Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain has almost unfathomable expectations to live up to. Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid series has long been considered one of gaming’s greatest undertakings, with virtually no other franchise ever blurring the line between a simple video game and a massive, cinematic experience quite like the MGS titles have. The Phantom Pain, Kojima’s newest, upcoming offering into the series has blown the collective minds of the gaming world since its initial announcement thanks to the game’s brand new Fox Engine which allows for some of the most striking graphics and animations ever seen in a video game. After having the privilege to see Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain’s E3 preview demo, there is little doubt that Kojima has struck gold once again and that The Phantom Pain will surpass the expectations built up around the game.
The E3 gameplay preview ran in true 1080p at 60 frames per second, immediately allowing all who saw The Phantom Pain to be drawn in right off the bat. The power of Kojima Productions’ Fox Engine was put on full display at E3, allowing for the developer’s signature cinematic style to immerse like never before. Without a doubt, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is the best looking video game that was shown at E3, boasting character models that were crisp and astoundingly lifelike, with truly tremendous facial animations.
The Phantom Pain’s gameplay opened up in Afghanistan, one of the title’s central locations. As the demo opened up, the game’s central theme of the return of Big Boss becomes clearer. Snake looks beaten, almost downtrodden as the idea of resurrecting the legend of Big Boss back to life begins to set in. Once more showcasing the power of the Fox Engine, cutscenes transition so fluidly into actual gameplay that it takes a moment to actually understand that you are now in control of a playable character; it is truly amazing.
As the demo continues, the various little details that Kojima Productions has so masterfully implemented into The Phantom Pain begin to shine through. The Metal Gear Solid titles have always been lauded for their continuous tradition of pushing the limits of the systems they are available on and The Phantom Pain clearly is taking this notion to the next level.
Snake comes full equipped with an iDroid devices that allows him to pull up a map and uncover various locations across the game’s world. Simple in function and elegant in design, players will expect to make considerable use of the iDroid, as movement and travelling will play an increased role in The Phantom Pain.
With this notion of travelling comes the next stand-out moment of the gameplay demo. As Snake moseys along on his horse, the equine beast took time out of its busy afternoon to relieve itself. In classic Kojima humor, Snake –and by extension all that were fortunate enough to view the gameplay preview – were treated to next-gen excrement in all of its glory.
Outside of simple bathroom functions, horseplay also has numerous other benefits in The Phantom Pain. As the game’s score subtly changes in the background, signifying danger getting closer, Snake slyly hangs off of the side of his horse, allowing him to pass by a pair of guards undetected. The Metal Gear Solid tagline of ‘Tactical Espionage Thriller’ rings true in this moment, despite Snake’s low-fi approach to the situation, seeing this different approach to stealth is amazing to watch.
After getting behind the guards thanks to his horse, Snake takes advantage of his Fulton surface-to-air recovery system, hooking the guards up to balloons so that they can be picked up by aircraft overhead. Following this moment, Snake proceeded to do the same to a nearby unsuspecting goat, for no other reason than to show off that in The Phantom Pain, there are limitless ways to interact with the game’s world.
One of the best features put on display during The Phantom Pain’s gameplay demo was game’s camera. The camera reacts well while being controlled and while aiming, seeing the perspective shift into a much more tight focus, only to move back to a standard view fluidly.
Snake utilized his new metal arm during the demo, pulling a guard towards him before smashing the guard into a nearby wall. Snake, it seems, is doubly dangerous in The Phantom Pain. Shortly thereafter, the other benefits of the Fulton system were on display as Snake placed balloons onto a shipping container only to have it whisked away by a plane. Should Snake have stayed atop the container, he would have been able to ride it all the way back to the game’s mother base. Keeping the player involved in all aspects such as this is one of Metal Gear Solid V’s greatest assets.
In the moments following, The Phantom Pain’s mind-blowing weather systems stole the show as a sandstorm began to roll in across the desert. Amazingly intense, the sandstorm whipped about, absolutely destroying visibility. Of course, for an agent who so often relies on stealth to complete his missions, Snake can make full use of these sandstorms in order to remain unnoticed.
Thanks to the Fox Engine, the weather of The Phantom Pain will stay consistently dynamic, constantly changing and adding a new depth to gameplay. During the sandstorm, Snake’s various tools and skills allowed for him to mark various enemy guards so that he could track their movement as he made his way forward.
Similar to this, Snake can also use his iDroid in order to retrieve intel from the mother base. Enemies that Snake sends back to the base via the Fulton will allow for more information about a given mission to be gathered, ultimately allowing Snake to place marks on the map in order to highlight specific or potentially dangerous locations. Snake can also rely on mother base in order to get additional supplies. In the demo, Snake called on his iconic cardboard box, which fans of Metal Gear Solid games will be happy to hear, has been given an overhaul.
In The Phantom Pain, Snake can use virtually every tool in his arsenal while taking cover in the cardboard box. Players will be able to shoot and even use the Fulton while hidden in the box, playing into the game’s genuinely open approach to gameplay.
This emphasis on open-ended tactics is something that will add miles of replayability to The Phantom Pain. Choosing to call in the cardboard box in order to advance is simply one of the methods that Snake could take advantage of in order to complete his mission. Planning out your approach, waiting for the perfect time – day or night – and weather systems to align will come as a big treat for fans of the series, as Metal Gear Solid will hit a new level of espionage in The Phantom Pain.
The emphasis on stealth is still the primary method of making it through The Phantom Pain and the demo highlights this notion by taking a slow, very methodical approach to progressing. In sneaking about, the brilliant character models and textures of The Phantom Pain are once more put on display. The faces and details of every character seen, not just Snake but also random NPC guards are genuinely impressive.
Eventually, Snake finds himself in a hairy situation. Amid a gunfight, Snake once more calls to mother base, and the forces that be respond to Snake’s call by striking his foes with an airstrike. Once the air strike is en route, however, Snake must focus on escaping the area as well, as the resulting explosion can potentially harm of kill him.
Once the airstrike does its job, Snake realizes that he is still not in the clear. A chopper arrives shortly after the resulting explosion, which can be taken down however the player sees fit.
The chopper scene concluded the main gameplay aspect of the Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain demo, but not the preview as a whole.
After the gameplay portion of The Phantom Pain concluded, the mother base feature of the game was put on display. The mother base can be fully upgraded by the player with each feature available for purchase with the game’s currency.
The inclusion of the mother base portions allows for unbridled player input, as there are no real limitations to what can be done within the base. From building up additional artillery and Fulton systems, to simply taking a look at the resources gathered during missions, the mother base segment of The Phantom Pain adds plenty of depth that only adds hours upon hours to what is already going to be a lengthy game.
To say that Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is a massive and astounding undertaking is barely scratching the surface. As one of the most visually stunning video games ever created, The Phantom Pain is sure to please in that department. Outside of graphics, it is clear that there are so many gameplay elements worth getting excited about as well.
Set to release for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in the near future, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is destined to be one game that simply needs to be played.
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