383: Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes/The Phantom Pain

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383: Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes/The Phantom Pain

Post by JaySevenZero » January 13th, 2019, 12:38 pm

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

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Re: 383: Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes/The Phantom Pain

Post by Ben77000000 » January 14th, 2019, 8:34 am

Three Word Review:

With a whimper.

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Re: 383: Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes/The Phantom Pain

Post by KSubzero1000 » January 14th, 2019, 3:20 pm

Playing Ground Zeroes for the first time in early 2014 after watching that superb Guns of Navarone-inspired introduction made my heart beat faster at the thought of experiencing what could possibly be the glorious conclusion of my favorite video game franchise. Almost 100 hours of repetitive missions and underwhelming story beats later, I was left with little more than a crushing sense of heart-breaking disappointment instead.

Gameplay in general is really tight thanks to the refined controls, great visibility and a very broad spectrum of polished mechanical options that allows for a great deal of agency without ever devaluing its core principles. It's clear that the developers wanted to give the player the tense feeling of infiltrating these intimidating enemy bases, and I think they succeeded in doing so for the most part. Negatives would have to be the boss fights, the sheer amount of empty space in-between relevant locations, and the uninspired checklist-style side missions, however.

Ground Zeroes probably remains the game's mechanical highlight, perfectly showcasing the brilliant enemy AI and condensed level design of Camp Omega while leaving plenty of room for strategy and experimentation, all within a neat little package with enormous replay value. Diving out of the way of an inquisitive spotlight, waiting for a patrol to pass, sneaking up behind a guard and taking him out without being spotted, and shaving a precious few seconds off of your flawless Ghost run has quite simply never felt so good than in this game.

Onto a less positive subject, let's talk story (and I'll try to limit myself to the bare minimum observations here)...

Characters are merely a shadow of their former selves, especially Ocelot who is being reduced to an exposition-spouting bore devoid of any personality and a far cry from his Magnificent Bastard status of previous entries. The overall plot is disjointed and weak, with most of its interesting scenes and visuals feeling unearned due to the lack of connective tissue, its obsession with "parasites" being just as silly as MGS4's "nanomachines", and generally feeling like a framing device to accommodate the gameplay rather than a true labor of love and vision. One particular aspect worth mentioning is that "RACE & REVENGE" were supposed to be the two thematic pillars of MGSV in the continuation of MGS1's GENE, MGS2's MEME, MGS3's SCENE, MGS4's SENSE & MGS Peace Walker's PEACE, but the game doesn't appear to have anything particularly insightful to say about either subject, and the impeccable thematic cohesion of the previous games is also nowhere to be seen.

Retcons involving Skullface's past and Volgin aside, I like the premise of the plot, I appreciate the clever way in which it re-contextualizes Metal Gear 1 & 2, I find the overall cutscene direction to be truly excellent in terms of editing and cinematography (especially the GZ opening), and I have to admit that the epilogue scene between Big Boss and Ocelot in Cyprus made me well up a little. Sadly, I also think the game squanders the vast majority of its narrative potential, leaves more questions open than it answers, undercooks its main twist and most of the character arcs, seems to have lost a few of its vital organs in the editing room, and is in no way, shape, or form the prestigious send-off that the 28-year old franchise would have deserved.

Helicopter rides, mindless radio chatter, an underwhelming third act and empty levels are no substitutes for the carefully constructed puzzle rooms, heartfelt codec conversations, brilliant sense of narrative progression and ludicrous attention to detail of past entries, and as much as I would like to see other developers take inspiration from MGSV when incorporating mechanical systems in their open world games, I honestly don't see myself revisiting this game any time soon.

It's important to note that all of this was written from the point of view of a massive fan of the franchise who happens to hold MGS1, 2, 3 (and even 4 to an extent) in incredibly high esteem, warts and all, and who will probably remain deeply attached to their lore, themes and characters for the rest of his life. Living up to the sky-high expectations that the exceptional E3 trailers had created would have been a herculean task, and as bitter as I am about some of this game's aspects, it's safe to say it could also have been a lot worse. Let's also keep in mind that we'll probably never know for sure what went on behind the scenes at Konami during this game's development cycle and how much of the final product is the result of Kojima's creative vision as opposed to political circumstances...

Three Words Review: "Tactical Espionage Bastardization"

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Re: 383: Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes/The Phantom Pain

Post by Mechner » January 18th, 2019, 10:09 pm

Gameplay is pitch perfect and the story suffered greatly for it, it was an anaemic version of Kojima's usual prowess 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: 383: Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes/The Phantom Pain

Post by Rich Uncle Skeleton » January 23rd, 2019, 9:02 pm

Mechner wrote:
January 18th, 2019, 10:09 pm
Gameplay is pitch perfect and the story suffered greatly for it, along with Konami's recent unusual recent business practice.

If I was to pick one thing I 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" but 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 absolutely amazing to play, fluid, responsive and gorgeous.

I must say I enjoyed every second of it.. though the lack of story and cutscenes left me with a phantom pain. I came to the MGS series for story first, gameplay second.
My thoughts exactly--including the eye-covering, haha.

MGSV is stealth gaming perfected, but if it's open-world nature came at the expense of traditionally wackadoo cutscenes and characters, it starts to feel a bit like a "monkey's paw" wish. The game has all of the Kojima ego-stroking I've learned to tolerate from the series, but much less of the director's narrative flair for self-serious spy game gobbledygook. Just because we were all mystified by the last entry's 70 minute cutscenes doesn't mean they should be excised altogether, Hideo!

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Re: 383: Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes/The Phantom Pain

Post by Abesloincloth » February 5th, 2019, 7:55 am

The Metal Gear series tells the story of a maverick Japanese computer game developer and his slow descent into madness. Famous for its equally daft and mostly impressive boss fights, sometimes groundbreaking stealth gameplay and its beloved by all codec calls and cutscenes, there’s no denying the impact and influence this series has had on the industry and players.
Metal Gear Solid V trimmed away most of the aforementioned features. No more staring at almost static codec call screens, no more fat blokes on roller skates or bee men, severely reduced exposition videos and unfortunately (to me anyway) no more David Hayter.

All of this initially had me expecting the worst, “it’s just another generic open world game now” I cried into the ether. However, Ground Zeroes’ short but intense preview left me feeling equally optimistic about the Phantom Pain, and silly for doubting Hideo Kojima’s mad genius.

The story is your typical Kojima nonsense that gets you thinking, usually “What is going on? Why is that woman writhing around in a cage while we all watch?(because Kojima is a creep) Who set that horse on fire? Why is nobody else concerned by any of this?” The cutscenes are generally much shorter than previous games in the series with optional cassette tapes now containing a decent amount of backstory, and more detailed explanations of events occuring in the main plot line. Some of these tapes also serve as a kind of replacement for some of the more casual codec conversations from older titles.
The story isn’t something I totally understand, I’ve always been more into the gameplay in this series.

I think the gameplay is incredible, many games brag about letting you do things your way but this is the first I’ve played where it actually feels true. You can load up with a silent tranq rifle and pick your way through missions from a cowardly distance with your dog keeping guard, ride in on the back of your miniature flamethrower/minigun/rocket equipped metal gear or go in with nothing but a water pistol a pair of green trousers and a horse. All of it fun and almost always a viable option as the game rarely funnels you down a particular path to complete a mission.

This game still has it’s flaws though as it definitely feels a little bit unfinished in places, “Snake” barely says a word (though this could be explained away by the surprise ending, the one that’s definitely the ending and was in no way cut down before it was finished), the side missions are also extremely repetetive and seemingly never ending and to me the game could feel a bit empty sometimes when I wasn’t doing story missions. The spoiler riddled opening credits and chopper ride combo at the start of every single main mission gets extremely annoying after the second time you’ve endured it. I even started to miss the old codec calls after a while, and despite the fact that I now commanded a military base containing my very own army of sycophants I’d never felt lonelier in a Metal Gear game. It seemed like the funny codec conversations and support characters had been replaced by Ocelot and Miller informing me I could destroy generators to turn the lights off, and the iDroid voice over telling me she’d spotted a sandstorm or an enemy patrol over and over and over and over and over again.
I also found the “romantic” subplot between Snake and Quiet extremely weird and out of place and it felt like Kojima let the fifteen year old work experience boy write it. In fact almost every time Quiet was shown on screen the camera seemed to linger on her arse and chest and her whole characterisation in general was quite childish and left me feeling a bit uncomfortable. Grow up, Kojima.

It’s still in my opinion a near perfect stealth game, and definitely still feels like Metal Gear despite its changes and missing or reduced series staples. The sneaking and general handling of Snake feels really solid and is easily the best in the series. I rarely felt cheated by the AI when I got spotted due to the consistent “rules” the game has for who can see you/hear you based on your actions. Weapons and gadgets are all great fun to use, and the initially frustrating encounters with the Skull Unit and other bosses eventually give you the opportunity to test out some of the games bigger and louder weapons later in the game, once you’ve attached enough shipping containers and unconscious blokes to balloons to make them for you of course.
I rather enjoyed the tense but short fight against the Man On Fire and a tiny Psycho Mantis, but the Sahelanthropus battle really filled me with dread when the cutscene faded out to that giant creepy mech looming over me with his bug eyes.
Even the open world is mostly fun to navigate via cars, cargo trucks, Walker Gear, D-Horse and helicopter though it’s bases and guard posts aren’t as fleshed out as Ground Zeroes’ Camp Omega.

This is a game I’m still sinking time into after nearly four years (200+ hours between PS4 and PC) and many other great game releases since and I find it hard to put into words how much I love it. It genuinely makes me a bit sad that we’ll likely never get to play another legitimate Metal Gear again.
Thank you Kojima you absolute nut case.

Enemy presence detected.

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Re: 383: Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes/The Phantom Pain

Post by Good Shot Janson » March 10th, 2019, 4:39 pm

Remember when George Lucas made a magical trilogy of films that inspired and entertained nearly everyone that saw them? Do you remember when he made that second trilogy that...well...didn’t? That second trilogy is not the allegory for MGS5. MGS5 is worse. MGS5 is the Last Jedi.

I’ll skip to the end of my personal story, suffice to say MGS came out when I was 10 and I grew up with Solid Snake. I still have my Pizza Hut Demo Disc. Anyone playing MGS up until V had cause for both excitement and concern, and ironically Kojima was at the center of both emotions. MGS IV was so far up its own ass in high-school level philosophy and fan service , spending hours upon hours frivolously wrapping up mysteries that would have been better served had they remained enigmatic. The gameplay, however, took the mechanics from Subsistence and polished everything. Peacewalker’s gameplay was forgivable considering its origins, and the mediocre story was worth cringing through because at the end we got to hear Naked Snake truly become Big Boss. The post credit speech and the MGS logo turning red with the shift in Bog Boss’ personal philosophy and moral standing sent chills down my spine.

What peacewalker brought to the table was the framework of what I imagined would be a fully flushed out system in MGSV: A deep management mechanic involving base building, resource gathering (maybe a cocktail party mission to find sponsors, putting that MGS3 tux to use!) along with recruiting, training, deploying, and recovering troops and equipment in an immersive “private military company simulator.” (How’s that for a run on sentence.) Sure, Boss would undertake infiltration and espionage missions to sabotage defenses, gain intelligence, and rescue POWS, but this game had potential for full scale “Executive Operations in Rhodesia” level PMC operations. Remember “the colonel” in Blood Diamond? That’s you, Boss. Welcome to Outer Heaven.

In terms of narrative, I hoped the story would be stripped down and bare bones, focusing on Big Boss and his breakaway from civilization. The two best stories in the series, MGS1 and 3, had many working parts and twists but the themes were, at their very base, the same: the use of soldiers as expendable tools used merely to further Political agendas. It would be interesting to see Big Boss flip the script on the Patriots and their new world order.

When David Hayter conformed he was not voicing Big Boss, I was actually excited. “Well obviously he can’t voice BigBoss if he’s voicing SNAKE! Snake will make an appearance at the end of the game infiltrating Outer Heaven!” I told myself. I KNEW it would happen.

Ground Zeroes came out. And it was everything I was hoping for. The gameplay was tight. The atmosphere was dark and menacing. The antagonist was mysterious “suit”, a perfect foil for the legendary soldier, and seemed very “agency” (as in CIA.) Camp Omega was the perfect backdrop, and the shady feeling I had (being an American) acting in a way that was definitely not in my nation’s interests was a welcome change from the gung-ho recruitment fodder in most military themed games like Ghost Recon or Call of Duty. America does some VERY shady shit and Ground Zeroes pulls no punches. I loved everything up through the ending. Paz and Chico were wiped out along with MSF. The slate was being cleared. The final straw had been broken. Not to mention, I consider the intro/trailer for Ground Zeroes to be the single greatest bit of directing Kojima pulled off in all of MGS. Here’s to you, Hideo. See what I did there? Anyway, the stage was set. MGSV would be the tale of the rise of Big Boss and the founding of Outer Heaven.

Only it wasn’t.

I don’t know how to eloquently say this, so I won’t try. MGSV was a finely polished half turd. I don’t care that the game was released in an unfinished state...because I hated the game. Keifer Southerland’s sparse and phoned in performance neutered Snake. The story was batshit, and not in the good MGS3 way. It was STUPID. Worse...it was lazy. Right away, Kojima jumped the shark in the first act with zombie volgin riding a ghost unicorn. And it only got worse from there. Sahalanthropis (I don’t care enough to look up proper spelling) is the stupidest mech design... in the world. Where’s clarkson when you need him? The design makes no sense, and is a terrible boss. Plus, why was all the tech in the 1980s more advanced than everything in MGS1 (2005)? The story of Ocelot joining the Diamond Dogs, his motivations and activities since Snake Eater are completely absent. Liquid Snake is a child soldier in Africa? Could have sworn that was Jack aka Raiden’s story, HIDEO. By the time I got to the end I was numb. The stupid parasites, the dumb metal gear, the disappointing villain, and the garbage story left me empty, and I could care less that I was playing as some lame medic from Ground Zeroes instead of the real Big Boss... spoilers. Who cares. Fuck this game.

MGS, like Star Wars, is best experienced as a single great trilogy. Start with MGS1, end with MGS3, skip the rest. If you want to check in on Big Boss maybe play Ground Zeroes. You’ll walk away with more questions than answers, but that’s how MGS should be, and your imagination will fill the gaps much better than Kojima ever ended up being able to.

So, my three words?
Wasted, WASTED Potential.

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Re: 383: Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes/The Phantom Pain

Post by DaMonth » April 15th, 2019, 11:17 am

Never played this. Don't think I will. The gameplay is incredible and all that jazz, all those Kojima details, but something about a game after MGS4's very concluding conclusion sits with me the wrong way. And Triple-A'd cutscenes where you walk and listen to a person speak while you do things instead of 3-hour codecs. I think this game would be a lot more suited to be called Peacewalker 2.

Oh, and Quiet. Kojima, if you wanna make a girl with boobs, make a girl with boobs. Don't try to write it off as "breathing through her skin." Imagine how awful Eva would have been if she breathed through her skin.

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Re: 383: Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes/The Phantom Pain

Post by TheEmailer » April 15th, 2019, 3:22 pm

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 tranquilier 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 thew narrative during standard missions, which isn't an endorsement for a player here since the original.

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

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