Before I begin, I'd like to state that, for the record, I'm a huge Metal Gear fan. I've played through every entry (except The Phantom Pain since it's not out yet) and loved them all. I could go on for hours about what is so great about this franchise, but fans and non-fans alike need to realize that something fishy is amidst the early Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain reviews.
Metal Gear games have been known for getting perfect scores in the past, so is The Phantom Pain worthy of the 9's and perfect 10's it's been receiving from early reviews? I personally do not know yet (I haven't played it yet). It could, by all means, be as amazing as early reviews say it is, but that's not the issue here. It's how certain game journalists played the game early and reviewed it. That's what needs to be addressed.
Typically, when a game journalist wants to get a copy of a game early to review: they contact the developer/publisher, inform them of their intentions, sign an NDA (Non-disclosure agreement), and get the game early to review, but that's not what happened with The Phantom Pain.
The following is a statement from Dan Dawkins at GamesRadar:
"For fear of spoilers, Konami invited journalists to review the game at five-day 'boot camps' tied to strict NDAs (non-disclosure agreements). We played between 9am to 5pm, with no unsupervised play outside these hours. That's a maximum play time of 40 hours, assuming no stoppages for eating, drinking, stretching or reality. So you're trying to complete a 35-50 hour game (or longer, depending on your play style and the nature of your 'completion' I can't say more), that you've been anticipating for five years, in a realistic window of 30-35 hours. On one hand, you're finally immersed in one of the deepest, most experimental, open-worlds in history √¢‚Ç¨‚Äú overwhelmed by side-missions, upgrades and secrets √¢‚Ç¨‚Äú on the other, haunted by a tick-tock race to reach the 'end' without knowing when that is."
That last paragraph is reason enough to not trust early reviews, but it goes even deeper.
This statement also comes from Dan Dawkins and gives you a bit more insight into how the game was played:
“Based on the UK boot camp, I know of only one reviewer (who was able to play for six days) who has seen enough of the game to deliver a meaningful perspective and I can't even explain why for fear of spoilers. In my boot camp, reviewers were charging through missions wearing the chicken hat (which makes you invisible) almost completely ignoring Mother Base and all the side-ops in a race for the 'end'. Will it score high? I mean, duh, but I don't feel the boot camp was sufficient basis to offer my views on Kojima's intentions and MGS5's abiding legacy. At times, the boot camp felt like being gifted a bottle of Macallan 1946 whiskey in a frat house and being told to chug, chug, chug.“
That last statement openly reveals that most journalists that partook in these 'boot camps' did not play The Phantom Pain to it's entirety.
So how is it that these same journalists that gave The Phantom Pain 9's and perfect 10's did so without even playing through the entire game? I shouldn't have to tell you that you have to play through the ENTIRE game to review it fairly.
A hands-on report from RockPaperShotgun claims that reviewers were under strict NDA to "share only information that was deemed necessary by Konami higher-ups."
It's completely understandable that Konami doesn't want story spoilers to be leaked, but they went about it all the wrong ways. The way Konami went about this means that journalists cherry picked the things they liked to put into their reviews and did not report on many things that may have hindered the game experience if Konami found these details "necessary".
Many journalists were quick to point out that the story wasn't up to par with previous Metal Gear entries, forced combat in many unnecessary moments, and included serious pay-walls in the form of microtransactions; yet that still warrants scores of perfect 10's by the same journalists?
The two aforementioned journalist sites did not have to share the 'boot camp' and NDA details, but they did. Most journalists wouldn't have and most didn't. All the journalists that gave The Phantom Pain 9's and 10's failed to mention the inner workings of the 'boot camps' and the NDAs. Were they trying to hide something or did they simply "forget"?
Again, this article isn't bashing The Phantom Pain. Is The Phantom Pain worthy of the 9's and 10's it has been receiving? It very well could be, but that's not the issue here. This article only serves as an attempt to bring important information to light that was trying to be hidden.