Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes Review

MGSVMetal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (Available on PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One)
ESRB Rating: M
Number of Players: 1
Genre: Action
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Kojima Productions
Release Date: March 18th, 2014

Parent Talk: The ESRB rates MGSV: Ground Zeroes M for mature because of blood and gore, intense violence, sexual violence, and strong language.  Like all previous entries in the series, you sneak around taking out unsuspecting enemies by shooting them, breaking their necks, or by non-lethal methods such as putting them to sleep with a tranquilizer.  There are some very mature themed cut-scenes though, one of which will leave you reeling.  If you’re squeamish you might to play something else.

Plays Like: If you’ve experienced Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, or any of the older Metal Gear Solid games you should have a very good idea of what to expect here.  The difference is that the world itself is open.  The campaign takes place within a large military compound, but there are no limits to how you can achieve your mission objectives.  The series has dabbled with ideas of non-linear progression, but never to this extent, and because of that this truly feels like a next-gen Metal Gear.

Review Basis: I played through the PlayStation 4 version of the game and completed the campaign in forty-two minutes.  I then proceeded to polish off the unlockable side missions, in a very short amount of time.

When I first turned the game on, I was immediately shocked by just how beautiful everything looked.  It was just incredible.  The new gameplay features were also exciting to learn and put into action.  Problem is, something was off with the rest of the game.  Where was David Hayter, and why was the game over within an hour?!?  These issues left much more of a sting than I thought they would.  While it’s true there is a lot of replay value in the unlockable side missions, I still find Ground Zeroes feels much more like an E3 demo than a full-fledged game you should be paying $30 or more for.

MGSV1The Great:

A true next-gen Metal Gear Solid.  Almost everyone reading this has likely played a Metal Gear game before.  If you’ve played Peace Walker you’ll get more out of Ground Zeroes than those who haven’t as the story fills in the gap between Peace Walker and The Phantom Pain, which will be released within the next two years if all goes well.  Gameplay improvements include a new stealth system that completely removes the HUD map.  Now you have to use your binoculars in order to locate enemies, tag them, and follow them on your map.  The catch is you have to bring up your map in real-time, meaning there’s always a sense of urgency because you can be spotted at any time.

As you’re sneaking by, enemy field-of-vision is represented by a circular white light which gains intensity the closer you get to an enemy.  Should you be spotted, Snake enters a reflex state where you have a few seconds to react.  Usually you have enough time to shoot off a round or two, so make sure your aim is steady for that all important head shot.  Failure to eliminate the treat will result in the entire base actively looking for Snake.  You can do what you’ve always done, stick to the shadows and wait for things to calm down, or you can stay your ground and kill everything that dares come close to you.  It’s important to pay attention to the radio chatter during these scenes as you can piece together when reinforcements will arrive.  It’s a great new system that really helps immerse players in this brand new world.

The open world nature also dramatically changes the gameplay.  There are jeeps you can ride, watch towers you can shoot down with an RPG, and naturally you can mix and match how you want to tackle each mission objective.  This freedom greatly changes how you approach enemy encounters, reach destinations, explore, and having fun.

MGSV2The Good:

+ The side missions, including one exclusive side mission per console, give Ground Zeroes plenty of replay value.  The side missions vary from being more action orientated to more stealth based.  They all take place within the same environment, however typically during different times of the day.  Where the main campaign takes place during the night and with heavy rain, one of the other missions might take place during the day.  Regardless of what your mission objective is, these side missions only last for a very short period of time.

+ Ranks will keep you coming back for more, and trophies/achievements don’t hurt either.  While there’s no denying the game’s content is ultra-thin, the fact you can unlock new starter weapons by performing better during the missions make Ground Zeroes a game you’ll want to keep coming back to.

+ Graphically this is one of the most stunning videogames released on next-gen consoles as of writing this review.  The Fox Engine is clearly up to the task of delivering impressive visuals at a constant 60 frames-per-second.  The Xbox One version looks almost exactly the same as the PS4 version although it’s slightly less sharp.

MGSV3The So-So:

+/- The narrative is a bit of a hit and miss.  While it’s great finding out more about this awesome universe, it seems Kojima-san tried to push the boundaries just for the sake of doing so.  There are hints that one of the female characters was either raped or had some other form of sexual violence performed to her, and yet this is a game where one of the main antagonists is named Skull Face.  Often I found the very serious moments didn’t jive well with the absurd nature of the very world in which the tale is being told.

The Bad:

– Say what you will about Kiefer Sutherland, but he’s no David Hayter, and longtime fans will immediately notice that Snake no longer feels the same.  Sutherland does a good job with the dialogue, but I can’t lie to all of you, when Snake first started moving around and taking I didn’t realize who was talking.  I had completely forgotten that Kiefer had replaced David Hayter.  There is absolutely no reason for this change, and I’ve got to say it is really disappointing and makes Snake feel souless.

MGSV4The Ugly:

30 to 40  dollars for this game is asking way too much.  I know there is a lot of replay value, but let’s face facts here, Zone of the Enders contained a multi-hour demo for Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty on the PlayStation 2, and that was included for free with the purchase of ZOE.  I don’t know why Konami didn’t do something similar here, perhaps pairing this with Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2.  My fear is that when The Phantom Pain is released people who purchased Ground Zeroes will simply brush it off thinking it’s just another demo, when in fact it’s a full-fledged release.

MGSV5The Lowdown:

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is an incredible promise of what’s to come.  The problem I have with it is that it’s just too short for the asking price.  Downloadable games costing $10 are longer and have more content.  If you can overlook that, and David Hayter’s voice being a no-show, than yes there’s are a lot of really great aspects to Ground Zeroes.  The action is fantastic, the new gameplay systems are awesome, and the visuals are mind blowing.  The real question is, can you overlook the inflated asking price for quality gameplay and an extremely short experience?  I couldn’t.

Final Score: 6.5/10

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