Ten Things I Did Between Loading Up Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, And Its Letting Me Play

This weekend I decided to spend a rare spare afternoon waiting for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain to start. Here’s what I did.

1) Played a few games of Alphabear

2) Stared at Kiefer Sutherland’s digital bumcrack

3) Grew a long, long beard that reaches to the ground

4) Learned the languages of the world

5) Occasionally moved my analogue stick back and forth

6) Wrote this

7) Grew concerned about a soldier’s inability to look under a bed

8) Mowed the New Forest

9) Watched the universe expand and contract

10) Evolved into a new lifeform, with gills, opposable knees, and teflon hair

(Cor, it gets pretty darned fun once it’s over though, eh?)


Top comments

  1. yan spaceman says:

    I extended the Bayeux Tapestry up to 1970.
  1. Barberetti says:

    Calling bullshit on number 3.

  2. Demiath says:

    Please define “start”.

    • Bobtree says:

      TPP only really starts after you reach Afghanistan, when you get to play a proper mission and then visit Mother Base and unlock free-roam. Before that is a 90 minute cutscene/tutorial/prologue, the length of which JW is griping about.

      • Synesthesia says:

        It’s also kojima saying goodbye in heartfelt, bombastic fashion. Seriously, john has no soul. There’s a fucking whale on fire.

        • Synesthesia says:

          fire whale is probably a better way to put it. Why do we not have edit buttons again?

          • Perry Noid says:

            “WEhale on Fire” is fine since it matches with what they call the mysteeerious fire man, “Man on Fire.”

        • havocwon says:

          Considering the majority of the Cutscene is also spoiled in trailers, as are the majority of them in the game itself it doesn’t really detract from the “wow this is mind-bendingly boring” effect.

          • Universal Quitter says:

            This confirms my suspicion that trailers are for children, idiots, and at best, games and movies you don’t plan on experiencing.

            By avoiding all of the hype, I got to enjoy my unskippable intro tutorial.

  3. Sarfrin says:

    This is the worst game review ever. It tells me nothing about gameplay or graphics (except Kiefer Sutherland’s non-analogue bum). How does John Walker keep his job?

    • Det. Bullock says:

      Well, the part about wiggling the analog stick was very objective, one might say.

    • Tsarcastic says:

      The title makes it pretty clear this is not a review of the game.

    • alms says:

      It’s inconceivable that this site I’ve been following religiously since well before 1873 as part of my daily ritual and that I know everything about still keeps this generic John Walker hack unit writing for them.

      Every single word he’s written about anything has always proven to be so horribly wrong, it’s science, I’m telling you.

      The only possible explanation is the Pope keeps bribing them!

      I hope every publisher whatsoever on the earth, past, future and present, has been, will be and is being adamantly refusing to send them keys and review codes.

    • xyzzy frobozz says:

      Oh I don’t know. I mean subjective impressions are subjective, right?

      For me it confirmed that the MGS series is still a bunch of overwrought wank, more concerned at the gravity of its overwrought wank story than actual gameplay.

      In that respect I fail to see how a serioud review would be any different from the several MGS games preceeding it.


      • Universal Quitter says:

        My subjective opinion is that your ideas about this game are stupid, and that you have no right to an opinion.

  4. geldonyetich says:

    According to Guiness in 2011, Metal Gear Solid IV has the world record for longest cut scene at 27 minutes, and the longest sequence of cut scenes over the entire game at 71 minutes.

    Perhaps Hideo Kojima is trying to defend his title.

    • kapone says:

      I remember that 27 minute cutscene well. Wife asked me to finish up so we could get to the shops before they closed. I said, sure thing, just as soon as the cutscene is over. We never made it to the shops, and she has despised everything MGS related ever since.

      • Det. Bullock says:

        That’s why I stopped waiting for cutscenes to finish when I was about 16, now I usually close evrithing with alt-F4 and try to play when I’m sure nobody will interrupt me.
        Though that means that some games, like fable, got uninstalled after a day or two of not being able to save the game after TWO EFFING HOURS of cutscens/tutorial.

        • Cinek says:

          And I thought that FarCry 4 crashing after 20 minutes of cutscene/introduction with no save was bad….

    • welverin says:

      Yep, the start of MGS5 is nothing compared to what you sit through in MGS4.

      • ResonanceCascade says:

        Yeah, and at least MGSV sneaks some tutorial and rudimentary gameplay in there.

    • Sin Vega says:

      The best part is how at least 80% of that time could be cut entirely and have no impact whatsoever on the story.

      • Marr says:

        It would have a huge impact on the idiom, though. It wouldn’t be Metal Gear.

        • Sin Vega says:

          Do you eat bees with your honey?

          • GBudee says:

            I rather like honeycomb beeswax in my honey, which is flavorless, and which I chew up and then spit back out. It’s fun, and it reminds me of the odd machinery that made the honey!

          • CallMeIshmael says:

            No, but I also don’t buy almond honey when I want clover or orange. I legitimately don’t understand all this griping about MGS5’s cutscene length (specifically MGS5; I can understand the griping about every other game in the series).
            Besides, at least MGS5’s opening is interesting. I love MGS3 to pieces, but its opening is a goddamn slog, and also lasts about twice as long.

      • hamilcarp says:

        You could say that about a lot of things. It is far more rare to find a story that is 100% economical in its telling.

  5. Minglefingler says:

    Please let’s not start cracking jokes about Keifer Sutherland’s bum. It probably won’t make a hole lot of difference butt at least I thought I’d try to raise the debate above toilet humour. Even if I am fighting a rearguard action.

    • frymaster says:

      well played.

    • JFS says:

      Why are people always so anal about butt-jokes.

    • Minglefingler says:

      I hear that in the game you can develop trained birds that roost in Kiefer’s bum. Release them and they’ll fly to enemy camps, gather intelligence and report back to Keifer with their nuggets of information before once again taking up residence in his anus. I believe that they’re called stool pigeons.

    • Bull0 says:

      I don’t know why we can’t have a serious discussion about the big opening.

    • mangrove says:

      A good entrance can suck you in and makes you lose the passage of time, but only if they’ve been dung right. Looks like I’ll be skipping this, fissure.

    • Minglefingler says:

      Well, if you want serious then I offer this food for thought, please slowly digest the following. I read an article that claims Keifer suffers from Irritable Bowel Syndrome. This is welcome news to me, even the most potent celebrity bad-ass suffers alongside the common man with this affliction. Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité.
      Disclaimer: The referenced article was from a piece I wrote in a jotter some years ago. The penciled cursive has faded to the point of illegilibility which makes me doubt my interpretation of the text.

    • bunionbell says:

      ugh, how crass

  6. The Sombrero Kid says:

    What the fuck is an opposable knee?

    • Morte66 says:

      The is no such thing as an opposable knee. Knees are only opposable in the plural.

      • BluePencil says:

        What if you took an arrow to one?

      • April March says:

        I don’t see why one could have a single opposing knee, if it was one’s fancy.

  7. yan spaceman says:

    I extended the Bayeux Tapestry up to 1970.

    • son_of_montfort says:

      Captain, I am detecting massive amounts of “win” in this sector.

      • Buggery says:

        Ugh no no no abort abort abort disengage comment

        Pull up son! Pull up!

  8. Andrew says:

    They fighting refunds, obv.

  9. Synesthesia says:

    haters gonna hate! at least they have this space. I’m off to afghanistan. Bye!

    • Foolish Wizard says:

      Unfortunately, Hayter’s not gonna Hayte :<

      OR MAYBE HE IS?!?!?!

  10. anHorse says:

    It’s a shame the intro is so boring because once you pass the movie-length tedium the game is really fun

  11. Premium User Badge

    Aerothorn says:

    John and Alec disagree about a game! I am shocked. SHOCKED.

  12. Tei says:

    I think is a perfect intro for a perfect game where I stay 40 min in some rocks in afganistan with my binoculars looking at some guardians routines, while I plan how I will enter the base and steal the guards, maybe kill the prisoner.

    • nearly says:

      I had a fun moment the other day where I threw the prisoner at the guards who had just surprised me and then, newly unencumbered, unloaded my shotgun into them on the floor. Then I realized why that was a bad idea and had to redo the mission.

  13. Bull0 says:

    What a worthwhile and clever post! I thought it was fairly well-paced and exciting. To each their own. On the bright side (for you, I guess) there’s not much story-heavy stuff after the intro.

  14. drygear says:

    Yeah the whole intro sequence is pretty bad. It was smart to release Ground Zeroes first because it shows what the game will be like eventually, otherwise someone might play the beginning of this and quit because they think this is what the game will be.

    • Enso says:

      Having played ground zeroes I found it even more frustrating because I Kew what I could be doing.

      But I loved the intro when you first put the disc in, with a midge ure rendition of the man who sold the world.

      • drygear says:

        That was great. I didn’t even know it was a cover, it sounds like a version David Bowie would do in the 80s.
        I didn’t mind any of the hospital bed part, it was just the whole going through the hospital took a lot longer than needed.

  15. Eight Rooks says:

    On the one hand, yup, it sure is odd to have a triple-A game in 2015 open with what is essentially a sixty-minute mildly interactive cutscene, and I can fully appreciate that for anyone who’s never played a Metal Gear game before it’d be doubly agonising.

    On the other hand, I’ll take said cutscene over ever playing Darksiders II or Shadows of Mordor again, thanks. Different strokes and all that.

    • SMGreer says:

      This. Goodness, it’s overlong and fairly tedious but it was never run of the mill, so I managed to be fairly invested even as it began to drag on.

      I’m actually beginning to get a little fatigued with endlessly Fulton extracting people and scanning guards with my binoculars, though I was thoroughly enjoying myself. I hope there’s a big shake up or cool boss fight round the corner to remind this isn’t just Far Cry with robots.

      • Eight Rooks says:

        This, in turn. It’s frequently excellent, but (among other flaws) it is long. Very, very long, apparently. I’m thirty hours in or so: Jason Schreier on Kotaku finished at around ninety (!) and made reference to the game dragging severely in the later stages, all but forcing him to grind for ages, which has me worried. It really is everything Metal Gear writ large, unfortunately for people such as John.

  16. LexxieJ says:

    Never mind all that, I want Teflon hair too.

  17. dsch says:

    11. Realised there are different ways of enjoying video games.

    Oh wait, never mind.

    • nindustrial says:

      Never mind indeed kettle ;)

      • dsch says:

        “Kettle”? For that to make sense, I’d have to have said “Realised there were different ways of not enjoying games.”

        • John Walker says:

          No, I think his point might have been that you were – in your comment – angrily policing someone else enjoying games differently than you do.

          • Nasarius says:

            I’ll never understand the point of slightly offended “but I liked it!” comments.

            OK sure, that’s absolutely fine. But it’s also OK to not like a thing. So unless you want to detail your enjoyment or make specific objections, it’s just not a useful comment to anyone.

          • dsch says:

            I’m not “angrily policing someone else enjoying games differently than you do.” That is what I am calling you out for. You are manifestly and ostentatiously not enjoying the game, and this article is a passive-aggressive way of policing other people’s responses and excluding other ways of enjoying. (Cf. the backlash against the photorealism article published here the other day.)

            RPS is a broadly progressive platform, and you would say the same about yourself. But this is in stark contradiction to the closely-held ideals which you regularly express categorically without room for questioning. I understand there is an ironic/rhetorical element to the form of your expression, but it contributes to creating an “us or them” attitude that stifles dissent and suppresses difference.

            A progressive platform has to remain agile and critical. The most important critique is self-critique, lest the positions we hold descend into dogma.

          • dsch says:

            Just to add, because this is important though not directly related to this article:

            As one of the leading progressive voices in games journalism, RPS really needs to be smarter about how it engages with the mainstream. It is all too tempting, in an age of Gamergate, to simply throw one’s hands up and retreat to a position of “we’re right and you’re wrong” (especially when you are right!). The radicalisation between a broadly liberal journalistic sphere and a reactionary segment of the public that feels unrepresented in the media is unproductive at the very least.

          • GWOP says:

            dsch, writing a hyperbolic article about one’s experience with a game for the sake of humor isn’t passive aggressively policing anybody. The only thing that was passive aggressive was your own original post. Your lack of self-awareness is astounding.

          • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

            Jesu christi, it’s a blog post. Check your whimsy module.

          • dsch says:

            @GWOP: Not by itself, but context matters. And of course my original post is passive aggressive. What it is not is policing. If you’re going to coopt the language of social justice, at least do it precisely.

            @GunnerMcCaffrey: Guess what? Blog posts matter. They are the equivalent of pamphlets and comic strips that used to be the medium of popular political expression. I’d guess by the fact you’re on RPS that you think gaming can be a form of “art.” Well, then it’s also necessary to accept that being “art” carries responsibilities.

          • GWOP says:

            @dsch: “Not by itself, but context matters.”

            … in context of what? Who was John being passive aggressive against exactly?

          • dsch says:

            Were you around for the RPS meltdown a couple of years ago? I forget exactly what it was about now, one of the feminist controversies, I think. That was when the comment policy (“If we find your post offensive, or just don’t like it …”) started, if I remember correctly. John was in the comments, telling people to “fuck off” (I’m not paraphrasing), etc. Anyway, that was a moment that really split the community and RPS took what I thought was a very dogmatic line. Ever since, for example, those “Dos and Don’ts” articles have seemed to me to close off more critical possibilities than they opened (even when I agreed with most of them). What bothers me is the uncompromising rhetoric about what a game is, how it should utilise the means of representation, and how those representations relate to the wider world. Here, for example, I do not think it’s over-reading to say that the force of the argument is very clearly that games should be interactive, they should not force the player to watch for too long, they should give the player agency as much as possible (however that is defined). But these positions are simply assumed without being laid out. The criterion is only the one-dimensional measure “how long do I wait before what I think is gameplay starts.” The player’s experience before that point when what is traditionally considered gameplay starts is simply written off as homogeneous, wasted time. Anyway, you get the idea. I’m not saying that this position is wrong, only that the way it’s presented forecloses discussions that might present other possibilities, and this kind of foreclosure is consistent with how other critical and political issues have been dealt with in the past.

          • GAmbrose says:

            I think you have issues, dsch

          • GWOP says:

            @dsch: I’m genuinely curious… have you ever considered that you have, for some time, completely misinterpreted John’s tone and intentions? That John knows very well that he doesn’t hold any power over developers, and the dictatorial tone of his “Dos and Don’ts” are completely self-aware and done for the sake of humor? That this article wasn’t aimed at any readers? That his response to people being abusive towards other writers and commentators would be very different from his writings about video games? You are being pretty confrontational, but John has yet to tell you to “fuck off.”

            It’s important not to presume on intent.

          • dsch says:

            @GAmbrose. Thanks for your substantive engagement.

          • dsch says:

            @GWOP. Could I be mistaken? Sure, I could always be mistaken. But is there any specific part of my analysis you would disagree with? It’s not just about the rhetoric or irony of a particular piece but a pattern of engagement. And my mother and I have been referred to by John enough times to be pretty sure.

            Also, this discussion is just a minor part of the much wider liberal discourse over privilege and representation. John’s attitude is that of a particular segment of liberal polemic (and I don’t think he would disagree with this). My position is basically the left critique of that.

          • dsch says:

            I mean, if any more evidence for where the bad conscience lies is needed, just look at the response of this community to student and how quickly it closes ranks. You are the only person to actually engage substantively.

          • pepperfez says:

            Why on earth would you expect substantive engagement with sneering dismissal? Acting like you’ve been wronged by the reaction to your comments is some first class woe-is-me rubbish.

          • dsch says:

            @pepperfez. Because my posts were just dripping with self-pity. Right. You’re grasping at straws.

          • John Walker says:

            dsch – We’ve had that comments policy since we started in 2007, and have always strictly (and angrily) enforced it – we just made it clearer on the site at some point.

            The Do/Don’t articles started in 2010, and that you’ve missed the tone of them on every occasion is perhaps a little revealing.

            I certainly have told people to fuck off, and that this is so horrific to you could maybe suggest you have some rather skewed ideas about rights and privileges.

            Your comment below (since deleted, because screw you) reveals your true intentions, so if you’re going to pretend to go the high-falutin’ faux-academia route, perhaps remember not to just shitpost right next door.

            This is a gag article about how the opening of MGSV is slow and stupid. Get some bloody perspective. And your mum.

          • tumbleworld says:

            Fucking hell. I’ve *really* got to learn to remember that the RPS comment section has been overrun by toxic fuck-knuckles in the last year or so. Forget ad-blockers, what I need is a comments-blocker.

    • Beefenstein says:

      I agree to never mind and, futhermore, do so about all your comments on this website for ever and ever.

  18. Sin Vega says:

    I particularly like number 5. Just in case cut scenes aren’t tedious enough, some devs like to force you to be the camera crew as well. Never actually playing, but not allowed to sit back and have a sandwich or whatever instead.

    • Qazi says:

      It works like this. Another button zooms in the camera a bit, allowing better focus. You then use your freedom of head movement to look at Kojima’s meaningless details – like The Sorrow’s corpse to your left after the Virtuous Mission in MGS3, or the progression of time being recorded on your medical chart to your right in MGS5’s hospital bed scene.

  19. Shadow says:

    I wish I got jokes.

    I mean seriously, it’s not even funny. It’s ironic as well, to waste time writing about a game wasting your time. Your frustration would’ve been lessened if you had used the 20 minutes it took to put this up to plow through the admittedly overlong prologue.

    If your spare afternoons are so rare, then use them wisely.

    Waste of time. And writing this comment was also one. Ta.

    • Sin Vega says:

      If your spare afternoons are so rare, then use them wisely.

      What, like, testing and then advising people of the nature and value of a videogame on your videogame website? Great idea, but … whoa, haaang on a minute

      • Shadow says:

        I’m not sure this entry did any of that. It merely communicates “the beginning is long and not very entertaining”, and I’d have saved that single sentence for a proper WIT.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Hah, bumhug.

    • John Walker says:

      I wrote it WHILE it was happening on the other screen. There was a little clue in #6.

    • Minglefingler says:

      For my money this is the best gaming website around at the minute and articles like this are a big part of the reason why. I don’t agree with John’s subtle implication that the prologue is an overlong excercise in cutscene wankery but I do find his wrong opinions entertaining. And if you don’t get jokes, this site will bewilder you.

      • Minglefingler says:

        I’m getting to the point now where the lack of an edit function is no longer enough of an excuse for me to throw my hands up after writing a comment and say “not me guv.” I have no idea why I put a comma after the word “jokes.”

        • John Walker says:

          In fairness, that isn’t what he wrote. Because I *do* have an edit button.

          • Minglefingler says:

            Ah, my first comment was a response to this:
            “I wish I got jokes.

            I mean seriously, it’s not even funny. It’s ironic as well, to waste time writing about a game wasting your time. Your frustration would’ve been lessened if you had used the 20 minutes it took to put this up to plow through the admittedly overlong prologue.

            If your spare afternoons are so rare, then use them wisely.

            Waste of time. And writing this comment was also one. Ta.”

            My second was me berating my own poor puncuation.

          • aleander says:

            Because I *do* have an edit button.

            Down with privilege!

  20. harvb says:

    I love how some people object to the articles on RPS. It’s as though they don’t understand sarcasm, irony or this site. It’s as though the site were acting as a numpty filter. I believe other websites are available.

  21. Minglefingler says:

    You know, I’m often staggered at the sheer bad manners of people on the internet. Just because someone writes something you don’t like doesn’t render it vapid and telling that person to shut up in your reply makes anything else you have to say worthless.

    • Minglefingler says:

      This was a reply to a comment that was far too rude for me to ignore in my current belligerent state. That rude comment is gone now, I just didn’t wabnt to look like I was screaming into the wind.

  22. Dozer says:

    “Occasionally moved my analogue stick back and forth”

    TMI, John. TMI.

  23. teije says:

    Pretty funny responses here to a light-hearted article I enjoyed. People do like to get riled up, don’t they?

    • Marr says:

      It’s RPS. A lot of folk around here are pre-riled by it existing at all. Also they think John should fire himself.

      • Kempston Wiggler says:

        …out of a cannon. Into the sun. Putting it mildly.

        Poor old John. He writes a tiny wee spot of fun and still gets jerks hating on him for it, and hating on it too. If I’d known this ‘planet earth’ would have so many jerks on it I’d have strangled myself in the womb with my own umbilical cord.

  24. LennyLeonardo says:

    Dear John, I quite liked the opening of the Phantom Pain for its more inventive elements and some of the ludicrous bombast, though I did feel myself becoming impatient to play the open world stealth game which was surely around the next corner. I appreciate your distaste, and respect your opinion. I also enjoyed the way in which you chose to express these. Love from Lenny

    • Pundabaya says:

      I actually enjoyed it. Sure it was a little bit long, but I lliked how it introduced creepy gas-mask kid and the Man on Fire and also messed with your mind. It actually made me sad that we will never see the Kojima Silent Hill, because the intro almost had that vibe.

  25. JoeDreddfort says:

    Keifer Sutherland does not play who you think he plays, John.

    • Eight Rooks says:

      No, much as I think John has a somewhat suspect opinion of what qualifies as boring and rubbish – quoting from his Twitter – I’m pretty sure Kiefer Sutherland’s voice was coming out of exactly who he assumed it was coming out of. The game hasn’t made any reference to it again in thirty hours, so far, but I assumed the same thing.

      (Also there was clearly an options screen straight after the opening, so I don’t know what he was wittering on about there either. Pretty sure it checkpoints as you play through the intro, too, IIRC.)

  26. KptKarnage says:

    I like turtles.

  27. celticdr says:

    Is it a generational thing or do some people really not get biting sarcasm?

    The amount of negative comments here is almost bewildering given the tongue-in-cheek attitude of the article… lighten up people.

  28. Xantonze says:

    The whole prologue is a bit of a joke from Kojima anyway, working as a comment on the previous games: giving you the “best soldier ever” and not allowing you to do anything but crawl and look at cleavages, mixing technical and medical pseudo-realistic stuff with “magic” shit, and even asking you to create your avatar face before telling you to sod off and make do with Snake’s face.

    It’s more of a statement: “ok, here’s what we used to do. Now welcome to Afghanistan and enjoy the new free-style MGS”.

    It’s also a funny nod to all the misleading trailers that were made for the game. If you remember those, you go “awww, that’s what it was!” every 5 mn, it’s quite nice.

    All in all, I thought the prologue was pretty funny… until they go Varsov Ghetto, give you a gun and let shit fly.

    • welverin says:

      I half expect that avatar face I made to end up being in MGO, not that I’ll ever play that.

      • DelrueOfDetroit says:

        I think it’s for the soldier that is used when you are on a mission and somebody infiltrates your base.

    • Dabruzzla says:

      Yes. Wanted to say the same. It’s supposed to be a spoof of the old metal gears while at the same time catering to the fans. I thought it was really well done and time passed really fast during the intro. Well you can’t get them all. There will always be naggers and complainers.

    • draglikepull says:

      The bit in the intro where it lets you create your own character and then makes you play as Big Boss anyway is the Hideo Kojima-est.

  29. LennyLeonardo says:

    If only commentors would give you a moment of peace, Walker.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Peace Walker. Oh, for God’s sake.

      • Marblecake says:

        I logged in to make a joke about how Peacewalker sounds like Blade’s lesser known brother who spends his days smoking the green stuff. Then something made me google “Peace Walker”. Then I felt dumb for not getting it but pleased that I was smart enough to google it.

        Uh…okay, enough sharing for today…

  30. Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

    I actually love Kojima’s cutscenes, but this really was the worst of both worlds. You “play”, do things, but they are so meaningless and boring… yet you can’t sit back with a nice cup of tea and enjoy a well-directed, bonkers cinematic, no, you have to keep pressing left stick. This really gives the expression “slow the game to a crawl” a new meaning.

    • Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

      Actually I now remember that there was a similar sequence in the end of MGS4, and it was just the worst.

  31. manowanus says:

    kill yourself