Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

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For the prologue, see Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Metal Gear Solid V The Phantom Pain cover.png
Developer(s) Kojima Productions[a]
Publisher(s) Konami Digital Entertainment
Director(s) Hideo Kojima
Producer(s)
  • Hideo Kojima
  • Kenichiro Imaizumi
  • Kazuki Muraoka
Designer(s) Hideo Kojima
Programmer(s)
  • Daizaburo Nakamura
  • Makoto Sonoyama
  • Shutaro Iida
  • Takehiro Nomura
Artist(s) Yoji Shinkawa
Writer(s)
  • Hideo Kojima
  • Shuyo Murata
  • Hidenari Inamura
  • Etsu Tamari
Composer(s)
Series Metal Gear
Engine Fox Engine
Platform(s)
Release date(s)
  • WW September 1, 2015
Genre(s) Action-adventure, stealth
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (Japanese: メタルギアソリッドV ファントムペイン Hepburn: Metaru Gia Soriddo Faibu Fantomu Pein?) is an open world action-adventure stealth video game developed by Kojima Productions, directed, designed, co-produced and co-written by Hideo Kojima, and published by Konami for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.[1][2] It was released worldwide on September 1, 2015.[3][4] The game is the eleventh canonical and final installment in the Metal Gear series and the fifth within the series' chronology. It serves as a sequel to Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, and a continuation of the narrative established there,[5] and a prequel to the original Metal Gear game. It carries over the tagline of Tactical Espionage Operations first used in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker.[6] Set in 1984, the game follows the mercenary leader Punished "Venom" Snake as he ventures into Afghanistan and the AngolaZaire border region to exact revenge on the people who destroyed his forces and came close to killing him during the climax of Ground Zeroes.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is a separated composite of two previously announced Kojima Productions projects.[7][8][9] The first was Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, which was originally revealed in a Fox Engine tech demo shown at the Metal Gear 25th Anniversary Party on August 30, 2012.[10] The second was The Phantom Pain, a trailer at the Spike TV Video Game Awards on December 7, 2012, presented as an original title by fictional developer Moby Dick Studios, with the Metal Gear Solid V logo virtually obscured.[11] In March 2013, the true nature of these two projects was revealed at the Game Developers Conference, where Kojima announced that Ground Zeroes serves as a prologue to The Phantom Pain. These two, separately released games combined are Metal Gear Solid V, with The Phantom Pain constituting the bulk of the title.[12][13][14][15]

The Phantom Pain was critically acclaimed upon release, with its gameplay drawing praise for featuring a variety of mechanics and interconnected systems which allow a high degree of player freedom in approaching objectives. While the story drew criticism from a few reviewers for its lack of focus, others acknowledged its emotional power and exploration of mature themes. The game received perfect review scores from several publications, including Famitsu, GameSpot and IGN, and was described by critics as the greatest game in the Metal Gear series.[16][17][18][19]

Gameplay

In The Phantom Pain, players take the role of Big Boss, under the nickname Punished "Venom" Snake, in an open world environment.[20] The gameplay elements were largely unchanged from Ground Zeroes, meaning that players will have to sneak from several points in the game world, avoiding enemy guards, and remaining undetected.[21] Included in Snake's repertoire are binoculars, maps, pistols, assault rifles and explosives.[21][22] Following one of the series traditions, The Phantom Pain encourages players to progress through the game without killing, using non-lethal weapons such as tranquilizer darts to subdue enemies.[23] Players may traverse the game world with vehicles such as cars and tanks, in addition to traveling on foot or on horseback, and as certain locations are mountainous,[24] players can opt to scale a rock face as a short cut.[25] They may also call for friendly helicopter support against enemy soldiers in a combat alert or send commandos to scout a target area.[26] Snake can also call on AI companions—including Quiet, a silent female sniper with supernatural abilities; D-Horse, a horse with a customizable saddle for carrying more equipment in the field; D-Walker, a manned, highly agile mobile weapons platform that can provide heavy weapons support; and D-Dog, a wolf pup raised and trained on the new Mother Base to assist him in the field.[27] The companions' abilities and their effectiveness will depend on the player's relationship with them.[26]

As in Peace Walker, The Phantom Pain will offer a base-building feature that allows players to develop weapons and items from their home base.[28] Recruitment of enemy soldiers and prisoners has also returned for this purpose, allowing the base to grow through organization. The player is given the option to access their base from their real-life smartphones and other devices via a companion app.[29] Unlike in Peace Walker where players can only see Mother Base from the air, they can control Snake as he explores the complex on foot. The Fulton surface-to-air recovery system, an item introduced into gameplay in Peace Walker, returns as well, with players now able to transport captured soldiers and other objects such as animals and vehicles back to Mother Base.[30] Money for upgrading Mother Base's defenses and technology can be collected from objects found all over the map, such as diamonds, shipping containers, and special blueprint boxes,[31] as well as sending recruited soldiers on combat missions around the world. The income is invested on upgrades to the appearance and abilities, weapons and equipment of Snake, his AI companions, and vehicles. For example, Snake's prosthetic arm can be modified with a taser, echolocation function, or remote controls that allow it to fly as a drone.[32][33]

The enemy AI has also improved in terms of situational awareness. If players frequently use particular weapons or tactics to subdue enemy soldiers, repeats of the mission will see the enemy increase in numbers and be outfitted with better equipment; for example, the frequent use of headshots will see enemy soldiers don metal helmets to make targeting the head harder.[34]

Series director Hideo Kojima revealed that the game has a new day-and-night cycle that runs in real-time, and that the time taken to travel from one location to another will affect the time of day when the player arrives at their destination.[35] The cycle also fasts-forwards when Snake lights a "Phantom Cigar", a type of electronic cigar; a digital silver Seiko watch panel appears on screen to denote time.[36] The passage of time enables players to analyze the movement of marked enemy forces in the area, such as shifts in sentry patrols and individual patrol routes. Weather effects, such as sandstorms and rain, will also affect the gameplay environment by, for example, reducing visibility or masking the sound of footsteps.[37]

A new game design direction will allow the player to choose in what order the story events take place by selecting missions in any order they like, and yet still "understand the encompassing message by the end".[38][39]

Hideo Kojima has spoken about the restrictive nature of previous MGS titles, saying that they "set [the player] on one rail to get from point A to point B, with a certain amount of freedom between". In stark contrast, Kojima's team will instead offer the player new ways of traversal and sneaking methods, such as taking a plane, helicopter or motorcycle to the mission area. Players are able to traverse the game world or deploy directly to landing zones that allow for different approaches. A video published after the E3 2015 convention showcased this, with the same mission played four times in a number of different ways: with the player opting for stealth, launching a direct assault via helicopter gunship, attempting to assassinate a target with a sniper rifle, and smuggling an explosive device into an enemy base by way of an unsuspecting patrol vehicle crew.[40] The player's actions will affect the wider game world; for example, sabotaging a radar installation will open up new entry points. This is in order for Kojima to accomplish a "true open world experience".[41] According to Famitsu, Konami confirmed that the playable world in The Phantom Pain is two hundred times larger than that of Ground Zeroes, featuring a variety of climate conditions and environments.[42] This allows the players to freely roam the map while proceeding to either story missions or sidequests, as in other games with nonlinear gameplay. In addition, players who have previously played Ground Zeroes are able to import save data into The Phantom Pain and gain special perks.[42]

Multiplayer

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain includes two multiplayer modes: first, the new Metal Gear Online, developed by Kojima Productions' newly formed Los Angeles division (now known as Konami Los Angeles Studio).[43] The first footage for multiplayer was revealed in December 2014.[44][45] While originally set for launch alongside the release of The Phantom Pain, Metal Gear Online was postponed to October 6 for consoles and January 2016 for Microsoft Windows.[46]

The second multiplayer mode is an extension of the Mother Base base-building feature. Players are able to expand their operations to include "Forward Operating Bases" which can be used to generate resources and income for the single-player campaign.[47] These facilities can be attacked by other players, making a player-versus-player mode available whereby the attacking team attempts to steal resources or soldiers and the defending team tries to protect the Forward Operating Base from the intruder. Defenders will also be able to call on their friends to aid in the defence, especially if their Forward Operating Base is attacked during a story mission.[48] Players are able to customize the security, staffing and layout of their Forward Operating Bases, allowing for an infinite number of compound configurations. Following the success or failure of the intrusion, the location of the attacking player's Forward Operating Base is revealed to the defending player;[49] however, defending players can only launch a retaliatory strike if the attacker was discovered during their infiltration. The Forward Operating Base feature is intended to be an entirely separate multiplayer experience to Metal Gear Online,[47] and is also needed to increase the number of combat units the player can deploy.

During development, Kojima Productions and Konami attracted criticism for their decision to include microtransactions; a system that allows players to pay for access to content in the game. However, a spokesperson for Kojima Productions confirmed that the system was included to benefit players who may not have the time to complete the game, given its scale, and that no content would be available exclusively through microtransactions.[50] Further controversy emerged following the publication of an early review claiming that the Forward Operating Base mode was behind a paywall,[17] which Konami refuted saying that microtransactions acted as an accelerator rather than a paywall.[51]

Plot

Premise

In the aftermath of the events of Ground Zeroes and the destruction of Militaires Sans Frontières (commonly abbreviated as MSF), Big Boss (Kiefer Sutherland/Akio Ōtsuka) falls into a coma.[52] Nine years later, he awakens and helps lead a new mercenary group, Diamond Dogs.[53] Adopting the codename "Venom Snake", he ventures into Afghanistan during the Soviet–Afghan War and the AngolaZaire border region during the Angolan Civil War to track down the men responsible for MSF's destruction. Along the way, he becomes reacquainted with his former rival Ocelot (Troy Baker/Satoshi Mikami) and encounters Quiet (Stefanie Joosten), an assassin and sniper with supernatural abilities. While he and Kazuhira Miller (Robin Atkin Downes/Tomokazu Sugita) are initially driven to exact revenge, Snake soon unearths a plot by the Cipher organization to develop a new model of the Metal Gear system known as the ST-84 "Sahelanthropus".

Characters

In contrast to previous Metal Gear installments, Kojima Productions conducted the voice acting and motion capture with English-speaking actors and stuntmen first. While facial motion capture was partially used before for Metal Gear Solid 4, Metal Gear Solid V features full facial capture performed by each character's voice actor. The Japanese voice acting was dubbed over the English cast's performance afterward, in contrast to previous releases in the series since Metal Gear Solid 2, which had the characters' vocal and facial expressions lip-synched specifically to both, Japanese and English voice acting.

"This time, Snake won't really speak much at all. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is an open world game focused on giving freedom to the player who will drive Snake's actions. Snake himself will be more of a silent protagonist similar to Mad Max in Mad Max 2. It's the characters around him who will expand the story."

Hideo Kojima[54]

On June 6, 2013, during the annual Konami Pre-E3 show, Konami officially confirmed that actor Kiefer Sutherland provided Snake's voice and performed motion capture work for the game,[55][56][57] taking a role over voice actor David Hayter.[58] Kojima's reason for replacing Hayter was to "have a more subdued performance expressed through subtle facial movements and tone of voice rather than words", and that he "needed someone who could genuinely convey both the facial and vocal qualities of a man in his late 40s". Hollywood producer and director Avi Arad suggested to Kojima that Sutherland could fulfill his requirements.[59][60][61] Akio Ōtsuka was unaffected by this casting change and continued to voice Snake in the Japanese version.[62] On March 4, 2015, Kojima reveals that Snake will have less dialogue in The Phantom Pain than previous instalments. The reasoning behind it was to make Snake come across as an extension to the player and that he "will act based on [player's actions] rather than doing things like making spontaneous comments or flirting with women."[54]

Other members of the voice cast include Troy Baker as Ocelot,[63] Jay Tavare as Code Talker,[64] James Horan as Skull Face, Robin Atkin Downes as Kazuhira Miller, Christopher Randolph as Dr. Emmerich[65] and Piers Stubbs as Eli. The Japanese dub features Tomokazu Sugita as Miller, Hideyuki Tanaka as Emmerich, Takaya Hashi as Skull Face, Satoshi Mikami as Ocelot, Osamu Saka (whose previous roles include Sergei Gurlukovich in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and The End in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater) as Code Talker,[66][67] and Yūtarō Honjō as Eli.[68] Dutch-born model Stefanie Joosten provides the likeness, voice and motion capture for the new heroine Quiet,[66] a mute sniper with supernatural abilities who may assist Snake on missions depending on the player's actions during a certain mission.[69] She also provides the vocals for "Quiet's Theme".

Synopsis

Following the destruction of MSF (Militaires Sans Frontières) at the hands of Cipher, Big Boss falls into a coma. He awakens nine years later in 1984, where Cipher's assassin, Quiet tries to kill him. Big Boss is rescued by a mysterious man with a bandaged face calling himself Ishmael. While trying to escape the hospital the two become caught in the crossfire between Cipher's soldiers and the psychic Tretij Rebenok, "The Third Child", helped by his apparition, the Man on Fire. After a chase, Ishmael disappears, leaving Snake to continue his escape with Revolver Ocelot, now working with a new mercenary company called Diamond Dogs, founded by Kazuhira Miller as a replacement for MSF.

While searching for clues about Cipher and expanding Diamond Dogs on an offshore platform near the Seychelles, Big Boss and his growing mercenary company become involved in the Soviet–Afghan War and the Angolan Civil War. Along the way, Big Boss recruits Quiet, who no longer speaks and has gained seemingly paranormal abilities; Dr. "Huey" Emmerich, a former MSF scientist suspected of being partly responsible for MSF's destruction; Eli, a spiteful British child believed to be one of Big Boss's clones and leading a band of runaway child soldiers; and finally, Code Talker, a Navajo expert on parasites forced to work for Cipher. Meanwhile, Big Boss begins to encounter the Skulls, deadly enemy soldiers who have similar abilities as Quiet. The Diamond Dogs also suffer a mysterious epidemic, losing many soldiers before it is contained.

It is eventually revealed that XOF, a rogue faction of Cipher, was responsible for the attack on MSF in 1975 and that Major Zero has since lost control of the organization. Skull Face, the group's leader, sees Cipher's plan to unite the world for peace as the same as making it culturally American. To avoid this, he intends to release a parasite, in part developed by Code Talker, that kills anyone who speaks English. A modified version of this parasite is used to give Quiet and the Skulls their unusual abilities while a strain targeting a different language, used for testing purposes, was the cause of the earlier epidemic that affected Diamond Dogs. After releasing the English strain parasite, Skull Face finally plans to make nuclear weapons available to as many minority groups as he can. By way of nuclear deterrence he imagines no one will dare compromise anyone else, attaining world peace while still protecting the integrity of each culture. Skull Face hopes to ensure a nuclear war does not actually occur by secretly maintaining remote control of all the weapons.

To make nuclear weapons desirable again in the first place, Skull Face intends to use the new Metal Gear system known as the ST-84 "Sahelanthropus", hoping to start a new cold war. As it is unfinished, he depends on The Third Child's paranormal abilities, but during the test the psychic turns against him, having Metal Gear crush the Man on Fire and trapping Skull Face. Big Boss defeats the rampaging Metal Gear and wounds Skull Face by shooting off his arm and leg. Skull Face is then killed by Huey. Later, it is explained that The Third Child was not consciously working for Skull Face. Rather, being psychic, he had an increased sensitivity to other people's thoughts, and so would come to personify the most vengeful person around, wreaking havoc on their behalf; in controlling Sahelanthropus, The Third Child was channelling Eli's vengeance.

In the aftermath, Eli, along with The Third Child and the child soldiers, steal the remains of Sahelanthropus and abandon Diamond Dogs. Soon after an epidemic of newly mutated parasites occurs forcing Big Boss to personally kill many of his own men to contain it. To honor them, Big Boss decides to make their cremated remains into diamonds to carry into battle. Huey is immediately accused of causing the epidemic while trying to mutate the parasites to sell as weapons. When evidence that he murdered Dr. Strangelove while arguing over using their son in experiments surfaces, and amidst lingering suspicions that he had previously betrayed MSF to Cipher, Big Boss exiles him from Diamond Dogs.

It is revealed that Skull Face infected Quiet with the English strain of parasite and sent her to join Big Boss so she could spread it among them as a last resort, until her time with them made her genuinely change sides. After being forced to speak English to save a poisoned Big Boss, she disappears to avoid causing another epidemic; walking alone in the desert, her fate is unknown.

Players later learn that the Big Boss shown for most of the game is actually "the Phantom", an MSF medic, and the real Big Boss was in fact the man with the bandaged face, Ishmael. The medic was given hypnosis by Ocelot and underwent plastic surgery to become a second Big Boss, serving as a decoy for his enemies while he wages a covert war against Cipher. During the credits it is stated that the Phantom goes on to set the events of the Outer Heaven uprising in motion, and dies at the hands of Solid Snake. The original Big Boss resurfaces during the Zanzibar Land disturbance.

After the credits, Miller and Ocelot discuss Big Boss's plans to create Outer Heaven. While Ocelot remains supportive of Big Boss, Miller, disgusted at his former ally's deception, agrees to continue assisting the Phantom and Big Boss's sons only in hopes of contributing to the real Big Boss's downfall. The two nonetheless agree to work together until the inevitable conflict between Big Boss's sons begins.

Development

A recruiting poster, based on the famous recruitment poster, used at GDC 2012

In February 2012, a site owned by Konami named "Development Without Borders", uploaded promoting development for a new Metal Gear title, for "The "next" MGS". The site was recruiting staff for the 2012 GDC pavilion in March, and requested applications for several positions for the latest Metal Gear Solid targeted for "high-end consoles" and "next-gen Fox engine".[70][71] As the year went on, screenshots and videos of the newly announced Fox Engine were unveiled by the team.[72] This media demonstrated many random settings and characters, although none related to the Metal Gear series. Certain screenshots, however, were noted to feature a character who resembled the Big Boss character of Metal Gear, walking up to a Stryker AFV previously seen in Metal Gear Solid 4.[73]

As Ground Zeroes

The game was later announced on August 30, 2012 originally under the title of Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes. It was revealed at a private function celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Metal Gear series, and made its public debut two days later at the 2012 Penny Arcade Expo.[74] Director Hideo Kojima confirmed that Big Boss will return as the game's protagonist, and that Ground Zeroes will serve as a prologue to the proper Metal Gear Solid V.[75] It was the first game to utilize the Fox Engine, a game engine developed by Kojima Productions.[76] On January 2013, Kojima revealed that Ground Zeroes would be the first title in the series to be subtitled in Arabic, a feature the team had originally planned for previous games.[77] In addition, he also confirmed that the length of the cutscenes are reduced, as he believes that long cutscenes have become outdated.[38][78]

In an interview with VG247, Kojima expressed concerns over whether or not Ground Zeroes would be released. He claimed that his aim was to target taboos and mature themes, which he considered to be "quite risky", adding that his roles as creator and producer were in conflict with one another; as creator, Kojima wanted to take the risk of exploring themes that might alienate audiences, but as producer, he had to be able to tone down the content in order to sell as many copies of the game as possible. Ultimately, the role of creator won out, and Kojima described his approach as "prioritizing creativity over sales".[79][80][81]

As The Phantom Pain

Poster distributed in E3 2013, with visual effects by Kyle Cooper.

At the Spike Video Game Awards in December 2012, a teaser trailer for a game known as The Phantom Pain was shown, credited to a new Swedish developer known as Moby Dick Studio, and was described as being "100% gameplay". Allegedly led by Joakim Mogren, the studio's mission statement read that it aimed to "deliver an uncompromising, exciting, and touching game experience to people all around the globe."[82] After the presentation, speculation began to surface from various publications that The Phantom Pain was actually a Metal Gear game; noting the protagonist's resemblance to Big Boss, graphics similar to those produced by the Fox Engine, the quote "V has come to" at the end of the trailer, and that the title "Metal Gear Solid V" could fit in the negative space and indentations of the game's logo when using the same font.[83][84] It was also pointed out the name "Joakim" was an anagram of "Kojima", the domain name for the studio's website had only been registered about two weeks prior to the announcement, and that several people wearing Moby Dick Studio shirts were sitting in a VIP area intended for Konami staff.[83][85] Hideo Kojima jokingly stated he was impressed by the trailer and how Mogren was inspired by Metal Gear.[86]

An actor playing a heavily bandaged Mogren appeared in an interview on March 14, 2013 episode of GameTrailers TV; while stating that he could not reveal many details, he confirmed that more details about The Phantom Pain would be revealed at the upcoming Game Developers Conference, and showed a series of screenshots on an iPad to the show's host Geoff Keighley. However, after Keighley pointed out the presence of the Fox Engine logo in the screenshots, Mogren appeared nervous and the segment abruptly ended.[87]

On March 27, 2013 at GDC 2013, Kojima officially confirmed that his studio was behind the trailer, and announced that Metal Gear Solid V would be two separate games; Ground Zeroes would now serve as a prologue for the main game, which was officially announced as Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.[88][89] He subsequently presented a trailer for the game, and showcased the finer aspects of the Fox Engine.[90] The trailer featured the song "Not Your Kind of People" from Garbage's 2012 album of the same name.[91][92]

While the official trailer announcing the game was running on a PC, the game was released for the seventh and eighth generations of video game consoles. In an interview during E3 2013, when asked about a PC release Kojima stated "We are making it, and it will be on par with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions."[93] However, he made it clear that the PC port is not their top priority at the moment.[94] Kojima confirmed that the visuals seen in the trailer will look close to those in the final game. He also stated that he would like Metal Gear Solid V to be his final Metal Gear game, noting that unlike previous titles where he had announced that he had finished making games in the series, only to return for subsequent games, his involvement with the franchise is over this time around. Although the trailer had Snake suffering from hallucinations in the form of a flaming whale, Kojima assured that there was a balance in realism.[95] Kojima later revealed that The Phantom Pain was initially presented as an independent game so as to assess the public and industry response to the Fox Engine, as he felt that announcing the game as part of Metal Gear Solid V would bias reactions to the engine.

On June 10, 2013 at E3 2013, a fourth trailer was shown at the Microsoft press conference, demonstrating the new play mechanics, as well as the cast of characters. The development of an Xbox One version was also announced at the conference.[96] On June 11, the standard version of the trailer were uploaded to Konami's official YouTube channel, along with an extended director's cut for mature audiences. The trailer confirmed the development of a PlayStation 4 version in addition to the previously announced Xbox One version.[97][98]

The trailers for Metal Gear Solid V have shown the game running on a PC hardware, but according to Kojima with textures and character models somewhat based on seventh generation hardware. The developers are aiming to improve the technical quality for the versions that was released for the eighth generation of consoles.[99]

Kojima has alluded to the game possibly being "too big to clear", adding that the game is "200 [times larger] than Ground Zeroes".[100] Kojima wants the player to connect with Snake in The Phantom Pain. To accomplish this, the loss of Mother Base, which the player developed throughout Peace Walker, serves as motivation for revenge for both Snake and the player. Kojima also tried making Snake relatable to newcomers of the series by making him unaware of what happened in the nine years during which he was in a coma.[101] Weapons, vehicles and other armaments are unlicensed and fictional in The Phantom Pain, just as they were in Ground Zeroes, unlike previous Metal Gear Solid games that included mostly real-world based weaponry.

On June 9, 2014 at E3 2014, a fifth cinematic trailer featuring Mike Oldfield's song "Nuclear" was shown at the Sony press conference, unveiling more plot details surrounding the Diamond Dogs and Snake's antagonistic descent. It was leaked a day earlier, due to an accidental post from Konami's official YouTube channel.[102] Alongside the new trailer, the official site for Metal Gear Solid V was updated and included new information and images such as the developmental progress of the in-game map and the evolution of Snake's design across all games in the series.[103] On August 25, Kojima released a launch trailer showing "Metal Gear's Evolution and Harmony" with clips from the previous games along with the reveal of the new "Metal Gear Sahelanthropus".

Over $80 million was spent on the development of the game.[104]

Music

The music of The Phantom Pain was produced by Harry Gregson-Williams, making it his fourth Metal Gear title. It was released on September 2, 2015. In July 2015, Rika Muranaka told Fragged Nation in an interview that over 30 commissioned songs were never used, thus playing part in Konami's budget concerns over the Metal Gear Solid V project.[105] In game, players can acquire cassette tapes in the field, which can then be played in the Airborne Command Center, during a mission, or when the helicopter inserts or extracts Snake. The tapes include a variety of pop songs, instrumentals, and theme music from previous games in the Metal Gear series.

The game's soundtrack later won the award for Best Score/Soundtrack at The Game Awards 2015.[106] The event also had Stefanie Joosten, Quiet's voice actress, on stage performing "Quiet's Theme".

Dispute between Konami and Kojima

Further information: Kojima Productions § Closure

In March 2015, Konami announced plans for a corporate restructuring that saw them part ways with Hideo Kojima and his development studio Kojima Productions. As part of the separation, Kojima's name was removed from the game cover, all of its associated paraphernalia and future releases of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes and Metal Gear Solid: The Legacy Collection.[107][b] A Konami spokesperson stated that Kojima would still be involved with Konami and the Metal Gear franchise,[45] and despite the dispute, the company expressed confidence that the game would be declared Game of the Year.[108]

As a result of the ongoing dispute, controversy arose at the time of The Phantom Pain's release due to evidence that pivotal story content had been cut from the final version. Shortly after launch, those who had bought the Collector's Edition of the game soon discovered that the bonus disc included contained footage of an in-game mission, "Episode 51", that continued on from the end of the campaign, but which had not actually been included in the game itself. The mission itself tied up an important plot thread involving the relationship between two of the characters, and many fans felt it would have been a more satisfactory ending to the game.[109][110] Many concluded that Konami had been looking to release the game sooner than Kojima had intended, and that Konami had been unhappy with how much Kojima had spent on the game's development.[111]

Similar controversy arose in the following days. Users of the Facepunch forums who had been extracting data from the PC version of the game's files found evidence of a story chapter, titled "Chapter 3: Peace", that had not been included in the final version of the game.[2][112][113] Konami later neither confirmed nor denied that "Chapter 3" had been fully cut from the main game.[114] Metal Gear Solid community manager Robert Allen Peeler was later asked via Twitter if any upcoming downloadable content would be released for The Phantom Pain, in the hope that "Chapter 3" would be included, but this was denied.[115]

Release

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was released in different editions. Special Day One editions of the game for each platform featured downloadable content (DLC) vouchers for special weapons and Metal Gear Online experience points. The North American PlayStation 4 Collector's Edition comes with a steelbook and a small-size replica of Snake's bionic arm; the Premium Package for the Japanese release features a full-size replica, which will also be sold separately in May 2016.[116] Sony released a PlayStation 4 bundle with the unit painted in the colors of the arm.

The physical PC release of The Phantom Pain only includes the Steam client installation program; game files are not included on-disc, and must still be downloaded.[117][118]

Several tie-in The Phantom Pain products were released as well. Sony released special edition Walkman, Xperia Z4, Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact, and Xperia J Compact models, each featuring Outer Heaven emblems, soundtrack audio, and wallpapers.[119] Watch manufacturer Seiko released a digital watch, resembling Venom Snake's watch from the game. Eyeglasses maker JF Rey produced themed eyewear patterned after what Kaz and Ocelot are wearing in the game. Japanese toy company Sentinel, which previously made an iDroid casing for the iPhone 5 and 5S, is producing a transformable figure of the Sahelanthropus,[120] while Kotobukiya is readying a 1/100 scale kit of the unit. Sports apparel company Puma joined the project through a line of sports jackets, T-shirts, and footwear, including Snake's sneaking boots.[121][122]

Square Enix's PlayArts Kai figure line featured several of the game's characters, while Kaiyodo produced Venom Snake and a Soviet Army soldier for the RevoMini figure category.

Reception

Critical reception

Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
Metacritic (XONE) 95/100[123]
(PS4) 93/100[124]
(PC) 91/100[125]
Review scores
Publication Score
Destructoid 9/10[126]
EGM 9.5/10[127]
Eurogamer 9/10[128][129]
4.5/5 stars[130]
Famitsu 40/40[131]
Game Informer 9.25/10[134]
Game Revolution 4.5/5 stars[132]
GameSpot 10/10[17]
GamesTM 10/10[135]
Giant Bomb 5/5 stars[133]
IGN 10/10[16]
OXM (UK) 10/10[136]
PC Gamer (US) 93/100[137]
Polygon 9/10[138]
Digital Spy 5/5 stars[139]
Metro 9/10[140]
PlayStation LifeStyle 10/10[141]
The Guardian 5/5 stars[142]
The Independent 5/5 stars[143]
The Daily Telegraph 5/5 stars[19]
Time 5/5 stars[18]

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain received "universal acclaim", according to video game review aggregator Metacritic.[125][124][123]

IGN awarded the game a score of 10/10, complimenting the way the gameplay mechanics worked together and the organic nature of the open-ended missions that allowed players to create their own memorable experiences, without being punished for deviating from stealth, but criticising the overarching storyline as lacking focus. The review concluded that the The Phantom Pain is "a gameplay marvel, rewarding intelligence and creativity in a way few games do."[16] GameSpot also gave the game a 10/10, similarly praising its "near impeccable" gameplay, commenting that, alongside main and side missions, "emergent scenarios serve as the third pillar of The Phantom Pain's open-world gameplay experience". The review also highlighted the meaningful development of the characters despite being beholden to the original Metal Gear as the conclusion of Venom Snake's character arc.[17] The Phantom Pain was the twenty-third game—and the third in the Metal Gear series—to ever receive a perfect 40/40 review rating from Japanese magazine Famitsu.[131]

EGM awarded the game 9.5/10, praising the story's emotional power and thematic concerns exploring the futility of war in a much more compelling and cohesive way than other franchises such as Call of Duty and Battlefield, as well as the way in which the game world responded to the player's actions. However, the review was critical of the reliance on resource management, particularly in the way assaults on Forward Operating Bases could interrupt and distract from key missions.[127] Destructoid awarded it a score of 9/10, saying that the game is "equal parts tough and flashy, and it's fitting that if this is Kojima's last Metal Gear, he goes on a high note."[126]

Game Informer's Joe Juba awarded the game 9.25/10, praising the mission design for its flexibility and offering players multiple pathways to completion without restricting their choice of weapons or equipment. However, despite seeing the value in restructuring the narrative to compliment the open-world platform and the episodic mission structure given the series' complex mythology, Juba felt that this went too far with the result being that the player could stumble into crucial story elements without context.[134]

Polygon's Michael McWhertor also awarded the game 9/10, similarly praising the game mechanics, but directing criticism at the convoluted storyline which it felt hinged on a detailed knowledge of the series' mythos to the point where it would be inaccessible to newcomers to the franchise.[138]

The Phantom Pain was also positively received outside the traditional gaming media. In a five-star review, The Telegraph's Kirk McKeand stated that the game "takes the best of a great series and creates a series’ best in the process". The review complimented the seamless integration of the gameplay modes, and noted the way the game's Mother Base mode offered satisfactory and meaningful progress,[19] a sentiment echoed by Time's Matt Peckham,[18] who also complimented the game's longevity, pacing and artificial intelligence.[144]

Despite the widespread praise, the game did not escape criticism, which was directed at the way it forced players to replay missions on higher difficulty settings to unlock the final missions,[16][17][126] and the Forward Operating Bases mode being locked behind a paywall at the time of publication,[17] a point which Konami later refuted.[51]

Sexualized portrayal of Quiet

Before the release of the game, the presentation of the female character Quiet was criticized by Halo designer David Ellis for being oversexualized and a negative affirmation of the stereotype of the game industry as "full of man babies".[145][146] Kojima and Konami released Quiet figurines in May 2015 as part of the game's promotion. The focus on the figure's soft, pliable breasts was criticized in social media and described by media sources as "seedy"[147][148] and "embarrassing".[149]

The finished game drew more criticism of Quiet's portrayal in both reviews and opinion pieces.[150][151] GamesRadar's David Roberts described Quiet as "one of the most complex and conflicted characters in MGS5", but that her depiction was example of a "juvenile approach to sexuality" typical of Kojima and the Metal Gear series as a whole.[152] Michael McWhertor of Polygon described the justification for Quiet's lack of clothing as "inextricably tied to the game's convoluted story", and criticized how the game presented other female characters by "zeroing in on their jiggling breasts and panning across their asses in a silly, oversexualized way."[138]

Sales

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain shipped 3 million physical copies within its first five days of release, across all platforms.[153] On its release date the game grossed US$179 million.[154] The Phantom Pain debuted at number one on the United Kingdom charts. So far, it is the third biggest video game launch of 2015 in the UK, behind Batman: Arkham Knight and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.[155] The Phantom Pain was the most successful launch for the series in the UK, beating out the previous record holder, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, by 37 percent.[155] The game sold 411,199 physical retail copies on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 within the first week of release in Japan, topping the Japanese software sales charts for that particular week.[156]

The game sold noticeably more on the PlayStation family of systems than the competing Xbox in the UK. Excluding computer sales, The Phantom Pain moved approximately 72 percent of copies on PlayStation 4, roughly three times the amount sold on the Xbox One, which accounted for 22 percent of sales. To go along with this, 3 percent of sales were on PlayStation 3, and 2 percent on Xbox 360.[157]

By the end of September 2015, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain had shipped 5 million copies.[158] By the end of December 2015, the game had shipped 6 million copies.[159]

Accolades

Award Category Result
Golden Joystick Awards
Ultimate Game of the Year Nominated
Critic's Choice Won
Metacritic
Best PS4 Game of 2015 Won
Best Xbox One Game of 2015 Won
Best PC Game of 2015 Nominated
Hobby Consolas Game of the Year[160] Won
Panorama Game of the Year[161] Won
PC Gamer Game of the Year[162] Won
Game Revolution Game of the Year[163] Won
GamesRadar Game of the Year[164] Won
Game-Debate Global Game Awards Game of the Year[165] Nominated
Best Action[166] Won
The Game Awards 2015[106]
Best Action/Adventure Won
Best Score/Soundtrack Won
Game of the Year Nominated
Best Art Direction Nominated

References

Notes

  1. ^ Credited to Konami Digital Entertainment
  2. ^ Gameplay videos have shown Kojima's name included within the game itself, with individual credits sequences for each mission.

Footnotes

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External links