Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain – The Complete Official Guide (2015)

This is one of the best video game guidebooks I’ve ever read.

The actual core walkthrough section is extremely well-done, with loads of maps, images, tips, structured guides, and what not, the epitome of what a game walkthrough should be.

But the book goes above and beyond – there’s a lengthy art section, particularly notable for having musings by famed series director Hideo Kojima throughout. These are very interesting and insightful. One example is ““The hospital escape in Cyprus shows how [the Metal Gear Solid series] establishes cinematic drama within an action game. The style is consistent with that found in linear games. The prologue serves to remind the player of the gaming experience in previous [Metal Gear Solid games], and this then quickly evolves into something new. In this scene, Snake’s crawling, then crouching and eventual standing is symbolic of man’s evolution”.

There’s also a great story recap and timeline for the series, offering some very well-articulated thoughts on the themes and philosophies put forward in the series.

There’s some elements – the book goes to bizarre lengths to not spoil the ending of the game, stating numerous times Konami asked them to not mention or comment on it…but then, near the end of the book, there are two pages completely spoiling and explaining it, just doing so in a Socratic method style. It’s really quite bizarre.

There’s a lot less need for video game guidebooks in the age of the internet, but every now and again there comes along one as fantastic as this, that reminds one why they used to be so popular. I give it four cassette tapes, and a chain of retaliation.

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