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V Has Come To: Concerning ‘MGSV’ and the year’s best opening sequence

V Has Come To: Concerning ‘MGSV’ and the year’s best opening sequence


A great opening can really set the tone for any piece of art. Whether it be a films first scene or an albums initial track, the opening will be the first thing you engage with in an artists work, and as such, it has the potential to be the most important part of the package. This is certainly true of the opening of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, director/designer/writer/producer Hideo Kojima’s final piece of his acclaimed Metal Gear saga.

The opening in question is a masterwork of excitement and emotion, and a fantastic example of how to engage the player right from the start. Beginning with Big Boss awakening from his coma, set brilliantly to David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World”, MGSV fades in on a blurry first person point of view as Snake comes to and is introduced to his new life as an amputee before all hell breaks loose.

Soon a woman enters and executes both the Boss’ doctor and nurse before attempting to strangle out Naked Snake himself. Only the fiery intervention of the mysterious Ishmael saves him from certain death. What follows, a devastating series of escapes and close calls, culminating in an encounter with an unstoppable enemy from Snake’s past, is easily the standout sequence of the year.

It calls to mind the opening of another recent classic, The Last of Us, in which we are lulled into a false sense of security before having the rug abruptly pulled from under us as chaos descends. In this case chaos comes in the form of Cypher’s XOF forces, who are intent on making sure “V” goes down for the count this time, even if they have to execute an entire hospital worth of staff and patients in order to get the job done.

The intensity and seriousness of the military force that comes after you, as a player, is part of what makes the brutal scenes of carnage and suspense so effective. The other part of this, of course, comes from the sense of weakness that is imparted on the greatest soldier that ever lived.

With his muscles atrophied from a coma, Big Boss awakens barely able to crawl. The irony of seeing a character, who’s best known iteration is perhaps to see him slinking across the ground like his namesake, brought so low as to have no other option, and to be doing so with such obvious weakness and vulnerability, is a key component of why the sequence works so well in the first place.

Despite the series penchant for scenes where your protagonist is tortured, never before has Solid Snake, Big Boss, or even Raiden, been guided and protected in the way that V is here. In this way the clear level of the threat, as demonstrated again and again as those around you are egregiously wiped out, along with the weakened nature of the principle character, become the most important part of making the opening work so well.

With hefty doses of adrenaline, a half dozen Easter eggs, and the most effective sense of fear and dread the series has ever seen, MGSV‘s beginning may be its absolute finest moment, and is destined to go down in history as one of the best sequences gaming has ever produced.