E3 2014: Sheep fly in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

image_321609_fit_940Definitely one of the games on the top of my must-see list for this year’s E3 was Hideo Kojima’s new installment in the MGS franchise, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. After playing Ground Zeroes, I was eager to see what Kojima had in store for us in the full length game. The game starts off with Big Boss and Ocelot riding through the desert of Afghanistan. It looks like Kaz Miller has been taken hostage and it’s up to Big Boss to get him back.

The game takes place nine years after the events of Ground Zeroes. During that time, Big Boss was in a coma, which is more than likely due to the helicopter crash at the end of GZ. Also thanks to the crash, Snake is sporting a new mechanical arm, which will actually come into gameplay later. During the mission we see Ocelot inform Snake that he must take on this task alone in order for him to truly return to the person he once was.

These maps are huge. The map in Ground Zeroes was big, but this is on another level (think a hundred times bigger). From the start point of the mission, you can see from your vantage point the massive distant between you and your target through the binoculars. The is also the first mission, and we got see some of the horse riding action. (We were even treated to the horse taking a dump.) Seems fairly simple: you mount the horse, and you ride it. MGS5 does however offer a low-profile mode of riding, where Snake hangs off the side of the horse out of view of enemy targets. This new tactic will come in handy while sneaking up on enemies.

image_321617_fit_940Another one of the new features that was displayed during our demo was the Fulton Recovery System. Fans of the Metal Gear: Peace Walker will quickly recognized the balloon retrieval system. Much like the “Skyhook” in The Dark Knight, the Fulton Recovery System is a balloon that is attached to an object or person and is lifted into the air for retrieval. Once the balloon is retrieved, the item or person is sent back to “Mother Base.” (More on Mother Base later.)

The Fulton Recovery System is a really neat tool, since you can extract enemies, objects and even wildlife. The extracted enemies give you intel on the terrain and the patrols that lay ahead. You can also radio in to Mother Base to bring you items that you’ve already retrieved. Say you Fulton a jeep, now that the jeep is at the base. You can call for the jeep to be air dropped to your location. Cool stuff, right?

Another key item that MGS5 The Phantom Pain brought back is quite possibly the most-loved item in all of the Metal Gear franchise, the cardboard box. Kojima’s team has done an amazing job retooling the entire usage of the item. The box is not only for sneaking around, but you can now attack out of the box and even surprise enemies. If spotted, Snake can even dive out of the box to cover, leaving an empty box behind to be investigated by enemy forces.

ecigar

Another new gizmo for Big Boss is the new eCigar. Much like an eCig, the eCigar is a fake cigar that uses water vapor. More importantly the item is used to pass the time. Say you’re at a location that is heavily guarded during the day but light in the morning, using the eCigar you can change the time from night to day and vice versa.

The big reveal at this year’s E3 for the Phantom Pain was Mother Base, which pretty much sounds like what you think it is…only it is a fully customizable base. Each player will have a unique Mother Base. You can upgrade and build new add-ons and even train soldiers on your base. Though the base is your main HQ, it doesn’t mean it is safe from attacks. Depends on how you play through missions, Snake will make enemies and those enemies will attack the base. You can boost your defenses by Fultoning enemy artillery and attack drones.

I think it is safe to say that there has never been a Metal Gear game that is quite as immersive and robust as The Phantom Pain. With the new in-game mechanics, massive maps and customizable base, I think Kojima’s new game is looking to be a sure contender for Game of the Year when it is released.

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