METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN
Publisher Konami Developer Kojima Productions Format 360, PS3, PS4, Xbox One Release TBC
There’s more than a little Peace Walker in The Phantom Pain. Years after the events of Ground Zeroes, Big Boss awakens to find his forearm missing and his island fortress sunk. On the battlefields of Afghanistan, he begins to recruit for an all-new Mother Base, with enrolling Kaz Miller an early objective. The first mission is an extraction job the ageing Boss takes on alone, and along the way vehicles, soldiers, weapons and livestock are his for the retrieving.
The new Mother Base is a real structure built from modular components to each player’s own design, but is otherwise run and managed like Peace Walker’s old Mother Base. Each oceanbased platform takes on a role, catering for the growing number of soldiers, researching new hardware, housing secured vehicles and equipment, or providing intel and fire support on the battlefield. Troops taken from Soviet-occupied Afghanistan will be deprogrammed and turned to Big Boss’s cause, saluting him as he walks around the deck and providing bonuses in the field. UAVs, anti-air guns and well-equipped gunners are all necessities for the new Mother Base, which can – and will – come under attack, and must be defended at all costs.
A shifting and dynamic weather system makes extraction of troops and equipment via the Fulton Recovery balloons more difficult at times, but any downed soldier or unmanned vehicle can be extracted if conditions are in your favour. Infiltration is best carried out at night, and Big Boss can take a pause with his cigar, watching as time passes and guards go about their patrols in high-speed time-lapse. Clouds cast dynamic shadows; soldiers work, change shifts and sleep; and the weather can quickly turn a sunny day into an impenetrable sandstorm: something Big Boss can use to his advantage with a quality weather forecaster back at base.
And new systems offer Big Boss more options as he sneaks around Russian bases. There are corner takedowns, an attentiongrabbing crack of his mechanical wrist, and the classic cardboard box, which can now be left behind as a decoy.
The Phantom Pain is a game where child soldiers and explorations of war crimes clash with airborne sheep and a trusty horse that will occasionally pause for a comedy fart and a dump. It’s thematically inconsistent the way a Metal Gear game should be, and characteristically Kojima through and through, with levity and absurdity sweetening the bitter thematic pills the game will ask players to swallow.
While the beige deserts of Afghanistan and the orange towers of Mother Base were all Kojima’s team demoed at E3, trailers and early screens hint at many more maps and even more diverse spaces to explore