Just over 20 hours into it and I'm about thiiiiiiiis close (tiny pinching fingers) to calling MGSV one of the best video games I have ever played in 35 years of playing them. Pretty much everything I want out of a modern video game- most of which is rarely delivered by today's designs- is here.
You are absolutely correct- there is no doubt that this is a Hideo Kojima game but more importantly, his touch as a director and a creative mastermind is all over it. I think he is the only games maker working today that DESERVES to be called a director in the cinematic auteur sense of the word. There simply isn't anyone working at the AAA level that is making games this artful, idiosyncratic and innovative. There may never be again.
MGS has always been this fever dream where influences ranging from James Bond to Spaghetti Westerns to mecha anime commingle. But what has always made his work so compelling is the dissonance between his inspirations.There has always been this James Cameron-like obsession with technology and military hardware coupled with a dose of Jodorowsky-like surrealist mysticism all topped with an earthy sense of absurdity. There have always been these increasingly complex and meticulously detailed mechanics partnered with gameplay elements that are quite literally exactly the same as the first Metal Gear game on the NES/MSX. There has always been very serious real-world political and ethics debate mixed up with this fantasy culture of privatized warfare and nanomachines enabling its soldiers to do the impossible.
The list of highlights in my 20+ hours in the game are too many to spell out here. The opening scene is absolutely stunning, a better piece of horror filmmaking than just about anything else you'll see this year. Kojima makes you CRAWL through most of it. The open world missions have an organic, evolutionary flow unlike anything Rockstar or Ubisoft have been able to muster after years of having ceded the director's chair to players. I've seen- and played through- tons of "holy shit" moments where I was building a thrilling narrative without QTEs, cutscenes or any kind of guidance. Except when the hand of Kojima descends and suddenly that routine mission ends up with you hallucinating mechs and running from teleporting Skull soldiers as fast as you can.
His restless obsession with detail and minutiae is all over the work. I've learned about the medicinal uses of tarragon, tranquilized and fulton ballooned a raven and a bear, and learned how to make cardboard boxes. I've heard soldiers talking about how safe Russia's nuclear power plants are (in 1984) and Ocelot has broken down pretty much the entire real-world history of the Soviet war in Afghanistan. I've found cassette tapes of "She Blinded Me With Science" and "Rebel Yell". Everything is so meticulously drawn, arranged and presented. You may have complete freedom to approach the game however you want, but there is never any doubt who is orchestrating the whole thing. His signature is everywhere in every little trivial facet and every one of its multilayered systems.
Except on the game box.