From Ground Zeroes To Phantom Pain Heroes?

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Can The Phantom Pain Make Up for Ground Zeroes?

You all know how much of a Metal Gear Solid fan that I am. I have played virtually every game in the series. Though I wasn’t able to finish Portable Ops, and to a lesser extent, Peace Walker, though I intend to get them completed soon, I’ve followed the series ever since it first came out. Even with having to buy a PlayStation 3 just to complete MGS 4, I made sure to play it all the way to the end. Even if that meant staying up until 5 in the morning just to see the surprise return of Big Boss.

I have seen how the series turned from a top down stealth game to a more action based one with MGS4, and even deviating from the norm with the Bayonetta style combat of Rising, And I thought after that, there was nothing that could make me turn away from the series.

And then came Metal Gear Solid V, or at least, Ground Zeroes.

First impressions for Ground Zeroes started on a very low note, when I found out that David Hayter, an actor we knew since the start of the series as Snake, was going to be replaced. It really infuriated me personally as I got to know Hayter’s work just from MGS. Even after doing an interview with him shortly after MGS came out, and talking with him a few years later in regards to the Twin Snakes remake on Gamecube, I knew how passionate he was being the voice of Snake we all knew and loved. Even in a long letter he sent to me regarding Twin Snakes, he referred to himself as “Forever Solid Snake.”

When MGS 3 came out, and was centered on his father, Big Boss, I was surprised to see him return, and felt that it was a perfect choice. And I thought it was going to continue with him as Big Boss.

AND THEN KEIFER SUTHERLAND HAPPENED!

When I finally heard Keifer Sutherland doing Snake’s lines in Ground Zeroes, it just didn’t sound right at all. There was almost no emotion in his character at all compared to what Hayter had. But little did I realize that was the beginning of how bad the game would be. While the presentation was top notch, as I expected it would be, once the game started, there was virtually nothing to do in the main campaign, just locating both Chico and Paz from Peace Walker and escaping by helicopter. In all, the main story was completed by me in under two hours, but I also saw walkthroughs that finished the game in under a half hour. Yes there were side missions that extended the gameplay, but after the main story was done, I just couldn’t get into it anymore.

And this game originally cost $40 when it was released. Thankfully when I played it, I got it as a Gamefly rental. Even more, a few months later it was made available for free on both Games With Gold and PlayStation Plus, so I downloaded it again on both systems to prepare for Phantom Pain.

But the events leading up to Phantom Pain had me more worried than ever. First was the business practices that Konami have been following lately, wanting to concentrate more on pachinko machines and mobile gaming, Even worse, tensions between Konami and Hideo Kojima got to the point that the latter ended up leaving the company before Phantom Pain was released. It even got to the point that Kojima’s name was going to be removed from the game. That’s all we need, to see Phantom Pain listed as “An Alan Smithee Game.”

Then the reviews started coming in, and while most of them were perfect scores, controversy arouse about how Konami sent reviewers to “boot camps” to review the game in a strict time frame, where they had to breeze through the game using the “chicken hat” cheat. When I read that, I had flashbacks of MGS 4 and the “embargo all review scores of 8 or below, but let the others post any time” mentality that Konami had resulting from it.

This was also combined with the continued gripes about the multiplayer mode, aka FOB Mode, was going to use microtransactions. However I will admit that since I’m not going to play the game online, the microtransactions were the least of my worries, but I knew there were those who would be upset about the whole thing.

But even with all the trouble leading up to the launch, I decided to at least give it a shot and pre-purchased a digital copy of the Xbox One version. At the time of this writing, I have played the game for about 10 hours and these are my first impressions of the finished product.

1. Hideo Kojima is given full credit in the game. Thanks Konami!

2. The prologue is one of the most screwed up sequences I’ve seen in a game, especially one in the Metal Gear Solid series, and that’s saying a lot.

3. Going open world actually works in this game. Though I’m suffering from slight déjà vu in going through the same area repeatedly, it is nowhere near as bad as it was in Destiny.

4. Keifer Sutherland is still no David Hayter, but the rest of the voice cast is as good as ever.

5. Most importantly, even after being 10 hours into the game, I only have 4 percent completed. The depth is unbelievable.

Though it’s too early for me to come up with a review score for the game, I am working on it at my own pace. I am not doing a review in a “boot camp” and I’m playing the game the way it’s meant to be played, no “chicken hat” in use. But I will say that Phantom Pain so far more than makes up for the suffering I went through with Ground Zeroes.

Though I still stand by my stance against Keifer Sutherland…

Currently Playing: MGS V: The Phantom Pain (Xbox One), Mad Max (Xbox One)

Waiting For: Forza Motorsport 6

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