Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is a stealth action game that's the intended series finale of the Metal Gear franchise. It's fine to enter the series with, but it should be noted that it's likely not suitable for most kids. The game focuses a lot on the hazards and effects of war, and the violence within missions is significant; though players can use non-violent solutions, they also can use firearms and explosives to kill enemy soldiers. Torture also is considered part of the gameplay and is seen as a necessity; there are also references to rape and an attempted rape. Sexual content includes scantily clad women and infatuations among characters frequently coming up. Similarly, profanity is frequent, with words such as "f--k" as well as "bitch" and other derogatory terms toward women. Players can purchase items for use in online play, but parents should be aware that online play hasn't been fully implemented yet, so the use and impact of multiplayer is unknown.
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What's it about?
In METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN, supersoldier Big Boss awakes from a nine-year coma to find that his troops and base of operations have been completely wiped out. Nothing remains of his old regime aside from a few allies who, like him, have been badly hurt, injured, or emotionally scarred by the ravages and tragedies of war. So they seek revenge, little by little rebuilding their strength. Most of the game takes place in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan in the early 1980s, where players gather intel, perform operations, and manage their new base.
Is it any good?
This is an exceedingly massive and ambitious game that can seem daunting with its scope but ultimately provides more and more wrinkles on the same basic action. Unlike previous entries in the series, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is truly an open world that you're free to explore and play in as you see fit. You're encouraged to play as stealthily as possible and avoid detection to successfully complete your missions; if you try to go rushing into bases and outposts with guns blazing, you'll frequently be gunned down. It behooves you to take your time, use your binoculars to study guard patterns, and notice all the possible ways infiltration could backfire. It might sound repetitive, but it's exciting and so challenging that it feels as if you're given more and more chances to prove your skill, not your patience.
Thanks to this being an open-world video game, you can evacuate wild animals, gather resources, and grab audio tapes (both for intel purposes on missions and also just to listen to music). There's also your burgeoning base to defend and explore. The more people you recruit out in the field (by "fultoning" them, or parachuting them into the sky for retrieval by plane), the more weaponry, gear, and items you can craft for yourself. This sparks a constant tension between these two open worlds. What do you want to do? How would you like to do it? These are the questions the game asks, and then it gets out of the way and lets you enjoy. It's a great title that asks a lot of thought-provoking questions, but it's definitely for mature audiences only.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of violence in media such as Metal Gear Solid V. Is there a justification for content such as realistic warfare or torture? Does the inclusion of this content add weight to the philosophical arguments raised in the game, or is it solely for shock value?
Talk about revenge. Is there ever a justification to seek revenge? Why?
Have you ever realized you did something wrong that hurt others? What did you do to make amends?
- Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Konami Digital Entertainment
- Release date: September 1, 2015
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.