I think I’m finally done with Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. I lack the coveted Platinum trophy, because I suck too much to actually claim it, but after 150 hours with the game, I think I can safely say I’ve done just about everything I can with it. An I am… Less than enthused, shall we say.
There’s some things to like; it’s certainly a pretty game, and there’s a lot to see in it. The gameplay mechanics have, for the most part, been well tuned and Snake usually does what I want him to do, so deaths and alerts are almost always entirely my fault rather than the game getting in my way. Bonus points there.
But there’s an incredible amount to dislike, as well. And, amusingly, the things most folks have been complaining about are either very low on my list or I found to be bonuses, or at least, not detrimental. Warning, there’s spoilers ahead. It’s your fault if something gets revealed that you didn’t want to know yet.
First, the Venom Snake not being Big Boss (and the retcon that shoves him into the original Metal Gear): To that I say… So what? It makes an amusing echo with the Liquid/Ocelot situation and doesn’t really damage the timeline any more than any other game in the series has, so why people are upset about it I’ll never know. Plus, I half suspected it the second Ishmael starts talking to you, and wasn’t very surprised – and the game isn’t exactly subtle, as the Boss AI and Huey both make comments to that effect, Eli’s DNA test throws more fuel on the fire, and Volgin pretty much shrugging and saying “never mind” serves as the final nail in the coffin, if you ask me.
Second, Quiet. I have some issues with her, but her appearance isn’t one of them. She may be over sexualized, but so what? If you’re that concerned about it, go develop the XOF or Sniper Wolf costumes and dress her properly. As far as the explanation for it, it makes as much sense as anything else that happens in a Metal Gear game, and since she’s usually somewhere you can’t see her anyway – if you’real using her properly – it becomes ultimately unimportant.
But Quiet does bring up some other problems. Like why they decide that she got injected with The End’s virus to give her powers instead of just taking the easy route and making her related to him.I think almost everyone was on board with that idea anyway, and having it be the circular route of giving her his parasites just makes it feel needlessly complicated.
Then of course there’s the giant plot hole she represents. Now there are some tweaks to Miller’s background, and both he and Ocelot might as well be sitting on your shoulder with generic angel/devil costumes for all the actual characterization they provide, but nothing too lore breaking. Skull Face and Code Talker not having been mentioned before is also reasonably forgivable, given that one ends up a dead failure and we can just assume Code Talker either went back to his people or stuck with Venom through the Outer Haven incident to be killed or exiled afterward. But Quiet is loose out there, the best sniper in the universe and infected with active English parasites, and yet Zero, Venom, Ocelot, Mantis, Big Boss, Eva and Eli never mention her or associate with her again? Sorry, have a hard time believing that. This fan-fapping crap about her being Wolf’s mother (or Wolf herself) just drives me battier.
Then there’s the story. Or rather, the lack of one. Generic random dialogue, boring cassette tapes that don’t bring half the amusement or depth that the previous codec conversations once did, and a handful of cutscenes that don’t seem to actually bear any relevance to the plot (especially since most of the characters just seem to forget what happened in them ten minutes later, anyway) and dangling plot threads that seem utterly pointless – the biggest being “Uh, guys, Mantis and Liquid just stole a Metal Gear… We gonna do anything about that, or explain why they don’t have it in Metal Gear Solid? No? …kay.” – just make me feel like I wasted a hundred hours hanging out with Snake and co just to kidnap a few thousand soldiers.
And honestly, that was the most fun I had with the game… Finding out what I could strap balloons to and kidnap. And that wears thin after 150 side ops, most of which amount to “walk in at night, knock out a few dudes, kidnap them, repeat.” And 50 main missions that are 90% the same as well.
So… Yeah. Disappointment across the board, really. It’s unfortunate that they’re stopping here. While the mass and social media may be screaming “game of the year!” I think I’d have been happier ending on Ground Zeroes, Rising or, best of all Peace Walker.