E3 2014 – Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Impressions

The Metal Gear Solid series is no stranger to absurdity, so nobody was surprised that after the relatively well closure of the saga in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, we would be getting even more new games that retcon new events and characters into the already convoluted timeline.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is one such addition to the Metal Gear mythos. As yet another game featuring Big Boss and serving a continuation to the events of the all too short Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, The Phantom Pain ups the crazy factor to even more ridiculous heights.

For our behind closed doors presentation at E3, Konami served up an extended cut of the very well put together trailer before jumping into the game itself for the gameplay demo. None of the scenes in the video made any particular sense due to the lack of an overall context, but that darn song made it all fit well… or, maybe, just maybe, it was the last day of E3 fatigue talking.

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When the game itself was running, though, all worries went away. Metal Gear Solid V made for an excellent demo because… well… the game looks fantastic. The presentation section had Snake infiltrating a Soviet post in Afghanistan during the 1980s, in order to rescue his old friend Kaz Miller. But things aren’t completely the same as before, are they? Snake now has a mechanical arm and horns are apparently growing out of his head.

No context was given as to why he looks like that as he is left to his own devices after a surprisingly short briefing. He rides his horse through the ragged terrain towards the outpost, hiding along the way from guards by hanging on to the saddle sideways, arriving at the top of the ridge overlooking the base. When he arrives, the Konami rep that was heading the presentation explains that guards follow a pattern and that it would be safer to wait til nightfall. The only problem was that it was high noon during the demo, an issue quickly remedied by having Snake take a cigarette break. In tradition, though, even a cig has to be bonkers in this series, as he lights up a holographic lung killer, complete with holo smoke.

After a few chugs and the use of a very handy (and out of place in 1984) holo map that helps Snake follow guard movement, he heads out and starts picking off sentries, much like we could back in Peace Walker. In fact, that section of gameplay made use of the same gameplay features found in the excellent PSP sequel to Snake Eater. Every guard that’s tranquilized can be sent back to home base in order to be recruited into the Big Boss club, as well as any usefulequipment on the field. As a joke, the demo person even launched a sheep back to the home turf. We’ll get to that part later in the preview, though.

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Getting back to Snake’s antics, he decides to call in the most advanced stealth tool in the field through an air drop. That’s right, inside the supply drop box, we got a cardboard box, the Boss’ most vital piece of equipment. He quickly jumped in and started to terrorize patrols. Among the new additions to the high tech gameplay of cardboard, he can now pop up by using the top flaps in order to shoot from concealment, as well as jumping out into more solid cover, leaving the box intact. It’s the silly brand of Kojima humor we’ve seen over the years making its mark yet again. That’s not even mentioning how Snake can knock on walls without having to use a wall. No, he does not have a holographic wall, although that would’ve been cool – thanks to his new hand, which spins and clicks serving the same purpose.

Down at the end of base, Snake manages to locate the building his prisoner is being held in and makes his way in, but instead of finding Miller, the demo presenter is the one tied down in the form of an in game model, sprawled on the floor. He gets the same Fulton ballon extraction treatment and Snake gets discovered. A quick firefight ensues, and he jumps into a jeep. But before leaving for good, he decides to give them a special gift – an air strike.

Dramatically escaping in a helicopter, we arrive at the oil rig base in the ocean, where all your poor captured soldiers ended up in. According to Konami, everyone’s base will look and feel differently, since it’s completely up to you to build it. He didn’t go into detail about how you could decide the structure placement within the base, only mentioning that upgrades would become available throughout the game in exchange for points.

MGSVTPP_E3_game_11_webFulton recovered soldiers – just as in Peace Walker and Portable Ops – can be put to work in various functions throughout the base, their unique stats permitting. As quickly as we got there, though, an alarm blared and out we were back on the chopper, but not before stopping to meet up with Revolver Ocelot along the way, practicing his gunplay.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is aiming to be even more refined gameplay wise than its console predecessor, with more hand to hand moves and shooting seen in Guns of the Patriots, now seen within the Cold War that Big Boss finds himself every time. The jury is still out on how well the story will fit in within the overall proposterous fiction of Metal Gear, but the way it stands, it looks to play very well.

The painful wait begins for its release sometime in 2015. Now if I could only get that infernal trailer song out of my head in the meantime…

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