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

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