Metal Gear Solid V is awesome. It is a great game. No joke, I genuinely believe that this is the greatest stealth action game ever made. Period. End of discussion. From the GORGEOUS desert environments (not the jungle ones, so much. Those ones were lacking as fuck, and should have been cut out of the whole game) to the level where you have to infiltrate Mother Base to retake part of it from terrorists. All of that stuff is awesome. It is the most fun I have had with a stealth action game in my entire life. As I said in my review – there is only one thing holding it back. The Metal Gear Solid part. Let me explain.
This game had a lot of serious things that it wanted to talk about. So did its predecessor, Ground Zeroes. Both of these games wanted to examine serious things, such as contract warfare, exploiting and recruiting child soldiers, nuclear deterrants, and the cultural battle conflicts associated with the Cold War. All of these things are great to talk about! No joke, all of those things could make for a great game. Especially with this game’s awesome stealth mechanics. I am SO glad that you don’t get to choose the difficulty. I never used that stupid chicken hat. I did everything I could to be as stealthy as possible. And when I screwed up, it hurt. A lot. When I was forced to be clever and shoot my way out of a situation, it felt like a failure. I admit that there were times when I would restart from a checkpoint, because the situation was too dire. After all, I played for stealth. Which meant that I was using silence weapons, the tranq. pistol, and other things like that. When I got to have Quiet in my party, that was the happiest I ever was. No joke, that was when I really felt like a mercenary assassin. Because I could take her into battle and use her to help me complete dangerous missions. Between the two of us, we would snipe and tranq and sneak our way past so much. It was nothing but loads of fun.
However, there was the Metal Gear Solid stuff that kept getting in the way! This game was so revealing about how done Hideo Kojima was with this franchise. Though, given how he had loftier ambitions, if all that bullshit with Konami hadn’t happened, who knew how far this would go! Still, the plot parts of this game were a constant interruption. In Chapter 2, this was far more noticeable. Chapter 2 was bad. Really, really bad. The plot stuff was so interspersed. Made me think back to Kojima’s loftier ambitions. I have to wonder if he was just forced to stop by Konami. It feels like it. It really, really does.
Then you get out in the field, doing the special missions, and you are a merc again! There were also other special missions in the Side Ops menu. Wished there were more of those! The potential for a much better game about a merc in the 80’s was there, and because this was a Metal Gear Solid game, we had to not talk about it.
The political and ethical implications of contract warfare is a really great topic. A game which looked at that critically could probably be one of the best military games ever made. This game kept wanting to talk about it, but then had to veer away from a cartoony first chapter, and a slog second one. Every time I saw this game get closer and closer to really examining the hard issues, they made a detour in a serious way. Kojima obviously wants to address this stuff. In Ground Zeroes, we looked at illegal detainment in Gitmo. We looked at how Snake was doing bad things and using unethical means to get the job done. What’s more, he wasn’t at Gitmo to rescue someone for charitable reasons. He was after Paz because she knew things about him. Things that he didn’t want Skullface to find out. She had been an enemy, that he was rescuing for the sole purpose of keeping that knowledge out of enemy hands. You see that Snake is not a very good guy, and hints that you are supposed to acknowledge that, but there is the cartoon-y bad guy who makes it all okay.
Can you imagine how dark and twisted this game would be without that? Can you imagine a game where you play as a contract mercenary, who is going to rescue someone so that the US government doesn’t learn things about what you do? Isn’t that such a mind-fuck? In Phantom Pain, you have Snake now getting involved in the Cold War, and the conflict in Afghanistan. There are the radio reports where you look at the how there are guerrilla forces being supplied weapons by the US, and Soviet forces entrenched in brutal warfare that they clearly want to be over as much as the local “dushmen.” You have a contract mercenary outfight who is supplying weapons to the Soviets and unethical experiments being performed on the African populace. Can you imagine a game talking about that?! I can, and it sounds awesome.
For years, it has been obvious that Hideo Kojima wanted the Metal Gear Solid series to be over. It’s worn down on him. And with this game, and the last one, you have seen that this man wants to tackle harder subject matter. I genuinely believe he could. If it weren’t for the Metal Gear Solid title, both this game and the last would have been outstanding stealth-action IPs which took a hard look at ugly social issues which still plague our world today.
Contract warfare is a very secretive issue facing the world today. We hire “security” companies to do America’s dirty work. Competing companies all over the world do all sorts of work, for all kinds of people. A game where we looked at one such company, using child soldiers, nuclear weapons, and even biological terrorism sounds awesome. Especially with the stealth-action that we had in this game. How many of you want to play that? I know I sure as fuck do. I want to play that right now! Since he’s free of Konami, perhaps Kojima can finally do that game. I’d be pre-ordering it today. I don’t know what he’s going to do next, if anything at all. Perhaps he’s going to hang up his hat, now that Konami has cut him loose. But I hope not. Because he gave me a game that, while the story was a slog, had the best action I’ve ever played, and could have been the greatest stealth-action game ever made. If only it ditched the source material.
What do you think? Let me know in the Comments.
Until next time, a quote,
“Who am I? You’re talking to yourself.” – “Ismael”, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain