When Metal Gear Solid V was announced in August 2012 I was hooked. A burning hospital being taken over by an unknown highly trained military group. A Big Boss like bearded character stumbling on the ground trying to escape. A bandaged face patient is your only chance at escape from this hell. The trailer served to give us a tease of what we can expect for the next part of the Metal Gear franchise, more suspense, thrills, and WTFs. Left with more questions than answers the only thing I knew is that I wanted it!
MGS V: Ground Zeroes is Kojima Productions’ offering to hungry fans who cannot wait for the next installment. It serves as a prologue to the upcoming game Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, giving us a chance to try out the new mechanics and see what the new “FOX” engine is all about.
Released on the Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One, it sneaks in at a hefty price point of $30. No doubt unsuspecting consumers might find this game on the shelf expecting a more substantial cinematic Metal Gear experience only to be disappointed. Be warned that Ground Zeroes is a prologue along the lines of Dead Rising 2: Case Zero. That is, a self contained experience more akin to a demo than a full retail game. I too was reluctant given the circumstances but it was quickly forgotten when I started playing.
Right off the bat the game looks absolutely amazing. The FOX engine struts its stuff showing that it is flexible enough to offer a solid multiplatform experience on previous generation consoles and yet is still powerful enough to shine on the newly released machines. Once you see it on the PS4 you may never want to look back! Apart from some popin issues, the game looks and runs smooth. From the blinding flare effects of searchlights to the smallest detail of a soldier’s rain pancho, Ground Zeroes’ visuals are nothing to scoff at.
Ground Zeroes takes place over the course of six missions entirely contained inside a cuban military base, they all come with differing atmospheres and quirks. Fear not, even though you’re being confined to one area theres plenty to do and see. The main mission is played during a vicious storm in the dead of the night and shows off great rain and lighting effects. The side missions are set in various times of the day in sunny, cloudy, and even snowy weather. All to give you a small preview of how the upcoming weather and day/night systems will change the look and feel of a given area.
The real meat of the game is found in its open world design and replayable nature. Strategy and planning are more important than ever before and each path you take potentially offers a different experience. Do you sneak in on foot or use a vehicle? Do you take out a guard to steal his truck or do you hide in the back to be driven around the base? How about eavesdropping on enemy chatter to find hidden weaponry or go in guns blazing with what you have on hand? Choices like these really flesh out the experience and can lead to some interesting situations as you play the missions over and over.
As with the shiny new engine, the gameplay has been completely reworked. The sneaking in this game is some of the best feeling stealth mechanics I’ve ever played and thankfully the game is equally competent at handling itself when slow and silent just won’t cut it. I found myself having a ton of fun whether I was hiding in the shadows, dodging bullets, or speeding down the roads in a jeep. Theres something here for everyone as every style of play feels like a viable course of action.
If you’re wondering which version to get, by far the PS4 is the definitive copy, a breakdown comparison can be found on Konami‘s site. There is also a mission exclusive to both the Playstation and the Xbox. On the Playstation side you are given some awesome fan service for Metal Gear Solid 1. As for the Xbox version you are given a more action oriented mission of shooting down snatchers as Metal Gear Rising’s cyborg ninja Raiden with an extreme lack of swords.
As stated previously, the game is dreadfully short. I clocked the main mission at a little over 2 hours. However I found myself pushing 40+ hours of gameplay to find all the secrets and try out some different play styles. If you think a game ends when the credits roll then maybe this is not for you. If you can look past those expectations you’ll find an incredibly enjoyable sandbox playground to be able to get ready for the real Metal Gear Solid V.