MGS V: The Phantom Pain, welcome to Snake’s jungle

Oh, Hideo. What won’t you do next ? A wolf sidekick, an inflatable copycat, calling in Quiet as sniper support, an electric hand, a wonderfully lush new jungle environment Kojima threw the kitchen sink (andallthe cardboard boxes) in Metal Gear Solid V’s latest info splurge. Snake has never been in sillier or more gloriously subversive form.

Firstly, that new jungle. Damn. Set somewhere in Africa, the leafy location conjures memories of MGS3: Snake Eater, with a teeming forest full of sweltering new-gen foliage. Mmmm, fully polygonal grass tufts. The scale goes far beyond Big Boss’ PS2 Cold War classic, though: witness those sweeping canyons that seemingly stretch for miles, all full of lovingly crafted details.

Rock hard
Indeed, the new locale seems to be pushing a more overt sense of verticality for your sneaking. Snake can be seen crack climbing at one point (stop sniggering at the back), athletically scaling craggy surfaces on the hunt for an item drop. Cutely, you can even order a new Sneaking Suit, called in from Mother Base, via the handy Fulton courier service.

Impressed by that? Pfft, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Snake’s fancy box (compete with underwear model flaps) may have seduced earlier this year, but no corrugated cardboard can compete with the stealth agent’s new Active Decoy. A tricksy gadget that creates what’s essentially a blow-up doll of Big Boss, your one-eyed hero can lure guards into a copycat trap. Time it right,and you can even use the mimic to knock enemies off ledges.
All that, and we’ve not even covered Snake's furry new friend. Ah yes: Diamond Dog (DD for short). The legendary soldier adopts this orphaned wolf pup in the jungle, rearing it to health and substantial size back at Mother Base.

It’s unclear how long it takes for DD to mature, but when the adorable tyke reaches adulthood, you can call the wolf in to take part in missions with you. In another classic Koj touch, your four-legged pal even wears an eye patch in true Big Boss style.

Silent treatment
The mysterious (and no doubt freezing) Quiet can also be called in to assist you on the battlefield. Going against expectations, it seems the scantily clad sniper is an ally, not an enemy. There’s even a flash of the sort of mentor/pupil chemistry Snake shared with The Boss in MGS3, in a short scene where he shields her from the wrath of troops back on his floating fortress. In the heat of battle, we
can see calling Quiet in to dispatch foes from afar being a damn handy option for those who enjoy their sneaky kills delivered from 500 ft away.

If there’s a slight concern from our latest look it’s that Snake's globe-trotting may make the story unfocused. Traditionally, the best Metal Gears have benefited from being set in a single location… though we’re not exactly going to moan about the beautiful desert and jungle already served up.

If the quality of  The Phantom Pain’s storytelling can match the imagination of Snake’s seemingly endless set of gadgets or the scale of his sandboxes, you could be looking at the game to beat in 2015.

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