My ongoing review of MGS 5: The Phantom Pain


The score so far: A solid 7.5.

I'm going to be spending the next couple of weeks making my way through Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, the newest, and likely final instalment of the Metal Gear saga helmed by Hideo Kojima. I'll have to work this around my daily schedule, work and life obviously come first but I'll be tweeting out announcements (and posting in here) when I'm live streaming on Twitch at my originally named channel Shaun_McIlroy if you want to get the raw feed on what I'm sure will be the most unserious review of a game I've ever done.

Seriously, if you're expecting this to be objective then close the tab now. Ok, you're still good to go? Let's do this!

The review so far: (Update: 9/6)

For the past five days I've been playing about ten hours of The Phantom Pain, and generally speaking I've had some fun with the game. When the original Metal Gear released on Microsoft's MSX platform in 1987 I was too young to pick up a controller and delve into the world of Snake, guns, walkie-talkie conversations and bad, bad men. I was, however of an appropriate age to take on Metal Gear Solid when it released in 1998, and from there I was hooked. I'm still of the opinion that Metal Gear Solid 3 remains the pinnacle of action adventure gaming on any platform - more so than Metal Gear Solid 4, Resident Evil 4, Uncharted, The Last of Us, Halo, Gears of War and many other pretenders to the throne that have come and gone.

It was really that great an experience and the opportunity to dive right back into the world of Big Boss -- rather than the later adventures of Solid Snake - fought against the indifference I've had towards this game for the past two years that we've known of its existence. Metal Gear Solid 4 was fine, good even but it was just tinged with too much fan service for me to actually find some real payoffs to the overarching story. Naked Snake, Big Boss, or whatever he's called in this one (Punished Snake - you know this, doofus) -- it was his journey through Groznyj Grad in the Bond/Cold-war era of 1964 that resonated with me more than nano machines, mechanical cow-Gekkos and a guard continually shitting himself.

I'm ready for this game.

MGS5 textures

I've played through the first five chapters of MGS 5 so far and until I get another run through those same missions tomorrow I'm just going to bullet point some thoughts about the early days of this expansive game.

  • I really like that we can skip cutscenes.
  • Headshots are really satisfying. Accidentally pressing the crouch button is not when you end up dead.
  • It's pretty nice to be able to tackle missions in any order you want, whether that's side-ops or mainline missions.
  • Mother Base is kinda dull in the first couple of hours. You can't open any doors or go inside but I imagine those R&D teams are working hard so I'll give this one a pass.
  • Someone spent way too much time getting a horse to crap on demand.
  • How the heck do you upload Xbox Screenshots to OneDrive? Microsoft you need to make this easier.
  • I know that people like to give From Software a pile of crap for the lame textures in Dark Souls 2, but even the much lauded Fox Engine produces some real stinkers as seen in the image above. This isn't an isolated incident, I've seen this happen regularly as I've traversed through Afghanistan and whether that's pop in, or using the Int-Scope to look at landscapes the net result is one that looks terrible and nothing to brag about.
  • Checkpoints are really, really frustrating here. I spent about 20 minutes infiltrating a base to capture a dude and got killed (I sucked). I was bounced right back to the very start of the mission, couldn't they just reset the clock about five minutes back?

I'll formally write this up in a few days into something more cohesive but as it stands the game lands on a Shaun scale of 7.5/10. I'm excited to play more, but sadly we have a guest tonight so I'm not able to play just yet. If only Microsoft had sent me my upgrade key to Windows 10 then I could play this in bed tonight.

Oh, well. Until tomorrow, friends.