This Isn’t a Demo?
“I knew this was coming.”
That’s what I kept telling myself after completing Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes . Recent press releases had explained the intentions for this game to function only as a prologue, but even with this warning I couldn’t believe the game was over as quickly as it was.
It’s not that it wasn’t excellent. It was, it’s just that it felt like a demo more than a game I would fork over 30 bucks for. And that’s the big problem I have with MGS V: GZ –why would I pay this much for this game? I wouldn’t, plain and simple. Let me explain.
The story portion of Ground Zeroes is so laughably short it’s amazing. Even exploring and testing out Snake’s (or Big Boss, or whatever the hell his name is in this one) abilities, I completed the campaign in its entirety in about an hour and a half. This included the lengthy cutscenes you will always find in a MGS game, and reading the 11-page backstory that’s included in the game’s menu. I can’t be the only one who’s upset by this. It’s as if Kojima took the intended demo for Phantom Pain , dressed it up a little bit and BAM, Ground Zeroes was born.
However, the campaign isn’t the only thing to do in Ground Zeroes . Once completing the campaign mode on normal, you unlock hard mode, as well as several side missions (that all take place on the same map), and challenges to complete. While these extra distractions are a welcome addition to the normal campaign, it still feels like a cheap way to bolster a story level that would otherwise have been released as a demo. All-in-all, I felt like I was “done” with the game after a few hours, which was entirely too short.
Okay, enough of the negativity. Because if you take away the length issue, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is quite an impressive game.
Of course, you play as Snake (a.k.a. Big Boss) as he attempts to rescue two young members of his Special Operations Group–The traitor Paz and a young boy named Chico. You’ll have to use all of the tools and abilities at your disposal to remain undetected. If you are detected, don’t worry too much, because you can run and hide to lose your enemies and reset the alert level in true Metal Gear fashion.
The purpose of this story is to show how Snake was put into a coma for 9 years, setting up The Phantom Pain beautifully. Cutscenes are tremendously meticulous and of the highest quality, which has me salivating for The Phantom Pain even more than before. Even in this short campaign, there were moments in the storytelling that had me cringing in pain, especially the final cutscene. I won’t spoil anything for you, because there isn’t that much to spoil and Ground Zeroes needs every shred of goodness it has. But I can honestly say I loved what I did get to play and if The Phantom Pain is anything like Ground Zeroes , they will have sold at least one more copy based off of my time with this game.
In addition to the main story (which is exactly what I described above; yes, it’s that short) you can do side missions that you unlock after your first playthrough. The side missions all take place on the same map, so it will all seem quite familiar as you begin each one. Each mission does have different objectives and doesn’t cross over to other missions as you play, so each one basically consists of insertion, completion, extraction. This does expand the amount of play time considerably, if you’re interested in playing it.
The visuals of this game are absolutely stunning. Rain and wind effects noticeably alter each texture, making for a rich environment to stealth around in. Lighting effects add a ton of production value to the map, and in concert with the weather effects create a truly “next-gen” landscape. Characters (especially Snake) move very naturally, and don’t look as stiff as in previous games. For instance, as Snake sneaks around the corners of the Black Site, he will put his hands on walls and other objects to steady himself as he moves positions. I know it sounds like a minor thing, but this attention to the small details add greatly to the fluidity of the character, making it more believable.
Combat gets some love too. In addition to completely believable weapon firing physics and character movement, you also get slow motion detection sequences that add a ton of value to the gameplay. After an enemy detects you fully, you get a few seconds of “Slo-mo” time to take out the threat before he can alert others. The weapon of choice for this is probably your silenced sleep dart pistol, but if you want to get into a hairy situation, feel free to use the fully-automatic weapon of your choosing.
The soundscape of MGS V: GZ is complete in every detail. From flags flapping in the wind and the hiss of drizzling rain, to the screech of the brakes of an approaching vehicle and the sounds of automatic gunfire, Ground Zeroes nails it. The astounding voice cast delivers grade-A performances throughout, and Keifer Sutherland hits a homerun as Snake (even though Hayter will always be Snake.) This fully developed audio landscape only functions to bring the amazing visuals to life that much more, so it does its job more than admirably.
One of my favorite things about Ground Zeroes is how (despite next-gen visuals, sound, and controls) it still retains the soul of the Metal Gear Solid franchise. Even after all these years, these games are still about Tactical Stealth Espionage, and Ground Zeroes is no exception to that, which is a very good thing.
Overall, I was extremely impressed with Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes . A competent technical package of solid controls, awesome sound and beyond excellent visuals deliver a truly next-gen experience for anyone lucky enough to play the game on a PS4 or Xbox One. The one major drawback to the game is, of course, the severely inflated price which I can’t seem to justify, given the length of playtime available in the game.
So, I guess you have to ask yourself one question–How big of a Metal Gear fan are you? If you can wait, the price of this game will almost certainly go down quickly. But if you can’t wait and you have the extra money, you will love Ground Zeroes no matter how short it is. It gives us a glimpse of the greatness that is sure to come in The Phantom Pain , let’s us get our Metal Gear fix, and shows us the future of stealth games on next-gen consoles. While I don’t agree with the price, I can most definitely say it is the most fun I’ve had in a MGS game in a long time and is easily worth your time. But will fans pay for it? Only time will tell on that one. Hopefully, this little experiment won’t start a flood of partially completed games touting themselves as “prologues” hitting the market. If so, we may see the end of demos, and none of us want that.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 5.0 Graphics
Stunning visuals show the capability of Next-Gen consoles. 4.5 Control
The control scheme feels more natural than ever. 4.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Excellent voice-over work and a full soundscape fill out an overall impressive technical package. 3.0 Play Value
It’s simply over too soon. Even though you do unlock more to do after your first story playthrough, it just feels like a demo more than a complete game. 3.5 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best