One Mission that Highlights Some (among the many) Faults in MGS5

So I’ve been playing Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain for the past few weeks just like many of you. The gameplay loop of scanning guard posts for talented soldiers, going in after them, fultoning them out, using their skills to upgrade my base and gear, and returning for even better soldiers, is truly addicting. I find the lack of energy in the story is made up for by the sheer obsession I have with playing with this loop and upgrading my own personal army and arsenal, and its what has kept me playing for over 50 hours in the past two weeks. I love the gameplay, and the reviews touted as much, saying while the story is lackluster, the gameplay is sterling (earning the game a perfect 10 on many sites based on mostly gameplay) and your personal combat stories make up for it. And I agree. To an extent. But I also have some serious problems with these reviews and with some parts of the game.

Now this isnt to say that The Phantom Pain is a bad game. Not at all. Ive spent 50 hours with it and, noted story gripes aside, Ive played 50 hours in two weeks. Obviously I like it, and think you’ll like it to. Ive recommended it to so many friends, and recommend it to you as well.

Unfortunately some of these reviews, which base things solely on gameplay, forget to mention a few things. The circumstances surrounding those reviews is what I believe to have led to those missteps being missed.

Konami held a review event during the week prior to The Phantom Pains release for the press to come and play the game. Except those people only played the game for 40 hours, with some power ups and cheat codes activated to make it through the game faster. This game has taken some people who actually BOUGHT the game over 100 hours to complete, which makes me question exactly how thoroughly reviewers could have combed over the games systems. When sprinting to the end of such a long game, you’re bound to miss something.

Can I just say, I hate the inclusion of horses in games. They are novel, a way to break up the use of traditional vehicles in a game. But the execution of horses often takes this awkward middle ground between making concessions on realism and sticking to realism that are downright frustrating.

Roach from The Witcher 3 was a tank to control, and I found myself constantly fighting him both when doing simple turns and when steering his natural inertia. I would want to come to a hard stop, but I would always have to slow the horse down and would run passed my objective, only to have to slow trot to do any precision movement. Some rocks the horse passes right over, some nearly identical rocks Roach rears up to a complete stop and has to gain traction again. At this point, I begin smashing the sprint button to get the horse to move again, but it takes close to 2 seconds for him to go.

I can understand the realism approach in The Witcher 3. We are talking about a fantasy RPG that stresses realism as much as a fantasy RPG can. So obviously we are going to have horses as a mode of transportation. There arent exactly cars for Geralt to ride in. But the realism approach to how the horse handles often times ends up frustratingly biting the player in the ass, ESPECIALLY in missions where speed is a factor.

I find the same thing wrong with The Phantom Pain. One mission, Mission 9: “Backup, Back Down”, wants you to race between moving armored AA vehicles and destroy them. These vehicles move really fast and can quickly outpace your horse if you arent on the same part of the map as they are. So when you are rushing to get to a target moving this fast, and when you arrive you only have about 10 seconds before a moving cannon is staring you in the face firing missiles, speed is of the essence. Unfortunately your horse “D-Horse” is a freaking idiot. Need to make a quick pivot in the other direction? Sorry, this is realism horse, and its gonna take him about 5 seconds to get moving at any sort of decent speed. Speeding across the map and bounding off of a small cliff? Ya, youll probably come up to a tiny rock in his path along the way that he rears up and simply cant step over.

The horse hasnt really been a problem for me on other missions because none of them were timed and required me to sprint between targets.

What makes this whole thing even more maddening is that, after fighting your way across terrain with your “speedy and invincible one minute, slow as dirt and delicate the next” horse, is that after all that frustration, you come to your target, set a trap that it should fall victim to, and leave the area for the next target assuming your trap will work....and the trap doesnt work.

And its not that I didnt set the trap right.

I would set up anti-tank mines in the middle of the road as my trap, but when I moved away from the area, the trap wouldnt work and the armored vehicle went right on through unscathed.

I though I must be setting it up wrong, so instead of run away after I set the trap, I stuck around to see what happens. I set two mines in the middle of the road. I thought, “maybe those little mines arent strong enough to take these things out and they rolled right over them”, so I set some C4 - which I knew does the trick - in front of them for some extra explosive security. Sure enough, the tank approaches and goes boom.

“Okay,” I thought, “So thats how the trap needs to be set up”

I set the trap again when I reached the point in the road the tank rolls over and headed to the next vehicle. I awaited confirmation that the tank was destroyed, but it rolled right over them again. They didnt even go off. There they were sitting in the middle of the road right where I left them. And its not like the vehicle sees the trap and moves to avoid them. I watched it drive directly at the mines without so much as slowing down before driving into them and exploding. The game just simply doesnt work as it should. Same thing with C4. If you try to blow up some placed C4 you have waiting across the map, it wont work, apparently there is a trigger distance.

I guess I could understand C4 not working from a distance as they need to be triggered by the player, but these mines are MEANT to be left for vehicles to run over as a function of their existence, and it doesnt work in the slightest.

So you can see my frustration in trying to fight my horse to actually move effectively across the map to set traps for multiple vehicles, hoping to take them out quickly so I can rush to the very top of the map to take out a jeep holding a hostage in the very very short amount of time Ive given before it reaches a heavily fortified enemy camp, and setting up traps that should work perfectly fine, only to have the game spit in my eye for putting faith that its many moving parts should work consistently.

In short, horses suck, so stop trying to shoehorn them into your game because they are popular right now (just like DOGS coincidentally) like every game two years ago did with bows, and take a little extra time making sure your damn mines work like actual mines should.


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