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Stealth service – Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Kojima-heavy title was worth the wait... right?
To add further chaos to the drama, enemy forces will adapt to your tactics. If you favour headshots with your tranquilliser gun, for example, enemies will soon don helmets. So it is that the game constantly forces you to mix-up your approach.
Time to check on your assets
All this and I've barely touched on Mother Base, the headquarters of Snake's private army, the Diamond Dogs. It's where crucial upgrades to equipment can be researched and built, where any resources – metals, diamonds and herbs – are processed and where any soldiers you capture are “convinced” to join your growing ranks.
Central to Mother Base is your Fulton device, a comical balloon retrieval system through which you can propel soldiers and animals to your HQ. Later, you'll be able to do the same with mortars, machine guns and even vehicles, as Mother Base physically expands, adding additional platforms and facilities under Snake's watchful eye.
Metal Gear stalwarts will appreciate the harbingers of what Mother Base means to the franchise as a whole – The Phantom Pain taking place in the middle of Metal Gear's intricate timeline, of course. Everyone else will just enjoy man-managing their soldiers and researching the extras that add even more tools to Snake's Swiss Army knife of equipment.
Mother Base is also the arena for the game's multiplayer mode. Irritatingly, it's largely broken at the moment due to server maintenance, but once up-and-running the Forward Operating Base mode seems the brightest prospect.
Online mode capers
Here players may attempt to infiltrate each other's bases to snag men and equipment. You and your Diamond Dogs providing the first line of defence against would-be conquerors – though you can turn this off if the prospect sounds more troublesome than enticing.
Then there's the still-to-launch Metal Gear Online that promises (servers allowing) 16 player deathmatch with a Metal Gear twist. Expect to be sneaking into bases with your buddies to extract capture objectives, as well as facing off against opposing teams.
The Reg Verdict
In what is the first open world Metal Gear, and undoubtedly the most ambitious to date, Hideo Kojima and his team have created a means for the celebrated stealth of the Metal Gear franchise to shine, but not at the expense of dramatic action scenes.
There are oddities, not least the way Kojima-heavy credits run after every single mission. The prospect of micro-transactions as a means to boost Mother Base when playing online is a poor design choice, though.
What is presumably the final Kojima-led Metal Gear is a masterpiece and a game unlikely to be bettered for entertainment or spectacle anytime soon. ®
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain for PS4 (tested), Xbox One, PC, PS3, Xbox 360. From £50.