Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Game review by
David Wolinsky, Common Sense Media
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Game Poster Image
Violent, mature, powerful game on grim realities of war.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 20 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 32 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Explores the costs of war, role of soldiers, methods of governments. Encourages skepticism, drawing your own conclusions.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Game's protagonist, Big Boss, is actually antagonist of the whole series. Though you understand his actions, motives, the kindest thing he does is rescue animals from a war zone. Everything else driven by revenge.

Ease of Play

Lots of trial and error, both in stealth gameplay, management of your base, personnel, other key stats.

Violence

Blood, gore, brutality of war on full display. You use lots of firearms, explosives, knives to kill soldiers, can torture them. These acts are treated as simple necessity. References to characters having been raped; an attacker tries to rape a character after almost choking her to death.

Sex

Some female characters scantily clad. Suggestions of same-sex infatuations between characters.

Language

Frequent use of "f--k" as well as "bitch" and other derogatory terms against women.

Consumerism

Players can purchase items with real money for online play.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

You can smoke a "special" cigar to speed up the passage of time.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byDigitalShadow February 21, 2016

Common Sense Media overreacts, once again

First of all, if it's the fact that they've given sex a 5 that's worrying you, let me tell you this: THERE IS NO SEX IN THIS GAME. The closest yo... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bylore87 September 14, 2015

Best game on current-gen so far!

A really excellent game. A must buy for 15+. There are many philosophical issues raised in this game, like the consequences of war and conflict which are shown... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old September 13, 2015

A true piece of storytelling and fun.

MGS 5 is my 6th Metal Gear game I have played. (yes, my parents have a Famicom, a NES, a PlayStation 1, 2 and 3, an Xbox, and a PC) Metal Gear Solid 5, by all a... Continue reading

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? 

Game details

Themes & Topics

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