Gaming

5 things you’re going to love about Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Hideo Kojima has his name written all over Metal Gear Solid V.  Literally - it flashes up half a dozen times in the opening credits of his espionage swan song.

The biggest MGS to date, The Phantom Pain takes players back in the story of snakes and soldiers, to 1984 - trotting Venom Snake (Big Boss) around the giant dustbowls of Afghanistan and further afield, as he quests for revenge against the faction that took out his army and put him in a coma.

A masterful slice of stealth action, the final chapter of Metal Gear Solid is a worthy conclusion to the famed franchise. Having played our way through a good portion of the game, these are five aspects of Phantom Pain's experience that we think you're going to love.

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    The World

    Open-world sandboxes aren't new - if anything, they're getting a touch predictable of late. "It's three times bigger than the last game, with over 500 hours of gameplay!" - which is great, until you get bored after the twelfth hour.

    There's no danger of that in Phantom Pain. In addition to being visually arresting, the landscapes are a case of Goldilocks design: not too big, not too small, just right. 

    As you scout around areas and build up a better appreciation of the terrain, you'll reveal a whole new way of carrying out an assault: going to rain in a few hours? That'll help dampen your footsteps. Almost nightfall? Best wait for the guards to swap shift patterns and get sloppy. 

    This is one of the most complex, vibrant worlds you will ever play through - forcing you to become a more intelligent player than the average sandbox experience.

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    Buddies

    Call of Duty: Ghosts had a dog. The Witcher III had a horse. Kill Zone 3 had drones. You've met all of Phantom Pain's buddies before - but you've never had a team of allies like this before.

    Every confrontation in Phantom Pain is a case of tactical thinking: would this next set of soldiers be taken down best on foot, with your dog by your side? Or would a frontal assault in the Walker Gear (pictured) help scatter your foe?

    You're going to make friends with a bunch of useful humans as well, not least the unlikely proportioned Quiet the sniper (the bikini-clad badass that you've probably heard about), who can help you take out targets with a simple request. It's all part of the beautiful kaleidoscope of options that's been woven into the game.

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    What's in the box?

    From the sound effects to the combat, your gaming nostalgia will be stirred up throughout Phantom Pain as the 'old' elements of the franchise mingle with the new. 

    Perhaps the most welcome feature to return is the cardboard box: a stealth device that, no, obviously wouldn't work in the real world, but you're playing a video game so just enjoy it.

    Collecting posters as you progress through the game allows you to deploy this old friend in new scenarios - our favourite being the ability to distract a guard with an image of a reclined model, before sneaking up behind him and sedating the poor fool.

    Watch this video for an idea of the cardboard antics waiting to be had.

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    Resourceful

    There's no way of making 'resource management' sound sexy or exciting, but Phantom Pain gets pretty close.

    Research, resource and intelligence acquisition are key to progressing through this stern world of increasingly challenging foe: rather than avoiding that next check point, you might want to sneak in and see if you can interrogate anyone for details on where a supply store might be hidden. Rescue a gunsmith and he might be able to help make a new deadly tool.

    And that balloon? It's the Fulton surface-to-air recovery system - a handy way of sending resources, captured foe or hostages back to base while you carry on being a stealthy mo-fo.

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    Story time

    Not a Metal Gear Solid fan? Then sequences of Phantom Pain are going to leave you scratching your head and wondering what Hideo Kojima has been smoking. But as the plot line isn't strictly the driving force of this experience, it won't mater. There's enough in here to keep first-timers hooked - which is a deeply impressive feat considering this story slots into the midst of one of the most complex in popular gaming - but it's not why you'll keep coming back to play.

    Metal Gear Solid super fan? Don't worry, there's plenty for you to get stuck into, with audio tapes answering many of your questions, old characters cropping up, and heaps of references to events you played through over a decade ago.

    Somehow, there's something in here for everyone.