OPINION: MGS5 Gives Me Phantom Pains

By: Jesus Cruz Valdez
OwlFeed Journalist

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is a stealth-based open-world game and is unlike any other game in the Metal Gear series. 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great game and the online aspect is very delightful, but it’s so distracting. I’m going to be talking about my opinion on the plot and some of the gameplay. Major spoiler alerts if you haven’t played the game. 

In this game you “play” as “Big Boss,” otherwise known as Venom Snake. You wake up in a hospital where you’ve been in a coma for nine years due to a helicopter explosion in MGS V Ground Zeroes. You wake up and, after three or four weeks, XOF (Cipher’s Strike Force) finds out you’re at this hospital and begins its attack. You get away after encountering multiple people: the Man on Fire, Quiet and multiple XOF soldiers.

Afterwards, you head to Africa where you rescue Miller who tells you about the territory he found. They call this “Outer Heaven” multiple times in-game. He is bent on getting revenge on Skull Face for getting his arm and leg blown off, nine years before. You re-create your base, which you had in Metal Gear Solid V: The Ground Zeroes, which was raided and destroyed by the organization XOF.

mgsv-the-phantom-pain.metro
Photo Credit: Metro

XOF’s primary purpose is to destroy all languages, except English, using these parasites. They reproduce and turn the person infected into a zombie-like state when a certain language is spoken around them. There are multiple strains of the same parasite to infect people faster. Confused, yet? Welcome to my world.

The main antagonist of the game is Skull Face, the head of XOF. In-game a character named Code Talker says Skull Face calls these parasites “ethnic cleansers.” 

Now Skull Face was taken from his home country and had to learn a new language. He was taken countless times and had to learn countless languages until he forgot the language of his home country. He wants to take revenge on all of humanity because of it. It’s a sad story and I could see how he would want revenge. But on all of humanity? That’s a bit overkill.

Also, fun fact, you aren’t actually the Big Boss, you’re his puppet. You’re one of the soldiers who protected the Big Boss during the attack on Mother Base nine years earlier. The Big Boss is somewhere else but over the span of those nine years in the coma, Ocelot, a “friend” of yours, implemented the Boss’ memories in you.

How? We don’t get told explicitly in-game, but there are multiple theories as to why you have the memories of the “Boss” even though you’ve been in a coma for nine years. There is a theory I personally believe in, in which, you, the coma patient, go through the missions/operations multiple times whilst in your coma. 

Back to the gameplay, if you get spotted during a mission, it causes them to go into combat alert mode. Goodness, are they relentless. They follow you and shoot at you until they can’t see you or you get away from the base. They are then more protective of the base and they are more vigilant on the blueprint or hostage you were trying to get back. 

If you kill people on a mission, you lose points and if you have perfect stealth and no kills, you gain points. Be aware of the enemy as they can detect you or a body through sight, sound and sometimes even smell. There are also child soldiers, that you can extract and teach allow them to have a second chance at life. As Miller, a character from Metal Gear Solid V, said, “There is no room for angels in our heaven.” He’s referring to the children.

The game has easter eggs or things that you can find in this game that are in other games. An example is the cassette tape Snake Eater and the bandana that the Boss wore that they found in Nicaragua. They both come from Metal Gear Solid 3 Operation Snake Eater, now that’s one heck of a game. They also have “The Man Who Sold the World,” which is a David Bowie song. They have so many other songs that you can find all around the open-world. 

This story is weird and so is the whole story of the Metal Gear Solid. My brother Ruben Cruz Valdez, a fellow Metal Gear Solid enthusiast said, “The series isn’t in order and trying to follow it may give you a headache.”

 Though it is hard to follow and it gives me a headache, I absolutely love it. I may get into the timeline in a year from now when I come back, but until then, thank you and best wishes!