Ever since its debut in 1987, the “Metal Gear” franchise has been a juggernaut in the stealth-action genre. Sept. 1 marks the release of the fifth installment in the series, and its status doesn’t appear to be changing. Reviews for “The Phantom Pain” have been extraordinarily positive, so it is clear that Konami has created yet another hit.
The gameplay is what really shines in “The Phantom Pain.” Players once again take control of Snake, a super soldier and a former spy. However, players are granted the freedom to approach problems as they see fit.
“The Phantom Pain” also features a dynamic time and weather system, which comes into play when you consider how to approach your objectives. If Snake’s team informs him that there will be heavy rain that evening, players may want to postpone an attack in broad daylight in favor of the visual and auditory cover the rain will provide. This unpredictability provides players with infinite approaches to all of the games challenges, making it rife for replaying and experimentation.
Most games of this genre encourage either a stealthy or guns-blazing approach to missions, but “Metal Gear” franchise has always maintained a nice balance between the stealth and guns blazing approach. “The Phantom Pain” makes it even easier than ever to switch back and forth between the two on the fly. In most stealth-oriented games, players are punished for being spotted or for making a wrong move, but in “The Phantom Pain,” recovering from a mistake is quite possible and part of an immensely satisfying experience.
However, one of the biggest complaints that I have noticed about The Phantom Pain is its lack of focus on story. The Metal Gear games somewhat infamous for their incredibly lengthy cutscenes, so many fans of the series may be displeased to see the story take a back seat in this entry.
The amount of time one playthrough of the game can take ranges drastically from player to player, because of the massive amount of free reign gamers are given. During this time, the game brings up numerous moral questions, but disappointingly, the game rarely provides any answers to these hard-hitting questions. In a franchise known for diving as deep as it can into such topics, it is strange to have an entry so disinterested in continuing this trend.
Ultimately, “Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain” seems like it is going to be a very strong contender for game of the year. The emphasis that it places on player choice is unparalleled, making each experience a player has with the game a new one. Fans of the story elements of past “Metal Gear” games may end up being somewhat disappointed by “The Phantom Pain” or its execution, but nobody can deny that Konami has created another stellar entry in the franchise.
Ben Wagman is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.