What I'm Playing - Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Jack Coles takes a very confusing trip back to the eighties to stealth it up with Snake.

Jack Coles
11th December 2017
Image: IGDB.com

Besides the original Devil May Cry and 20 minutes’ worth of somebody else’s Pokémon Teal or whatever, I have never played any Japanese-developed games. I don’t have anything against Japan (that’s the remit of my grandad), it’s more that I grew up playing games with a friend that had an X-Box.

That changed a couple of weeks ago during the Steam Autumn sale, when MGSV was offered up for cheapsies. I didn’t really know anything about it except it had open environments and lots of missions, so it fulfilled my main criteria for game-buying. Also it would help me understand some of the memes I’ve been very conspicuously not-getting for two years.

Most of the games I own would throw a fit if you didn’t have any gunplay within two minutes (Bioshock Infinite being a key exception). MGSV, on the other hand, spent a good five minutes on just the first cutscene, while David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World” played in the background. It was a further twenty minutes or so before I actually got to fire a gun. “Slow burn” doesn’t do it justice, it’s more like trying to cook a pizza with a candle.

Receiving air support from a gunship blasting "Take On Me" is something very few games can claim to do.

Speaking of David Bowie, there’s some 80s-era classics, which can be found on radios in-game, played on your phone, or performed by your helicopter. Seriously. Receiving air support from a gunship blasting “Take on Me” is something that very few games can claim on the back of their box.

Image: IGDB.com

At time of writing I am only 24% of my way through, because I’m that kind of nutjob that will psychotically complete every single side-quest that dares show its face. Based off my total time playing on Steam, I gain 0.8% every hour, so it would stand to reason that the whole game takes around 125 hours to complete, so at least you get your money’s worth if nothing else.

Names of characters are thrown around like tiddlywinks in a tumble dryer, and it does help that I don't know what their names actually are.

I can’t help wondering that by skipping out the previous four Metal Gear Solids I missed out on a lot of important backstory. Names and characters are thrown around like tiddlywinks in a tumble dryer, and it doesn’t help that I don’t know what their names actually are; I’m having to remember people based on how many functioning limbs they have. Seriously.

The plot seems to be all over the place. Enemies consist of (in order of ridiculousness) African militias, Soviet occupying forces, a crack squad of soldiers led by a guy with severe face burns, giant death robots, a mostly-naked teleporting female sniper, things that jitter around at triple speed and summon guns from the ether, and a floating ginger kid in a gas mask. This kid appears in every third mission or so and your character (Snake) never mentions it to anyone or shoot it in the face; both very adequate reactions here.

I don’t know what to think of MGSV. It’s a bit like Liverpool; vaguely similar to things I’ve seen before, but I can’t understand what the fuck people are on about.

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