Hideo Kojima has always been a polarizing figure in gaming. Although some praise him for his creativity and his sense of humor, others find his ideas to be too eccentric and nonsensical. With Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain and Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes, there was a greater than usual amount of controversy surrounding the games, mostly because of Kojima's relationship with Konami and the dissatisfaction gamers had with the unfinished narratives.
Despite the criticism Metal Gear Solid 5 has endured, the gameplay remains impeccable, and in retrospect its stealth elements feel ahead of their time. The game allows players to make use of their imagination to come up with creative ways to deal with various scenarios without making their presence known. To assist, players have access to a wide range of interesting tools, as well as a few buddies who are both two-legged and four-legged. Though many games have tried to implement stealth elements, none have done it nearly as effectively as Metal Gear Solid 5.
For many third-person adventure games of the last generation of gaming, stealth has been an almost compulsory feature. Most games implement stealth by including tall grass that players have to crouch to hide in. Although this does provide a somewhat realistic manner for players to hide from enemies, it can get repetitive and it offers quite one-dimensional gameplay. A few games have tried to modify this formula. In Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Lara can cover herself with mud to blend in with walls, and in The Last of Us Part 2, Ellie can hide under beds and trucks. However, none of this feels truly engaging.
In Metal Gear Solid 5, there are limitless ways to engage with the environment. Players can lie prone to avoid being seen, or they can hide in dumpsters or portapotties. Rain and sandstorms help to reduce visibility, and shooting out a lightbulb will help players hide in the dark. Senses like smell and sound also have to be considered. Guns that are not silenced will draw enemies towards the noise, and smelling bad is also a giveaway. It is also worthwhile to clean up after oneself because bodies left dead or passed out will alert other enemies that there is an intruder around.
Metal Gear Solid 5 makes the environment interactive in an unparalleled way. Items around players are seldom just props, and many objects can be used to hide behind, under, or even inside. The lay of the land is worth taking into account, as high points can be used to survey one's surroundings and discover weak spots in enemy strongholds.
When players are in their helicopters, they have the opportunity to set up their loadout, which contains the weapons and tools they will be using in their next missions. Creating a loadout in Metal Gear Solid 5 can take a lot of time and energy because there are so many options that can be customized in various ways.
There are a host of tools available to help players wipe out enemies without being spotted. Players have access to a myriad of guns that can be modified endlessly, allowing for them to be used in different ways. A silenced sniper can be used from a high vantage point to take out enemies without ever needing to get close enough to be spotted, a water gun can be used to interfere with electronics to cut out all the lights and surveillance cameras, landmines can be laid down, and decoys can be planted to confuse foes. Players can also hide in boxes and, if things get hairy, they can always throw a smoke bomb to make a quick escape. All these different items allow players to decide whether they want to be lethal or benevolent. Taking the lethal approach usually gets the job done quicker, but players miss out on the opportunity to expand Mother Base with some skilled workers.
Varied tools and weapons combined with interactive environments come together to create an experience where players are given the freedom to use their imagination and creativity when dealing with enemies. Players never have to play a mission the same way twice, and even something as simple as replaying a mission during a different time of day can force one to alter their approach. Despite Metal Gear Solid 5 being several years old, it is still one of the best examples of how to implement stealth gameplay.
Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain is available now on PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.
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