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Metal Gear Solid V by Ludvig Forssell & Justin Burnett (Review)

posted Oct 8, 2015, 10:13 PM by Kaya Savas

Metal Gear Solid’s saga as a game franchise is quite iconic. Everything about the game is iconic, from the gameplay, to the style, the storytelling, voice acting and especially the music. I mean, my goodness the music. Metal Gear Solid’s musical legacy is quite astonishing. Which is why it pains me to say that Metal Gear Solid V is just a very lacking musical experience overall. The game itself has been plagued with delays in production and a very public falling out between Konami and Kojima. While everyone is enjoying it now, I guess I seem to be the one still trying to figure out what the game is. Gone are the days of the iconic Metal Gear Solid theme introduced on the Playstation game in 1998 with a true espionage score by Norihiko Hibino. Harry Gregson-Williams kept the theme alive in Sons Of Liberty and Snake Eater, and even evolved it for Metal Gear Solid 4. The series had a huge musical identity. And while what we have here is a very serviceable and at times enjoyable effort, the score overall is pretty one-dimensional and forgettable.

Hideo Kojima said he wanted to go in a different creative direction for Metal Gear Solid V. That is why he replaced David Hayter with Kiefer Sutherland and adopted the open world gameplay. The result for me at least is a game that feels like a less detailed Far Cry blended with Red Dead Redemption. Harry Gregson-Williams departed the project because of the delays and Hideo hired newcomer Ludvig Forssell to be the lead composer. Ludvig had never scored anything before this. Harry scored the prologue known as Ground Zeroes and had Justin Burnett fill in to co-compose with Ludvig on the main game known as The Phantom Pain. There is also some additional music from Daniel James, and Akihito Honda helped with the songs. The result is a mishmash of generic action music. There is no identity, no emotion and lack of narrative drive. The music just tries its best to balance the sandbox nature of the game with the story when it’s there. Justin Burnett’s work is definitely the strongest in the game, probably because he’s a veteran composer. Ludvig does his best to sound epic and “actiony”, but in the end sound like generic filler. When all is said and done, the music can be invigorating in certain gameplay situations but it fails to build a world.

I was very disappointed with Metal Gear Solid V, and honestly don’t understand the amazing ratings it’s getting for the game itself. The game is fun sure, but it’s not Metal Gear. Just call it something else, why keep milking this franchise where no one knows what is happening in the story. Musically, the score here is filler music. There is a wash of generic action arcs, and the only real sonic identity comes from Justin Burnett’s work. This is not a terrible game score by any means, but it surely is a disappointing one given the legacy that is behind the franchise.