|System: PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3, PC|
|Dev: Kojima Productions|
|Players: 1 (2+ Online)|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Benjamin Maltbie
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is the Metal Gear Solid game that once wasn't one at all, at least, according to Konami. The game was originally presented as a brand new franchise in a trailer that contained 100% gameplay footage and a wealth of clues alluding to the fact that it was, indeed, a Metal Gear Solid title. Despite mounting evidence, Kojima playfully denied his involvement with the "new" franchise. The whole stunt,while silly, demonstrated Kojima's capacity to act as both creator and producer for a project, which is likely a difficult balancing act for a person. Art and profit are often conflicting goals.
Kojima has stated, however, that Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain will prioritize creativity over sales. Perhaps this is why he took the risk of replacing David Hayter, the series' lead actor, with Kiefer Sutherland. It seems like a strange move, replacing an iconic voice with one whose hourly rates are undoubtedly much higher. Kojima seems intent on making the game as cinematic as possible, complete with facial motion capture and a subdued, physical performance.
Take note, though, that while Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain's action will be cinematic and highly detailed, it will contain significantly shorter cutscenes than the series is traditionally known for. That isn't to suggest that story will, in anyway, play a lesser role in MGSV. Story, dialogue, and the juxtaposition of serious themes with light hearted humor have always been at the foundation of what makes the franchise so enjoyable.
In terms of story, this particular entry sees Big Boss taking on the alias "Venom Snake," as he seeks revenge for the events of Ground Zeroes. He uncovers a weapon system that could prove to be even more dangerous than the titular Metal Gears. To put an end to the threat, Snake has to use his status as a legendary warrior to once again build up an army. This element of the plot becomes a central element of the gameplay, as MGSV features a returning appearance from the fulton recovery system originally seen in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker.
The Fulton Recovery System is a tool Snake can use while exploring the open world of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. He can affix a balloon to downed soldiers and send them aloft. They will then be recovered via aircraft and sent back to his base on an offshore oil rig. Enemies sent to the base can be trained and assigned to different sectors. Expanding on the system, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain will also allow players to send animals, supply crates and various other resources back to their base. Depending on the status of the customizable base, Snake will be able to call in backup, airdrops, and vehicles to support him. Bases will also come under attack from time to time and must be defended by its inhabitants. Players will also be able to visit their base, where soldiers will salute as Snake passes by. It's a nice touch to allow players to see the army and community they've been constructing over the course of a game.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain missions will adapt to player styles throughout the game. If, for example, a player tends to dispatch foes with headshots, they will see their enemies learn their lesson and begin wearing helmets. Since players can approach a mission from so many different angles, tactically and geographically, the fact that enemies may be able to counter overutilized methods should prevent the game from becoming dull and monotonous.
Another mechanic that will force players to vary their approach is an active weather weather cycle. Complemented by a similar day and night cycle, active weather will alter which areas of a map are viable in terms of stealth and mobility. Players can speed up the passage of time by choosing to have Snake puff away on an e-cigarette. In this way, players can use time as a tool by waiting and observing different enemy patterns.
Waiting isn't as boring an option as it may initially seem, either. Being that The Phantom Pain is being developed for next gen and PC, it is likely going to be the prettiest Metal Gear Solid game to date. And considering how stunning the franchise tends to be when its games first come out, it's a safe bet to make that MGSV will blow players away this time around, too. The trailers certainly seem to indicate so, anyway.
It's surprising, looking back, that the series has evolved this much over time. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is beginning to look absolutely huge in scope. When you look at the original 8-bit Metal Gears and consider the fact that the protagonist is inspired by a Kurt Russell character, it's a bit strange to know that now, in the year 2014, we've seen so many great, canonical entries into that same old and odd story. Here's hoping the new one can add onto the legacy in some kind of meaningful way.
Date: December 29, 2014