First, the good thing about the game. The gameplay was just amazing. It was a masterfully executed open world game with full on proper stealth mechanics and I think it is first of its kind. We get two huge areas (Africa and Afghanistan) to explore and have fun in. The beauty of this game was that almost any mission can be completed in several play styles. Lots of freedom and the options continue to increase when you open up new items and weapons and mechanics. Biggest new mechanic was the buddy system, where you get several companions over the course of the game that help you in various ways. Maybe you'll want to go full stealth. Or go in guns blazing. Maybe you'll do a mix of both. Or just call in support and let them do the dirty work while you smoke your cigar. The game did has its way of making you try your best to keep a full stealth play, proper tactical espionage.
The mother base aspect of the game was also expanded from what we got in Peace Walker. This time, you can actually visit your base and move around and see it in getting developed slowly. And it has this wonderful feeling of accomplishment, seeing your hard work in action. Knocking out enemies and using Fulton Recovery to recruit them for your base makes each mission more fun as you always have to consider the option of either killing an enemy or go in for a more stealth play and try to capture them. The game was really massive too.
Since I played it on a PS3, won't talk much about the graphics since I know the game doesn't look that good as compared to the next gen counter parts but even on the 9 year old machine, it ran pretty well, all things considered. The soundtrack of the game was pretty good as you would expect from an MGS game. Some great tracks here and there. Would have loved it if they used the MGS series theme in some important part.
Now, for the story. Well, The Phantom Pain continues the plot where Ground Zeroes left off. The blast and crash caused Big Boss to go into a nine year coma. The game starts off with us waking up in a hospital. The whole opening chapter was just phenomenal, one of the best openings I have ever played in a game. The game focuses on us (Big Boss) trying to rebuild our free military force and to take revenge on Skull Face.
Now, this game was showed and advertised as the missing link that will show Big Boss's decent into the other side, how he changes etc etc and was the main reason why I was so pumped up to play it. Sadly, it failed to deliver on that promise. There was hardly anything regarding that in the game. All the awesome trailers we got depicting this epic tale were really misleading. MGS games have always been famous for there thick and detailed cinematic story but oddly enough, this last part was really lacking in that department. The story itself was pretty slim to being with but add that with the length of the game and it just got stretched way too thin. Really horrible pacing. There were some awesome missions with memorable moments but they were very few and far between. The game also concluded on a pretty disappointing part as well. It completes the cycle but in a way that makes you go "That's it?".
Among the things that I didn't liked were the opening and ending credits after EVERY missions. WTF was that all about. The opening credits especially spoiled every mission by showing which character is appearing in it. A very poor decision. Also, Big Boss hardly talked in cutscenes. I liked Keifer Sutherland as the new voice for Big Boss and fitted really well to be honest but what's the point of having a great new voice when you hardly use it.
That being said, its not like I hated the story or anything. If you look it in a normal way, it is still a good enough story for a game with amazing gameplay and makes the game as a whole pretty worth your time. But the story was just sub-par for an MGS games, and disappoints even more since it was suppose to be the missing link and is the last MGS game by Kojima, completing the cycle of this decades long series.
All in all, its the weakest game in MGS series for me but still the game was pretty great even with the story disappointments. The 53 hours I spent finishing it were fun, otherwise I would have not spent so much time in a game. It's just not GOTY material or the 10/10s it got critically. Overrated in that regard.
Farewell MGS, best gaming franchise in the video game industry (That's not a trilogy). As far as the series go, this is how I would rank them:
MGS4>MGS3>MGS2>Peace Walker>MGS5 (Haven't played MGS1. Yeah yeah I know)