Well, well faithful viewers it’s been a while since I last updated this section, and for that I apologize! I haven’t forgotten about you so I’m here to leave you with some quick thoughts on what I’ve been playing the last month or so, and my opinion on if it’s worth it or not to throw down your hard earned cash on these particular techno nerd vices.
Yeah, this piece of work is what inspired yours truly to start this column in the first place. I love it. And not for the reasons that I thought I would! Past Metal Gear games were notoriously heavy on cutscenes that explained the series’ complex lore containing triple crossing spies, super power wielding villains, and nuclear deterrence. Previous games would use tight, linear gameplay segments to drive its campy story. Thankfully, The Phantom Pain relegates most of the nonsensical story to the background and lets it’s gameplay speak loud and clear. Most mission tasks boil down to “go here, kill/ kidnap target/ destroy thing” but it offers you a mind numbingly variety of ways to accomplish these seemingly mundane tasks. Wanna go in with missle launchers, C4 and and a heavy machine gun and let explosions rise into the sunny Afghanistan skies? Rock on. Prefer to sneak in at night with a silenced tranquilizer pistol with your trusty dog sidekick pointing out enemies for you? Go for it. In a day and age where most action video games rely on pre scripted set pieces to drive excitement, The Phantom Pain expects you to create your own. Enemies are smart, relentless, and well equipped. Even once you start to get the hang of things and feel like a pro, later missions challenge you to replay earlier levels, only with added restrictions such as starting with zero equipment, or going through completely undetected. Completing these FRUSTRATING tasks is ultimately rewarding only in a way that geeks baptized by the fires of notorious thumb-busters like Mega Man and Battletoads will truly appreciate. Narratively, the game is scattershot at best, and most of the story resides in optional cassette tapes that the player can listen to at any time. Aside from the INSANE opening, the game’s cutscenes are minimal, and short. They are also- like the rest of the game- graphically stunning. You may not understand what the hell is going on during these scenes (I’m not even sure I did!) but you will be rewarded with plenty of eye candy nonetheless. Playing on the PS4, the game ran smooth and had very few technical glitches that plague games these days. The game is also extremely dark in tone, and decidedly NOT for kids.
All in all, if your a fan of the series, you probably already have it. For everyone else, the gameplay alone makes it a worthy purchase, but just be prepared to be confused by a story that can be unnecessarily dark and pretentious at times. Maybe a rental first to test the waters or wait for the inevitable holiday sale.