When I asked my fellow classmates if they had ever heard of the Metal Gear franchise, few had any idea what I was talking about. I find it kind of ironic that the franchise that created the stealth genre revolutionized 3rd person gameplay, and always attempted to be the best at telling stories in its own medium was, for the most part, off the radar of the average gamer. Created and still produced by the same man, Hideo Kojima, the Metal Gear franchise has spanned over 25 (It’ll be 28 in 2015) years! The original game, which launched in 1987 on the MSX2, was a top down stealth shooter that was well received in its day. After several top down sequels, the next innovative game in the series hit the original Playstation in the year of 1998. This title was called Metal Gear Solid and, once again, set the standard for stealth in gaming. In other words, all modern stealth games owe MGS for the common grounded standards of the stealth genre. The next sequel came to the Playstation 2, and was well received, but not as well as the following installment: Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, a prequel of the entire series. (I won’t even attempt to explain the storyline because of its complexity and sheer depth, qualities that make it such a great series.)  Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots was thought to be the final game, as it ended the story of the main character Solid Snake. Released for the Playstation 3, I honestly thought it was a concise and proper ending. I had no further urge for them to continue the series after ending it on such a high note. This, however, would change when I caught wind of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.

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Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain will be both a prequel to Metal Gear Solid and a sequel to Metal Gear Solid 3. It will follow MGS3’s protagonist, Big Boss (aka Naked Snake), whose DNA is cloned to form Solid Snake (the protagonist of MGS1, MGS2, and MGS4.) In MGS3, the prequel to the new game, Big Boss is the protagonist; a green beret turned CIA asset who is ultimately betrayed by his country for the greater good of the US in a Cold War missile crisis. Turning his back on the country that betrayed him, Big Boss forms a Private Military Company, MSF, in order to continue his work as a soldier on the battlefield. In last year’s mini game, though, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (which takes only around 1-4 hours to beat and acts as a demo for the full game) Big Boss loses not only his company but also many of his close friends. His life work, built by his own blood, sweat and tears, is destroyed in a sneak attack by an unknown faction. This is where Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain picks up.

9 years after barely surviving an explosion from a device implanted inside of a female character (and possible love interest in Ground Zeroes), Big Boss (I’ll call him Snake from here on) awakes from a medically-induced coma and is informed of his condition. He lost his entire left arm from the elbow down in the explosion, and suffered severe injuries to his face from the shrapnel, thus explaining the chunk of metal in his head that can be seen in promotional trailers and screenshots. Not long after this, the hospital Snake is being treated in is attacked by unknown forces, presumably the same that destroyed his company and killed most of his friends. Somehow Snake gets escapes, and what follows is mostly unknown. What we do know is that Snake somehow arrives in a early 1980’s Afghanistan and is told by his long time rival, Revolver Ocelot (voiced by Troy Baker) that his best friend Kaz Miller (known as Master Miller to others) survived the explosion and is still alive and being tortured by Russian Observers in a fire base deep in Afghanistan. This is where the first known actual gameplay of the game occurs.

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Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is an open world stealth/action game, which ties into the first mission quite well. The player is tasked with gathering intel on Kaz’s exact location and must plan an infiltration to rescue his friend while maintaining a discreet form of engagement with the enemies. What makes this game stand out from other open world games is the mere scale and attention to detail in the first level alone.  The playable area of Afghanistan is about the size of Los Santos from GTA:V, and have I told you that Afghanistan is one of 8 free roam areas in the game?!? This presumably makes the playable area of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain 8 TIMES LARGER THAN GTA:V! The game also runs the best game engine when it comes to lighting, graphics, sound and physics. All cutscenes and gameplay are processed through the same engine making the graphical difference between gameplay and cutscenes almost impossible to notice. The gameplay and cutscenes are so lifelike that camera stills of child soldiers were used by a news broadcast describing the life of a child soldier! (Link for the non believers.)

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The game’s world will also feature real time weather and passage of time, which at first may not seem that impressive,, but the scale is what makes it so impressive. When I say real time, I mean the game follows real time as in each hour in game is an hour in real life. This adds a sense of immersion into the game since for the first mission you are given 3 days to save Kaz. Luckily, players can speed time up if they want to raid an outpost at night since the AI in the game takes into account the actual view and awareness of your enemies in varying situations. The weather also plays a role in this, severe sandstorms prevent communication and obscure the enemies’ line of sight in the Afghanistan area and so far the only other weather feature shown in the Zanzibar region of the game has severe tropical storms that restrict movement and visibility. This will also affect piloting helicopters and driving vehicles such as tanks or APCs as the player. The game worlds themselves were created with options in mind. As Snake, the player has every option and tactic in the book in order to achieve his goal, whether that be sneaking into a supply cache for weapons and setting a charge to detonate on it at a safe distance to calling in reinforcements from your home base to do a frontal assault on a compound. You can even call in helicopter to level your enemies fortifications while humming Ride of the Valkyries.

The game, shouldn’t be all that difficult to a new player, at least on easier difficulties, but it will test your patience in stealth situations, where you as a player will be forced to make split second decisions that could possibly compromise your entire mission. Combat will function like any other 3rd person shooter except for bullet range, wind and trajectory, which will all be key to your success. For example, you will have to adjust your sights when using a tranquilizer gun or a suppressed weapon because combat level suppressed weapons use chilled rounds which, in turn, make them drop far more than unsuppressed bullets. Also, just like they do in real life, suppressors wear out over time, an aspect you should keep in mind since stealth is essential to this genre of game. The player will also have to hide bodies of dead or incapacitated soldiers in order to keep the other unaware. This, added to the fact that enemies will in some cases infinitely spawn/ be deployed into the battlefield as long as they maintain communications and a line of sight of the player, makes the run and gun option viable only in small encounters, which means you as the player will have to use your brain and tactics in order to fool an enemy that severely outnumbers you.

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Customization and play styles are also fully up to the player, if you want to go into a fight guns-a-blazing with a belt-fed machine gun, revolver and RPG like Rambo, go ahead. If you want to take the stealthy and smart approach (the only viable option on harder difficulties), you can enter the battle as a silent killer with a suppressed sniper rifle, tranquilizer gun and bowie knife; it is entirely up to the player. Since the game isn’t even out yet, I’m sure there will be more features and other combat aspects of the game. In addition to customizing your own Snake, the player will also be attempting to recreate their old PMC operation as a sort of base-building mini game. This takes place on and off the battlefield, since armaments and ordinance captured in game can be shipped back to your mother base. If you aren’t the stealing type you can also purchase improvements for your base with resources you find in game, and trust me–you will need them. The only revealed aspect of multiplayer so far is a game mode where you attack other bases in Clash of Clans-esque raids where you lead recruits and members of your own PMC group, The Diamond Dogs, against another player and his forces that include everything from guard dogs to drones, tanks to jets. It’s worth pointing out that another game mode will be revealed later this month so this will not be the entirety of the multiplayer side of MGSV.

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However, unlike other games on the market, the story mode and journey the player will take part in as Snake will be the major focus of the game as a whole. When I say journey, I mean the fact that, at the beginning of the game, you are a hero, fallen from grace and seeking revenge on those who harmed those close to you. You aren’t fighting for a country, an ideology, or even god for that matter; your character wants nothing short of revenge after everything is taken from him. This sense of loss and remorse portrayed by Snake, voiced by Kiefer Sutherland,will be the theme of the game. As players of Metal Gear Solid 1, 2 and 4 already know, Big Boss or Naked Snake, ends up becoming the antagonist and evil figurehead of the other games. Players already know how it ends, yet the transformation of this iconic character from soldier of fortune hero to cold-blooded killer he becomes later in his life is currently unexplained by the other games. Metal Gear Solid V attempts to answer this 25+ year old question as to how this character is overcome by his own emotions and demons. The player must sadly endure this tragedy and fall from the heroic standard down into the turmoil embodied by the character in other games. Themes that will be touched on in this game include, torture, drugs, violence, sexual crimes, and child soldiers to name a few. (If my description of this isn’t getting the point across watch this trailer. Link right here)

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Hideo Kojima, the creator of the game, stated that he wants players to realize that even the best people in regards to purpose and moral identity can fall from grace and become the very thing that they are fighting against. In this case you are Snake and his Diamond Dogs (his PMC) fighting against a unknown and mysterious faction, yet as players of previous games of the series already know, Snake and the Diamond Dogs are perfect exapmles of this idea later on, committing horrible atrocities against humanity. This idea of a tragedy isn’t new to anyone, the medium and mere 25 years in real life to complete it however has not been done before. A 25+ year old game series has led up to this climactic ending, and you, the player, will be forced to watch it and no doubt commit awful acts of violence. Let me be clear, this game is not for the faint of heart, its portrays war and violence in an incredibly realistic and gritty nature. In my opinion it does this better than The Last of Us, and this is coming only from the demo prequel and trailers for this game.

Hideo Kojima also stated that he wants the player to question their own morality as they play this game, because gaming as a medium allows the player to interact with a world and receive a story in a way that movies and books simply can’t. Everything will be from your perspective; you as the player will have to pull the trigger of the gun trained at the back of your friends. You will have to execute your soldiers for desertion and spying against you. As a human, Snake will ultimately destroy everything and everyone around him, acting as an emotional time bomb. Yet the mere event that causes this dramatic shift in the character’s personality is unknown to players and excites me the most when it comes to this games story.

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The player as Snake will ultimately embrace their/Snake’s inner demons and become the bad guy. This will occur throughout a long process since the game is rumored to be the LARGEST CONSOLE GAME EVER at a size of over 100GBs! This means the game will more than likely be 2-3 Blu Rays discs and will take up 1/5 of the space on the new next gen consoles. The game itself is being developed on the PS4 and will be ported to the Xbox One and PC, with a crummier version being put on the PS3 and Xbox 360. (Since it can’t read blu-ray discs, there will be about 9 discs for the install on the Xbox 360. Good luck.) An additional exclusive disc of content is rumored to be on the PS4 since Sony and Konami, the games publishers, have always been very close to one another (All Major MGS main game entries have been Sony Exclusives).

In summary Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain will make the player question their moral compass in this third person action/stealth free roam game. It will be the final entry in the series from Hideo Kojima, who will be working on Silent Hills and has no further interest in the franchise after what is sure to be a conclusive and bittersweet end. No set release date has been set for MGSV but Kojima promised a 2015 release, as the game has been in production since 2008. I personally am predicting that this game will win game of the year 2015 with its simply superior graphics, benchmark story, gameplay and development history seen in just the gameplay trailers. No doubt from a mere data standpoint, this will literally be the biggest/largest game ever released on a console, so it has that going for it.

Here is a final fan-made trailer that is a compilation of the best moments of the trailers that have been released thus far.

Hunter attended GSES before attending Jesuit. He is an avid reader of IGN, Destructoid and Polygon. If it is a decent game he has probably played it several times. You may hear him on the Roundup Podcast or you might have seen him rant about games on twitter. All things aside Hunter KNOWS games. With a passion towards Journalism, Hunter intends to go to the world renown Journalism School at the University of Missouri (Mizzou). You can find all of the articles about games that Dr. Degen didn't want you to see at www.thehunterofgaming.com