Metal Gear Solid V is basically Far Cry, specifically Far Cry 3 and 4. It’s got the open world, the variety of weapons, the sneaking options, the firefight options, and the base capturing. Heck, it’s even got flower picking! All of those things combine into this dynamic action game that adjusts to how you play, which, if we’re really getting down to it, is what most resembles Far Cry.
Whether or not that is a good thing in the context of a Metal Gear Solid game, a series that is typically entrenched in its linear, massive story line, is unclear. It is loads of fun when Metal Gear Solid V shuts up about its magical fire men and magical mist men and scummy organizations and lets you roam the sands of Afghanistan on your horse–hilariously named D-Horse. When it suddenly gets interested in all of that though, I get a little overwhelmed.
Metal Gear Solid V is at its best when it lets you play with the systems that have evolved with the series. At first, it feels wrong to crawl into a base, scope out its guards, and get caught mid-tranquilizer-shot and be forced to start spraying bullets everywhere. Then you realize that the game is specifically built for that. You can be the S-Rank stealth master or you can be the clumsy sometimes-stealth-master. When things go wrong, it doesn’t feel wrong, it feels natural. That’s a big difference. Most games would punish you for messing up, either by forcing you to restart or by giving you sustainability against your enemies. Metal Gear Solid V finds the right balance that is hard to pin down, but whatever it is, it works.
In turn, there’s very little in the game that feels like you’re breaking it. Everything you do feels supported by the design. It’s engaging because it feels like anything can happen and that you can get through it. If you’ve played a recent Far Cry game, then you know what that is like. The shooter gives you the tools to fight against everything from bears to soldiers. You don’t even have to use them either! There are people who play those games with self-imposed restrictions, like only using bows or only using melee. Again, it’s all about the game supporting what you are doing.
It’s easy to start wanting every game to do that, but it might not fit every game. Some are better off as driven, non-open-world experiences. You have to take it on a game-by-game basis. Metal Gear Solid V already has a suite of complex mechanics, so it makes sense for the newest game to find a way to let them all work together. The game is by no means perfect because of this. I definitely have some problems with it, but it’s something worth talking about, especially since its very easy for open world games to become stale.
Tyler Colp has been writing about games as a journalist and a critic for over five years. His work has appeared on The Escapist, Venture Beat, BitPulse, and Pixel Enemy. He’s into loud music and anything that has to do with Dark Souls.