iREVIEW – Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Publisher: Konami Digital Entertainment
Developer: Kojima Productions
Platform: Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3, PS4, Windows
Reviewed On: Xbox One


I’ve probably started and re-started this review half a dozen times. Not knowing where to even begin describing a game like Metal Gear Solid, but also not wanting to disappoint. Intimidated, I suppose, would be the best way to describe my feelings towards this review. Intimidated. I’ll briefly touch on the story, but I’ll be spending the bulk of the review discussing what mechanics worked and what didn’t.

I won’t be discussing Kojima’s falling out with Konami, as I’ve written about it enough already, and I don’t want it to tarnish the review.

“Started from the bottom, and now we’re here”


Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is a sequel to 2014’s Ground Zeroes. Ground Zeroes as a game was very short, and acted very much as a tech demo, or introduction to the full-fledged release. Really it was just released to whet our appetite, and to stop our complaints about the widening gap of time between MGS 4 and 5.

At the end of Ground Zeroes, Punished “Venom” Snake’s base of operations is attacked and destroyed after an ex-filtration mission, and the captive we extracted during said mission was a bomb in disguise. These simultaneous events have left Snake broken, and in a coma for nine years. The opening of MGS V: The Phantom Pain has us waking up from our coma, coming to terms with the aftermath of the events from nine years ago, and escaping the hospital during an assassination attempt on our life.


We establish a new base of operations and begin our revenge story, going after those that came close to killing us in the prequel.


Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, like its predecessors, is a game that works really well on so many levels. Hideo Kojima in the realm of attention to detail, has no equal. Doing the game no justice at all, it would best be described as an open world action stealth game, and Kojima’s most ambitious project to-date, but the game is so much more, so deeply detailed, so mechanically sound, so engaging.

As the MGS series creator, director, writer, and designer, Hideo Kojima tried something very different with the latest outing. Prior MGS games were solid in gameplay, but relied heavily on story and lengthy cut-scenes to tell the tale. With MGS V, these cut-scenes are pretty much completely eliminated, with the player left to tell their own tale through the open world missions and exploration. Granted, there is still a ton of voice-over narration, and audio tapes to be listened to.

The open world is broken up into two locations, Afghanistan and the Angola – Zaire border region of Central Africa. Afghanistan being very dry with desert terrain, and sand storms, and Africa more lush, with jungles and rain storms. Each area has significant, key enemy bases and small towns related to the story missions, connected by dirt or muddy paths, and the rest of the map is peppered with small enemy outposts. The third area is our operating base, which is an off-shore oil rig. This is our base of operations where there are multiple platforms attached, each catering to a different type of support group. There is the Command Platform, Combat Unit, R&D, Resource Development, Support, Intel, and Medical. Upgrading and expanding these throughout the game gives us access to more advanced tech, mission intel and assistance, and weapons. The fourth and final area is our helicopter, which acts as our transport between the base, and either Afghanistan or Africa. The helicopter also acts as a mobile operating base, where we can upgrade our equipment or initiate the next mission.

While in the field, we can extract enemy soldiers or equipment to help bolster our off-shore base. This is through a device called a Fulton, which is basically like a parachute that picks up the soldier and shoots them up into the sky to be picked up by our helicopter. The enemy soldiers get placed into the teams that suit their skill set and extracted vehicles and weapons can be used in later missions.

MGS V is not a true open world game, and its world not entirely seamless like a Grand Theft Auto or Far Cry. The game is broken up into missions and side missions. Missions need to be selected from our iDroid, and in a means to progress the story, we need to stop back at the off-shore base to check in. When selecting the mission, we can pick the drop-off point, and select our gear and buddy for the trip. At any point during the mission we can select weapon or vehicle drops, or exchange buddies. Before the mission can be completed, an extraction is necessary, either by means of helicopter or exiting the conflict area. Just call the helicopter from our handy iDroid, and meet up at the nearest drop point, and mission complete. We then get the mission’s spoils, and notification of the next mission.

Between the main missions, there are side missions, which can be initiated at any time, in any order. Completing some of these is a requirement before advancing the story, but the rest are available to help grow the base’s resources or involve an especially skilled soldier that needs extraction to help with the bases future upgrades. These missions are less strict and can be started from the ground through the iDroid, and are completed by just finishing the objective, no extraction required.

The downside to MGS V’s mission structure design is it ruins the seamlessness and immersion of the story. For example, some of the later story missions end with a cliff hanger and “to be continued”. And then we find ourselves back in the helicopter, ready to pick the next mission and load out. We can go back to our base, or explore the side missions. But then re-initiating the story where it left off, everything is hectic once again, as if there was no interruption.


The story missions are a little boring or repetitive at times. There are a few spread out across the two part campaign that are one hundred percent story dedicated, either boss fights or missions that truly drive the story. The rest are either infiltration or extraction based, or intel gathering. These missions provide little tidbits of story and background information, but are more purposed towards learning the world and mastering the game mechanics, both action and stealth.

As stated, the campaign is split into two parts, part one being the bulk of the story, and part two feeling like it was tacked on, meant as an expansion. But part two is where the story concludes for each of the secondary characters, and has the final mission, which is a replay of the game’s first mission. Part two is primarily composed of replay missions from part one, just augmented to play a specific way: mandatory stealth, no load out, extreme difficult, etc. These are not a requirement to complete the story, and are just for those who want to test their skills in a tougher field.

Part two just felt messier, incomplete. The story is solid but the presentation feels raw. Possibly at this point Kojima was already on his way out and was feeling the pressure from Konami to wrap it up and ship the product. There’s even an incomplete chapter cutscene on YouTube, a cut ending.

The game’s mechanics are truly its strongest feature, and this has been the case throughout the entire series. I can’t stress this enough. In MGS V’s case, it’s especially notable due to the open world. The player is left to their devices when infiltrating an outpost. Snake is more nimble than ever with his smooth transitions from stealth to action poses; gone are the days when we were tied to a rigid camera.

Our mission buddies include D-Horse, D-Dog, or D-Walker. Or we can have Quiet, a story character, available later on in the campaign. D-Horse is primarily used for navigating the vast terrain, D-Walker is a small mech that we can ride, and is helpful with navigating and is useful when engaging an outpost gets hairy, D-Dog and Quiet are good for stealth engagements and highlighting enemies and objectives, and at any time we can swap out one for another.

However the player wants to attempt a mission, that option is available, full assault or sneaky, and the game permits many a failures before its game over – reload checkpoint?


If you get spotted, the game time will slow down, allowing the player to locate the threat, and eliminate the threat before they announce your position, alerting the base. If you get spotted, or an enemy thinks they’ve spotted you, they will then alert the base through their radio, and they will check your last known position, or call for backup. Assuming you still have your wits about you, you can take out any enemies quietly, or vacate that area and hide. The enemy will eventually give up, and continue their routine, just on a higher alert. Its only when you’ve alerted the whole base to your position, and you are unable to escape, and end up getting killed, that the mission will end in failure. The game is very forgiving. That said, the enemies will adapt to your chosen gameplay style throughout the campaign. You’ll start noticing more helmets if you’re adept at headshot, or night vision goggles if you prefer excursion under moonlight; the enemy will even start setting up dummy soldiers to reinforce their numbers.


Your intel support team back at home base will suggest you scope out a town or base prior to infiltration. Find a high spot, and use the binoculars to tag enemies to watch their route. You can even advance time while in-game if you prefer daylight to night, or reverse. Guards will finish their shift and go to sleep, but others will likely take their place. I didn’t have the patience for this feature, and instead would always infiltrate at my earliest convenience, and roll with the punches as they came. Just note, when extracting a prisoner, sand storms are your friend. On numerous occasions I was able to infiltrate a base completely unseen without removing any enemies, and extract my target. I’ve also had missions go so sideways that enemy helicopters were searching for me with troops on the ground. Its instances like these where a mission can play out so different each time, that makes the Metal Gear Solid game what it is – unmatched free-roam, free-form experimentation.


The weirdest feature in the game has to be the ability to play a mission as any of your Combat Unit’s staff. Male or female. They’re just Boss. Everyone you meet thinks they’re Boss, and will treat them as such. Boss can literally be anyone.

And the infamous cardboard box is back, and better than ever. It’s tougher, and has a more robust feature set, including allowing the player to stand while in the box. A funny feature with the box is the ability to attach a guard image poster to the top and standing in front of enemy guards. They will salute you as their commander.


The game’s whole presentation is near-perfect. The story, while lacking focus at times, tells an emotional tale of loss and recovery, of deceit and love. Kojima’s storytelling and direction has never been better.  While some of the missions seem tedious, the actual story driving missions are powerful and will truly keep you engaged. Kojima has a way of including current events and melding them into his fictional worlds. Last generation is was micro technology and private militaries. This generation child soldiers in Africa, nuclear warheads, war-time interrogation techniques, and the diversity of language around the world.


Kojima has created two believable, living, breathing areas filled with enemy encampments and wildlife. He’s placed us in the center of these war torn countries and given us a home base to manage, that requires resource and staff management far too detailed and involved than it ought to be. He’s given the tools to play out the missions with freedom and experimentation. He’s made a sand-box world, given us Snake, and told us to go play – be nice or be deadly. Kill or extract. Snake even has a shrapnel horn stuck in his forehead that will grow to mimic a demon if you’re evil enough.

And the game is gorgeous looking to boot, with Afghanistan’s hard rocky valleys at sunset even surpassing Red Dead Redemption’s brilliant vistas.


In the realm of achievements, considering the unique type of game, and imagination of Hideo Kojima, the achievements are pretty unimaginative. There are those dedicated to completing the main missions, some side quests, and completing the bond with your three breathing buddies. The rest are completionist – bleh.

For those that like stealth incursions, horses, e-cigs, or snake. Snake? SNNAAAAAAKEEE!!!

Notable Achievements
To the Rescue (Extract a female prisoner) – 15G
Man’s Best Friend (Raise bond with D-Dog to the maximum) – 15G


New Ideas, and the News!

So over the past little while I’ve been thinking of new things to add to the site. I’ve come to the realization that I do not play enough games quick enough to ensure constant updates via Reviews only. So I’ve started thinking of different types of content to add, to cushion the gaps between reviews.

One idea that came to me was to comment on the video game news of the day, and try to update every day. I sit on a computer at work all day so it should be easy enough.

This will be more focused, big news stuff, related to the 3 platforms: XBox, Playstation, and PC, but with a focus on the Xbox. News that appeals to me.

Tuesdays we’ll talk about the new game releases. Wednesdays I’m going to start a feature called What I’m Playing, in which I’ll provide a progress update on what I’m currently playing. And Fridays is usually game night with Friends, which is streamed via Twitch.

And finally, obviously, the Reviews will keep coming, albeit slowly. I recently wrapped up Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna) in co-op, so I’ll be writing about that shortly.

So…lets talk about the news that appeals to me:

Forza Horizons 2

Forza Horizon 2’s Rockstar Energy Car Pack is now available for $5 or free for Season Pass holders.

With the new pack, racers get to enjoy five new cars: the 2014 Volkswagen Beetle GRC, the 2015 Subaru WRX STI, the 1996 BMW 850CSi, the 2015 Jaguar XFR-S and the 1970 Volkswagen #1107 Desert Dingo Racing Stock Bug. Acura Integra Type-R is the free car of the month.

Last month, the Top Gear Car Pack was released, adding six new cars, including the 2015 Lexus RC F, 1986 Lamborghini LM002, 2015 Ferrari 458 Speciale, and the 1993 Jaguar XJ220.

Also announced was the Fast and the Furious 7 movie tie in, later this month. It looks like the DLC is just some tie-in cars. Free for all players for a 2 week window. Afterwards it will be a paid DLC. All those who download it during the free window will keep it for free.

Metal Gear Solid V – Phantom Pain

We were finally given a firm release date today, by Hideo Kojima, for the upcoming MGS V. Tuesday, September 1st, 2015 on all the major consoles, and a PC release a couple weeks later. Kojima has stated that this will be the last game in the Metal Gear Solid saga.

“I always say ‘this will be my last Metal Gear,'” Kojima said, “but the games in the series that I’ve personally designed and produced — Metal Gear on MSX, MG2, MGS1, 2, 3, 4, Peace Walker, and now MGSV — are what constitute a single ‘Metal Gear Saga.’ With MGSV, I’m finally closing the loop on that saga.


Bethesda has announced a stand-alone prequel to the surprisingly excellent 2014’s Wolfenstein: The New Order, called Wolfenstein: The Old Blood. Due out in May, the game is a digital release for $20. The prequel takes place before the Allies lose the war.

Mad Max

Unbeknownst to me, Avalanche Studios is making a Mad Max game. The post-apocalyptic, open-world game will focus on driving, and surviving the wasteland. Food and water, which is scarce, will both be used to replenish Max’s health. That being said, the game will make available a large amount of fuel to the player, as the designers want the player to drive around, not walk around.

September 1st release, Xbox 360 and PS3 versions cancelled.

This will be a work in progress, as like anything, I suppose.

See ya later.

E3 2014 – Sony Press Conference

Well, its finally time. The final conference of the night. Hopefully trying to end big, Sony Computer Entertainment’s Press Conference is up.


Predictions: Uncharted 4, The Last Guardian (finally), Maybe something from The Order 1886.

Sony opened big with Destiny, revealing The Traveler, stating we’re Earth’s last hope. This game has everything: its big, its a FPS, it’s an RPG, it’s got a MMO style campaign. It’s gonna be huge. Bungie’s new world is going to be a big investment, and it’s obvious that PlayStation is backing them pretty hard.

Andrew House – President and Group CEO of SCE comes out and describes how the PlayStation brand caters to gamers, releasing the best games on the best console. July 17th will be the Destiny Playstation beta, and PS4 owners will get a first-look alpha on Thursday, June 12th, 2014. They also announced an exclusive Destiny White PS4 Bundle on September 9th, 2014 for the full launch of the game.

The Order 1886 is up next, and we get a nice reveal trailer/ gameplay blend. PS4 exclusive. Dark setting with our hero getting attacked by a zombie-like man who transforms into a werewolf. Very cinematic, very dark, very cool setting.

Indy IP up next – Entwined. Shows two very vibrant origami like creatures. Brought to us by the dev Pixel Opus, their first game. You control both characters at once, using both joysticks, in a tunnel-like obstacle based game. Available now on PS4.

SuckerPunch’s Infamous: Second Son announced stand-alone DLC featuring a female lead. Doesn’t require the original copy of the game. Infamous Second Son: First Light. August 2014.

Blazing along with new exclusives, Little Big Planet 3 announced. 4 player co-op with 3 new character: Oddsock, a dog which can jump off walls, Toggle, a fat guy who’s strong enough to push object or weigh them down, but can shrink to fit through tight spaces, and Swoop, a parrot that can fly, and carry other players. November release.

Shuehei Yoshida announced that LBP1 and LBP 2 user created levels will be transferable to LBP 3 which enhanced graphics.

From Software announced Bloodborne, a new gruesome creepy title. Gory fighting, zombie dogs. Coming 2015.

Next up is the big Far Cry 4 gameplay reveal. Ubisoft’s conference gave us the opening introductory sequence, now we get to explore. Location is Kyrat, high in the mountains. Very much a Far Cry game, and it looks gorgeous. much improved engine. You’re fitted with a wingsuit and grappling hook, which allows you to swing over gaps or scale the side of cliffs. You can shoot and drive, hi-jack other cars while driving, and wing-suit out of the vehicle if you happen to plummet off a cliff. Very bright and colourful locale. Looks like there’s 2 player co-op options as well. Second player is introduced and arrives on a little helicopter to pick you up. Definitely new uses for the wildlife and an elephant helps you attack a secured fortress. Tagline “every second is a story” November 2014. Exclusive to the PS4, a friend can join your game even if they don’t own a copy.

Adam Boyes – Publisher and Developer Relations comes out and talks about letters from the fans and what they want:

Zombies: a very fun, colourful trailer is before us showing a zombie outbreak, as a runner with headphones misses all the events behind him, as he slowly turns himself. Very cool. Pretty gross. Dead Island 2. Deep Silver does cool trailers.

Diablo 3 PS4 edition announced, gets bundled with exclusive The Last Of Us enemies and themed dungeon, and exclusive character class.

We get another montage trailer for Battlefield: Hardline, basically summarizing the gameplay heist reveal we got from EA earlier today. Highlights on the zipline and grapple gameplay mechanics.

Fans want exclusives: Disney Infinity 2.0 will have Hulk on Playstation. Destiny will have lots of PlayStation exclusive maps and guns.

Jumping into more from the indy developer section of the conference. Paradox Interactive announces Magicka 2 – Learn to Spell, again. Should probably learn to spell magic first. Tim Schafer and Double Fine remastering Grim Fandango, exclusive to PS4 and Vita. Devolver announced some indy games coming exclusively to PlayStation console: Broforce, Not a Hero, Hotline Miami 2, Titan Souls, The TALOS Principal, and others. Journey’s dev, Giant Squid announced their new game too: an underwater setting with a scuba guy: ABZU. Looks incredible.

Last but not least from the indies – No Man’s Sky from Hello Games, an infinite space and planet procedure game. Every player starts on their own unique plants. Vast and boundless. Planets have wildlife, and water habitats, players get an X-Wing to fly around, there’s space ships and dinosaurs, and then you can leave the planet’s atmosphere and there’s space battles, and you can fly right into another generated planet’s atmosphere. Pretty incredible showing from this tiny team. #mind_blown. Colourful and vibrant, no two planets alike.

Hardware time: Sony’s PS Camera solo sales exceed their expectation, announced their VR, Project Morpheus. And then outcome the sales and social numbers. Later this year, utilizing the sharing functionality, PS4 users will be able to publish videos right to Youtube.

A quick sizzle reel is shown advertising all the free to play titles coming to the Playstation consoles, and Vita. 25 titles coming. Truly free to play, doesn’t require PS+.

Playstation Now: open Beta starts July 31st for PS4 in Canada and US. PS3 and Vita shortly after, later to Sony TVs. 100 titles during the beta to test rental duration and pricing.

Sony still showing strong support for Vita, with 100 titles in development, and the ability for remote play a huge selling point, and cross title purchases. Playstation TV, their little peripheral, that allows sharing over 2 TVs, and streaming Playstation Now, remote play, $99.

The conference is getting a little stale at this point. Sony, as a company, is more than just the games, so they have to sell us on their other hardware endeavors, and services. But wrap it up.

We get a gameplay reveal of Mortal Kombat X. Looks great. Sub and Scorpion of course, and two new characters. Not as smooth as the rendered reveal, but looks real good. More brutal x-ray moves, smooth fluid, BRUTAL animations and effects, and new environmental interactions, and weapons.

Back to Sony Services to wrap up the hardware side of the company. Brian Michael Bendis comes out to reveal Powers TV show, 2 seasons green lit. Sony original, only on Playstation. Rachet and Clank the movie, 2015 and a remastering of the original game, for PS4.

Alright, moving on, time to bring out the heavy hitters, Sony, to wrap the show.

Last of Us Remastered, included Left Behind DLC, July 29th, 2014.

Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid V The Phantom Pain trailer. The game looks incredible. The story, as always is confusing and convoluted, and jumps around. Hard to follow, but I’m stoked. Kojima was right a couple weeks ago when he said the trailer was a little hard to watch. There’s some gruesome looking parts. No announce date of course.

Rockstar, an E3 rarity, announced GTA V for PS4 this fall. Online profile will carry over from 360 and PS3. I’m sure this will be available on Xbox 1 too, but Sony got the right to announce it.

Finally closing in on the end of the show now: Rocksteady’s Batman Arkham Knight. Recently delayed, and thank god for that. Extra time is a blessing well deserved to polish this masterpiece. Visuals – incredible. Gameplay with the Batmobile – amazing. Scope of the city – Daunting. Batman’s new suit is ridiculously high-tech. Armored batmobile that goes into a tank-like mode, and can strafe. Batman wrecks this city. Rocksteady said this game would be faster paced, no more climbing through vents, you shoot through vents, and you can launch yourself out of the car, and it’s AI will patrol the city while you fly around. Fast maneuverability is key in this show-case. Next gen only – Playstation gets exclusive Scarecrow nightmare missions. Can’t wait.

Alright, the time has come, what will Sony close the show on?

You guess it, Uncharted 4. Nathan Drake and Sulley, one last time. Back to the jungle, and Drake’s model and face looks damn near real. A very dark and ominous feeling to the trailer, but he’s still wearing that wedding ring. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. 2015.

Sizzle reel to close the show. Thanks for coming everyone. 19 games shown.

No The Last Guardian from Team ICO. There’s always E3 2015.

Thanks for hanging with my today, it’s been tiring.
Stick around for new reviews and previews coming soon.

iRogan signing off.