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Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Review

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Story:

There is a lot of story to the Metal Gear Solid series, so I am sure there are several things I neither recognize or appreciate in The Phantom Pain, but I really do not have any complaints with what I have experienced thus far. The basic knowledge I had before starting the game, about who certain characters are and some of aspects of the world, has actually been enough. Everything else I have encountered more-or-less falls into one of two categories: explained well in the game or your first guess is right until it is explained. Naturally I would prefer it for more to be in the first category than the second, but I will accept the second over things simply being left confused without having other, out-game knowledge.

The Phantom Pain starts with you, Big Boss/Venom Snake waking up in a hospital bed. Eventually it is explained that you have been in a coma for nine years, but you do pass out a few times, with multiple days passing at a time. You are also shown that you lost the lower half of your left arm and had a tremendous amount of metal shrapnel, bone, and teeth embedded in you during the events from nine years ago. While a lot of these foreign bodies have been removed, some remain, including one rather large piece of metal that now protrudes from your skull, just over your right eye. You also have an eye patch over that eye, but I am not sure if that has always been there.

Along with your medical status being explained, you are also informed that basically everyone in the world wants you dead. Later on you learn this is because nine years ago you had formed and lead a paramilitary group that apparently earned the hatred of the world because you possessed a nuclear weapon, despite being a non-state actor. My guess is that these are the events of the game Peace Walker, as it is referred to as the Peace Walker incident. By the way, the year is 1984. There is a lot of futuristic tech for that year, but then you are going around with what looks like a Walkman on your belt, so it balances out.

 

Actually, I kind of like the mix of old and new, as it helps support the more silly aspects of the game. One example of this is how every time you get onto D-Horse, a quick round of drums is played, and strong attacks with the prosthetic arm plays an effect that sounds straight out of the Six Million Dollar Man. (You have no idea how much I hope you know what that is and do not need to look it up.) It may be silly, but it is done well.

Returning to the hospital, somehow one of the forces that want you dead learns you are at this hospital, so they have come to kill you, but with some help, you manage to escape this tutorial experience. This is also where you first encounter (in this game at least) the pyrokinetic and telekinetic individuals I mentioned earlier. It will not be the last time you encounter them, but I cannot promise their presence will make more sense. The first guess I have for them is that they are third-party actors that do not necessarily serve those they initially appear to, and thus play a larger role than immediately evident.

 

 

After escaping the hospital and meeting Ocelot, you then go on a mission to free Miller, an old ally that can help you rebuild what was destroyed nine years ago. After the rescue is when you finally get to visit Mother Base and meet the home of the Diamond Dogs. How they are introduced suggests that they have been running as a small mercenary outfit, but now that you are around, they can start growing and become a more directed force. You will still take on jobs you are hired for, but you will also act on what you feel is best, which is to hunt down those behind the attack from nine years ago and other forces that want to take over the world.

As you are doing this you will encounter old and new friends, including Huey Emmerich, who is a gifted technologist who was involved with the attack on you nine years ago, and the new character Quiet. There is quite a bit to Quiet's character, but to talk about it strays too close to spoiler territory for me to be comfortable.

 

Another new friend you will make that may be worth mentioning is DD, or D-Dog. While roaming around in Afghanistan, one of the two main map areas you visit (at least in the first chapter), you may happen upon a wolf pup. If you extract him, he will be trained by Ocelot and eventually grow up to become a very useful buddy. Seriously, you will want to find DD, and not just because he is cute as a puppy. (Besides, the staff you have at Mother Base will actually thank you for rescuing him.)

Really cannot say more except that the story takes you to a variety of places to do a number of things, and it is fairly complicated. Not too complicated, at least not for me, but complicated enough to give the game and story some appreciated depth. There is a lot going on, and thankfully it is all represented well enough that I doubt you will get lost, if you pay attention.

 

One thing odd about how the story is told, which may be a Metal Gear Solid tradition, is that at the beginning and end of each episode (story mission) there are credits. I cannot think of another game that does this. It is a little odd at times, too, since most of the credits are the same each time, but it can also be useful because it will tell you who is involved in each mission, like who the enemies are.

One enemy I do want to mention here, because I know I will talk about them in the Gameplay section, is the Skulls. These are enemies that always appear in a mist and are somewhat zombie-like in movement. Plus they can turn other bodies into beings like them, and control these bodies to attack you.

So far, I have enjoyed the story and definitely like its depth. There are some questions I would like to see better answered than they have been, but nothing essential has been left out, so I cannot complain about that. It does make me interested in playing previous title to better understand all that is happening and who everyone is.




  1. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Review - Introduction
  2. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Review - Graphics
  3. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Review - Story
  4. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Review - Gameplay
  5. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Review - Additional Gameplay Media
  6. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Review - Conclusion
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