Big Boss looking over a camp in the distance from on top of a mountain.

Confession: I Didn’t Like Metal Gear Solid 5

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain – A Retrospective

It has been about 4 years since the release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Kojima’s swansong for the beloved franchise. The game was met with stellar review by almost every major outlet but now, completely removed from the game, I finally feel comfortable saying that Metal Gear Solid 5 disappointed the hell out of me.

Metal Gear Solid is one of my absolute favourite video game franchises.  The crazy story, unique and interesting gameplay, memorable characters and bonkers villains elevate the IP into legendary status, but with the fifth entry, I felt almost none of the emotions that have made me hold the franchise in such high esteem.

Gone were the memorable characters, gone was the interesting and crazy narrative and gone were the hysterically awesome and creative bosses. Instead, we got about 100 missions that were essentially recycled clones of one another. I can’t count how many times Miller sent me to go get some random researcher or rescue a POW that seemed integral to the mission only to completely forget about them as soon as I return to the chopper. It all felt menial and unimportant almost fetch quest-y.

Go get that guy, destroy that thing… no, thank you.

I was most baffled at how they almost completely tore out Boss’s vocal cords. After the big announcement that Keifer Sutherland would be helming the mantel of Big Boss (a move I understood despite being sad that David Hayter won’t be back), you would think they actually utilize his talent. I understand this could be due to the fact that you never actually play as Big Boss to begin with, but even still why isn’t he reacting to anything? Many times, developers talk about how they keep the protagonist silent to utilize a sense of emersion, but I have never felt less immersed in a game than when something momentous happens to my character and all he does is stare into nothingness. Do I need to remind everyone of the laughably awkward Jeep scene with Skull Face?

And let’s take a minute to talk about Skull Face. What was that guy’s deal? Throughout my entire playthrough there was almost nothing interesting or exciting that this guy did. The villains in previous Metal Gear titles always felt personal and somewhat justified in their ideology and motives but with Skull Face I never felt any of that.  They didn’t make me care. You don’t even fight him in an appropriately epic showdown.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about The Phantom Pain was that the mechanics and moment to moment stealth gameplay were both perfect. Controlling Boss was so fluid and sneaking past enemy soldiers felt natural instantly, you truly felt like a super secret soldier spy. It was gratifying.  The gunplay was also exceptional and for the first time in a Metal Gear game I was seeking out firefights. But still as perfect as the game felt, there was no real point in what I was doing other than being told it was the next mission.

I can go back out in the field, rescue a POW, take out high-value targets, upgrade my gear but for what? Just to go and do it all over again? The mission structure got so stale so quickly. Why would I care what new gun or tech I could use if I’m just completing the same exact mission over and over again? The sense of freedom in games is important but I feel that sometimes too much freedom can become a big problem. Some might play the game and experience these amazing unscripted moments but for me, that was never the case; almost every mission would begin and end the same way, with little to no actual surprises. Just take a long helicopter ride, run for 5 minutes to the base/camp/outpost, kill a guy, run back the landing zone and fly back to base.

Every. Single Time.

I understand that this loop is the whole point of the game – for the first time, the series decided to focus upon gameplay above all else – but for me, I just felt like I needed more. I just felt disappointed that I had absolutely no connection to it; I didn’t get any amazing crescendos or jaw-dropping moments.  Instead, I got countless rides in a helicopter while Miller rambled in my ear about some nonsense.

Maybe many of the gripes I have with the game could be all thanks to the whole Kojima vs. Konami debacle but I will probably never know what really went down, so I can only really judge the game as it is and as it will remain.

I don’t think Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is a bad game.  Ultimately, I believe that it’s a great game that just wasn’t for me but really, when I think back, what I remember the most about it is how it tricked the world into believing that it was a better game than Mad Max.


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  1. Funny. The game that was actually the closest to being a stealth game is hated most by the people who think they’re good games to begin with. Why am I not surprised? Kojima is like mom’s cooking. Your mom cooks like balls and for some reason you all just love the taste. As soon as we get to actual stealth mechanics you turn your nose up. It’s priceless.

    • You have a point, this was probably the first metal gear with real stealth gameplay in it but I just wish i felt a little more motivation behind what I was doing.

    • I agree with what you are saying. This is the first MGS game with actual stealth and mechanically it was awesome. I just wish I was using it for something more meaningful

  2. I agree completely. I had all these things in my head waiting for the game to release like how Eva was going to show up in it. What happened to Chico and the rumors that point to him getting a sex change and being Quiet lol.
    I never made it past mission 23 or so, the one where the home base is under attack or something. It was quite abysmal the way Big Boss went from being a great character in Snake Eater, Peace Walker with actual wit to this practical mute. I made no sense, no wait, it did make sense because like you said, it isn’t even Big Boss in the game.

    Definite one of the bigger disappointments for me this gen. He has a lot to prove with Death

    • I agree. Death stranding has a ton to prove. Thankfully Sony seems to be letting him go “Full Kojima” and hopefully will result in something mind blowing. Im always wondering what type of game MGS 5 would be if there wasn’t the whole Kojima/Konami thing, would it be different at all? I guess ill never know ?

  3. The worst MGS game in history. The pacing is annihilated by open-world gameplay, the characters are boring mutes or just encyclopedias who tell you things you have to do without engaging themselves in the action. The bosses were more like different subspecies of regular enemies with none of the character, motivation, history. The story overall was just devoid of exciting events.

    The gameplay was fine, though. If the game had anything going for it it was the “box-o-toys” kind of problem-solving: there is a goal, get it done however you want. But in the end once you realize what is the one single best tactic (sleeping rounds to the face) you don’t experiment anymore, unless for a YouTube video. The only probelm is that this **** garnered all-around praise and love from the fans regarless of how simply boring it was. So now criticizing it is useless. Had to do it over three years ago, slowpokes.

    • Haha i guess it is useless but still fun ? imagine if this had the epic moments of MGS 4 with the overall mechanics of MGS 5. There is no doubt i was spoiled by the grandiose of MGS4 that maybe it would have never lived up to my expectations but i definitely expected more

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Written by Moshe Sweet