Top 5 Missions – Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

In this week’s Top 5 article, Michael Pinson tells us all about his top 5 favourite missions from Hideo Kojima’s final game for Konami, Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain

Year of Release – 2015
Developer – Kojima Productions
Publisher – Konami
Platforms – PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC

Released in 2015, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain quickly cemented itself as a classic of the current generation. Though released amidst a bitter public dispute between the game’s creator, Hideo Kojima and the game’s publisher, Konami, it achieved acclaim from both critics and fans.

At the time of release its graphics were pretty much second-to-none on console; high quality character models and a huge open-world sandbox, all running at 60 FPS. The variety of weapons and ways to complete the missions was beyond anything the previous entries could hope to offer.

As always the story is a complex weaving of action, subterfuge and outright Kojima craziness. Here are five of my favourite missions from the game…

Prologue: Awakening

After the somewhat lackluster release of Ground Zeroes it was difficult to know what to expect from The Phantom Pain. The framework seemed sound but would it live up to the quality of the main numbered releases? The opening mission soon put any doubts to rest.

The atmosphere created in this first mission teases what might have been if Kojima was able to put his talent to a full blown horror game. Playing as the wounded main character being hunted through a dark hospital, complete with the screams of patients being murdered nearby , was unexpected but brilliantly executed. Initially dealing with soldiers, you soon find yourself facing the surreal but familiar type of outlandish characters the series is known for.

Giant flaming whale anyone?

I remember finishing this introduction blown away with the style and scope of the game, excited to dig into what else it had planned for me.

Mission 11: Cloaked in Silence

Quiet is one of my favourite Metal Gear Solid characters of all time, and not just for the two obvious reasons. As the mission that introduces her properly (outside of her brief appearance in the game’s Prologue), mission 11 is also great for a couple more reasons.

Usually you select a mission knowing what to expect but Cloaked in Silence triggers during another mission, catching you off guard. An obvious throwback to Sniper Wolf in the first Metal Gear Solid game, you find yourself in a long range battle.

It also perfectly demonstrates the flexibility of the gameplay. Don’t want to fight? Simply call in a supply drop, select Quiet’s location as the target, and wait for her to be knocked unconscious.

Lastly, the cutscene that follows has to be one of the most badass introductions to a character in any videogame.

Mission 13: Pitch Dark

You could easily be forgiven after twelve missions to think that the huge sprawling map of Afghanistan is all that The Phantom Pain had to offer. Then suddenly Mission 13 begins and you find yourself in the new, equally large map of Africa.

Playing this mission at night, sneaking through villages before reaching your destination, a small oil refinery feels very different to everything that came before it. Sneaking around the refinery itself reminds me of Metal Gear Solid 2; with its steel walkways, guard rails and large buildings that are reminiscent of Tanker Plant. It also begins to introduce the overarching plot of the game with a creepy cutscene upon completion of a certain objective.

Mission 31: Sahelanthropus

What would a Metal Gear Solid game be without a fight to the death with a giant mech? The titular ‘Metal Gear’ in The Phantom Pain is Sahelanthropus, and fighting him pulls upon all the classic Metal Gear Solid battles/conflicts of the series. . Running around with a rocket launcher, avoiding attacks, until eventually bringing down the giant walking nuclear deterrent never gets old.

In particular I think this mission highlights the ‘replayability’ of The Phantom Pain. Every mission can be redone as often as you want, giving you the opportunity to try new strategies, and try out the new or improved weapons you develop as you progress through the game. Coming back to Sahelanthropus wearing your best armour, with an upgraded rocket launcher and the infinity bandana is a great way to test how far you’ve come. 

Mission 45: A Quiet Exit

Most missions unlock sequentially as the game progresses, but mission 45 has a set of unlock parameters that requires some investment in the story and in Quiet herself.

As with her introductory mission, Quiet’s exit will once again trigger without warning. It throws you into the largest battle in the game, outside of Sahelanthropus itself. Tank after tank, wave upon wave of soldiers, and an attack helicopter are all thrown at you and your silent companion. No stealth, no sneaking to a distant objective; the fight comes to you instead.

Your reward for surviving this battle? An emotional cutscene explaining the enigmatic character you’ve come to love throughout the game, along with a heart wrenching separation (though you can get her back for gameplay purposes if you wish). It’s a great way to close her story arc.  

Ultimately, words can only do so much justice to this game. Trying to explain a Metal Gear Solid plotline often descends into chaos and confusion, but The Phantom Pain delivers a rare, near-perfect experience. Graphics, gameplay and sound design all coming together to produce a polished, joy of a game to play. As Kojima’s last entry in the series, he and his team can be very proud of what they made.

If you have a current gen system, a last-gen system, or a PC, then you will struggle to find a game more worthy of your time than Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.

Michael Pinson can be found on Twitter here.

Have you played Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain? What are your favourite missions from the game?
Let us know in the comments below, or send a tweet our way!

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