Only by reading the conflicting ideas referring to the best action game of this year and it becomes obvious that one of those games mentioned there will make it here as well. If you wonder why a game made it into the best action and the most disappointing categories at the same time is because that much I like and dislike this game at the same time.
I’ve mentioned that my expectations from The Phantom Pain were high. I’ve played its “demo” called Ground Zeroes and it made me aware of what the gameplay could be, but that wasn’t exactly what impressed me the most. I was impressed by the edgy story that Ground Zeroes had translating real life political issues into a game in a horrific and touchy way. Having to go through Camp Omega has awakened in me many feelings some of them not so nice and I knew that this dark kind of story was something I would enjoy. With this knowledge and the promises made for The Phantom Pain my expectations grew with each new trailed showcasing the amazing gameplay fragmented by amazingly looking cutscenes and a music that was spot on in a surreal way.
In all my years of gameplay I’ve never experienced a game in which what was shown in the trailers was exactly what was given in the game, nothing more nothing less. I was expecting gameplay mechanics that weren’t as complex as shown in the videos, but not this, and I was taken by surprise. What should have been a story of a hero turned antihero turned villain, was less than 6 hours out of a game that took more than 70 to finish. And for a series renowned for its cinematography there was little of that in those 6 hours as most of the storytelling was comprised of audio tapes. This was a hard and unexpected blow from a game that weirdly scored only 9s and 10s from the professional critics. I said that I’m not a MGS player, yet I was expecting more from this game and I can only imagine of what the earth bounded fans went through when they’ve played this game.
It’s hard not to notice how much content was cut from this game (besides mission 51) because of the disjunction between the missions and the storytelling. The Phantom Pain is suffering from the same illness that takes over most of the games these days, especially the open world ones. There is a terrible focus on quantity that takes precedent over the content’s quality severely affecting the end product and that focus is present in this game as well. So many repetitive main and secondary missions are thrown at the player with a complete disregard for the story itself. In the end the developer’s focus on the accountable playtime took part of the game experience away diminishing even further the value of the story that was present in the game.
The story isn’t that bad. It relies on metaphors and hidden details rather than the visual storytelling that is Kojima’s trademark. This unique take on storytelling is clearly interesting but hard to perceive and understand to its full extent. But this strange storytelling combined with the slow paced narrative and the butchered content ends up making things worse.
It’s Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain a good game? Sure it is. Objectively speaking the game has some extremely good features but its problems are enough to diminish them. In the end the gradation of goodness found in this game is up to each player’s tolerance and the relationship with the franchise. But when I think about The Phantom Pain, I first feel the bitter taste of disappointment and only after that I remember its great gameplay…