Normally with these types of things, I choose a new IP—a completely new experience generally draws more excitement from me than something that I know. However, Phantom Pain is an exception. I cannot help but feel this childlike excitement for the release of Metal Gear Solid 5. Metal Gear Solid has always been one of my favorite series; I remember sinking hours just into the demo of MGS before I could ever buy the game.
It was one of the wave of PlayStation early releases that got me properly invested in videogames as a medium. I had a Master System and a Mega Drive in my early years and have vague memories of games like Shadow of the Beast, Alex Kidd and Micro Machines but nothing struck me as hard as the Metal Gear Solid series in my formative years.
When Phantom Pain was first announced, I think a few people were skeptical. MGS4 provided an insanely convoluted but complete ending to the series and there didn't seem to be much else that needed to be told. We had the whole story, Phantom Pain seemed to be filling in a needless gap.
We saw the beginnings of Big Boss’s character arc in the ending of MGS3 and that part of the story seemed complete. That all changed for me when the E3 2014 trailer was released. It wasn’t until I saw this that I realised how important this chapter of the story is. Phantom Pain seems to document Big Boss’s downfall, from proclaimed patriot to a man intent on fulfilling the Boss’s ideals for a "nation without borders" and what led him to become one of the overarching villains of the series.
We already have a sneak preview of the game with the release of Ground Zeroes earlier this year. Although many people questioned the value proposition of GZ, the small snippet of gameplay presented was a fantastic refinement of the MGS4 and Peace Walker gameplay style.
Phantom Pain appears to be of a far greater scale than any other of the previous Metal Gear titles. The sheer amount of game mechanics in the game alone seems overwhelming. Having not played Peace Walker, the whole idea of building an army and the more open levels sound like fantastic ideas that I'm sure will give the game a large amount of replay value.
One of the game play changes that intrigues me the most is the sheer amount of ways you can approach missions. Being able to choose different companions that each have their own specific abilities is an appealing prospect to those of you who like a large amount of replay value. For this reason, I think this will be one of the rare few games I will be playing through more than once.
While I am not close minded enough to say that the Metal Gear Solid series isn’t insanely flawed, with its overly verbose, ridiculously complex and pretentious excuse of a plot, I cannot tell myself that this saga isn’t one of the most engrossing pieces of entertainment I have ever experienced. Against my better judgements, I remain giddy at the idea of seeing yet another chapter in the insanity that is the Metal Gear legacy.
With the recent controversy surrounding Hideo Kojima and Konami, I still have some doubts as to how much of the original vision will be spared from the bureaucratic and PR nightmare that has been happening over the last few months. However, Phantom Pain still has Kojima’s blessing. It is still what Kojima claims to be the final hurrah of the Metal Gear Solid series. For that reason there is no other game that I look forward to more than Phantom Pain.
What do you think of Phantom Pain? Are you excited for it?