This was almost my Game of the Year. You might be wondering how it ended up then at #3. It’s time for a short story I suppose. I’ve got a Platinum on this game, played it absolutely to death. But the last half of my experience was desperately lacking compared to the first half. I’m about to go real deep into spoiler land, so run away now. I’m serious. This is me giving you time to run. Your eyes are going to want to keep reading but you really shouldn’t. Unless you want to, then I’m fine with you being here. Consent is important. Still reading? Alright, here we go. This ain’t no Apple TOS, I’m giving you a chance to backout before I start opening up with Windows every damn time you update me. Alrighty. So in Metal Gear Solid 5 you are introduced to a character named Quiet. You might not be aware of this but I’m one of those folks that liked her character. I’m not going to defend it because I don’t think it is something that needs defending. I expressed previously why I thought the criticisms were weird (since folks were chill with a guy breaking the laws of physics and a kid flying around) but ultimately people who hate are going to hate. It’s part of their DNA and I can’t (and won’t) deprive them of the easy endorphin rush.
My problem with Quiet was her absolutely awful conclusion. First you are given the worst mission in the entire game. It’s a horde mode with you against a bunch of tanks. It is fucking awful. There are 0 redeeming qualities for this mission. This mission is the worst thing to ever happen to MGSV. I actually really liked the regular ending, so I’m not in the camp of people who were angry with it. When I finished that “real” ending I felt like I had played my GOTY. If only barely, but then I got to this POS. It ruined me. The problem with bad final experiences is that they taint your memories of the whole adventure, at least that’s the case with me. And then, after finishing this awful mission (which took me an hour or so of retries), Quiet is given a really contrived POS sequence of events that lead to her “leaving”. It makes no goddamn sense. I could go on and on about why it was awful, but generally speaking, much like people who hate Quiet, those that like the mission won’t care what I say. So we’ll just leave it at me hating it. I then spent the next couple of days 100%ng the rest of the game. But I did it without Quiet.
I legit like her. I think her character was fun story wise (minus the ending), I liked her functionally, and all the in between therein. I don’t have sexual hangups so for me there was never an issue. We were a team and together we were death incarnate. The game got absolutely no harder without her, it just got less fun. And worse I knew that on PC I could have modded her back in. Recently they patched a way to get her back into the console version. But for me it always felt like an oversight. As if they forgot to put in that feature to begin with. So I spent the rest of my time playing with her lullaby playing in the helicopter. That way whenever it came to back me up, or save me with an extraction, I’d hear her on the way in. Kinda sappy I know, but all the missions we had gone on had really gotten me attached to having her on my team.
And no, the “Phantom Pain” of her leaving is not really a funny joke and it’s not a clever observation. Had her exit from my game not been full of plot issues and actually felt meaningful I might have felt like it was worth it. As it stood it felt like they removed a game mechanic by accident and nobody in QA noticed.
Anyways, now that that is out of the way. Let’s talk about all the things I liked about this game. Firstly the introduction to this game is stellar. I literally got ill when I first played the game. It might have been coincidental food poisoning but holy shit did the introduction hit me hard. I actually played Ground Zeroes straight into this (same day), having not played GZ at all before that. So exploding uterus bomb really hit me hard. I was like “Jeebus, what happened to me being a badass who never fails! I’m failing! Help me baby jesus!”
The next thing I noticed, after the initial stomach punch of an introduction was just how gorgeous this game is. Aesthetically and graphically it’s just one long pant tightening experience. The Fox Engine is truly a thing to behold. I was never not amazed by the game. It felt fluid, cinematic in the real sense (not that shit that people try to pass as cinematic in marketing releases), and kept me thoroughly engaged. I wasn’t just playing this game I was >living it<. I can vividly remember the smell of military fatigues and they kept coming back to me each time I’d play this game.
I liked all but one of the missions. Even those that had me repeating certain levels but with limitations were cool. Redoing missions for sub goals was cool for me too. I loved trying to figure out how to accomplish things and I almost never needed to look at a guide (the collector’s guide for this was excellent btw, highly recommended even if only to read and plop on a shelf).
It saddens me that this game didn’t get the time and funding necessary to be “Complete”. What I experienced was on the precipice of being almost life changing for me. The way this engine handled so much at once reminded me a lot of my first time playing GTA 3. Just being in awe that a console could handle so much. To think that a world could be “this big”. It was all too much for me and I adored it.
I loved those moments when the story started to come together and even little things you thought were meaningless from earlier ended up being meaningful. For me the actual phantom pains came from the story itself. The ways that conclusions didn’t really have the punch you hoped for. How the war itself ultimately lead to lives being lost without any real victory. Even at your most powerful you still felt weak.
Knowing this was the last proper Metal Gear was something of a bittersweet experience for me. I know that Kojima wanted to do other things but I’ll always have fond memories of this series. For him it might have been another job he didn’t want to spend his whole life doing but for me it was a journey that I wanted to travel along forever. MGS was a bit like a family companion. You get them knowing that someday they’ll be gone and it’ll break your heart. But you tell yourself the journey will be enough to compensate for the inevitable heartache. But like I said earlier, that bitter ending always taints the former memories for me. Only with time do things mellow.
MGS V is excellent to me. I feel like a better person for having played it. I know some people hate it with a passion, but for me it was an experience I’ll probably never forget.