True to our times, this game begins with a big bang in the opening sequence. You are awake finally after a nasty 9 year coma. Soon after that things just go to hell. Multiple parties are instantly trying to kill you in a very flimsy hospital, ratcheting up the tension. All you have is an ally with a bandaged-over face and your weakened muscles to survive. With so much coming after you and blowing up it feels like the preview to the next big action game.

Thankfully that is not the case, it’s not long before you are on the first mission honing your sneaking skills. By this time everything is looking very this gen (something I say still doesn’t happen often yet).

Even the smoothest, most beautiful games tend to have hitches and glitches in their visuals, not MGSV. From the sand beneath your feet to the shine on your gun it is a package unlike any other. I did not see the frame rate slip or slow. The closeness/distance blur on you is usually working fine but in close quarters (like a dumpster) or when low near buildings it can get confused. You can credit Kojima’s pet FOX engine with being the determining factor in successfully getting such large areas to keep their fidelity at all times. The characters suffer just a little, probably from their counterparts on last gen consoles. Early on while the world is impressing you, you can see the long straight lines that make up parts of the character that should look more rounded in this day and age. The textures that make up the character are so detailed it’s easy to overlook those blocky lines though.

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In gameplay the answer to “Can I play shoot’em up bang bang?” is yes. It’s not the best idea if you want to live because the enemy hits you from various angles if they can and never tires of looking for you. The beginning does a basic tutorial for you that is thankfully not as horribly done as others. The Mother Base becomes the information center along with its other functions like all those great customizations.

When it comes to the field, you aren’t alone out there. Your team has intel on the area that you can request at any time. Research and Development makes your gadgets and toys. Plus chatting up locals can lead you to helpful sympathizers.

As free as you are to customize – you are more free in your environment. There is a whole lot of space to use however you want. I can see a perfectionist spending a long time belly crawling into deadly positions as well as wannabe action stars shooting it out. If you want to choose the latter route and I am aware this era has produced some twitching, then use your mother base to customize in favor of this play style. Same goes all around. However you choose to move in on your enemies bear in mind that no expense was spared on the A.I. They are smart and can be highly aggressive. When spotted you get a brief slo mo cam that lets you neautralize the target. Hardcore fans can turn this off if you think it holds your hand too much. I thought it was useful.  Plan your approach, run, walk, crouch, crawl or hide behind your horse to complete your objective and you’ll get the hang of it. I will say the default controls seem awkard at times and non-intuitive. You might wish to change them in the settings if you’ve become used to western 3rd person games.

Reviewers note: I am not a Metal Gear Solid or non-solid aficionado. I have dipped into and played many of the games since the NES. I think I know a few things about it for that, mainly a consistently well put together and implemented story.

MGSV continues the tradition with its myriad complications, characters, and pretzeled logic to keep the player well entertained while things go down. Unfortunately sometimes it feels like the game is dragging a wounded foot when experiencing all of the freedom for Freedom’s sake. It gets you off quest and into fetching things while the plot is lost or rendered much less tense. When story is firing on all cylinders its really cool. Something for newcomers: this is a Japanese game. Therefore the story is not going to follow the three part formulas we are used to in America. Also it’s not a military sim despite what the TV commercials looked like; there are wild characters with cheesy names and wonderfully quirky speech. That’s just a friendly warning not a criticism.

Lastly I should tell you Hid K. has cut some of the unnecessaryness from long character interactions since our last outing but hasn’t managed to stop making scenes long winded. I wish he’d stop with that.

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The audio is noteworthy for some highlights of course. These are some of if not the best sound effects I have heard. On time and viscerally accurate, they make you feel like part of the action despite the third person perspective. We have a talented cast of voice actors whose performances are atmospherically correct and simply don’t feel like acting. I was harsh on Kiefer at first when the news came down about Hayter but now I believe Mr. Sutherland when he indicated he wanted to get to know this beloved character well and took it seriously. In MGSV he finds a second career in voice acting and becomes the Boss with his thoughtful performance. If you have them, now is the time to break out the sound system or the headphones.

Adding these experiences up and tossing a thick layer of polish on top of it all makes any drawbacks seem minuscule by comparison. Right before he was fired *ahem resigned, Kojima-san did it. He made a masterpiece in modern times. It has been worth the wait.

Reviewed on Playstation 4. Review copy provided by the publisher.

 

 

David D. Nelson
David D. Nelson is a polymath with a BA in English working as an independent writing and editing professional. He enjoys gaming, literature, and a good hat.

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