When Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain first hit shelves back in September, it was everywhere – and with good reason. Though the title harbours concerns of meddlesome online content and a lacking narrative, it still delivers as a stellar toybox fit for fans of the series and newcomers alike.
The ways in which the game expands upon the concept of an open world are numerous. A plethora of upgrades, weapons, and other fun playthings allow you to tackle any mission with near unrivalled variation, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Anything worth customising in The Phantom Pain can be, and its rare that you'll ever feel like what you're doing is pointless or detached from the outing's solid continuity.
Both visually and audibly, the release continues to excel; a tense, foreboding score accompanies Big Boss as he travels across stunningly crafted landscapes and delves into nigh unbeatable skirmishes. The instalment also boasts a selection of goofy 80s tracks, too, which is never a bad thing.
"When it comes to action, stealth, and drama, look no further than this trusty hallmark of brilliance"
Moreover, it's the game's undying attention to detail that really makes it feel genuine. Wind howls past you as you gallop across Afghanistan's dry terrain, small clouds of dust spitting upwards from the ground with every step. It's little touches like these that are scarcely indulged with other titles of the genre, but they're proven to be highly effective here.
Almost every aspect of the release is polished to an incredible standard, while maintaining an appropriate vagueness reminiscent of past Metal Gear games. Everything from the stylisation of the user interface to the cinemacy of the cutscenes suggests a level of quality that's all but expected from the franchise, and yet it manages to nudge the bar even higher than that.
Furthermore, the performances that breathe life into The Phantom Pain's colourful cast of characters are equally superb. Although we can't help but think that Sutherland's Snake goes criminally underutilised, personalities like the loyal Kazuhira Miller and the intriguing Quiet promise rich emotional investment for those looking to spare them the time.
All in all, the closing chapter on this fan favourite saga is more than a fitting one, bringing new concepts and ways to play into an already impressive formula. When it comes to action, stealth, and drama, look no further than this trusty hallmark of brilliance.
Do you think that Metal Gear Solid V was Big Boss, or a load of old dross? Were you satisfied with the immensely varied sandbox gameplay, or did the game's stifled story disappoint you? Salute Hideo Kojima in the comments section below.