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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain - 10 Reactions

We've just recently conquered one of the "Most Anticipated Games" for 2015, which may very well be the Swan Song for the Metal Gear series by Legendary Creator Hideo Kojima. I was personally expecting for it to go out in a blast worthy of  a "nuclear winter" but, sadly, it did not. Less than 30 hours within the game you'll no doubt be voting for it to be "Game of the Year." Gameplay, intrigue/story and graphics wise it is a hands down winner, the visuals alone are extremely phenomenal.

But further down the road it becomes less and less interesting and more tedious that you'd just want for the entire story to unfold so you can figure out what the hell is going on. As expected it is still a masterpiece but it is far from perfect and i'm wondering that, perhaps, the MGS franchise wasn't exactly going to end here and i hope the great Hideo would take us for another ride sometime in the future. Knowing a bit of how "THE MAN's" brain operates, it is entirely possible that the falling out between him and Konami was all a promotional stunt...very manipulative if you ask me, but then, he's the one who thought up "The Patriots" after all.

(***NOTE: The following observations, praises, reaction and rants reflect the author's PERSONAL OPINION about various elements in the entire game so of course SPOILER ALERT***)
1. Fulton the Shit Out of Everything for Fun

First seen on Peacewalker, for some weird reason, this surface-to-air recovery system reminds me of a Doraemon gadget and i love the idea. Well, it gets old after a while but it's so much fun especially if your "Medic" ass is being blasted off to oblivion by a Tank then you snuck behind it then Fulton it to Mother Base. Tired of carrying a rescued POW or a Skilled Enemy Soldier? Fulton it. Plus points if you place them on a jeep first then Fulton them both. Tranquilized a damn Bear? Fulton it and imagine the reaction of the Mother Base people when a large, jet-lagged and very pissed-off ton of fur, claws and teeth suddenly makes its appearance. HELL! we even tried extracting a stunned Man-on-Fire (i.e. The Artist Formerly Known as Volgin) and though Ocelot encouraged us, Kaz and Tretij de Mantis (?) are such balloon-popping kill-joys.  

2. The Not-so-Intimidating Villain and the venture into Resident Evil territory
Skullface is a lame villain, his "vocal chord parasite" idea is half-assed and improbable, though i'd take note that the infamous FOXDIE uses the same selective targeting premise. Still, it kinda sound like Resident Evil and it's no help when the first encounter with the human-parasite experimentation takes place in an area very similar to RE5 and the Mother Base outbreak also shares the same atmosphere. Oh, they are not "zombies" however but "puppets."
Additionally, i'm missing a character build up here. What is Skullface's bigger role in the canon? His vision, though sharing a similar theme with the rest of the end-goals of other MGS villains, was very, very loose. But then he got unceremoniously offed pretty fast so yeah, bye bye i guess...

3. The Not-so-Open World
This disappointed me especially after traversing Novigrad, Skellige, Harran, the streets of Revolutionary Paris and the Carribean while icons upon icons of side quests, undiscovered locations and treasure chests bewildered my head. I was expecting a fully explorable open world and all i got were a couple of maps, 1 Green and 1 Brown + the 60% off-limits areas within the confines of Mother Base. You can't even swim, climb over tall rock formations or run without experiencing a sudden halt when you hit an "impassable" knee-high desert rock which, for some reason, you cannot jump over. But then you're not really the legendary super-soldier Big Boss anyway so dream on Medic...

4. Quiet

I love her but she did not pull my heartstrings the same way Sniper Wolf or Naomi did. She's Over-Powered in some Missions, though, trust me, there are some when she's pretty much useless if you're gunning for that coveted S Ranking (like that recently patched Extreme Nova Braga Airport battle with the Skulls - my brother got an S on that by the way minus Quiet). Her undeclared feelings for Big Boss would've been heartbreaking if only he's THE REAL BIG BOSS and she would have been more endearing if her backstory is a bit more deeper. Lastly, even though she's basically similar to a plant-life surviving on photosynthesis hence her reason to be scantily clad, i still think she's highly sexualized - ahem, shower and rain scene anyone?

5. The Optional Missions with the same rewards, over, and over, and over again
Ok, kick me and point out to me that this isn't an RPG so i should quit complaining about not getting a "special/legendary" item when you finish an optional Side Ques...errr...Ops. 
I just think it's a wasted opportunity - get a Davy Crockett launcher and a mini-nuke blueprint as a secret "fun" item during an optional Side Ops mission? Why not? Or Adamska's Revolver? Or a replica of The Boss' Patriot hand rifle? 
Instead, we get the same batch of recruits with random funny names, the same crafting items, the same vehicles and the same guns, half of which i can't remember the names and half of which i can't even pronounce - not aiming for accuracy here but the "Rewards" factor could've been more interesting. There is a certain feeling of accomplishment when you just acquired the Witcher Gear Sets in Witcher 3, or the Beast Claws or Logarius Wheel in Bloodborne, or the final Jackdaw upgrades in Black Flag,  which is sadly missing here (except for D-Walker and Quiet i guess) - THE FUN FACTOR WANES EVENTUALLY. Sure we rescued a botanist, a weapon expert, some translators as well as Hideo "freaking" Kojima but every "reward" is virtually the same...except for...
6. The Cassette Tapes a.k.a. 80's Soundtrack
To me (i was born back in '82) this is one of the most rewarding features of this game - Classic 80's tunes on collectible Cassette tapes = brilliant idea. After a successful Mission with Quiet we hitched a ride on Pequod while the heavy drone of the Chopper is being diluted by the haunting voice of Robert Smith belting out the classic "Friday I'm In Love." 
We massacred an entire Tank unit including their Colonel as the blaring, well-known intro of "The Final Countdown" was screaming on the tank stereo while we escape via a sandstorm. During the parasite outbreak at Mother Base, we're blasting off the heads of our own Diamond Dog personnel while "Maneater" plays in your headset, not exactly one of my favorite Missions but the survival horror feel to it was very apt for "Maneater" in a twisted 80's way.  Speaking of twists...

7. Ocelot - i still love that Triple-crossing Gun-slinger

Midway through the game we were discussing what would lead to the falling out between Kazuhira and Big Boss as well as Ocelot's role. It's evident that, as usual, Ocelot knows everything while a betrayed Miller is left in the dark. We're correct in deducing that something will happen that will lead Kaz to return to the Military or Special Forces(he's one of the people who trained Solid Snake) while Ocelot maintains his loyalty to Big Boss and eventually to the Sons of Big Boss (except Solid). Even though, as usual again, the shifting loyalties are for his own gain. I especially love that end conversation between the two with Ocelot mentioning that someday they will find themselves on opposite sides and will try to kill each other. 

8. The "Twist" we're expecting...but didn't see coming
a.k.a. The Phantom...cough...cough..."Fake" Snake.
This one should be obvious, why would they replace the beloved David Hayter with a different, albeit more popular, voice actor in Kiefer Sutherland? That should have been a tale-tell sign that something is up and that there is going to be some BIG CHANGES in the series, or maybe i'm just overthinking again.
Later on, Eli (Liquid Snake) and Venom Snake's DNA did not match, suggesting that something's not right since Liquid is supposed to be a clone of Big Boss and damn, the first time i saw him i immediately said without a shred of doubt that "that's Liquid Snake!" 
In the pivotal, "Big Reveal" scene, i caught that when my sideburns-wearing "Medic" blinked while staring at Big Boss and Kaz in the hospital. I'm not sure if this happened in the first scene so i might replay that part.
I hate myself for not realizing that sooner to be honest when i keep on asking seemingly inane questions before like, "How come Big Boss isn't sporting a scar during the final scenes of Guns of the Patriots?" and "why was it never mentioned before that one of Big Boss' arm is mechanical? it doesn't look like it's mechanical under his glove and trench coat when he disarmed Solid Snake via CQC and held him in a fatherly embrace." All along, i was on the right track when i asked my brother "Why is the game asking you to design your own face? What's that for? an Avatar?" I was on track, damn it! But I originally put those off as an obsessive MGS fan's "overthinking" process...but it all made sense now.
One last thing, it's pretty good they established a precedence for "hypno-therapy" which Ocelot underwent during the events of Guns of the Patriots.  

9. The Deleted "True" Ending, the revision of Liquid Snake's backstory

We didn't get the Collectors Edition so i had to look for the "true" ending on YouTube and i am glad they cut that out of the game. I can't imagine an entire army of battle-hardened men led by battle-hardened legendary soldiers going on an all-out offensive against a kid with a robot dinosaur and his BFF psychic kid. It was just too much, way too much, effectively making Liquid Snake's first appearance in MGS 1 a mere formality. Speaking of Liquid, i read before somewhere that he once trained with the RAF which explains his sick Hind-D skills and that he's also an operative of FOXHOUND before starting an uprising in what is to be known as the Shadow Moses Incident. If he's such an unruly pain in the ass kid then why the hell would they still take a gamble to train him? Same goes true for Mantis, they should have locked them up long ago.

10. The Ending - which isn't an ending at all
 I am expecting for the loose ends to finally come together in a massive, interconnected web of truths and half-truths but nope, we didn't get that which led me to believe that this isn't originally going to be the final game in the series. The story is too forced, there is no character build up, there is no emotional build-up compared to the other MGS games. Carlo, a friend of mine, was quick to point out the emotional finish of Snake Eater and the death of The Boss in your hands. In my case, the death of Sniper Wolf as well as the closure and death scene of Big Boss in Guns of the Patriots are stronger than Quiet's demise/departure/unknown fate. 
There's no sense of attachment to the wandering Mother Base soldiers or with the infected Mother Base personnel you're forced to kill or even the villains - their motivations or their misguided justifications. Hell, The Beauty and the Beast Corps members have more solid emotional backstories than Skullface if you ask me. 

If this is truly the last game in the series it's sad that we would never see a Next-Gen Solid Snake going up against the Phantom Boss, or Big Boss himself or Eli, his blood brother. However it is still a great game and, in a way, a semi-fitting end to the franchise - you didn't really expect to get all the answers now do you?

As it should be...


  1. Great review, couldn't have said it better myself. And your promotional stunt theory just blew my mind btw... It COULD be true. Since Kiefer Sutherland voiced both BB (also in Ground Zeroes) and Medic snake, so that should have nothing to do with you not seeing the twist coming. I didn't see that coming either, that's what so brilliant about it, it was obvious from the start, but us fans all chose to be "blinded", such as when creating the avatar, I thought it was just an online thing, and the whole time you told yourself ishmael should be a split personality, even though in the cutscenes there are few parts that clearly shown that it can't be true.

    1. hahaha, leave it to the Great Hideo Kojima to mess up with our minds...Psycho Mantis is a proof of how that guy thinks.