These lines blur for us all, but I will try and articulate why this has such bearing on MGS5, but first an announcement:

I don’t think Hideo Kojima is very good at telling stories.

I replayed all the MG games (including the NES and PC engine ones) a few years ago, and yes, I will agree that some of them are truly some of the best games ever made, but they all contain several very strange moments, and some downright bad decisions. Particularly in the story telling department. I don’t just mean the long cut scenes of MGS4, or the sexism and scatological humour that peppers all of the games, narratively Kojima is frankly unable to tell a cohesive story. Its not complicated, or clever, or detailed, its just often bad.

And this is what is made clear in MGS5- the Phantom Pain, the emperors new clothes are revealed to be nano bot assembled rags. The “plot” is now so crowbarred into the setting that with so little glue holding the thing together it falls apart. The characters make no sense, their action makes no sense, people come and go, torture each other, shoot each other and gawk at each other with little to no effect or reason. Nothing makes any sense, and the missions themselves don’t flow into each other with any coherence. If we were aiming for narrative, why are we replaying missions? If its aiming for constancy, why does it become Resident Evil for a spell? If I’m meant to care about my Diamond Dogs, why are they so utterly faceless and generic? If this is the future of inclusive and thought-provoking games, why are we TOLD that there’s a good reason for semi-naked female characters, so I should keep my Social Justice values to myself? There is no consistency, no taste and perversion and arrogance on display everywhere.

The end- if you can even call it that- was framed so we would bask in Kojima’s brilliance, however it cemented my opinion that he is a complete prick. The “reveal” was clear to me soon after the opening scenes. I would have rather had some sort of finality, a boss fight, SOMETHING remarkable, something that tied it all together, not replaying missions until I earned a man looking in the mirror while Bowie plays. The Usual Suspects this wasn’t, and as the credits rolled AGAIN, I reflected on how this final whimper of the MGS Saga was fitting in a way- It showed what a talented game maker, but an awful writer can do when the reins were off- They go too far, push the envelope too much, so much so that the holes in Kojima’s talent became gaping chasm’s.

But as I Insinuated at the start of this merry little rant, we have to separate the creator, the story and the game. And the game- the real game, where you run, and shoot and drive tanks and blow up buildings, and attach Fulton delivery devices to bears…. Well frankly that’s a masterpiece. It was the logical result of not only the MGS universe, but also several other espionage & action games. Not to mention several million other sandboxes. Its graphicly wonderful, with a soundtrack of eighties hits to warm the ears, play is varied, guns handle well and there is a fair difficulty curve. The locations where a little on the empty side, but in terms of mood, there was something rather wonderful about sneaking into a base undetected and fleeing into the night when your nefarious mission is complete. I particularly appreciated the different options available to the player. Allowing for non-lethal sneaking missions or carpet bombing a single sniper if you so wished. Its just such a shame that the cheapest part, the stuff that holds all this gaming together, is such absolute garbage.

I was crushed with disappointment by the end of MGS5- but I don’t blame Konami. Kojima had spoilt it long before they rushed it out. Zeroes was a glorified cash grab, when it should have been a demo of sorts, but at least the cash grab was coherent. By the time Phantom Pain wrapped I’d lost all interest in the MGS world. I could’ve accepted some of the madness, as long as it made a shred of sense. But Instead we ended up with a mess of arrogance, poorly written characters and inconsistency. The Story and characters were so intrinsic to the MGS world, as was the auteur director (idiot savant perhaps?) I wish I could separate the wonderful spy action from the dross story, but I cannot. These two elements are so entwined in MGS, that this final effort must ultimately fall flat, I wish Kojima had compromised his vision for the greater good, then perhaps an actual story and ending would have been possible. It was Batman Vs Superman all over again quite frankly- all style and no substance.

3WR- Kojima Vs taste

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Re: 393: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Post by ashley-cstj »

I don’t think I’ll ever be excited for a game as I was for Metal Gear Solid V, and while I don't regret fully buying into the hype cycle - as a result I'm not really sure I'll ever have a super firm idea of what I think about the game as a whole. It’s a game which oscillates in my opinions.

I wanted to talk about one element of the game that has grown in my estimations since release: the credits bookmarking each mission. I think it’s easy, and TBH also broadly correct, to dismiss them as another Kojima ego-trip or an aping of the aesthetics of television, especially when you’re faced with such absurdly tone-deaf statements as ‘Guest starring: Child Soldiers’. And, while I felt a pang of anticipation when I started a mission and saw the credit ‘Featured Mecha: Sahelanthropus’, I fully appreciate that this was a spoiler for many.

However, revisiting the game in the year 2019, when I’m personally trying to make more of an effort to be aware of the labour that goes into game development, I appreciated being able to see a glimpse at the staff involved for each mission. That Mission 4 was written by Shuyo Murata and Satoshi Hirano, that the level design of Mission 14 (‘Pitch Dark’ - and one of my personal favourites) was done by Yoshikazu Matsuhana and Satoshi Matsuno.

And, of course, this snapshot is never going to be the whole picture, there are still 100s of people only credited at the end of the Chapters, and, given the horror stories surrounding MGSV’s development, I’m in no way suggesting that Konami would be a ‘positive working environment’ (far, far from it). But for a series where, rightly or wrongly, the shadow of the ‘auteur’ Kojima hangs so heavily over everything, this small acknowledgment of others’ specific roles in the game felt meaningful. Making unavoidable the fact that this was not the work of one man. Maybe that’s an obvious statement but, given the conversation around Death Stranding, potentially one that wasn’t picked up on. Legitimately, I’m unaware of any other game of this size which comes anywhere close to this granularity when it comes to crediting - and regardless of my thoughts on the game as a whole, I can’t help but think that that’s just really neat.

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Re: 393: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Post by Ben77000000 »

Looking back on the Metal Gear Solid V saga, it seems somewhat telling that one of the most exciting portions of the whole wild ride were the initial Moby Dick Studios marketing shenanigans, before the game's place in the Metal Gear series had been confirmed. I reckon this is down to The Phantom Pain's biggest undoing being that it was a Metal Gear Solid title at all. I don't think Phantom Pain would have necessarily been a stronger game if freed from the shackles of Metal Gear continuity, but I imagine I'd have judged it less harshly had I not been measuring it against the franchise's past entries. The MGS saga is known for its idiosyncratic writing, absurd sense of humour, memorable set-pieces and wild boss encounters, and yet the only moment from its final entry that has stayed with me was an instance of Snake standing still on Mother Base mid-squall as I appreciated how utterly convincing the game's lighting and weather effects were.

Had the same taciturn cast and meandering plotlines appeared in another open-world stealth title I'd likely have been more forgiving of their failure to click or intrigue, but for the narrative of the final MGS to have been this awkwardly po-faced is a crying shame.

Looking back, it seems oddly appropriate that the game was not initially unveiled as an MGS, given that everything that made the franchise at once remarkable and ridiculous has been excised from number 5.

The game's fans, and perhaps Kojima himself, might blame me for having so little to share from my time spent in its desert and jungle. Indeed this time round it was supposedly the player's responsibility to become Big Boss and engineer their own stories. And while its wide, open world was a wonderfully realised playground rife with opportunities for tactical tinkering, and could be explored using a control scheme that was far and away the tightest in the franchise, it was also populated almost exclusively with generic guard posts and goats. Ultimately these playgrounds were no substitute for the rollercoaster narratives of previous entries that sped along far tighter tracks.

There is something intellectually dishonest to me about the notion that the player can only truly 'become' Big Boss when given such free rein, as it implies that the player had not properly taken on the roles of protagonists in previous entries. Even if Kojima's intent was to afford players the means of creating their own in-game narratives, given the richness of the ones he had come up with before, this time it felt as if he were throwing in the towel and telling us to do the hard part ourselves. With the mundanity of available missions, I felt less like a legendary soldier during The Phantom Pain than I had in any other Metal Gear.

On authorial intent, I've read articles commending Kojima for having deliberately evoked a 'phantom pain' in players by leaving them craving a resolution, but to me however intentional it was, an unfulfilling game is simply that: unfulfilling.

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Re: 393: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Post by Caliburn M »

So Metal gear Solid V, I can only start by saying I adore this game. I was initially not intending to buy it as I felt ground Zeroes was pretty ok but not brilliant but eventually got it in a sale after hearing many people say how much they liked it despite not playing any previous Metal Gear games. I had also at this point never played a metal gear game other than Ground Zeroes though I knew about the series and the infamous cut-scenes so was pleasantry surprised when MGV turned out to be far more game than movie and a fantastic one at that.

I loved the story despite all it's nonsense but the game play was where this game really shined for me. Most missions allowed you to take whatever path you wished though in my case it nearly always started stealth and ended up in a bloodbath though this was always my fault and not a fault of the game or it's excellent mechanics. Finding good soldiers to fulton out never got old for me and tied the base and missions together beautifully. The constant and interesting upgrades allowed you to play the game in even more different ways helping keep the game fresh.

Visually it was by far the best looking game I had played at that time on the PS4 and while the sound in general seemed good it was the cassettes that were my aural highlight. Landing in the helicopter with the 'kids in america' or 'the man who sold the world' blaring out will always be a gaming highlight for me, perhaps growing up in the 80's was also why this semi cold war setting also appealed to me.

I'm hard pressed to find fault with this game, maybe the story was unfinished and Quiets costume somewhat unnecessary
but It never really bothered me. The child soldiers were perhaps the most troubling part for me but alas as this is a reality in war even today and as it was done a a non gratuitous way I find it hard to criticize the game for it's inclusion.

Needless to say I love this game and even finished Metal gear solid and intend to finish 2, 3 and 4 in the near future because of it.

MGS was awesome btw and Peace Walker is an astonishing achievement on PSP :)

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Re: 393: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Post by Ralamandastron »

A fantastic game. It is a Kojima game, so expect a truly ludicrous and confusing story, but don't be put off; that's not where the substance of this game lies.

It certainly has its flaws, some highlights for me being:
- The generally perfect hitboxes struggle to distinguish between a helmet and a face, so sometimes you'll shoot a pesky guard in the eyes, in slow motion no less, and be rewarded with a loud *clang* for your trouble. When the beautiful graphics and smooth gameplay keep leading you to believe you're safe from such oversights, it's pretty jarring each time it happens.
- There are occasional mission-breaking bugs, for example someone you're spying on won't have the conversation they're supposed to have and you eventually just have to give up and reset.
- The visual treatment of the game's silent deuteragonist/eye candy, Quiet, is pretty problematic. While there is canonical reason for all the bare skin, I couldn't really see one for the constant camera lingering, or the inclusion of jiggle physics.
- The game makes you watch the cutscene of Snake wearing a classic pre-mission grim expression on his helicopter before every time you go into the field. Every time. Mission or no, and also when you go to your base. And it's almost a minute, and unskippable.

One popularly touted flaw I'm not mentioning, however, is that most of the game's latter missions are repeats of earlier ones with various 'hard mode' constraints. Total stealth, on-site procurement of items, that sort of thing. And I didn't mention it, because I don't think it's a flaw. It serves its purpose perfectly, which is to prompt you to approach the tasks differently.

And that's the really iconic thing about this game, its invigorating focus on freedom of gameplay. In most games such a choice means 'loud or quiet', or 'nice or nasty' or even 'hard or easy'. But not here. Snake's tasks can be accomplished by near limitless means, the variety is astounding. There are fully fledged gameplay mechanics for things you'd never even considered.

Here's an example of just a tiny corner, the timeless cardboard box.
- Get in the cardboard box to hide from enemies.
- Hide in the box on the road to stop a jeep, then burst out and blast the drivers!
- Too crude? Try leaving the box on the road and sneaking past, or even quietly fulton the truck when it stops, drivers and all.
- Not wacky enough? Try putting the box over your head, jumping into it like a toboggan, sliding down a hill and body checking the drivers!
- Prefer mind games? Try putting a sticker of a pretty lady on the box and put it over your head and watch the drivers swoon and fall to their knees. Or put a sticker of a Soviet officer on the box and watch them salute and drive swiftly away.

You can always go on YouTube and find incredibly creative ways to get the job done, but it's so rewarding to devise or stumble across these ideas for yourself!

And new things will keep revealing themselves to you. I pretty quickly found the audio tapes, and worked out that you can have a cool 80s soundtrack to your adventures. And soon after, I found that I could play the tapes on speaker instead, and enemies would respond to them. Hours later, I would figure out that didn't just mean pop songs, and that playing an Afghan lullaby would send enemies off to sleep. I also found that I could have my helicopter blast out these songs as it came to the rendezvous, striking fear into enemies. But it would be dozens of hours later that I discovered I could put mp3s into the directory and have my heavily armed helicopter arrive to any song I felt like instead (usually Hanson).

This is the game's strength. Not its own creativity, but the way it allows and encourages the player's creativity to flourish.

Three words: Infinite opportunities, Boss!

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Re: 393: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Post by TheEmailer »

Not sure if need to repost from old thread before 1 podcast became 2

The core gameplay is compelling... for a while. Each base is a self contained puzzle with multiple strategies. Stealth and non-lethality is encouraged with the carrot not the stick; fultoning enemies to build up your strength is motivating.
However, one the player gets a silenced sniper rifle with tranquilliser rounds the tendency is simply to rely on this and remove much of the compelling challenge.
Many MGS games have suffered from action boss fights that jar with the stealth tactics the player has learned. It's much worse here because of the RPG elements, stranding an underpowered players in scenarios they'd not trained or resourced for.

The story is forgettable. Whatever context is buried in dull audiotapes and the story is sandwiched between an beginning and end that are plain silly and overwrought. I enjoyed ignoring the narrative during standard missions, unlike my engagement with previous main entries.

I don't think the game benefited at all from being open world. The space between bases were barren and uninteresting. It introduces tedious commuting and endless cutscenes of "returning to base" that added nothing.

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Re: Our next podcast recording (26.10.19) - 393: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Post by TheAngryWalnut »

Hi all, new to the forum but have been enjoying C&R podcasts for a few years, I thought there was no better time to join the forum than when one is procrastinating during exam revision!

There are already some great insights here but MGSV strikes me personally as possibly the only game I’ve ever played that could be so flawed yet so fantastic. Yes the story is an unfinished mess, yes the voice acting is dire in places, yes Quiet’s lack of clothing and the pathetic backstory for it is embarrassing.

However the core tenet of the game – the gameplay itself – is phenomenal. There is so much enjoyment to be had; whether that involves carefully skirting the outskirts of a base and hatching a plan before executing it perfectly (or otherwise, as was occasionally the case), or taking out a guard post before they know what’s hit them, or realizing that – yes – I don’t have any hedgehogs in my oil rig menagerie, let me pause lining up this kill so I can tranquilize a spiny mammal and attach it to a balloon. When things went wrong, I found that (unlike other stealth games) there was less of an incentive to just restart the mission, and some of the most joy came from changing tactics on the fly in order to escape a tricky situation. The fact that there were no mid-mission checkpoints helped with the tension and the excitement.

Sadly the missions themselves began to get repetitive, and the story leaves too much unanswered. However when a game brings such joy at its peak, it is easy to dismiss its flaws. These days I only look back on MGSV with very fond memories.

Three Word Review: Flawed? Forgiven. Fantastic

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