Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain Review - Read Before You Buy

Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain review
So you're saying you're gonna play it? You sure? Let's shake on that.

Despite not having the name recognition of franchises like Call of Duty or Halo, Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear franchise has stood the test of time and evolved its beginnings as a top-down game for the MSX Home Computer into a massive franchise that has consistently excelled in every area of game design. Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t introduced to the Metal Gear franchise until the release of The Phantom Pain in 2015, so you can rest easy knowing that this review doesn’t come from a lifelong Kojima fanboy- just a guy who played the crap out of a truly exceptional game.

About MGS5: The Phantom Pain

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, which will be abbreviated as TPP in this review, is a third-person shooter that incorporates action-packed gunplay against a variety of imposing foes, both human and superhuman. The game constantly emphasizes its open-ended approach to each mission, and players are given an astonishing array of tools and weapons to use to craft a custom play style, allowing them to approach each objective in whatever way they see fit. Developed by Konami and legendary director Hideo Kojima at the cost of a staggering $80 million, TPP sold 3 MILLION copies within the first few days of its release in 2015. The game was universally praised by critics, but some long-time fans of the series felt that the story wasn’t quite as engaging as previous titles. The Phantom Pain has sold roughly 4 million units between PS4, Xbox One, and PC to date.

MGS5: The Phantom Pain Story

Throughout the campaign of TFP, players will control legendary soldier Venom Snake, who awakens in a British Military hospital after 9 years in a coma, following an attack on his Mother Base by a mysterious man known as Skull Face, and his paramilitary organization Cipher. Snake reunites with fellow soldiers Ocelot, Kaz and Huey, characters that long time fans of the series will be familiar with, and form a new organization known as Diamond Dogs, with the goal of taking revenge on Skull Face. The tension between Huey and the rest of the Diamond Dogs is intense, as it is widely believed that Huey was involved in betraying the group to Cipher, which led to the destruction of their old base. As the story evolves, players will encounter the supernatural Man on Fire, a sinister “parasite unit” known as the SKULLS, and face off against Skull Face’s true ultimate weapons, a deadly and unique pathogen, and the nuclear weapon system known as Sahelanthropus. The story is packed full of meaningful moments and easter eggs for longtime fans of the series, while still being engaging enough on its own to keep newcomers to the Metal Gear Solid series engaged throughout.

MGS5: The Phantom Pain Gameplay and Combat

MGS5: TPP combat features

Players might be thrown off when they are given the opportunity to create their own custom character but are forced to play the majority of the missions as Snake; not to worry, you gain the option of playing as your custom character once you have completed the main story of the game. Players will “deploy” from Mother Base into a vast, open world, where they have the opportunity to choose from a list of story missions and optional missions to complete, or they can simply ride around the world gathering resources and wreaking havoc. Players’ long-term goals will be gathering resources and “recruiting” enemy soldiers to work for Snake at his Mother Base. Doing this expands the weapons and equipment that Snake can develop, acquiring improved versions of existing guns, and increasing the number of consumable items like grenades and decoys that he can carry. Eventually, players will see Snake go from being a relatively fragile character with a limited selection of weapons and equipment to an absolute tank, armed to the teeth with 20 different ways to dispose of his enemies and more than able to engage in stealthy infiltrations as well as full on frontal assaults. The gunplay is smooth and satisfying, and players can pick foes off from hundreds of meters using a silenced sniper rifle, as well as send them flying in close range combat with casually aimed shotgun blasts. The amount of tools and assets Snake can develop and use is extensive and offers multiple ways for players to accomplish the same task. If Snake wants to distract a group of enemies to gain entrance to a fortified location, he can either deploy a decoy that will draw their attention, or call in an attack helicopter that will mow them down. Players have over 20 “slots” that they can fill with all kinds of equipment, from firearms to C4 to infiltration technology like decoys and camouflage. The customization options and number of possible loadouts are virtually endless, and players will likely spend hours eagerly comparison-shopping for the best weapons and tools.

There are many mission types in TPP, to match the many ways players have of approaching them. Story missions will usually center around some type of infiltration or intelligence gathering, with the occasional boss fight against a group of tanks or a superhuman soldier or two. Optional missions explode in variety, ranging from the neutralization of enemy commanders and special forces units to the extraction of prisoners or highly skilled soldiers, to securing large amounts of resources for Mother Base. There will always be an optional mission to suit the player’s needs, and story missions can be replayed as many times as you like for the experience, as well as to attempt to 100% complete each mission.

Multiplayer mode in TPP is unique and engaging, tasking players with infiltrating another player’s version of Mother Base, which can be expanded and upgraded into a high-security fortress. Invading players can sleuth around and steal resources, as well as abduct other players’ soldiers back to their own Mother Base. Players who have been invaded have the option of retaliating against their offender and stealing some resources/men of their own.

MGS5: The Phantom Pain Graphics


The Phantom Pain’s graphics are done in a photorealistic style, and all the models and textures look good and appealing.

MGS5: The Phantom Pain Developer

Konami is a veteran game production company, with iconic games like Gradius, Bomberman, Contra and the Silent Hill series to put on their resumes, in addition to the Metal Gear and Metal Gear Solid series. Additionally, the Metal Gear Solid games are directed by Hideo Kojima, a man universally regarded as one of the greatest game directors of all time. In addition to the Metal Gear Solid games, Kojima directed P.T., a horror game that was reportedly a teaser for a new Silent Hill. Nonetheless, even with such a team of masters, some bugs did make their way into TPP on release. However, all bugs have been fixed since the game’s release three years ago, and players will find that the game is extremely polished from a technical standpoint.

Gamers will be able to find The Phantom Pain available for an absolute steal at $19.99 on Steam, or the online stores of the PS4 and Xbox One. The game includes in-game microtransactions that allow for faster resource gathering, but any gamer who purchases the game and does not engage in microtransactions will find themselves progressing along at a perfectly acceptable pace.

Final Verdict

Overall, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain gets a solid 9/10 from this reviewer. I would very much recommend that anyone who wants an engaging and expansive gameplay and storytelling experience check this game out, especially for the low price of $19.99.


+the wish fulfillment of getting to build your perfect soldier and see them in action

+a fresh take on the shooter genre that allows for complete freedom in terms of how you want to approach missions

+an engaging and emotional story, truly on another level from most games


-long-time fans of the series report that the storyline in The Phantom Pain was less engaging than previous Metal Gear Solid titles. All the more reason to play them ALL and decide for yourself!

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Eve has been a gamer ever since she got her first PC back in the year of 2000 and loves a good strategy game on a rainy day.
Gamer Since: 2000
Favorite Genre: RTS
Currently Playing: Xcom 2
Top 3 Favorite Games:Prison Architect, Tropico 5, Sid Meier's Civilization V