To the man who sold the world
They say good things come to those who wait, and after years of waiting (and witnessing the complete tease that was Ground Zeroes) it’s finally here. The final entry in the dramatic epic has graced our screens, and oh lord it was worth the wait.
TPP picks up where Ground Zeroes ended, with Big Boss waking up from a coma in 1984. After escaping an overrun hospital he begins his quest for revenge against Sypher and all those who wronged him. To say any more would ruin a highly engrossing story that keeps you engaged for hours on end, regardless of how little sense it makes and contradictory it is.
Those who go into TPP expecting the same old MGS experience is in for a shock. The game takes the next step by going open world, and by doing so completely changes the way the game is set out. The game is no longer a linear experience, say goodbye to tight hallways and heavily scripted moments, they’re gone. In their place comes massive open areas that can be approached from any angle and more options than you know what to do with.
Freedom is the name of the game here, and the game caters to your needs. Want to sneak in without alerting any guards and saving all the prisoners? Go for it. Want to run in wearing a chicken hat, guns blazing riding a mech all while “Take On Me” by A-ha plays in the background? No one’s stopping you.
The freedom is overwhelming at first, and it takes a while to wrap your head around, but after a few hours of trial and error it all clicks and the game really opens up. It’s the kind of game that has moments you want to tell all your friends about, moments that are so cool you jump out of your chair over how badass you are.
When you’re not out of the field kidnapping soldiers and blowing up tanks, you can take on missions that advance the story and sometimes change the game entirely. Sometimes this is cool, such as some enemy bases getting additional protection, but there are times where it can royally bugger up your game. After a certain mission, child soldiers will start appearing, and if you kill one it’s an instant game over. When you’re in the heat of the moment you forget these things and suddenly boom, you failed.
It’s cool that the game world changes as you progress, but it gets aggravating when an area that was your normal transport route suddenly becomes a danger zone.
The biggest uproar about the game comes from its story, namely the second chapter. The game is broken into two chapters (with a third being removed due to Konami forcing the game out early) that tell the story of how Big Boss became the man we know from the rest of the franchise.
Well that’s what the adverts would have you believe, but in actuality the game grinds to a halt around the second chapter. You’re forced to play side missions and harder versions of old missions just to get nuggets of story that add little value to the plot. And due to the unreleased third chapter the game rushes through to the end without a satisfying conclusion. Fans of the story be warned, you will not enjoy this bumpy ride.
But looking past the story, TPP is fantastic in its own right. The game goes above and beyond in the gameplay department to make it one of the most in depth and addictive stealth games to ever be set onto this earth. Never have I had so much fun spending all day in a cardboard box clipping sheep to balloons, there’s no feeling quite like it.
The Phantom Pain is a marvel to behold. A true testament to what games can achieve. The only thing bringing it down is its attempt at telling a story, and even then it isn’t bad, it just pales in comparison to everything else on the menu. It’s a game that whole heartedly deserves your time and attention.
+ Fast paced, addictive gameplay
+ Looks fantastic
+ Story keeps you hooked
– Even if it doesnt pay off
– Steep learning curve
– Lots of sitting around in the helicopter
Should you play The Phantom Pain?