I’d never played a Metal Gear Solid game before, so when Playstation offered the 2015 METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN free for PS+ members, I decided to try it. From a few Youtube videos, the game looked like an open world military stealth adventure with really good graphics and a few weird elements, such as hiding in cardboard boxes and capturing things with balloons.

Well, based on the hour-long totally over the top tutorial level, the game is even weirder than that.

As the protagonist, “Snake,” I woke up in a hospital to discover I had no left arm, been in a coma for nine years, and contained over 100 pieces of shrapnel, some of which were other people’s bones and teeth. Then an assassin killed my doctor and nurse with a wire, and a guy without pants (or underwear) helped me escape. We were chased by an army, Pippi Longstocking, a helicopter-eating red whale, and the X-men’s gimp on a flying flame unicorn, but were saved by a cowboy. And, no, this wasn’t a dream sequence.

If that makes any sense to you, maybe you’ve played a Metal Gear Solid game before. Honestly, the whole thing felt like someone had watched an 8-year-old boy play with a box of old toys at a yard sale and then turned that into a video game prologue.

When I got past the crazy intro and the actual game started, I picked flowers and went on a mission to return a man’s sunglasses. At that point, it was pretty much like Dishonored, without the corpse-eating rats, lore books, bath salts, and crumbling Victorian architecture. Sneak around, kill people, hide bodies.

From what I understand, if I continue playing, I’ll have my own secret base where I can kidnap soldiers to work for me, punch them for morale, and ogle a woman who’s medically required to wear a bikini.

Rated “M” for mature audiences, with blood and gore, intense violence, sexual themes, and strong language.

THE PHANTOM PAIN also used this amazing song, written by David Bowie, which somehow I’d never heard before.

~ J.L. Hilton

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