E3 2014 demo preview: ‘Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain’ a stunning experience

Latest ‘MGS’ looks to be a stellar addition to long-running franchise

LOS ANGELES — Everyone needs a cardboard box at his disposal. Because you never know when you’ll need to take down an entire enemy outpost and could use a touch of inconspicuous cover.

Such is the principle lesson I took away after the media briefing for Konami’s latest addition to its long-running popular “Metal Gear Solid” franchise, “Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.” Oh, and that it appeared absolutely stunning and immensely enjoyable while watching the latest reveal trailers. Combine that with its open-worldness and a multitude of RPG elements, and you have yourself one stunning-looking game.

The showing opened up with the trailer that was revealed Monday during the E3 press conferences. What followed, though, was the far more interesting part: the live demo of an early mission in the game. Highlighted by our presentation speaker and played live by a game staffer, we were shown Big Boss in all his mechanized glory. His goal is find information about where a hostage (Miller) is being held. And though we’ve been out of the game for nine years or so, we’re left to infiltrate this base on our own because, well, Big Boss is beast.

Running in 1080p at 60 frames per second on the PS4, the demo was enticing, showing just enough content to whet the appetite for Venom Snake (as Big Boss is otherwise known, I guess) and his copious ways of disarming, incapacitating and killing his enemies.

Oh, and was it mentioned that this open-world action-adventure game (more than 200 times the size of “Ground Zeroes”) is directed, co-produced and co-written by the immensely well-regarded Hideo Kojima?

As the demo continued, with sweeping plains and color-splashed canyons forming the backdrop, we start to dive into particular game mechanics. First off: the use of the Fulton surface-to-air recovery system, which allowed Snake to transport stunned enemies back to Mother Base in an effort to recruit more members for your army. But it’s not just soldiers in a stupor we can transport: Everything from crates to sheep are up for grabs.

All of which you can see once you get back to your unique, fully customizable base. At any point in the game, you can travel to Mother Base and see what you’ve collected: men training, supplies being utilized.

For the action-conscious out there, “The Phantom Pain” takes a more stealth-oriented approach, at least in the demo. Useful reconnaissance and careful camouflage are your methods of advancement, with out-and-out chaos your bete noire. But you’re armed (if you forgive the pun) for this type of warfare. Your mech arm comes with distracting capabilities that aid you in completing your mission.

Toss in some of the crude humor from older “MGS” installments, and it’s a welcome return to form. Which is how I feel about “The Phantom Pain” in essence. In the end, I may not know enough to form the most informed opinion out there about the game, but I can say this: I can’t wait for more.

Above, a scene from "Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain." (Photo credit: Konami)

Above, a scene from “Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain.” (Photo credit: Konami)

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