Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Admittedly, the only reason I played this game is because I ordered a PS4 and this was the game that came bundled with the console; typically paying money to pick up and play any recent Metal Gear Solid game is as appealing to me as the prospect of completing an exceptionally busy day at a courtroom note-transcribing job while being forced to utilise my PC peripherals with only my tongue. It took me a couple of days upon receiving said console and bundled game to work up the enthusiasm and excitement to actually play it.

So started the 30 minute window within which the game has to impress me and either make me see it through to the end and add it to the exclusive and short roster of games I consistently play or go on about, or be instantly submitted to the trade-in service in favour of making another over-priced next gen game minutely more affordable. Now the reason I give games 30 minutes to impress is because anything less isn’t really a fair opportunity for a game to flaunt and captivate and any longer is allowing it far too long a time in a form of media and escapism meant to enthral and immerse us safely away from our mundane existences in a world where both time and attention span are in considerably short supply. I regret to summarise my opinion of this game now: it bored the shit out of me. You should not be forced to idly watch an uneventful sequence wherein all you can do is lethargically look around with the analog stick before you reach the main menu and are able to press Start. The pre-start menu activities should either get you so psyched to play the game with a hugely over-the-top cinematic of sorts or be nice and short and dump you straight to the aforementioned menu so you can play the actual game. I personally have never witnessed this approach to travelling towards the start menu, so I was willing to accept it as an attempt to set the scene and give the game context, and duly watched the activities surrounding the hospital bed I was bound to and felt eager to see what would unfold upon pressing Start.

It turns out it’s more of the same but this time interspersed with uninventive dialogue, constant overly-dramatic reactions to the little information that’s directed firmly at you, followed by irritating fade outs that simply make the whole scene feel disjointed and hints to use the analog stick to look around that agitated me beyond belief, as there was nothing of value to fucking look at outside of the view we were centred to by default. The game then tries to engage us by allowing us to customise our appearance after revealing the actual appearance of the character with some bullshit and contrived reason as to why we get to change it, before showing us that the choices we just made don’t actually take effect and were a waste of time and care. Immediately following this is an incredibly cliché attempt at building suspense by having an obscured character garrotting someone in the background, following the cue of the only face with a voice up to that point stating that we need to protect me from people that want to hurt me. Said face with voice then proceeds to be murdered. Then some bullshit intervention occurs from another patient in the same ward to save us and we, as the protagonist, are finally allowed some more direct involvement in movement in the form of single analog stick movement control along a linear path at a forced and agonised crawling pace. During this arduous section, interrupted by occasional pointless snippets of dialogue from our arse-flashing companion, is a sprinkling of the most sodding annoying attempts by our character to consistently try and fail to get to their feet on the least stable objects accessible in the room met each and every time with the predictable and inevitable slamming to the floor followed by grizzly man grunts of pain and discomfort.

I get the feeling I’m meant to feel sorry for our character but I couldn’t give less of a toss for people that have no common sense or survival instincts. Maybe it’s a lack of understanding of the story leading up to this point or an unreasonable intolerance of someone having woken up from a coma, something I have no ability to understand or fully empathise with as I’ve never experienced it, but it feels like such amateur dramatics from a play at my secondary school that I just can’t engage with it. Any scenes of moderate action again felt contrived and cliché or too obscure and abstract at this point to have any impact and I literally couldn’t believe that after a solid 25 minutes of “playing” this game from the moment of looking around the hospital ward we start in to the current point of crawling around the corridors about 50 feet from there that I gave up. I just turned it off, turned to my computer and used an online trade-in service to get some cash for it and returned to my Steam library. I’m sure many people will say it gets good after the introduction but the introduction is meant to sell the game to us, get us invested in the story or struggle of the character and excite with glimpses of development and gameplay that we can look forward to. This game is attempting to sell us the premise on reputation and self-indulgent, pompous storytelling that is actually hugely inept and shallow.