Impressions: ‘Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain’

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Fanboys rejoice!  Even though one of the staple exclusives of the PlayStation brand for the past three console generations ended up going multiplatform, I’m happy to report that Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was being demoed at E3 2014 on a PS4 running at 60 frames per second in 1080p.  (applause)

Anyway, after a familiarly lengthy cutscene, Snake (Big Boss) rode onto the open world, desert grounds of his mission on horseback.  He skillfully hung off the side of his horse to avoid detection from afar as the fitting voice of Kiefer Sutherland came through the speakers.  In classic Metal Gear fashion, the demonstrator silently took out guard after guard, non-lethally, with his silenced pistol loaded with sleep darts.  Utilizing the Fulton Recovery System popularized by Peacewalker, Snake attached an inflatable balloon to the fallen bad guys and watched them get whisked away to his Mother Base.  He also performed this feat on a stray sheep, but we’ll get to that later.

If you played Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, you’ll be familiar with the gameplay and this demo was more about accentuating the differences and evolutions of the mechanics we saw in the shortened “prologue”.  You’ll still be trying to gain higher ground to equip your binoculars and tag your enemies because you’ll need all the help you can get navigating the guarded areas.  The dynamic weather effects generated some sandstorms that completely killed the visibility and challenged the player to either use it to his advantage or be negatively affected by its detriments.

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As Snake stood atop the mountainous terrain and surveyed the area below, it became clear that this Metal Gear, more than ever before, would be a thinking man’s stealth/strategy game.  Snake then equipped an e-cigarette with the capability of speeding up time and while enjoying a relaxing smoke, he got a feel for the shift changes and the guard patrol habits, making note of the times with the least surveillance and deciding whether or not he would go in under the cover of night.  Once satisfied with the decided route of infiltration, Snake contacted Mother Base and initiated a supply drop for the most important resource of a professionally trained stealth soldier: a cardboard box.

Sneaking deeper into the heart of the enemy camp and closer to his objective marker, Snake repeatedly sent scores of enemy soldiers back to Mother Base and used some new cardboard box mechanics to pop out of the top (like one of those huge birthday cakes) and even out of the side to avoid detection by a suspicious enemy that crept closer to investigate.  After rescuing  the hostage, Snake called in Morpho and the chopper for extraction.

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So far, the demo had shown us classic Metal Gear with new gen tweaks and mods in terms of open world and choice oriented gameplay, fanfare novelties, and most definitely the visuals.  But when we were introduced to a living, breathing, representation of Mother Base, the game’s scope and vision became clearer to me.  Utilizing the ultra-impressive Fox Engine, Kojima Productions is looking to deliver a truly open world Metal Gear experience with fleshed out locales summing up to over 200 times the size of the map we played in Ground Zeroes.  Our Mother Bases will be customizable to our liking and the enemies (and even the sheep) that that we ballooned out in the field will make up the staff.  Valuable resources collected on missions can be used as payment for Mother Base construction and we’ll even be tasked with defending our bases from outside threats.

As is usually the case with almost every installment of the Metal Gear franchise,  this game appears to be well worth the wait.  I’m excited to explore the depths of what will surely be the largest, most epic Metal Gear game to date.  No release window or platform confirmations have yet been released.  Stay tuned to psnation.com for any updates.

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