Hideo Kojima nailed it. Hideo Kojima blew it. You will see one of these two opinions when it comes to the latest installment of the famous Japanese stealth-action-game. It had been 7 years since the last episode , Metal Gear Solid 4 – Guns of the Patriots was released as a PS4 exclusive and fans has been waiting to see the final, missing link in the story of Big Boss. And that’s where it’s hard to decide if Kojima could live up to the enormous expectation.
For me, he nailed it. Truth be told, I have never played any MGS (or basically any Japanese) game before but somehow this one caught my attention so I got my hands on it. And started to play… and could not stop it for such a long time that I would not want to admit it.
What makes this game so great, so addictive that even a total noob to MGS series gets sucked into the universe in the matter of seconds? Basically everything, it is next to impossible to find flaws if you like sandbox games. Yes, sandbox. Interesting twist to the previous episodes that MGS5 threw away the old, well known linear levels and moved into open world. And this means the greatest opportunity in the game: you can do basically anything. In missions, you can rambo in, killing every single soldier, blowing every building up, only leaving smokin’ ruins behind. Or you can be the master of stealth, sneaking in without the guards noticing your presence. Or anything in between these. There are four buddies you can take on missions, each with different skills and uses. You are provided with tons of weapons, gadgets, tools, vehicles and so on from the most common gun to funny and weird ones like the inflatable soldiers serving as decoy and a balloon (called Fulton device) that can be used to extract anything from the battlefield. And by anything, I mean ANYTHING. Vehicles, resources, mounted weapons, but even animals and living soldiers can be extracted.
Extraction leads to another important aspect of the game, the Mother Base. This will serve as base of operation for Big Boss and his newly formed mercenary group, Diamond Dogs. Mother Base starts as a small oil platform somewhere on the Indian Ocean but can be upgraded and improved with multiple additional sections. You can add different sections, like an R&D, medical platform or intel platform and these will improve the strength of your company. With more developed sections you will have access to stronger equipment, better intel and support etc. It will take, however, some time to fully develop Mother Base, so there is no danger of maxing it out early and be bored afterwards because the game becomes too easy.
So we have everything to have fun during and between missions, but what about the story? MGS was always famous for its let’s just say, twisted twists and WTF moments. You could never know what will happen next, which character stands on which side? I was curious if I will be able to comprehend the story with the numerous characters I was supposed to know. It was, needless to say, messy at best yet still it immersed me. It is also a good thing for new players like me that many elements in MGS5’s story is new to the franchise too, so I did not actually have to read through lexicons to understand it. Nevertheless, the story is still a somewhat weak point of the otherwise magnificent game. It has its highs and memorable moment but is actually unfinished. The reason is unclear but the game’s ending is everything but a true ending of a story: some of the plotlines were just left there hanging without a closure and although the current ending still brings up a twist, it will not satisfy everyone. Or maybe no one. It was lacking something for me too.
Other negativities come from the open worldness of the game. There is always something to do like main missions, side missions, capturing bases and guard posts or just simply exploring one of the two main areas, Afghanistan and the Angola-Zaire border region. Unfortunately, the game gets repetitive after some time. The maps are huge enough to be boring to travel them on foot or horseback, but small enough that you’ll get to know them in a few hours.
The technical portions of the game are alright. The graphics are breathtaking yet optimized, everything is detailed. Sounds sound well enough too. Controlling the main character is more responsive than it used to be and works with keyboard as well as controllers. The AI does its job too, the enemies fight intelligently most of the times and there are even some bossfights, although those are generally just shoot the bad guy ‘till it dies.
Aside from minor problems, the game is simply amazing. Once it gets a hold on you and won’t let you go for weeks. Your options are next to infinite and aside from the lacking finale, the story is still solid. For me, Hideo Kojima did it.
Published by Olivér Tamási