METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN Review

How good is the METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN story?

179
Silentius (after 19 hours play time)

633 days ago

Have to say, the story is (so far at least) one of the more disappointing aspects of the game. This is the first Metal Gear game I've played since the heady days of the NES and I'd heard great things about the series' development since then, but MGS5's narrative pretty much demands that you are already fully familiar with every iota of backstory. If you're a fanboy I'd imagine you'd lap it up, but if you're relatively new to MG games, like me, then it's not the game's strongest selling point!

458
Fattox (after 3 days 14 hours play time)

679 days ago

Yes. Probably moreso if you're high at the time (it will probably make more sense then, too).

421
Ben Barrett (after 21 hours play time)

660 days ago

I can't imagine wanting to slog through the open-world stealthitude if I wasn't enjoying it - which I am, immensely - but the plot isn't particularly well told either. All audio logs and brief conversations, at least so far. Works in the context of the game and better than previous MGS' endless codec-calls, but not a highlight by any means.

83

657 days ago

MGS V is pretty light on story compared to the other games, mostly because it's frequently optional. The narrative is frequently told through cassettes, which are listened to at your leisure. There's very few cut scenes, and most of the missions feel pretty isolated from any kind of wider plot. MGS V is best played for the mechanics rather than the narrative, even if you adore its utterly ludicrous story.

34

645 days ago

Yes, although far less so than in previous Metal Gear Solid games. The narrative is interesting, particularly if you have a working knowledge of the series lore, but it's sparse due to the nature of the game. Core story beats can be 10+ hours apart depending on what missions you choose when, so you won't be dragged along by the narrative, but it is still solid. SOLID, geddit?!

69
Phil Iwaniuk (after 1 day 3 hours play time)

645 days ago

Coming to the game having given this series a breather since MGS2, I'm frequently baffled by references in audio logs to prior events and consistenty surprised by the tick-tock cadence of plausible PMC operations and completely insane supernatural events. That said, on the rare occasions the game focuses entirely on story -such as its superlative into - I've been spellbound. 1 day and 3 hours in, I still don't feel that the story has truly kicked into gear, though.

1
radfordwendell1 (after 2 days 1 hour play time)

509 days ago

I'm not a Metal Gear fan at all, so I cannot give a proper assessment on the game as I know there is a large following. But I can say that I do think it is a good game, even though I am awful at stealth games. I just don't have the patience for them. But as far as it merely being a game, I would say it is excellent. The only true issue is, which is the main issue I've had with Kanomi, is the severely intricate leveling up and option menus for staff. I still have absolutely NO IDEA what I'm doing with recruiting people LOL....

141
LordCrash (after 15 hours play time)

389 days ago

painfully bad

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How much freedom does METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN give you?

421
Ben Barrett (after 21 hours play time)

660 days ago

More than any other game I've played, I'd say. You're choosing everything from what you bring with you, to how it's customised, to what you look like, to where you approach a problem from, to how loud you decide to go in combat.

83

657 days ago

It's an exceptionally free-form game, with elements that hark back to games like Hidden & Dangerous. You have a big open world to approach objectives in any way you fancy, you can take any variety of weaponry in with you, and you can select what 'buddy' you want to be accompanied by: be that a support sniper or a dog to help sniff the bad guys out. Frequently the mission objectives will change if you're late to arrive or manage to mess things up, making the world feel more dynamic.

458
Fattox (after 3 days 14 hours play time)

679 days ago

Quite a lot in regards to how you can approach situations and missions. The only thing i would have likes would be more climbing abilities so i can scale some of the bigger hills and vantage points, instead of a badass like snake being unable to climb a few rocks.

34

645 days ago

It might be the purest form of open-world gaming that the medium has yet seen. There are so many ways to tackle each objective that you won't even realise most of them unless you go prodding around the internet, and it's this level of freedom that is the game's strongest suit. Never before has a game given you such a comprehensive suite of abilities and allowed you to mess around with them to such an extent while still being able to achieve your end goals.

69
Phil Iwaniuk (after 1 day 3 hours play time)

645 days ago

William Wallace would be proud. Missions take place in an open world which allows you to approach them as you see fit, geographically and tactically. Outright combat is a valid and satisfying approach, likewise sneaking, sniping, demolitions... and probably a few other tactics I haven't unlocked/considered yet. Certain objectives are timed, and can change depending on your approach, so how you capitalise on that freedom feeds right back into the gameplay. You can choose your loadout, buddy, and vehicles before each mission, too.

179
Silentius (after 19 hours play time)

633 days ago

It gives you A LOT of freedom... perhaps too much! The principal narrative is pretty hands off and you can spend as much time as you like dicking around with different load outs and playstyles. When you're in the field you can take up botany or even animal conservation, while at the same time pursuing the three chief pillars of the game: sneaking around, kidnapping folks and mass murder. There's a rather convoluted base building and management game tacked on too. This allows you to construct various 'platforms', which you can then drive between in your jeep. If you're not in the mood for any of that, you can simply float around in your helicopter listening to eighties elctro-pop... It's all rather bonkers fun! I just wish the game would better direct me as to what I SHOULD be doing!

141
LordCrash (after 15 hours play time)

389 days ago

Not much, at least not much of substance. It's one of the worst open world games I've ever played. And there are also better stealth games.

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How realistic are the horses in METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN?

83

657 days ago

MGS V's horse is realistic in the fact that it has four legs and can support a human. Beyond that, it's a galloping jeep. It doesn't get exhausted, it doesn't need to eat, it can defecate on command (?!), and teleport to your location if you whistle. This ain't no horse simulator.

421
Ben Barrett (after 21 hours play time)

660 days ago

As realistic as it's possible to be while being an armoured, immortal horse that gets air-lifted by a balloon regularly.

34

645 days ago

They definitely *look* like horses, and the share certain bodily functions, but realism clearly wasn't top of the agenda. Unless real horses can't actually be killed and can appear instantly out of thin air when whistled. I don't know - I haven't been around them very much.

458
Fattox (after 3 days 14 hours play time)

679 days ago

Very. They poop, "neigh" and everything else!

69
Phil Iwaniuk (after 1 day 3 hours play time)

645 days ago

Realistic enough for you to never really consider D-Horse in mechanical terms - whistle and it's there when you need it, wherever you left it. Give the word, and it'll do a poo, no matter how full/self-conscious it may be feeling. Tell it to canter across the Afghan desert indefinitely, and it will do so without ever getting fatigued. Crucially D-Horse 'handles' responsively and consistenly, even over boulders and cliffsides.

179
Silentius (after 19 hours play time)

633 days ago

Yeah, their pleasingly horse like!!

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How funny is METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN?

458
Fattox (after 3 days 14 hours play time)

679 days ago

It has its moments. But it's not the focus of the game.

421
Ben Barrett (after 21 hours play time)

660 days ago

It's hardly a comedy, but it's gotten a chuckle out of me. Mostly due to the absurdity of its world, the tone is quite dark.

83

657 days ago

The MGS series has generally had plenty of oddly comedic moments, but they're not present in The Phantom Pain. There's no monkey-in-a-nappy here, no wanking in lockers, no character with poor bowel control. Overall, MGS V takes its cold war tale fairly seriously. There are amusing moments though that crop up thanks to the mechanics: fulton lifting sheep is amusing, as is causing jeeps to skid out and stall because they drove through horse manure that you planted earlier.

69
Phil Iwaniuk (after 1 day 3 hours play time)

645 days ago

As funny as the player at the controls. Viewed the right way, the game is a troll's toolbox, and missions simply excuses to be a monumental dick to a camp full of soldiers. Drop enormous supply packages right onto enemies' heads and crush them - it's a valid tactic. Get your horse to poop on a jeep's patrol and watch it skid off. Kidnap the local fauna by attaching balloons to them. Wrestle your own troops to the ground and Mother Base and heard them offer their sincere thanks. That's funny to me. Moments of scripted humour in the narrative are few and far between though, simply because the narrative itself is stretched between lengthy player-directed sequences.

179
Silentius (after 19 hours play time)

633 days ago

It hasn't yet made me laugh, though it's brought a smile to my face a couple of times!

141
LordCrash (after 15 hours play time)

389 days ago

It's not funny, it's laughable. It's inconsitent, it almost always misses the right tones and in the end it's just a complete mess of juvenile goofiness.

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Does the setting of METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN feel original?

83

657 days ago

There's nothing quite like the MGS universe. It's got a fetish for real-world millitary hardware, making everything feel like a realistic depiction of the cold war era. Yet there's a layer of Japanese mecha over it all - Snake's iDroid holographic smart phone, his vape cigar, his rocket-boosting prosthetic arm, and the bipedial Metal Gear robots. The combination of the real and the absurd make Kojima's world a unique one.

421
Ben Barrett (after 21 hours play time)

660 days ago

Physically, it's Afghanistan - brown, sandy and a bit depressing. However the retro-futuristic universe Metal Gear inhabits is as weird as they come. Some of the giant walking battle tanks have gun-penises, for example.

34

645 days ago

Sort of, in that few games have taken place on the Angola-Zaire border before, and even Afghanistan feels different. More than the physical location though is how everything and everyone is MGS-ified, with that typically off-the-wall charm.

458
Fattox (after 3 days 14 hours play time)

679 days ago

Yes, the environment is nice and realistic, but all the weird creepy characters that make up the story and such add that special MGS twist.

69
Phil Iwaniuk (after 1 day 3 hours play time)

645 days ago

Geographically I feel like I've visited the hills of Afghanistan and central African jungle plenty of times before in other games, so the locations aren't intrinsically fascinating. But MGSV's auteured vision of cold war military ops does create a unique setting, populated by a bizarre mix of enthusiastically recreated real hardware and, well, the Fulton device. Sometimes you're playing a war sim; sometimes enormous sci-fi mechs and horror movie creations intrude on that war sim. That in itself is very unique.

179
Silentius (after 19 hours play time)

633 days ago

It feels original not so much in terms of location - there are plenty of games that let you man shoot in Africa and Afghanistan - where it does stand out is in its ability to evoke a particular time period, namely the eighties! It does a solid job, using music and other cultural and historical references, of giving the game a nostalgic tone... even if there are giant robots strutting about!

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How much fun are the weapons in METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN?

458
Fattox (after 3 days 14 hours play time)

679 days ago

Quite, but recoil is a real bitch when using a controller. I would use mouse + keyboard as it's better for shooting, but it's crap for sneaking!

421
Ben Barrett (after 21 hours play time)

660 days ago

Really it's a game about taking individual shots, rather than gunning down hundreds. That feels great, but protracted firefights feel clumsy and deadly.

34

645 days ago

It's very good, and certainly better than other MGS games. It doesn't have the tactile satisfaction of something like Call of Duty, but when your cover does get blown it's satisfying to respond by making sure everyone else gets blown up.

83

657 days ago

It's not a game designed for protracted firefights, even though they are technically possible. With stealth being the key pillar of the game, MGS excels at silenced sniper shots, or quick close-combat kills. Head-shots are accompanied by a fairly bloody animation as an enemy's face crumples, and the fact that this animation is so prominent shows the kind of shooting that's expected.

69
Phil Iwaniuk (after 1 day 3 hours play time)

645 days ago

Surprisingly so. It's worth popping into first-person view to line up a particularly important headshot with any weapon. Firefights start to feel lumpen as they escalate, but that's probably deliberate, isn't it?

179
Silentius (after 19 hours play time)

633 days ago

It's not really built for straight up gun battles. In my experience I get minced pretty quickly if you go at a gang of enemies in a gung-ho fashion. Much more satisfying to pick them off one at a time!

141
LordCrash (after 15 hours play time)

389 days ago

Not much. Pretty standard I'd say. That silent weapons always break after just a few shots is both stupid and tedious.

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How open is METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN to explore?

458
Fattox (after 3 days 14 hours play time)

679 days ago

Maybe a slightly bit less than something like RDR. You can go around the map as you please, but can't scale the biggest rocks, so you are kind of forced around certain routes, but the routes are very wide and passable.

421
Ben Barrett (after 21 hours play time)

660 days ago

It's a massive world, but you can't fly across it or leap mountains. You can go anywhere, do whatever, but the tools are designed for focusing on single points at a time rather than open exploration.

83

657 days ago

The world maps are huge, but they're not places to explore. This isn't an open world like GTA or Far Cry, where there are things to find and side objectives to do or collect. The environments are open to allow a variety of tactical approaches. If you're just walking around to explore, all you're going to find is dust, trees, checkpoints, and mountains.

34

645 days ago

Completely open but not hugely populated. There are guard posts dotted about but none asks anything different of you, and there aren't the kind of emergent events going on that something like Far Cry 4 is packed with. Also you may tire somewhat of going everywhere by jeep/horse - a fast travel button would actually have been nice.

179
Silentius (after 19 hours play time)

633 days ago

Broad sweeping maps, filled with realistic terrain, where you can go anywhere! Problem is, a realistic desert doesn't have much in it other than sand and scrub bushes, so a lot of the wandering you'll do feels pretty aimless. Reaching higher ground can also be a real pain as Snake seems to be rather poor at climbing over even moderate obstacles! Instead you often have to rely on hidden mountain paths which can often be VERY well hidden.

69
Phil Iwaniuk (after 1 day 3 hours play time)

645 days ago

You're free to roam the sizeable maps at will, but they're not venues for sightseeing - rather, they're impressively sized stages for missions to play out. Not much happens as you gallop or drive from insertion zone to checkpoint - you might encounter a bear, a resource, or a guard post, but gameplay couldn't be described as emergent. I find a lot of time gets eaten up simply travelling to and from missions.

141
LordCrash (after 15 hours play time)

389 days ago

way too open, while there is nothing to explore and while there is a badly designed world that has no right to exist in a video game

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How sneaky can you be in METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN?

458
Fattox (after 3 days 14 hours play time)

679 days ago

Very. Sometimes i get in to spots where i think i'm going to be spotted, and can feel my butthole flapping in fear. Immersive!

421
Ben Barrett (after 21 hours play time)

660 days ago

I would guess you can complete literally the entire game without interacting with anything outside of a cutscene or scripted sequence.

83

657 days ago

Being sneaky is pretty much the point of the game. Aside from a few explosive set pieces, the game encourages you to play silently, and you can certainly make it through almost all the missions without needing to be seen or heard at all. A variety of tools - from silencers to fulton lifts - can be used to keep quiet and clean up after yourself.

69
Phil Iwaniuk (after 1 day 3 hours play time)

645 days ago

Really, really, REALLY sneaky. And not just in terms of remaining unseen, either - weapons, tools and iDroid functions offer sneaky secondary uses if you apply some imagination...

141
LordCrash (after 15 hours play time)

389 days ago

It's quite good but it also always feels a bit clunky due to the imprecise controls.

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How does METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN reward you for playing tactically?

83

657 days ago

Each mission concludes with a rank screen, with the S+ ranks being the most difficult to attain. The more tactical your approach, the better chance you have of obtaining a higher rank. They're more for the obsessive player though; a high rank is a bragging right, but not exactly useful. Tactical play more realistically rewards you by making your job slightly easier: sneak in, beware of guards, and staying as non-lethal as possible will mean less alarms raised, and fewer reinforcements storming your position.

458
Fattox (after 3 days 14 hours play time)

679 days ago

It gives you a higher rank based on how well you do with speed and stealth. I kind of wish it wouldn't punish you as harshly for killing people, but i guess that's because it's easier to kill a guy and not worry that he'll wake up later.

421
Ben Barrett (after 21 hours play time)

660 days ago

Higher point totals and ranks feel good, but it goes further than that - taking out communication equipment stops reinforcements, moving bodies means you won't be discovered and using non-lethal means of assault lets you abduct and recruit enemies into your own private army.

69
Phil Iwaniuk (after 1 day 3 hours play time)

645 days ago

In each mission, you're constantly accumulating (or pissing away) points based on your tactical play. You'll lose bonuses for being seen, setting bases on alert, killing people - clumsy stuff. Points are added for tactical (unseen, silent) takedowns, successfully interrogating guards, discovering and completing additional objectives. It could reward lethal, but still well-considered, play a bit better, but the mission ranks aren't crucially important. More important is that taking a strategic approach has tangible benefits in-game - it's easier to stay alive without a whole base waggling their flashlights around in search of you.

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How good are the sounds in METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN?

458
Fattox (after 3 days 14 hours play time)

679 days ago

Pretty good. Lots of audio cues to indicate when an enemy is near or can see you etc. It actually helps the game suck you in a lot.

34

645 days ago

The audio is excellent in every way. The soundtrack is great, there are cassette recordings which fill in gaps in the narrative, and there's even one you can collect which plays back the sounds of a guard going to the toilet. What more could you want?

421
Ben Barrett (after 21 hours play time)

660 days ago

Lovely. Customisable battle-helicopter music is a must-have in every game released in 2016.

83

657 days ago

It uses the traditional MGS alert sounds, which are welcome and handy. The original soundtrack is forgettable, and will make you pine for MGS 2's score. However, the game is filled with licensed tracks from the '80s, which are truly excellent. You can play these at your own leisure from your helicopter or Walkman, and it allows you to set the soundtrack to your actions. This can make missions very memorable, such as escaping from near-death to the tune of 'Kids in America'.

69
Phil Iwaniuk (after 1 day 3 hours play time)

645 days ago

The heritage audio cues from earlier series entrants are greatly welcome. Audio works hard to keep you informed of your second-by-second situation, less so to keep you immersed in the game's atmosphere. '80s cassette tapes add a sense of time and place, but they don't get under your skin like the Joan Baez tune from Ground Zeroes. Here's to you, Nicola and Bart.

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How good are the graphics in METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN?

421
Ben Barrett (after 21 hours play time)

660 days ago

It looks wonderful, even on lower-than-max settings. Animations are better than I've seen elsewhere too, particularly with the number and variety of reactions to different events from NPCs.

458
Fattox (after 3 days 14 hours play time)

679 days ago

Kojima has always been one for detail in his games/worlds. This one doesn't disappoint, but at the same time i don't feel like it's hit his usual quality. 9.5/10 though i'd say compared to current titles. Deffo on par with the likes of GTA 5 and Witcher 3.

83

657 days ago

The Fox engine is exceptionally capable, and everything in MGS V looks fantastic. Faces, clothing textures, rocks, rusted weapons, rivets on the Motherbase. Animations are incredible and the high framerate means things constantly look excellent.

69
Phil Iwaniuk (after 1 day 3 hours play time)

645 days ago

Both pleasing to the peepers and well-optimised, so it's no biggie to get the game running at 1080p with max settings on most modern machines (GTX 7 series and above).

141
LordCrash (after 15 hours play time)

389 days ago

Pretty good, I'd say, but not top of the line. Technically it's pretty well done, but the art and world design is just dull and uninspired.

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How does METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN run on your PC?

458
Fattox (after 3 days 14 hours play time)

679 days ago

Like a knob of butter that's been stuck to the belly of a sunbathing, WD40-coated walrus.

421
Ben Barrett (after 21 hours play time)

660 days ago

Amazingly, considering the age of my rig. Should work well on basically anything made after 2012.

69
Phil Iwaniuk (after 1 day 3 hours play time)

645 days ago

The FOX engine doesn't make a fuss, it just gets on with churning out the frames. Every so often (usually in day-to-night transitions) I notice a drop below 60 frames into the high 50s for a minute or two, and I'm running two SLI'd GTX 970s... so it's not flawless. I'm not going to lose any sleep over 3FPS though.

141
LordCrash (after 15 hours play time)

389 days ago

pretty well

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How active is the multiplayer community for METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN?

421
Ben Barrett (after 21 hours play time)

660 days ago

I've encountered zero so far, because the multiplayer doesn't unlock until quite late in the game. Once you reach that level, however, it seems to be fairly active and accessible.

69
Phil Iwaniuk (after 1 day 3 hours play time)

645 days ago

Yet to unlock FOB, terrified by the sound of it. The real meat of multiplayer will come with Metal Gear Online though, which launches today.

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What do gamers think of METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN after many hours of playing

421
Ben Barrett (after 21 hours play time)

660 days ago

Yup, though it's difficult to jump in and out of. All about the marathon sessions, for me. Don't think doing a side-op a night would work well, especially considering how long individual missions can take.

69
Phil Iwaniuk (after 1 day 3 hours play time)

645 days ago

Undoubtedly. I'm starting to get a little frustrated with the time it takes to move from one mission to another, or between Side Ops, but the action itself is constantly expanding to reveal new possibilities, and that keeps me coming back.

141
LordCrash (after 15 hours play time)

389 days ago

A bit, but not too much. The gameplay is ok and from time to time even quite satisfying but everything in between is laughable and tedious. The story is complete bollocks, the open world is bollocks and the whole inconsistency and goofiness of the game is bollocks. It mostly feels like a big budget game that was made by a fifth grader for other fifth graders...

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5 reviewers answered 7 questions