As the final installment of Konami’s marquee series, Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain brings together Hideo Kojima’s story to a full circle, taking the Big Boss to the steps that will eventually lead him to where we meet him in the original game. But what captivates fans is in the radical changes to mechanics that will keep people playing through the 50-plus hours of gameplay.
What Is Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain?
Players have always experienced a tight stealth game in this series. It once again continues on the story of Big Boss/Snake, this time under the name Venom Snake, as he forms a new army and combats a new foe in war-torn regions of the 1980s. As always, Hideo Kojima’s blends the primary subterfuge with bombastic action, memorable characters, and convoluted cut-scenes.
A Punished Snake
Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain starts nine years after the events of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. He wakes up in a Cyprus hospital in a classic drawn-out prologue that leads to flames and callbacks to pivotal parts of the franchise. From there players dive into Venom Snake’s war in a very innovative way that will be mentioned later.
War Never Changes
Snake’s primary missions take place in Afghanistan and Angola-Zaire, which have equally different takes on the nature of war. The game’s use of the Soviet-Afghan War cannot help but link it to the current occupation of Afghanistan by the United States, with the game using phrases like “enemy combatants” that harken to Bush-era terminology. The Angola-Zaire missions amped up the over-the-top climax while adding commentary on exploitation and child soldiers in Africa.
What Is the Phantom Pain?
The ghostly title of the game ties to very different parts of its story. The obvious comes from the sensations a person feels from a body part that is no longer there, which happens to Snake after the loss of his arm post-Ground Zeroes. Snake also has to deal with a phantom of his own with the villainous Skull Face, which is an absence he and his army must deal with. Kojima’s major plot twist leading into the events of the original Metal Gear also serves as a phantom into the very heart of the Big Boss.
Every Metal Gear game shifts slightly toward a fundamental shift in style, and in Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain it shows in the freedom allowed to players. Yes, there is a bevy of sandbox levels in GOTY-tier games, but MGS 5 veered away from its traditional codec-centric environment into a true open-world environment unlike those of its predecessors.
Fans of the series will recall the action movie feel to previous games, like Sons of Liberty or Snake Eater. And while we would not consider this a drawback there is a linear progression in their storylines that limits the conditions of missions. That is not the case for The Phantom Pain and its expanded use of levels, units, and consequences.
Devil or Savior?
Any veteran of the series knows that there are lethal and nonlethal methods to dealing with enemies. What makes Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain different is that there is a true balance of choice between the two—you can sneak around the unforgiving Afghan mountains or call down hellfire on unsuspecting units with equal validity. There is one aesthetic change to Snake if you go down a more bloodthirsty route, however.
We Share Our Mother Base
The ability to create an army and base and then expand it, which started in Portable Ops and Peace Walker, is substantially expanded. You must rebuild Snake’s Diamond Dogs military force and his Mother Base through paid mercenary missions. These include eliminating military commanders, exfiltration of prisoners, the procurement of necessary military equipment, etc.
The mini-game aspect of maintaining Mother Base is surprisingly fun. You have to use your growing team (taken from captured soldiers and commanders from mercenary missions) to develop new technologies that Snake can then use on his missions.
Tactical Online Action
Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain also has two multiplayer modes: Forward Operating Bases (FOB) and Metal Gear Online. FOB is a one-on-one invasion mode where a player can attack another player’s Mother Base and steal their resources and personnel and vice versa. MG Online has three different games where teams either take points, steal items, or outright kill each other using mechanics from this game. Your mileage may vary whether the game is worth playing for that function.
Depending on what platform you buy it for, it will range anywhere from about $ to $$. This does not count lower prices of used copies, nor does it consider additional DLC that was released for the game afterward.
How It Compares
We picked a few similar products available on the market to see how they compare.
- Hello Neighbor
- The Last of Us
- Open-World game design allowing players ultimate freedom on how to approach missions and overall game progression
- Explore mature, challenging themes, such as the psychology of warfare and the atrocities that result from those that...
- Online connectivity that carries the experience beyond the consoles to other devices to augment the overall...
The game, now in its third year after its release, has dropped in price. That makes it a worthwhile buy if you either haven’t already purchased it or are new to the series.
Ease of Use
The controls of the game are top-notch. You can easily navigate through rough terrain and it is possible to move in near-perfect stealth. Even when you do not get the right angle for a shot or escape, you can use it as a new vantage point in an open-world system. This gives it 5 stars.
The mechanics developed from the eight previous games over the decades have culminated into a unique experience. The stealth is an improved camouflaged version of MGS 3, with expansive level designs as a nod to MGS4, combined with the base-building functions of Portable Ops/Peace Walker. This synthesis creates Kojima’s goal of a tactical espionage operations game with many pieces ready to be played. We give it 5 stars.
One of the biggest draws of Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain during launch was its cross-platform appeal. It was made available to both major consoles and the PC. Provided you have the hard drive space (which will be addressed soon), a digital download is very possible. This is an easy 5 stars.
Surprisingly enough, Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain is actually smaller in GB size than the previous game Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns Of The Patriots. Depending on the console, it can range anywhere between 12 to 25GB for the PS3, PS4, XBox 360, or Xbox One. This optimization gives it a solid 5 stars.
The price of this stylish survival-stealth game is at about $, which seems a bit much for the quality it is giving out.
Ease of Use
The controls are simple to use for the most part. There are times where players might find moments of clunkiness, but they are not the point that detracts from the game. A lot of control issues might come from the underlying physics issues of the game. Overall, we give it 3 stars.
This is when the game goes in a different direction, for while it has many interesting goals in mind, it is debatable as to whether they are effectively executed. The player must find clever ways into the basement of their neighbor’s house, who is getting smarter the more he catches you. But the game begins to drag on the more he catches you, and the puzzles in the house verge on the nonsensical. We give the features 1 star.
There is another big issue with how well the game translates on different consoles. It has been launched on PC, Xbox One, iOS, and Switch to mixed results. The PC and XBox versions seem to run fine while the other two run between poor or mediocre at best. This gives it a 2-star rating.
The low-res art style keeps the game at a 5GB installation, making it rather easy to install. We give it 4 stars on this front.
- Winner of over 200 Game of the Year awards
- Explore a brutal post-pandemic world, fully realized with the power of PlayStation 4 system
- Includes all DLC packs: over $30 in value
The award-winning survival horror game has two versions—the original PS3 game and a re-mastered one made for the PS4. The former comes at about $ while the latter is priced at around $.
Ease of Use
Naughty Dog distilled years of Uncharted’s gameplay and created the best possible game. Careful movement from both bandits and murderous infected are important in this game, and they deliver it in spades. The shooting function is also easy for players. We give this 5 stars.
There are many reasons why The Last of Us is considered a pinnacle of the PS3 as a console. It is a culmination in gameplay, story, and graphics that bring to life a bleak landscape for two lonely survivors. The lush design of a ravaged America serves as the base of what becomes a refreshing take on the adventure genre. What is one of the most compelling parts of the game is a deep story between Joel and Ellie, two main characters who have received accolades from many think pieces and “best of” lists. This gives the game an easy 5 stars.
The Last of Us is a PlayStation-exclusive title, so you will need either a PS3 or PS4 to play it. That gives it 3 stars.
The game can be either bought on disc or through digital download through the PlayStation Store. We give it 4 stars.
- Collector's Edition - Includes a Digital Soundtrack and Digital Artbook
- Old School Stealth - Your enemies are lethal and direct confrontation is not an option. Survey the scenario, plan your...
- Choose Your Play-Style - Each situation has different possible approaches. Aragami won't force you to kill your enemies,...
This unique stealth action game costs at around $ across most platforms, from Steam to PlayStation Store and others. For the overall content, it deserves a $$ rating.
Ease of Use
What takes away part of the hiding experience is Aragami’s issues with camera controls. The game’s overall problems with optimization slow it down, making it clunky and hard to use at times. We give it 2 stars.
As an undead assassin, players have a very interesting arsenal at their disposal. They do not move in the shadows so much as they control them — transport through them, create shadows and become invisible, etc. As you attempt to hunt down your targets and reach your final points, you must use your power to materialize weapons and even creatures to eliminate the surrounding threats. Visually, it is a delight, but the AI of your opponents are not. Overall, the features give the game 3 stars.
There are versions of Aragami on the PC, Mac, and PS4. There’s even a version you can install for Linux, if that’s your thing. We give it 5 stars for compatibility.
There are no installation issues as the game is a digital download only and is 6GB. Its small size lands it a 4-star rating.
Hideo Kojima, in his swan song to a decades-long franchise, creates a distillation of his ability to direct rather than create a story as he normally does. As we experience his vision of infinite war and its futility, we might not notice how fun climbing up covert Soviet installations at night really is. But that does not stop showing us how in this free-for-all world he provides us, we can explore into the final steps of a legendary character as he continues into the video game pantheon. We give Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain a rating of 5 stars.