Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is the prologue game to the upcoming The Phantom Pain, developed by Konami and one of the games in a long line of Metal Gear Epics known as one of the best series around. This short prologue game features the new improvements in the game, the new engine and is set to ease the player into the new systems Metal Gear is using. But is it worth the price tag for such a short game?
Ground Zeroes picks off from the previous release Peace Walker as Big Boss/Naked Snake completes his mission given by undercover agent Paz, with her final betrayal at the end of the game and her disappearance in the deep ocean. Ground Zeroes starts off telling us that Chico has gone out on his own as he believed Paz to still be alive and is being held captive on an island near Cuba.
Upon arriving on the Black Site known as Camp Omega you rescue Chico and find out that Paz has indeed been found as if being held captive deeper inside the base, and it is your task to infiltrate and extract her alive for Intel as well as to keep your own secrets hidden.
The main story lasts around an hour, my first playthrough taking 78minutes, and doesn’t divulge too much about the upcoming game, but rather ties off loose ends left from Peace Walker and eases it into the sequel with more questions and a new mission.
There isn’t much to say on the story considering it is so short, but you can definitely tell it’s a MGS game from the feel it gives you and the conspiracy’s and hidden meanings you find within each conversation.
Besides the main story mission there are also 5 side missions within the same base complex with varying objectives, one to ride in the helicopter to cover a fleeing agent who has a great resemblance to a friendly face, another to infiltrate and gather Intel from an inside agent and one to assassinate two targets and escape. All the side missions took me between 10 and 20 minutes to complete on my first run with A or B rankings, and closer to 10 minutes on a second playthrough, not adding too much to the overall playtime. The story mission also took me only 40 minutes on a CQC run and 14 on a stealth no-kill run.
Introducing the new FOX engine, Ground Zeroes feels very similar to the other entries in the series with only some minor additions and tweaks. You control Big Boss with the left analogue stick and sprint by pushing it in, rolling is done with the Square button and context sensitive actions are done with Triangle like jumping or opening locks. The massive inventory system has been exchanged for a heavy weapon, side arm, grenade and special weapon slots, constricting you to only keeping a select arsenal at all times, which can be accessed with the directional buttons.
One of the most notable additions is the slowdown Focus mode when you are spotted by an enemy, giving you 2 or so seconds to react to a mistake and take down the guard. On top of the slowdown mode you can also mark enemies by focusing on them with your binoculars or pushing in the right analogue stick, allowing you to track them on the map and see them through objects. These mechanics can be turned off in the options however to have the core MGS feel.
One of the biggest changes I feel is that of changing the Codec Calls to Intel Call, where you look at something then press the left trigger to get Kazuhira Miller to tell you some information of the object you are inspecting. Though this can give some useful information or even backstory there can be useless information like “It’s a guard” or “It’s a spotlight, don’t get spotted by it”. The change feels very lacklustre as in previous games the Codec calls were one of the activities gamers could spend hours in, listening to backstory, information, hints and casual chit chat between the characters allowing for character development.
Another bit change is switching from the health and ration mechanic found in the majority of the releases to an invisible health bar indicated with a bloody screen and healing whilst not getting hit. This change seems rather pointless and brings MGS into a more FPS genre than a sneaking genre as it allows for such a non-immersive experience as you don’t have to store your rations for important fights and rather hide behind a wall until running into the fray again.
There are also collectables to be found within Camp Omega, the 9 XOF patches and the audio logs that delve more into the story. These add to the 100% completion of the game as well as add another activity to go after whilst exploring the base.
Overall Thoughts and Feelings
The music score is almost absent in Ground Zeroes, with only noticing the music selections made within the helicopter or the main menu. The main song in Ground Zeroes, Joan Baez – Here’s to you, Nicola and Bart, is the most notable and memorable song to be heard as it is played in the beginning cutscene, used in other scenes and will most definitely get stuck in your head… like it is in mine. Besides the music, the sound effects and ambients are well made, adding to the immersion in the mission making you feel as if the base is alive and helps to set the sneaking tone.
The graphics on the PS4 version are spectacular to look at, the water and lighting effects in particular stand out as the water glistens flawlessly against the searchlights and buildings lights. I would say the game looks too shiny in parts, but this can be overlooked as it feels like it is going for the ultra-realistic theme.
In my opinion, so much has been changed from the previous games to this one it feels too different in my mind. If the changes were made over more games with a more steady pace I would have been able to accept it easier, but it feels more like a Splinter Cell game and not a Metal Gear game. Though these changes appeal to a new FPS orientated audience, as well as casual/inexperienced gamers with the mechanics like Focus or marking to make it easier.
Overall I would give Ground Zeroes a 3/5, it is too short for the price at the moment, at around £30 for up to 4-5 hours of gameplay, and that is with replays. The game doesn’t offer much, one base to explore and 5 missions inside of that same base. Ground Zeroes relies too heavily on replay value to sell itself, where the graphics and sound design are great and the game plays very well it just lacks the bang needed to warrant a sale of over £20. Fans of the series will more than likely still love the game like I have, but looking at it from all angles, it is not worth it right now, I would suggest waiting closer to the release of The Phantom Pain.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.