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Metal Gear

Review: Metal Gear Online

Oct 09 // Chris Carter
Metal Gear Online (PC, PS3, PS4 [reviewed], Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Kojima ProductionsPublisher: KonamiRelease: October 6, 2015 (Consoles), TBA 2016 (PC)Price: $59.99 (PC, PS4, Xbox One) $49.99 (PS3, Xbox 360) As previously mentioned, Metal Gear Online only has three modes currently. There's a decent amount of variety within those gametypes, but the issue is how everything is playing out right now in the game's meta. In essence, players often aren't using any form of stealth (outside of Cloak and Dagger, which forces one team to do it), or aren't going for the objectives in general. Instead, most games end up being slugfests and devolve into team deathmatch situations. That's not to say that these basic strategies aren't handily countered by players who have the know-how, it's just what's happening. While it's not wholly the fault of the designers, Metal Gear Online doesn't do a great job of facilitating objective play, as the whole thing is kind of a laissez faire situation. That both excites and concerns me. On one hand, I love that MGO is just as vague as Phantom Pain. Instead of spelling every facet out for players, you'll have to just figure out everything on your own, from advanced tactics to the best way to counter enemies. On the other, I'm not confident in Konami's ability to effectively police and update the game in the slightest. It's very possible that there could be a ton of content from Kojima's team waiting to be pushed out in waves over the course of the next year. But since this is all speculation, we only have what's currently in MGO to assess, and it's lacking in areas, chiefly how servers are handled -- or, I should actually note, a lack of servers. It seems as if the game is P2P based, which creates all sorts of issues for players. First off, hosts can remove people from the game, and if they disconnect, everyone gets booted out with no XP or rewards. It's egregious to say the least, and not something you really see in a major shooter in 2015. [embed]314621:60673:0[/embed] Then you have issues like the party system not actually placing you on the same team as your party constantly, or the basic inability to join a friend's game in progress through a quick menu option. Thankfully the microtransaction element hasn't bled through for MGO (yet?), but cosmetic equipment is too expensive currently, as it would take hundreds of games to earn some of the higher-up rewards. I would be more okay with the expensive price of gear if the aforementioned booting issues were rectified with dedicated servers. Now, the gameplay is still superb. That's due in part to the fact that it's literally Phantom Pain, online, which is completely fine by me. Every movement is fluid, gunplay handles like a dream, and the sheer flexibility of the engine makes for some breathtaking moments. Aiming, running, and dolphin diving feels better than pretty much every shooter on the market right now. It's crazy how it feels like a natural extension of my adventures with Venom Snake, and how all of my training instantly pays off online. When you distill it down to individual matches, Metal Gear Online is just fun to play. You can boot up a session, and provided that you don't have any connection issues, generally enjoy yourself, even if a lot of people are ignoring objectives. It's a rush to use stealth effectively and have an enemy run by your prone body completely, then dash up to them, choke them out, and Fulton them. Getting to use the Snake and Ocelot special loadouts from time to time is a joy as well, as are all of the little Easter eggs and details locked within MGO. I've seen a lot of complaints that the Walkers are overpowered, but I've found them incredibly easy to deal with. Not only are they incredibly easy to spot (and show up on the radar), but they can be swiftly taken out with a quick sniper shot or a few well-placed bullets. Plus, both sides get them, so it's not like one team is at a disadvantage -- people just need to learn how to counter them. For the most part I don't think balance is an issue for MGO -- it's the technical side that drags things down. Even though we don't review what might be (could you imagine how cool it would be to see co-op Metal Gear missions? Now we may never see the day), I'm still torn with the current state of Metal Gear Online. I wouldn't necessarily recommend picking up the entire Metal Gear Solid V package just for online play, as it still has a lot to prove. I'm pulling for it to get better, but I don't trust Konami.
Metal Gear Solid Online photo
It's not over yet, Snake
I've spent a considerable amount of time this week with Metal Gear Online, and despite my initial positive impressions, I'm having some big-picture issues. In short, I'm not sure how long this train is going to be chugging along, especially when you take Konami's recent history into account.

Review in Progress: Metal Gear Online

Oct 07 // Chris Carter
Metal Gear Online (PC, PS3, PS4 [reviewed], Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Kojima ProductionsPublisher: KonamiRelease: October 6, 2015 (Consoles), TBA 2016 (PC)Price: $59.99 (PC, PS4, Xbox One) $49.99 (PS3, Xbox 360) After downloading the free add-on (if you own the original game), players will be greeted with a whole new main menu. That's because it's a completely new title, and in no way feels tacked-on to the core Phantom Pain experience. In fact, there's very little in the way of interaction between the campaign and MGO. You'll start off within the character creation module, which takes the shape of your avatar from the core game, and a choice -- players can adopt the scout, enforcer, or infiltrator class (standard, heavy, and light, essentially). Your first character is locked in after your choice, but after a few hours of play you'll unlock two new loadout slots and plenty of cosmetic pieces of gear, including goofy hats. There's also a really cool freeplay mode that allows you to try out your loadout and equipment at will, which has plenty of ground to cover, featuring a diverse jungle location. I wish more games had this feature, as it's incredibly easy to tweak a loadout, go into freeplay, try it out, and tweak it some more. Online play itself provides you with a few options, including automatch (traditional matchmaking), "select" (filter any map or mode), and "create" (complete with a password feature for private games). It's a pretty open-ended system with plenty of choice, but it seems to be P2P-based, so expect online issues depending on the connection on top of any problems Konami has with the servers. For the most part, my time with the game in the past day or so has been rather smooth. You're only getting three gametypes currently, including a ticket-based mode (read: lives), a data theft variant, and capture the point. It's all stuff you've seen before, but the deciding difference is the Metal Gear charm that injects itself throughout MGO. For instance, killing enemies will reduce the opposing team's ticket count, but Fultoning them after using non-lethal force will net you more points. Making lots of noise will also show up on the radar, so it's up to players to use stealth as much as possible to maximize their kills. [embed]314102:60630:0[/embed] After a few hours, I really started to pick up on quite a few new tactics, which is very similar to how Phantom Pain plays out. MGO really is a skill-based game, with plenty of nuances to learn, and an emphasis on stealth prowess. Bounties for more points even show up on players who do well, and I've seen many matches where top people complete entire rounds with no deaths -- hell, without even being seen, really. There's also a lot of little touches, like the "Team Liquid" and "Team Solid" monikers, and the power to change the soundtrack to legacy Metal Gear music.  But there's one major shortcoming that I can see rather clearly right now -- a lack of diverse modes. It's very easy to feel isolated after going back into freeplay mode, and the three gametypes do tend to blend together at times. In short, you're really going to get as much out of MGO as you put in, and the skill of the enemy team definitely plays a factor in terms of how much fun you're going to have -- think of them almost as mini-Metal Gear boss fights. I need some more time, but my initial impressions of Metal Gear Online are positive. It really feels like a Metal Gear Without the complete mess of the Guns of the Patriots Konami login scheme, of course, and with its own issues to boot.
Metal Gear Online photo
It's not over yet, Snake
Kojima's departure from Konami has left me all sorts of worried for the future of Metal Gear Solid -- a series that I've enjoyed ever since I laid eyes on the first NES game over 20 years ago. For now though his legacy i...

PS4 photo

Metal Gear Online PS4 release trolled by ancient PSN update procedures

Par for the course
Oct 06
// Chris Carter
One of the chief problems I have with the PS4 is the way the storefront (and subsequently, the release of most games) works. Not only has the latest patch mucked up the UI for the PS Store to include more clicks to get what y...
Big Boss photo
Big Boss

Konami files trademark for 'Big Boss' pachinko machine

Kept you gamblin' huh?
Oct 05
// Chris Carter
Oh hey it's another pachinko story today! Following the recent claims that Konami is moving further away from traditional games development, and is instead focusing on pachinko and mobile markets, they have filed a new tradem...

Phantom Pain spoilers? photo
Phantom Pain spoilers?

Metal Gear Solid V has a real bad bird problem

Fun with mods
Sep 29
// Steven Hansen
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain got a PC release. Thus, the above. Also that puppy D-Dog swap.
Tactical Nokia Action photo
Tactical Nokia Action

Snake? Snake! is Snake but with Metal Gear Snakes

Tactical Nokia Action
Sep 28
// Steven Hansen
Grab a friend (or brother!). Snake? Snake! is competitive Snake starring Solid and Liquid Snakes. The rules are slightly different from the cellphone game you remember. There is a taunt button. Matches last 30 seconds. You ca...

So, let's talk about Metal Gear Solid V's ending

Sep 18 // Chris Carter
As it turns out, a lot of people I talked to during review week didn't actually see the real ending. They assumed that when Huey left Mother Base, that was it. But there's a secret conclusion beyond that, which unlocks after a certain amount of missions have been completed -- you know, those retread ones on higher difficulty settings, and/or a combination of Side Ops. If you need a refresher, watch it here: [embed]311489:60440:0[/embed] I was lucky enough (well, it wasn't luck, it was skill and hard work, haha) to see this ending before I completed my review. But like everyone else, I have mixed feelings towards it. For one, especially with the removal of the post-game Eli mission, it definitely feels like Konami cut funding for Kojima and his team. It was likely that it happened when all the drama surrounding Kojima first started, and the publisher probably felt that his team wouldn't be able to deliver the game on time. Who knows, maybe the microtransactions were added in as collateral to make back a portion of the massive Phantom Pain budget. We may never know the full details for sure (it's a good bet that Kojima had to sign an NDA), but we do know that the production was troubled. In that vein, while I did enjoy the 30-ish minutes of tapes that sufficiently linked Metal Gear Solid V with the rest of the games in the series (featuring heavy conversations that essentially close out Zero's storyline), they were just that -- tapes. This may be the last game in the entire series, and fans were left with a text crawl and tapes to provide most of the details. That isn't to say I thought it ruined the game -- far from it. I actually enjoyed listening to that audio, particularly the logs with Zero and Skull Face, and I was literally on the edge of my seat as some revelations were uncovered. As a fan, it was basically everything I could ask for. Plus, Guns of the Patriots was a fine enough true ending for the entire franchise. As far as the Big Boss twist goes, I'm on the fence. I don't think it cheapens the character, because he still exists, and causes trouble later on throughout the storyline. Additionally, Metal Gear has always dabbled in the concept of "the legend" being stronger than the actual person (especially in Snake Eater), so it makes perfect sense within the confines of the series. Also, if you've been following the game for the past few years, Kojima and company have been hinting at this for some time, in a fairly clever manner. Even small nods like Kaz saying "what about him?" in a trailer, referring to someone else other than Big Boss, and the medic scene in the helicopter at the end of Ground Zeroes were clues. I feel like this long game only partially paid off for Kojima, but I disagree with those who say that the ending "sucked." Still, my initial years-old prediction of the last part of the game being a remake of the first MSX title, featuring a surprise appearance by David Hayter as Solid Snake to Kiefer Sutherland's Big Boss didn't happen, and it would have been pretty cool to see. But what did you think? I've already seen angles from all sides of the debate, and since the game has been out long enough, I figured this was the perfect time to gather some thoughts on the issue.
Metal Gear Solid V photo
Did it?
Enough time has passed, to the point where we can safely talk about the ending to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. As a common sense sort of reminder, this post below will contain spoilers. The comments will contain spoilers. This is a spoiler-heavy post about spoilers. Spoilers.

God, I love these stupid The Phantom Pain tricks

Sep 13 // Nic Rowen
Saving time: It's a smart idea to return to Mother Base every once and awhile for a shower. Not only does it wash the blood and stinky murder mess off Snake, but it refreshes his max HP and reaction time when spotted. But if you don't want to make a trip to Mother Base, there is another way to get a quick refresher while in the field! Find a shallow pool of water, get prone, and roll around left and right. After a few spins, Snake will be clean and refreshed. If you're anything like me, you probably need to resupply your silencers and C4 packs at least once or twice a mission, but you're also shitty, impatient, and hate waiting the minute or two a supply drop takes. Fortunately, you can skip that wait and go straight back to sabotage and murder. Simply call a supply drop directly on top of Snake's position, whip out your Phantom Cigar, take a single time bending puff, and seconds later you'll be hit out of the time skip by a supply crate landing on your head. I wish I knew about this one sooner -- If you're looking to extract, and have the fulton upgrade that lets you steal cargo, check and see if there are any large supply containers in the area. Hop on top, slap on the fulton, and look for the button prompt to grab on. You'll be sucked out of the combat zone along with the cargo. No waiting for Pequod to bring in the chopper. Fun with the cardboard box: As you probably know, the cardboard box is ridiculously elaborate in The Phantom Pain. But, aside from using it as a method of quick travel, slapping distracting pin-up girls on the side, and generally sneaking around, it has a few undocumented uses. For example, you can also use it as a ghetto sled! Find a nice big hill, stand up with the box on, take a quick run, and hit the dive button. Snake will belly slide down the hill wearing the box. It looks stupid as hell, but it's actually a pretty great way to quickly infiltrate an outpost after scouting it out at the top of a hill! Did you know that the cardboard box also confers a very small amount of armor? Getting shot while wearing it will flash the armor/vehicle hit warning instead of direct damage to Snake. Obviously it can't take much punishment for you, but if you're on the brink of death and can't afford to hide and wait for your health to regen, it might just make the difference! The box will also soak up the effects of a stun grenade. Toss it front of you, put on the box, and Snake won't even blink when it goes off. It may look dumb, but you can use this to incapacitate groups of enemies at short range -- just the thing if they're just about to creep up on your position. 'Useless' equipment: The water pistol seems like a stupid gag item, and it mostly is. However, there are some not so obvious uses for it. You can silently disable electronics with the water pistol, super handy if you're out of C4 or don't want to raise a ruckus while you take out enemy coms equipment. But who the hell is going to wander into a war zone with just a squirt gun? The water pistol can also extinguish fire pits and other pesky light sources, which is actually surprisingly handy during a night op. Speaking of electronics, did you know you can use power lines to zap fools? Shooting out a line so the live wire touches a trooper will fry them, you know, if you wanted to make it look like an accident. Snake should be able to take out an insurance policy on individual troops before each mission, that would be a fun way to fund Mother Base. There are other ways to kill guys while making it look like an accident. You probably know that you can hold guys up and tell them to lie down with their hands on their heads, but have you ever tried it in some shallow water? The poor bastards will lie down as instructed and if you don't fulton them away or otherwise reposition them, they'll drown! Yay, humor murder! Ever wonder what you're supposed to do with those small 10-15 second sound clips you sometimes find while looking for '80s synth pop? Turns out, lots of things! If you turn the speaker on so enemies can hear, there a few tricks you can pull. Turn on the farting/pooping soundtrack while hiding in an outhouse to turn away suspicious guards, while playing one of the lullabies will put nearby soldiers to sleep. I'm sure there are more secret uses for these tapes, so experiment with them! The more I play The Phantom Pain, the more I'm impressed by the attention to detail and thought that went into every part of it. I'm sure this list just scratches the surface of the weird little tricks to be found. If you've discovered anything interesting, useful, or just plain stupid, be sure to share in the comments!
MGSV tricks photo
Russian soldiers hate them!
So, Chris Carter already provided a handy list of quick tips alongside his review of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. These are essential, life saving tips that will let you complete missions easier and build the le...

Metal Gear Solid V photo
Metal Gear Solid V

Modding Ocelot into Quiet's scenes in Metal Gear Solid V is hilarious

Love blooms on the battlefield
Sep 11
// Chris Carter
Minor spoilers but not really. So, Quiet is in Metal Gear Solid V, just like the cutscenes and footage from two years ago foretold. As it turns out, modding in Ocelot to take the place of her character model produces some amazing results, which you can see below. This is why people fight for PC gaming.
Graphic photo

Metal Gear Solid V's Diamond Dog has realistic carnal needs

(National Geo)graphic warning
Sep 10
// Steven Hansen
I've been ignoring DD a bit in The Phantom Pain after I spent a few missions trying to figure Quiet out, and then ended up sticking with her to try and max out her social link. I do miss being able to pet pup on command. Then again, if this kind of ungodly behavior is what that wretched beast is going to get up to then I, as a family man, cannot abide.
Metal Gear Solid V photo
Metal Gear Solid V

Konami offers help for game-breaking Metal Gear Solid V bug, working on a fix

Missions 29 and 42
Sep 10
// Chris Carter
If you consider vague descriptions of a character that was shown in trailers two years ago to be a spoiler for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, you should probably stay out of here. For everyone else who wants updates on a game-breaking bug, come right in!
Metal Gear Solid V photo
Metal Gear Solid V

Get all caught up on Metal Gear Solid V's story so far in one minute

Spoilers, obviously
Sep 10
// Chris Carter
The biggest question people asked me after I finished Metal Gear Solid V was "what games should I play before tackling Phantom Pain?" Essentially, you only need to play (or watch) Peace Walker to get the basic gist...
Nendoroid photo

Nendoroid figures will bankrupt me: Here's MGS V's Venom Snake

Sep 09
// Chris Carter
I wish I could afford every Nendoroid. They're so wonderfully made and span so many beloved franchises, I'd buy nearly all of them. That includes this figure for Venom Snake, which was unveiled by Kojima recently. This is a final sample, and although no date was given, we can reasonably assume the price as compared to the rest of the line. Hideo Kojima [Twitter]
The Phantom Pain photo
The Phantom Pain

Show us your Metal Gear Solid V emblems!

Or don't, I'm not a cop
Sep 07
// Steven Hansen
I did a lot of Metal Gear this weekend. And god damn do I still feel only a little further than when I originally played for 14 hours. While I'm still enjoying it because it's do dang fun, I am completely worried about having...
Metal Gear Solid V photo
Metal Gear Solid V

You can import your own tunes into Metal Gear Solid V on PC

With hilarious results
Sep 07
// Chris Carter
Man, when publishers aren't screwing up PC ports left and right, the platform absolutely kills it. The core reason, beyond years of support through dedicated fanbases, is chiefly mod support. While Metal Gear Solid V is...
Metal Gear Solid V photo
Metal Gear Solid V

Who is your favorite Metal Gear Solid V buddy?

I'm still stuck on D-Horse
Sep 07
// Chris Carter
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain has been out for nearly a week, and although I won't directly discuss spoilers here, it's safe to say that the comments might be down for that conversation -- you've been warned!...
Snake Eater photo
Snake Eater

Snake Eater is still the best Metal Gear game

Kuwabara kuwabara
Sep 04
// Chris Carter
Having played Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain for roughly 100 hours, I think I'm ready to make an assessment of it in terms of how it relates to the rest of the franchise. While it's definitely up there, it's far fr...
Metal Gear Solid V photo
Metal Gear Solid V

Konami is having issues with Metal Gear Solid V on Xbox platforms

The Xbox One switched wallets
Sep 04
// Chris Carter
As most of you are aware of by now, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain has some online features in the form of PVP invasion and Mother Base FOB construction. These require you to be online, and require that the servers...
Metal Gear Solid V photo
Metal Gear Solid V

This is why you should input a fake birthday in Metal Gear Solid V

Look how happy he is
Sep 03
// Chris Carter
Like a total chump I put in my real birthday date at the start of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, so I won't be seeing this extra for a while. If you did the same, you'll probably want to catch this Easter egg above --...
Metal Gear Solid V photo
Metal Gear Solid V

Spoiler: This final chapter was cut from Metal Gear Solid V

Watch it after you beat the game
Sep 03
// Chris Carter
Evidently, there's an extra chapter to Metal Gear Solid V that was cut from the game. It's not playable in any form, contains incomplete assets, and you can only watch it on the Blu-ray extra that was included with the S...

Video Review: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Sep 01 // Myles Cox
Metal Gear video review photo
Standing on the edge of the crater
In case you haven't seen Chris' written review of The Phantom Pain (or you're not fond of reading), I've prepared a relatively* spoiler-free video review of the long-awaited final(?) entry in the Metal Gear Solid series. *All gameplay footage is spoiler-free. All cutscene footage has been shown in previous trailers.

Very Quick Tips: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Sep 01 // Chris Carter
[embed]307495:60220:0[/embed] General tips: Use night vision often when you're searching for a human target, even if it's daytime. The core reason is because it's hard to see in-game models at times, especially with the dynamic lighting engine. Using night vision will highlight humanoid character models with a bright hue, allowing you to extract them with ease. Always upgrade your Fulton device as soon as you can -- it will help you for core and side ops alike. Pick a favorite weapon, upgrade it constantly, and remember it. You can use the loadout system (similar to Call of Duty) to set your preferred gear. It's easy to get overwhelmed and forget that you're using one of eight rifles, then go into battle with the wrong one. If need be, you can call for entire loadouts to be dropped in mid-mission. Once you get to R&D level 17, buy the flare grenade. It allows you to instantly call chopper support under duress, without having to use your iDroid. Since the game doesn't pause while looking at your device, it can get sticky. When you start Mission #5: Over the Fence, the wolf pup near the first objective marker on the hill is of the utmost importance. He's easy to miss, but if you tranq and Fulton it, he'll grow up to become an entirely new buddy for you to use. You can lock in your crew with the L2 button when assigning Mother Base operations. Use this method to prevent your preferred squads from down-leveling after shifting people around using the auto-sort option. As a general rule it's important to spread the wealth, but favoring R&D for tough missions so you can acquire new tools is never a bad idea. When searching for a target that has a wide circular array on the map, create multiple marks on your iDroid to set your own perimeter. In other words, "draw" bits of the outside of the circle with multiple letters, so you can clear the entire surface area. Marks will automatically erase when you reach them, so you'll know where you've been. Spend your cash upgrading the main stations of Mother Base, first and foremost. Construction takes a long time, but they pay dividends, and you'll want to start working on them as soon as possible. In the same vein, make sure you grab every resource you can on the field to ensure that you can constantly grow Mother Base -- don't just rush past open doors. Go back to the open world often! Fulton everyone you find and actually do those Side Ops. They're not necessarily required, but they'll reward you with tons of new weapons to use in the story, and your backup will be that much more advanced. As a last resort, press triangle while prone. This will bring you into a special "play dead" stealth mode, and you can even avoid being seen if the enemy is right next to you at night. This is especially useful in the "no alert" missions. You can change the type of support called with the R1 menu while using your binoculars. Along with the flare grenade mentioned above, you'll be able to instantly call in your chopper for everything but extraction. It's particularly useful during some boss fights to instantly call in a bombardment after locating an enemy. Play with headphones if possible! Listen for hit songs playing in the background, and follow the noise to the tape. Don't be ashamed of using the chicken hat sometimes if you need it. Some missions will checkpoint you right before a particularly difficult part, and there's no need to bang your head against the wall over and over. Much like The Witcher 3, calling your horse while it is not in sight will cause it to "teleport" to your side. Try to swing the camera away from it before you call it for instant access. In Side Ops #144, the target is laying on the ground in the open in the large base. This one took me forever to find, as I kept going inside, expecting it to be there. Without spoiling anything, to unlock the true ending, you'll need to complete all available main missions after the story seemingly ends abruptly -- yep, all those retread ones with higher difficulties. Alternatively, I have spoken to people who have unlocked the ending with a combination of story and Side Op mission completions. Try to beat all the core ops you can, and if some are outright frustrating you, switch to Side Ops.
Metal Gear Solid V tips photo
Kaz Be Not Proud
Metal Gear Solid V, from a gameplay standpoint, is one of the most complex titles in the series. While it was fairly easy to understand the limited amount of gear you were provided with in past entries (everything was basical...

Review: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Aug 31 // Chris Carter
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (PC, PS3, PS4 [reviewed], Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Kojima ProductionsPublisher: KonamiRelease: September 1, 2015Price: $59.99 (PC, PS4, Xbox One) $49.99 (PS3, Xbox 360) [There will be no story spoilers here, though themes and gameplay elements will naturally be discussed in this assessment. I'll be as vague as possible.] Phantom Pain opens up with a brutal playable sequence that sets the tone for the game. Big Boss has woken up after a nine-year coma, and just in time, as an elite infantry unit has invaded his location, ready to kill anyone and everyone just to get to him. Looking back on this opening, it's amazing to see how well thought out everything is in Phantom Pain -- there is very little wasted time. This rapid fire mentality shines throughout the entire game. No longer will you spend hours listening to two portraits talk back and forth via codec. Instead, it's all done through a radio seamlessly integrated into regular play. David Hayter's endless monologues are eschewed for Kiefer Sutherland's more deliberate interjections, and as a result, the entire experience has a very different feel to it. That's not to say there aren't some classic conventions present, or that Kojima has abandoned his roots. There's still plenty of silliness that ensues, crazy mutated boss fights, tons of robots, and Easter eggs for days. It's the gameplay that feels a bit more grounded this time around -- one mission even provided me with flashes of Splinter Cell, but with the obvious Kojima flair to it. The main setup involves a timeline in 1984, 11 years before the first MSX Metal Gear, in which the Soviets invade Afghanistan. Your first job as a newly awakened Big Boss is to rescue your comrade Kazuhira Miller, and begin work on an entirely new Mother Base as the "Diamond Dogs" -- taking on Skull Face and his forces. From here, it evolves into a tale of espionage and deceit, complete with franchise-wide reveals and some breathtaking action sequences. Yep, it's still Metal Gear all right. [embed]305699:60106:0[/embed] But thanks to the advancements Kojima has made over the years refining his craft and the power of the Fox Engine, this is the biggest game yet in just about every regard. To accompany this huge shift is a suitable open-world focus, which allows you to explore a giant portion of Afghanistan, and another region I won't spoil here. It's interesting to see a mainline Metal Gear go this route, but after a few hours, I was used to it. The principle reason I was able to acclimate so quickly is Kojima and his team have made the game fun to play almost at all times. Nearly every situation can either be taken head-on by knocking down the front door, by stealth, or any combination therein. By researching different weapons and tools in Mother Base, you'll have the option to equip hundreds of different loadout variations, and face challenges in completely different ways. For instance, I later came back to one area, took an utterly new route, and used the Fulton extraction system to kidnap an entire base -- one member happened to be a translator who upped my force's efficacy considerably. What's even crazier is how deep the customization goes. You can choose from an assortment of "buddies" (which include the horse and wolf that have been previously revealed, among a few others) to accompany you on missions, all of whom have various costumes and loadouts themselves. You can also choose to alter the appearance of Big Boss, Mother Base, and even your own support Helicopter team. If you enjoyed the prospect of switching up camo suits in Snake Eater, you'll spend hours customizing all your junk here. Mother Base is a whole different animal as well. By using the Fulton system in the field you'll slowly acquire new soldiers, which you can in turn visit at your base at any time. It's similar to the Farmville-esque Garrison system from World of Warcraft, but much more rewarding. While I usually tend to ignore mechanics like this, your crew is integrated into the game in a number of ingenious ways. New weapons rely on the R&D team's efforts, for example, and the Intel team can inform you of incoming weather, as well as nearby enemy patrols if they are sufficiently staffed. The rewards are both tangible and poignant. You can also visit some more important NPCs, partake in a few target practice minigames, hit the shower to wash off the blood of your enemies, and generally just explore the base's nooks and crannies for collectibles. As I touched on a tad, the Fox Engine renders this all beautifully. It's insane to see a portion of the game and realize that it's not a cutscene, but actually done with in-game visuals. Although I've only had access to the PS4 version of Phantom Pain, it's run flawlessly, with minimal load times and no major framerate issues during my time. Another huge thing I noticed was the impeccable sound direction, which may be the best I've ever witnessed in a game to date. It's especially delightful if you're wearing headphones, as you can hear every clomp of your horse as the wind rushes behind you, bullets darting past your head. In terms of my assessment of the plot from start to finish (which all told took me roughly 40 hours to beat), it's definitely not one of my favorite entries, but it does a good job of closing a number of storylines and providing us with a few revelations of its own. As a fan it was tough to forget Hayter at first, but Sutherland really works here, especially with how different Phantom Pain is tonally. Which again, isn't to say that it's all serious all the time, as plenty of absurd characters and storylines pop up fairly quickly. For those of you who are curious, you won't be completely lost if you haven't played previous games in the series, but Snake Eater and Peace Walker knowledge will definitely up your enjoyment of the narrative. But as satisfied as I was with the story, there are a few inherent issues with the way the missions are structured. For starters, a number of levels are uninspired, and force a degree of backtracking, usually for a menial task you've already completed multiple times. This is especially evident later in the game, as it's required to redo some missions with either the "Subsistence," "Extreme," or "Full Stealth" modifiers in tow. The former drops you in with no items or assistance, Extreme ups the amount of damage you take considerably, and the latter ends a mission automatically if you're spotted. Series regulars will probably remember playing a lot of these higher difficulty levels on their third or fourth optional playthrough, but now they're incorporated into the game itself. I have a feeling these objectives are going to be incredibly polarizing, especially since a few of them took me at least 30 tries to complete. It's a level of dedication that hasn't really been seen lately in the gaming arena, but to me, it's classic Kojima. I powered through these tough and sometimes aggravating sections, and was sufficiently rewarded, both in the sense of storyline progression, and the acquisition of completely new tactics. As a note, I couldn't test the online features of the game, including the base-to-base combat sections (FOB). The story calls for at least one scripted invasion, but I was required to play the game in its entirety offline. Once Phantom Pain launches we'll provide some impressions of this feature, and we'll provide a separate review for Metal Gear Online, which has been delayed until October 6. Rest assured, the entire campaign can be played offline, beyond the reach of microtransactions or pre-order bonuses. Despite the fact that I hit a few snags along the way, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain feels like a simultaneous celebration of the series, and a decidedly new chapter. It's equal parts tough and flashy, and it's fitting that if this is Kojima's last Metal Gear, he goes out on a high note. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher. We did not attend the review event.]
Metal Gear V review photo
Happy trails, Kojima
Despite the fact that most of the spinoff Metal Gear games are good in their own right, they just don't get me excited the same way the mainline console editions do. Every core Metal Gear entry has something new, and offers up some sort of revelatory storyline event that has fans talking for years on end. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is no exception.

MGS V photo

Metal Gear Solid V's mobile app is rolling out, are you getting Phantom Pain at midnight?

On Android now
Aug 31
// Chris Carter
[Update: Sony is reporting that "some PS4 owners" who pre-ordered digitally will have to wait until 12:00 AM Pacific. This is my reaction.] Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is launching in just a few hours. Are you g...
Metal Gear Solid V photo
The first hit is free
Having obtained a retail copy of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, I've had a chance to test out the online functionality a bit, as the servers have been switched on in preparation for the game's midnight launch. You may ...

Metal Gear Solid V photo
Metal Gear Solid V

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes just got an update to allow save uploads

To bring into Phantom Pain tomorrow
Aug 31
// Chris Carter
Everyone look under your Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes chairs! The game has just been updated on the PS3 and PS4 to allow for a save data upload. This comes a day before the release of The Phantom Pain, which has the...

Metal Gear memories

Aug 29 // Nic Rowen
I remember the entire route through Shadow Moses. I remember the area with electrified tiles inset in the floor and steering a tiny rocket over them. I remember resenting not being able to use my guns in the nuke disposal area. The cave with all of Sniper Wolf's wolves running loose -- one of them pissed on my cardboard box. I'll sometimes forget the best way to get downtown, but the map of Shadow Moses is burned into my memory. The bosses were legendary, both for their design and the surreal conversations you'd have before, during, and afterward. One-on-one with an old west gunfighter, circling each other around a hostage in the middle of a room rigged up with C4. He showed off his fancy carnival trick-spinning and made comments that distinctly implied that he wanted to make love to his pistol, or that gun fighting was an allegory for sex to him. I don't know, he was a weird dude. There was that shaman who you'd fight twice, once in a literal tank and once while he carried around a gun the size of a small tank. He discussed ear-pulling competitions and the futility of struggling against fate. He was eaten by his own ravens. Then there was the suffocating tension and isolation of dueling a single sniper hundreds of yards away. The battle with Sniper Wolf would be eclipsed in every way six years later by Naked Snake's duel against The End, but at the time it was one of the most intense fights I'd ever experienced. I feel like there has probably been enough ink spilled on how crazy the fight with Psycho Mantis was, but holy fucking shit. How did any of that happen? It was like stepping into some alternate reality where Andy Kaufman had been a game designer and somebody cut him a blank check. Memes of plugging the controller into the second slot, or the infamous “HIDEO” error screen are well worn now. But I don't think secondary accounts can do justice to just how crazy and bizarre that fight, and the rest of Metal Gear Solid, truly was. All of that weird fourth wall breaking shit -- holding the controller to your arm for a massage, having the Colonel explain combat maneuvers to Snake directly referencing the DualShock and a bunch of video game jargon, it was something that had to be lived in the moment. It felt like Kojima was peeling back our skulls and attaching electrodes to areas of the brain that were previously entirely unstimulated. He was showing us a new way of making and thinking about games. I remember taking that instruction book with me while on a short shopping errand that Saturday afternoon in a calculated move to ensure I wouldn't have to stop thinking about Metal Gear. It had its hooks in me, and once I was in that world of spies, rogue special ops groups, and shadowy conspiracies, I never wanted to leave. We were supposed to visit our grandparents that Sunday, but stopping wasn't an option. So we took the PlayStation with us, hooking it up to an ancient TV in their dusty basement where we could continue to save the world from nuclear disaster and learn more dubious information about genetic engineering. I know, it was a scumbag move. But in our defense, we'd just finished the torture scene, found the corpse of the real DARPA chief, and escaped a jail cell using a bottle of ketchup -- neither of us were in the best head space to make positive decisions. It was a weekend I'll never forget. My brother and I tackled Shadow Moses together, experiencing the entire mission as a single unit. It was was a battle march, a do-or-die suicide mission to finish it in a single weekend. Even if it meant wearing out our welcome at our grandparents with multiple pleas of “just 15 more minutes!” as we pummeled Liquid Snake to death and tried to watch the hour-long ending without completely alienating the rest of the family. So yeah, we kept the stupid manual. Call it a battle trophy, or a war memento. My brother still has it buried in some desk drawer. Besides, we did Blockbuster and the next person to rent the game a solid. When we returned the game, we taped an index card with Meryl's codec number to the inside of the sterile white and blue plastic box. We had to crack that puzzle with brute force after we couldn't convince our mom to drive us back out just before midnight to look at the back of the CD case on the shelf. Kojima never accounted for us rental kids with his fourth wall shattering puzzle, but I forgive him. How could I not? He made some of my favorite memories. The best moments I had with Sons of Liberty all happened years after the game first hit the shelves. Nowadays, I consider Sons of Liberty to be one of the most important and subversive games of all time. When we picked it up on day one though, I thought Raiden was a turd and Kojima was playing a mean spirited prank on us. You want to talk about memories? I remember thinking “boy, I hope this is just a joke and Snake takes over again reallll soon” about a million times during the first few hours with it. That's not to say I didn't like Sons of Liberty or that it was a bad game or anything, it was just frustrating. It seemed to exist only to validate every criticism of the original. That it was a bunch of nonsense for the sake of nonsense, or that it was a nice movie with some neat game bits in between. I wanted to love it, but it didn't seem to care one way or the other for me. Subliminally, I was picking up on the entire meaning of the game. But it'd be a long time before I could fully appreciate it. Sons of Liberty isn't a game you tackle in a single weekend of obsessive dead-eye play. It's an intricate and nuanced criticism of the industry, players, and power fantasies that you revisit every few years with a scalpel and a fresh set of eyes. It's a game that was so prescient that only now, with games like Spec Ops: The Line and Hotline Miami, are other titles even attempting the same kind of criticism it levied. It's a game that I've enjoyed reading about more than I enjoyed playing. And I've enjoyed playing it a lot. It would be easy to dismiss Sons of Liberty's message as postmodern gobbledygook, or its criticisms of Raiden, and by extension the players, as overly impressionable rubes playing pretend at being a super solider as a creator taking a shot at his audience. But I remember a time in high school when I skipped Mr. Hogarth's class in the morning and couldn't afford to be caught. How the blood in my veins began to pump as I saw him looming just in front of the door of one of my afternoon classes having a conversation with Mr. Jones. How I slipped seamlessly, without consciously thinking about it into STEALTH MODE, creeping up just behind him, turning with him as he turned, like I was staying just outside of the vision cone of any of Metal Gear's hapless guards, slipping in just past him to take my seat, no alarms activated. The S3 plan worked better than Kojima could have dreamed. Even a pudgy high school nerd could have his own Solid Snake moment with the kind of training he provided us with. The Substance Edition on the Xbox was where I really came to love Sons of Liberty. The VR missions more than made up for the intractable cinematics and radio conversations of the main game, finally letting me feel like I played Sons of Liberty rather than watched it. With a few years to get over the shock of playing as Raiden and absorb the message of the game's screwy third act, I was able to enjoy the story and characters. It's one of the few games I can think of that benefited from a remaster in a way that was more meaningful than just a graphical update. But when it's all said and done, I think my favorite memory of Sons of Liberty has to be slipping on bird shit and falling to my death. I don't know why, but that's the moment that crystallized Sons of Liberty to me. Snake Eater is one of my favorite games of all time. I've completed it maybe ten or so times give or take. Certainly more times than any other game I've ever owned. The reason I played through it so many times is simple -- it kept giving me something new every time I did. I'm not sure how many people appreciate how incredibly dense and rich Snake Eater is. If you just want to mainline the game on normal mode, stick to dependable tactics, and don't care too much if you get spotted or have to drop a few extra people, it can be a fairly straightforward affair. If you want to dig deep though, if you want to get weird, that's when Snake Eater really shows you what it's really made of. I did all of the normal things. A regular playthrough where I slit every throat I saw, blundered into enemies and tripped off alarms, and was admonished by The Sorrow who seemed very cross with the number of Russians I set on fire. I did the professional thing, where I snuck in like a shadow over Groznyj Grad, with no alarms and no surprises. Then I did the goofy stuff -- theme runs where I would try and see if I could complete the game as a North Vietnamese regular (all black camo, unsilenced pistol, AK-47, grenades, and SVD only). I did runs where I would only eat fresh killed food, no Calorie Mates or insta-noodles. Runs where I tried to kill as many people indirectly as I could, to see how many I could poison with rotted food or knock off of bridges, the spirit of bad luck. Runs where I made a point of blowing up every supply shed and armory in the country. Every time I thought I exhausted the very last bit of Snake Eater, there was just a little bit more to find. A new mechanic or trick (that of course was almost totally useless and impractical, and great), or some new weird quirk of enemy behavior (did you know you can kill The Fury with a few swipes of your knife? He even has custom dialog for it), or a new radio conversation or song I had never heard before. I played Snake Eater for years, and I'll bet there are still one or two things left to find; Kojima's bag of tricks never seems to end. I still have the memory card with all of my Snake Eater saves on it, just in case I ever feel the need to get down on my belly and crawl through the weeds and marshes of Tselnoyarsk again. I had a whole library of saves, most of them right before discrete scenes or moments I knew I'd want to play again and again. The mountain infiltration right before you rendezvous with Eva and the treacherous march back down again. Dodging KGB special operation units armed with flamethrowers, mindful of the differences in elevation and the gun emplacements littering the hill. I've heard The Guns of Navarone was one of the movies that inspired Kojima when working on the series, and I like to think this area is his little homage to the cliff-side raid of the movie. I saved right before the sniper duel with The End, two different versions. One where Snake would run into his valley clad in camo greens, ready to fight a war of attrition with the legendary marksman. Another, where I assassinated the old man earlier on in the game with a single split-second crackshot (Snake Eater lets you do this because Snake Eater is a game that gives and gives every time you play it). In that version, his valley was full of Ocelot's personal entourage of soldiers to play with. Can you slip by unnoticed while being hunted by a pack of red beret-wearing hotshots? Or maybe it would be more satisfying to unzip each of their throats one by one, or to fight them all in one glorious running battle of machine gun fire and shotgun blasts (I never really used the thing unless I was goofing around). Of course, I saved just before the final showdown against The Boss. It's probably the single greatest scene in the entire series and one of the best boss encounters ever designed. Sure, taking down the Shagohod was satisfying, and sneaking up on The End and forcing him to give up his special camo and rifle made you feel like a sneaky master, but this was the real test. Fighting a person with all of the same skills and tactics you've spent the game developing and mastering, but she's better at them than you. After all, she invented them. I have less personal attachment to the other games. Guns of the Patriots I had to enjoy vicariously, reading about it and watching other people play. Same with the Metal Gear Acid games. I've spent a good chunk of the last month catching up, reading wikis about them and watching Let's Plays to fill in the gaps of my Metal Gear knowledge. I think I'm ready. I'm ready to finally close the loop on this series I've been playing my entire life. I'm ready to experience the last chapter in this decades long story of espionage, betrayal, and hiding in cardboard boxes. I can't wait to get into The Phantom Pain next week and see it for myself. I'm hoping Kojima can give me a few more memories on his way out.
Metal Gear memories photo
More than the basics of CQC
We stole the instruction manual when we rented Metal Gear Solid from Blockbuster. It's the one and only time we ever did that. Normally we were fine upstanding rental citizens who held manual-thieves in smug contempt. But in ...

Metal Gear Solid V photo
Metal Gear Solid V

Bizarre Metal Gear Solid V commercial features cardboard box wedding

I know, screw Konami
Aug 28
// Chris Carter
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is less than a week away, but for now, you can enjoy a really strange commercial involving a cardboard box wedding. It's more like an homage to the series, showing touching moments throug...
MGSV merch photo
MGSV merch

Sony's selling Metal Gear Solid V Walkmans and they're not cheap

Also phones and tablets
Aug 21
// Steven Hansen
Sony is producing various Phantom Pain-branded electronics to coincide with the release of Metal Gear Solid V. The tie-in release includes a Metal Gear version of Sony's premier Walkman, the ZX2, which costs something like $1...
Metal Gear Solid V photo
Metal Gear Solid V

No pre-load for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain on PC

Consoles can still pre-load though
Aug 20
// Vikki Blake
Bad news if you were hoping to get Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain all pre-loaded up on your PC in time for the September 1 launch -- Konami has confirmed that there's no pre-load available on Steam. "Unfortunately PC St...

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