So I picked up my copy of The Phantom Pain on Tuesday, and I'm about 7% of the way through, if the in-game completion meter is to be believed. I think that's good enough for a first impressions post.
Keep in mind that I try to make a habit of not talking about stuff I know nothing about, so if I don't cover an aspect of the game your best friend's uncle's aunt twice removed talked about in the way you wanted, that's probably why.
Should I start with the premise? I feel like I should start with the premise.
TL;DR, you play as Snake, AKA Big Boss, AKA Jack (it's canon
). You're basically to soldiering what Muhammad Ali is to boxing, and you're making a go of the private sector after a stint in the Green Berets in the 60s left a bad taste in your mouth (see Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater). After that, you fucked around in South America and the Caribbean for a while, building your private army (see Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeros) until New Shit Came To Light, you got coma'd for nine years, and your private army was basically destroyed.
But hey, it's 1984 and the Ruskies are in Afghanistan! LET'S FULTON ALL THEIR SHIT.
TPP is primarily a stealth action game, but it can be a quite fun third-person shooter with the right loadout, and there are echoes of Red Dead Redemption whenever you're on horseback. People (rightly) give MGS a lot of shit for its convoluted plots and backstory, but it's honestly not so bad in this one if you go into it with at least a general understanding of the events that transpired during and between Snake Eater, Peace Walker, and Ground Zeros. As per usual for the series, it alternates between hyper-realistic tactical action and sequences with superpowered antagonists that feel like a postmodern take on Japanese mysticism, with some goofy shit sprinkled around therein (keep a weather eye out and you can pick up a cassette that plays the sounds of a soldier shitting his brains out, preventing guards from opening the door when you're hiding in a portashitter). You split your time between Afghanistan, Africa, and a mid-ocean platform your PMC has constructed called Mother Base.
What I like:
- the controls are, for once, pretty damn great. You can transition between shooting and sneaking quite easily, and you'll quickly pick up what you need to know - unless this is your first video game, or you're the kind of tosser who likes to pretend
it's their first video game.
- the missions are open-ended. Want to eliminate a Spetsnaz commander and his staff by sending a Carl Gustav through their window? You can do that. Want to get your secret squirrel on and infiltrate the hamlet he's hiding in before putting a tranq round in his ass and Fultoning him away to work for you? You can do that, too.
- the open world works excellently
for stealth. Even if I usually default to the most efficient path, I love the feeling I get putting in legwork reconing a site before I go in.
What I hate:
- the game pretending I'll do anything but "auto-assign" and "accept all" when it comes to Mother Base staff and accepting rewards. Ain't nobody got time for that.
- weapons are not customizable. You cannot pick and choose sights, stocks, muzzle accessories, or what-have-you - instead they are handed to you as an ensemble. I've been told you can recruit a gunsmith later on in the game that changes this.
- at times, it becomes a pain having to open your iDroid to be able to competently navigate the game world and plan your next move.
People who've played a Metal Gear Solid game before this will not be surprised by the appearance of Quiet, and I think many of the Professionally Offended People out there haven't.
For those not in the know, Quiet is a recruitable friendly NPC you can pair up with on missions. She's also a mute sniper whose default outfit amounts to a black bikini and some torn pantyhose. The in-game justification given is that she was originally dressed in normal fatigues - which you can see when she tries to kill Big Boss in the hospital - but after she was heavily wounded, she became a guinea pig for some kind of bio-wizardry team that gave her the power to turn invisible and defy gravity, with the tradeoff that she'd unleash a deadly parasitic plague if she ever spoke. Ergo, Quiet.
Somehow this results in her needing to breathe through her skin. Ergo, bikini and pantyhose.
I won't be the type of fanboy who pretends like there's nothing wrong with it - for one, it's hard for me to buy cutaneous gas exchange in a human to begin with, and for two, I fail to see why she can't just breathe through her nose - but the point is you should not be surprised.
Hideo Kojima has built a reputation for including these kinds of eccentricities in his works. EVA, a friendly NPC in MGS 3, had more than her fair share of tit shots. MGS 4 was famous for how its skintight sneaking suits led to gratuitous amounts of man-ass in certain scenes. Basically all of the Snakes have at least one mandatory shirtless scene in every MGS, and in MGS 2, Raiden, the protagonist, actually has a sequence where he has to sprint buck-naked through enemy territory.
If it bothers you that much, just don't buy it. Let the free market take its course.
Overall, I like what I've played so far. It won't be everyone's cup of tea, but I'd recommend at least renting it.
More on this after I've finished the story mode.