The variety of options available really makes you feel like a commando behind enemy lines carrying out covert missions

Hideo Kojima's swansong gives the player true agency in a finely crafted world

The Metal Gear series is very important to me personally; Metal Gear Solid on the PS1 was one of the first games on that system I fell in love with and played through multiple times. The tension, the comedy, the drama and the tactics were unlike most games at the time. Then as the sequels came out they seemed to punctuate each stage of my life, MGS2 summed up my later school years, MGS3 came out as I was at university, MGS4 as I tried to decide what I wanted to do with my life and now 5 comes out as I am relatively settled in life and doing a job I enjoy.

For those unaware the Metal Gear franchise is based on the concept of stealth rather than running in with guns blazing. Encounters take thought and planning and are full of novel gameplay ideas.

In a chronological timeline of the franchise MGSV is set before the events of MGS1 but after those of MGS3 and you play as the original Snake or “Big Boss” (now voiced by Kiefer Sutherland rather than regular David Hayter).

The minutiae of the overarching plot of the series has never interested me greatly, and yet each instalment has had a story that has captivated and enthralled me. So while I may not understand the relevance of every reference, the characters and scenarios are endearing and ridiculous enough to draw me in. This was achieved in various methods but most recently in MGS 4 with hours and hours of explanatory cutscenes.

 

MGS5 takes a different approach to storytelling than its predecessors and does away with lengthy cutscenes, and in fact does away with Snake saying much of anything at all. The story as progressed through CGI movies and the narrative of the game is actually rather limited and, compared to previous instalments, relatively mundane. The real joy of MGSV comes from the story you craft yourself. Each mission can be approached in a multitude of ways due to this being the first game in the Metal Gear series that features an open world. I won’t give away the best parts but let’s just say I had a lot of fun with some C4 and a truck.

The variety of options available really makes you feel like a commando behind enemy lines carrying out covert missions. Climbing a nearby mountain to scour an enemy camp with your binoculars to identify weaknesses and potential points of access and then executing a plan perfectly is just about one of the most satisfying experiences I have ever had playing games.

Don’t think that all your time will be spent stressing and re-doing missions however; the meta-game in MGSV requires you to tactically manage your resources and army. Sending troops and resources back to your home base allows you to craft new equipment and weapons, but also influence the world in which you are completing missions by sending your troops out on incursions of their own.

Hideo Kojima has always had a knack for surprising fans and what he has achieved here is every bit as surprising as you would expect. Rather than rely on exposition and impenetrable plot development he has created perhaps the finest action-stealth game ever made and which somehow manages to be a more engaging story telling device than any of the previous games. This is a wonderful end to Hideo Kojima’s involvement in the series and one that I am never likely to forget (mostly due to his name appearing at the end of every mission). Even if you haven’t played an MGS game before you can either pick up the basics from a FAQ or go in blind, but I urge you to play this game. This is a beautiful game that gives the player true agency in a finely crafted and impeccably scaled world, spectacular.

PS4, XBONE, PC

Pub: Konami

Dev: Kojima Productions

£54.99 on consoles

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