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Is MGSV's Story Unimpressive Compared To Previous Entries?

I've said it many times before:

Any story, even great ones, will inevitably take a back seat to freedom-oriented gameplay in any open-world/sandbox experience.

This is simply due to the inherently linear nature of any script or narrative. The more you get away from it, the more you give the listener or participator the opportunity to change things, the less that cohesive story will shine.

There's absolutely no doubt that Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is a fantastic game, as most all critics are saying. But if you read some reviews very carefully, they're fundamentally different than most reviews written for previous entries in this legendary series. For MGSV, critics clearly focus on the immense size and scope, on the awesome freedom the player has to tackle any given objective. In fact, I'd say the majority of most reviews written thus far focus on this element.

But some critics are also saying they'd hoped for a bit more in the way of emotionally driven, wonderfully memorable story segments for which this series is so well known. Other reviewers just seem to gloss over the fact that MGS has always been narrative-driven and this one, apparently, kinda isn't. Of course, the plot and characters play a much larger role here than in most open-world games - I think that much is obvious - but again, you simply can't offer the same narrative experience as is possible in a linear telling of an existing script.

Of course, I'm sure nobody really cares. In this day and age, bigger with more freedom is a universal positive and the consensus is that all games are automatically better when developers embrace these traits. Even so, I wonder what some hardcore fans of this series will say when looking back and comparing entries. Right now, just based on what I'm reading, it seems that most will agree that while MGSV is overall one of the best installments, it also may have one of the weakest stories.

P.S. I haven't played the game yet; I might end up feeling differently than other critics.

Related Game(s): Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Tags: metal gear solid v the phantom pain, mgsv, metal gear solid 5

8/24/2015 9:48:01 PM Ben Dutka

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Jalex
Monday, August 24, 2015 @ 11:08:43 PM
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That was the first thing which caught my attention when going over the reviews. I'll hold off any judgment until I play for myself, but I admit it worried me a bit. Now, many of the reviewers mentioned that they put in a good fifty or sixty hours into the game, so I hope that the narrative simply FEELS like less than other entries as it is spread over a much larger amount of gameplay.
Hopefully, that's the case as the (wonderfully) convoluted plot lines are absolutely one of the major draws to the series for me.

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Shauneepeak
Monday, August 24, 2015 @ 11:49:50 PM
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I noticed the same thing while skimming through reviews and really picked up on it during Gamerailers' video review. What really stuck out was their comment on the boss battles which have always been incredibly interesting in Metal Gear games and arguably containing some of the most memorable enemies and fights in the gaming medium. They essentially said along the lines of "While the fights themselves are great none of the bosses are really memorable." which is truly saddening.

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Oxvial
Tuesday, August 25, 2015 @ 2:30:02 AM

Well MGIV bosses were underwhelming or recycled and Peacewalker bosses were just vehicles lol, it's funny that Kojima said something about they having some of the most charismatic bosses concepts to use on Revengeance but in the end they turned the project to Platinum Games and they made their own bosses (who btw were damn awesome!).

And people (that didn't play or youtube the game) here were hating on Platinum for that, now looks like Kojima bosses are meh again?, hope those reviewers are wrong.

Last edited by Oxvial on 8/25/2015 2:34:55 AM

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Vivi_Gamer
Tuesday, August 25, 2015 @ 3:37:34 AM

Yes that was the case for both 4 & Peace Walker. The Beauty & The Beast unit lacked depth and hearing a sobn story after the battle from Drebin was not good delivery. The Crying Wolf battle is very intense though and one of my favouriet boss encounters of the series. Then Peace Walker you have vehicles which lacks any personal conflict so I simply didn't care. I'm hoping there will be personal conflict in the boss confrontations in 5, and the reviers just arent allowed to mention specifics.

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Oxvial
Tuesday, August 25, 2015 @ 3:44:14 AM

100% agree Vivi, Ben if you read this please focus a bit on the bosses rumors on your review(I'm still going to buy the game on day one but I want to read your perspective about that).

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PSTan
Tuesday, August 25, 2015 @ 12:29:12 AM
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It's a different style. The previous MGSs were pretty convoluted and sometimes heavy-handed (MGS4 especially; some of the cutscenes were borderline pretentious). Not that this means the stories were (are) bad. They're great and some of the best if you really invest time into them.

Kojima probably took a more "show, not tell" approach with MGSV. This is just a sign of him learning and adapting his style so that it can be both modern but familiar. I'd say TPP has a similar style to Peace Walker, which are both lighter on the cutscenes, but have a lot of extra stuff in codecs/tapes/etc.

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Beamboom
Tuesday, August 25, 2015 @ 1:37:38 AM

Borderline pretentious? Dude they were beyond pretentious, in addition to be bad on a turkey level.

Last edited by Beamboom on 8/25/2015 1:38:14 AM

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Vivi_Gamer
Tuesday, August 25, 2015 @ 3:34:59 AM
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I have noticed this aswell. I ma hoping this is just from critics who aren't major fans of the series and have always deemed the series lore as convoluted. The story for me is the big pull, its the motivation to make me participate, I am not interested in playing a game for gameplay alone. This is the story I have wanted ev er since MGS3, the downfall of Big Boss and i am glad to see it is due to his mental deterioration rather than just different ideologies. I accept a lot fo details will be in tapes and there will be less cutscenes but as long as the characters still have an active presence I'll be happy.

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JackieBoy
Tuesday, August 25, 2015 @ 3:55:33 AM
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I hope story will also be at least good, as this was major point why I loved MGS from the beginning. Here's hoping that the reviews are a little exaggerated...

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Godslim
Tuesday, August 25, 2015 @ 7:47:37 AM
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Preordered it so cant wait to play it and see your review ben. The story stuff I read in a few reviews worries me a little as for me the story is the main thing I like about mgs.

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Snaaaake
Tuesday, August 25, 2015 @ 8:37:26 AM
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When you have already made masterpieces like MGS3 and MGS4, topping it seems like a task for IMF.

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MRSUCCESS
Tuesday, August 25, 2015 @ 9:18:46 AM
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You know what it is though? Konami and the trend in the industry as well.

I'll say that Konami wanted far more exploration and and side missions than Kojima did. The "open world" and will definitely attract more consumers and the MGS loyals are bound to buy it regardless. Now the question is: would have the game scored as well as it did if it focused more on a emotional story and was as linear as MGS4? Most likely not.

Last edited by MRSUCCESS on 8/25/2015 9:19:01 AM

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Jawknee
Tuesday, August 25, 2015 @ 2:53:19 PM

This isn't true. Kojima is a fan of open world games namely GTA. He's always wanted to make a MGS game like this. He even stated as much in 2009. Less than a year after the release of MGS4.

Konami has its issues but this cannot be blamed on them.

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Beamboom
Tuesday, August 25, 2015 @ 9:48:22 AM
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Seeing the reception this game has received it's quite the loss for the Playstation brand that this no longer is an exclusive title.

Personally I am no fan of exclusiveness, but for the brand it'd be good.

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duomaxwell007
Tuesday, August 25, 2015 @ 12:12:08 PM
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I disagree completely an open world game CAN have a good story, lets use GTAV as an example... sure theres a million things you can spend hours doing thats apart from the story, but eventually to progress any further at somepoint you HAVE to do the main/story missions (and those missions are liner as you cant go and do the final mission/boss fight at the start of the game if you choose to)

and during the story missions is where you get the dialogue and cutscenes even if its a 2 hour cutscene theres no rule that says you cant fill those missions with cutscenes and dialogue galore.

Then when you get done with that missions you can go back to spending 20 hours doin random optional stuff you dont have to do before deciding to tackle the next story missions where again story plays out, repeat until 10000 hours pass and finally the credits are rolling.

Thats how sleeping Dogs story was handled, so was Infamouses, sure neither stories are gonna win any awards but I wouldnt call either BAD (which is what ppl are saying about MGSV), and they did a LOT more in their cutscenes than just have a "10 second conversation, while standing dramatically" (another accusation of MGSVs cutscenes). FFXIV does it also and its story is better than both Infamous and Sleeping Dogs by far and its CHOCK full of side content and is in an open world, so much extra crap to do besides story that 2 years later I'm still playing it and its story is not only good but GREAT (as far as the new expansions storyline is concerned anyway).

So if being in an open world full of side stuff and options is an excuse to have a "crappy" non focused story telling experience like a linear game would have, then why did no one send SE and FFXIV (or FFXI) the memo, cause they did a FINE job breaking that "law" and should be arrested for their transgressions lol.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Tuesday, August 25, 2015 @ 4:05:43 PM

None of those games will go down in history as having some of the best stories ever.

The best stories are all found in linear games for the reasons I've stated a thousand times.

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duomaxwell007
Tuesday, August 25, 2015 @ 5:08:02 PM

Like I said NONE of the stories in the games I mentioned are GREAT (though it can be argued that the Chains of Promathia's story in FFXI and Heavensward in FFXIV so far are indeed great) but they have shown that they at least CAN and DID focus on story and thus actually TRIED, so the question becomes, What's MGS V's excuse for not doing the same thing and at least trying, sure it probably would not still be the weakest story among the console sequels (i.e non handhelds) but at would still at least be GOOD ENOUGH that no one would call it downright BAD (which IS the case now).

Also further proof that an open world game's story can be good is.. I could EASILY name Final Fantasy games who's stories we're worse than Final Fantasy XI Chains of Promthia's (which is an open world MMORPG)story. I could promise you that not a single person whos actually PLAYED and completed both CoP and whatever FF game whos story I claim is worse than CoP's, not a SINGLE person who's experienced both would disagree with my statement.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Tuesday, August 25, 2015 @ 5:43:42 PM

"Like I said NONE of the stories in the games I mentioned are GREAT"

Yes, and there's a reason why. That's it.

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duomaxwell007
Tuesday, August 25, 2015 @ 11:01:39 PM

Yes theyre not GREAT but theyre at least GOOD, my argument is from whats everyones saying MGS V didn't even accomplish GOOD... THAT's the issue I have with the game.

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shadowscorpio
Wednesday, August 26, 2015 @ 7:58:49 PM
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Has there ever been an IP that started off exclusive and went multiplatform that kept its substance story wise when compared to its previous/exclusive entries?

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