So I’ve now finished Metal Gear Solid V and it was a pretty good game. Not better than The Witcher 3 for me, mainly because MGSV is flawed in its sparseness of story in the first half and a few other quibbles about its open world design. The rest of my thoughts on the game will be after the cut, but as a warning there will be major spoilers after the cut.
Remember: SPOILERS AHEAD.
So, I think MGSV has the second strongest moment in the history of Metal Gear, with the first being the Boss’ death. The mission where you have to enter the Quarantine Platform and basically slaughter your own men was an incredibly powerful mission. Walking through the building the first time is reminiscent of PT, a kinda claustrophobic environment filled with dead and dying men, and you’re questioning what the heck happened. Then when you realise that you have to kill every single person in the building, and you’re going through the rooms methodically with some begging you to not to even though you know it has to be done, it was a horrifying and amazing sequence. Then the sequence is endcapped by killing soldiers who have accepted their fate and are saluting Big Boss to the end. It is an incredible sequence that also establishes the kind of person Venom Snake is.
So the revelation that Venom Snake is separate from Naked Snake was not entirely unexpected, given the many arguments about why Kiefer Sutherland was cast instead of David Hayter, but I thought it still unlikely, especially as the game went on. So having it as the final revelation was still a good surprise for me. It also ‘fixes’ one of the plot holes in the original MSX Metal Gear games, where Big Boss dies twice (which until MGSV was still relatively easily explained as Big Boss escaping death in the first game), but more importantly, explains why Big Boss is considered the legendary soldier that he is. Having two Big Bosses fighting around the world during the period between MGSV and Metal Gear would definitely establish Big Boss as the Legendary Soldier. That said, I think Venom Snake is the more interesting of the two. The idea that a medic from Militaires Sans Frontieres live up to the legend of Big Boss, even if he was brainwashed and was the number one soldier in MSF underneath Snake and Miller, is amazing. But he also differs from Naked Snake in that he does not necessarily fit into the greater obsession with the Boss – whereas Naked Snake is fighting because of the Boss’ betrayal of his ideas and Zero is trying to create the world that the Boss envisioned, Venom seems to be fighting more for Diamond Dogs and for Naked.
Which brings me to the topic of Huey. While it was necessary that he survived this game, it is telling that Venom chose to spare his life given how much of a horrible person Huey is. It was actually disappointing to find out that Huey was a terrible person, but I guess that might explain his eventual suicide better than just finding Otcaon sleeping with his stepmother. But I was sad that Dr Strangelove died before MGSV (at the hands of Huey especially), though it was interesting to note that her Boss AI that went into the Patriots was ‘subconsciously’ protecting Otacon. It was also nice that they filled out the Zero-Snake story, with Zero actually being the one responsible for caring for Naked Snake. Zero’s eventual decline in health due to Skullface and becoming a vegetable also explains why the Patriots became what they became, with Zero basically dead to the world and in no condition to control anything well before Metal Gear 1.
There are a few story parts I am confused by. The choice of Troy Baker for Ocelot is suitable, but MGSV’s Ocelot is a weird step between 3 and 1. And the conversation between Ocelot and Miller at the end, where Ocelot states that he’ll pair up with the brother that Miller doesn’t choose is a little odd given that Ocelot only pairs up with Liquid because he was working as a triple agent for Big Boss/Eve. I’ll probably read a little more on that point.
As for the game itself, the sandbox that is the Metal Gear Solid V open world is amazing. I still have fun clearing out outposts and bases both stealthily and guns blazing. Calling in Pequod, your ever faithful helicopter, to provide air support while blasting Ride of the Valkyries is simply the best. The main struggles are that the Side Ops, the sidequests of MGSV, become a little repetitive, and that unlocking gear requires a bunch of GMP, which inevitably leads to the economy and microtransactions of MGSV. Which is not great. Upgrading your base is one of the things I like about games with that feature, but the issue is that you need a lot of resources (especially fuel). The best way to get a lot is to have your Base Development Unit process materials, but that takes time and you’ll need to fulton a bunch of materials containers. But if you pay up for the better FOBs, you can mine a lot more materials and have more room available for staff in your base, including the Base Development Unit. There’s also the whole base infiltration and base insurance aspect, where you can buy insurance with the microtransaction currency to protect your assets from being stolen without compensation, but you’ll have to keep renewing if you want continuous protection.
The other major criticism is that the story is both lacking in the first half and is incomplete overall. The first half is a long setup where the specifics of the vocal cord parasites are introduced and discovered. It only starts to pickup when you get Code Talker and confront Skullface. There’s also the fact that the story is definitely incomplete, with the special edition of the game showing the intended final Lord of the Flies level where you confront Eli and Sahelanthropus, which is a plot point left hanging in this game. That is a terrible shame, as it would’ve been a good endpoint, even if Kojima still intended for even more story after that.
In conclusion, I really enjoyed my time with MGSV and liked the story developments that it did have, and might return to it as a game to play while listening to podcasts now that I’m done with the story. But now I’ll play some Fallout 4 or return to my game of 2015, The Witcher 3.
One final point – it has the best series of conversations in any MGS game ever.