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10 reasons Metal gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain isn’t a good Metal Gear Solid game

Metal Gear Solid V was a great game but a poor Metal Gear game, here’s why.

Fair warning here, this will venture well beyond spoiler territory and back again. If you continue reading this, I cannot be responsible for you getting what twists and turns Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain has ruined for you. Once again, go read our spoiler-free review or something if you don’t want the game spoiled for you.

OK?

I said this and my review, but I will state it here as well, I really enjoyed Metal Gear Solid V as a game overall. That being said, it was a pretty poor Metal Gear Solid game and felt woefully out of place in the mix of Metal Gear Solid games. Somehow, the bite-sized Ground Zeroes felt like a game that was more true to the source material. So, what went wrong? Well, there was quite a lot, but during my first playthrough of the game, there were some glaring things that just didn’t seem to fit. Here are 10 reasons why I didn’t think Metal Gear Solid V was a good Metal Gear Game.

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10. No codec and supplemental dialog/story

Any real Metal Gear Solid fan spent time going through the codec and speaking with Snake’s support team for info on missions, characters and Godzilla. It added to the charm of the game and made Snake and his support team much more relatable. You can call Ocelot and sometime Miller throughout the game by hitting a button but you don’t get colorful dialog, instead you’ll get “That’s the enemy comms station. Destroy that however you’d like to disrupt communications” and the like. You can get Ocelot to ridicule Miller a little bit but it’s a single line and has no staying power. Hell, the payoff for getting some of the story involves losing Quiet permanently, which is not great if you were trying to get higher ranks in missions you completed already.

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9. This just isn’t a “sneaking mission”

I played through my playthrough trying to avoid killing enemies and generally being a shadow that would spirit away enemies with fulton balloons. After making through a checkpoint or base once, there was almost no real award for playing Metal Gear Solid V the way that Metal Gear Solid games were meant to be played. Sure there is some great audio for when you use a box or play the tape of the guy crapping himself while hiding in a toilet but the wide open spaces and the nearly complete lack of corridors makes the game feel like something completely different. Most missions are just thinly veiled side-ops that you’ll be tasked to do again later.

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8. Inconsistent AI

Probably the biggest issue I had with the game overall. Not only were the behaviors of enemies sometimes erratic but the just didn’t make and sense at times. Early in the game, there is a mission where you need to blow up tanks, halfway through you get a transmission saying that there is a prisoner you should save as well. I hid down the road from the vehicle and ambushed it to save the prisoner. Due to riding D-Horse off of steep inclines I had to replay this a few times, most of the time I was able to take them out the same way but a few times they were driving too fast for no reason. I ended up running the vehicle off the road with D-Horse which caused them to crash and stop. Yeah, a horse caused a jeep to crash. It’s not only that, a handful of times I had enemies spot me when I was indoors or behind a wall. This was never an issue in any other game…

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7.  Lack of story

Man, the story in this game is weak. Eventually, near the end of chapter 2, the story starts to come together a bit. It’s not until near the end that you really start feeling invested in characters though. You actually have to search around for story to even get a chance at seeing a few clips of stuff at Mother Base. The scenes that expand the story are great, Quiet’s scenes where you bring her back to base and the attempted rape scene are amazing. Learning that Huey is a real piece of shit and the surprise inside the mammal pod makes a good story too. There just needed to be more to hold thew whole thing together.

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6. It’s obvious that you aren’t the real Big Boss from the prologue

First spoiler! Yeah, you are basically a hypnotized body double that was the medic from Ground Zeroes. You gave your life for Big Boss and he saved you from death to become his phantom. The way that Ocelot originally speaks to you and reactions from people like Huey are also solid hints. The biggest hint overall is that Snake just doesn’t really speak much outside of the audio tapes.

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5: Snake lacks the charm of any other game

Yeah, it’s likely intentional because you aren’t really Big Boss to start, but man is he a boring dude. Snake in any other game has quite the personality but in Metal Gear Solid V, there are only a few scenes where he doesn’t stare at the issue at hand like he’s trying to take a dump in his pants.

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4: Lack of iconic boss fights

There’s a “fight” with the Man on Fire in Africa that involves you running away or knocking him into a pool, a fight with Eli, Quiet and of course Metal Gear. None of which really feel like the same amazing experience normal Metal Gear Solid boss fights have been. Most of them are simply overpowering your enemy with brute force, and of course you can beat Quiet by calling in supply drops on her head, which is pretty much the only “outside the box” fight solution in the game.

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3: Mother Base felt soulless and empty

I spent a lot of time and money making my base complete. You hear tapes of how lively of at atmosphere the place was supposed to be but there is almost never anything going on there, ever. Instead, you just run around and abuse your soldiers after they beg you to throw them down stairs and off of platforms. There was a huge missed opportunity there.

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2: The true ending is the biggest tease ever, thanks Konami

I was meticulous in my completion of missions and stuff, I visited Mother Base as often as I could and got the OPERATION INTRUDE N313 tape ending. As far as I know, I got the actual correct ending by completing all I could but I’m trying for a true kill-less completion. I know a lot of other people that just got the exile of Huey as an ending. I’m not sure the perimeters and that is a bit of a pain. It’ll never happen now but the true ending to Metal Gear Solid V goes right into Metal Gear. As Big Boss is listening to the tape of the real Big Boss and downloading the info on OPERATION INTRUDE N313, you can only imagine that real Big Boss is prepping an inexperienced Solid Snake onto what he’ll be getting into. Too bad we’ll never see Venom and Solid facing off outside of the control room.

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1: Loose ends are tied up but not thoroughly enough

So yeah, Zero was a pretty cool guy to his best bud Big Boss. The Patriots and Cipher were a mistake that grew out of control and almost everyone outside of Raiden and Hal sacrificed their lives to accomplish their goals, mostly all for Big Boss. The game serves as an explanation for how Big Boss seemingly died in Metal Gear but was supposedly all better for Metal Gear 2. However, there are many questions still left without thorough answers. So the Patriots/Cipher were technically gone by the start of the game? Did Venom go rogue at the end of Metal Gear or was he supposed to get killed after Snake succeeded in his mission? Is Quiet dead? How did George Sears go under the radar with Eli and David making so much noise? Is Solid Snake dead? Yeah, we’ll never know.

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Now, this is a significant amount of bellyaching but I don’t want anyone to forget that Metal Gear Solid V isn’t a bad game overall. In fact it is one of the best that have come out this year. It’s a disappointing entry into the Metal Gear storyline though and a regrettable finale to such a great series. We opted to rate it highly on the merits of the game itself, but Peacewalker ever outperforms The Phantom Pain when it comes to being a Metal Gear Solid game.

Disagree with me? Awesome. Leave some feedback below and we’ll have it out!

Longtime games journalist and Florida resident. I'm a Guinness World Record holder, wordsmith extraordinaire, MOBA fan, devoted dad and husband. I'm here to spread the gospel of video games.

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