Review by gameboyrw

Reviewed: 04/28/14

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes- the best demo you'll ever play

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes review

Being a Metal Gear Solid fan since Metal Gear Solid 1, Ground Zeroes is a difficult game to talk about. While it succeeds in the most important areas, the controversy over the ratio of price:length cannot be ignored. Sadly, this must be taken into consideration in this review, and so Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes becomes the most disappointing entry in the series.

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is essentially the prologue to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, the rest of the game which is due for release in 2015. In Ground Zeroes you take the role of Snake, aka Big Boss, as he infiltrates an enemy base with the purpose of rescuing two prisoners. With only his pistol and gadgets to assist him, he must complete the mission without being seen by the enemy.

Game-play

If you have played other games in the series, you may be in for some culture shock with Ground Zeroes. Indeed, the entire game-play system has been stripped down and rebuilt. The reason for this is to make a more realistic experience, signalled by the new name 'Tactical Espionage Operations'. In doing this, many of the series iconic elements are removed, and
many new, refined elements are added.

One of the most iconic elements in the traditional MGS experience is the Codec. It's absence will disappoint some fans, as many of the greatest MGS moments have existed in the codec. What replaces the Codec is far simpler, merely giving you the ability to hear intel from Kaz (Snake's brother-in-arms) on a target. Additionally, the MGS health regeneration system has changed. It now replicates the health regeneration system you will find in most other shooters, like Call of Duty or Battlefield. Personally, I don't see the reasoning behind this decision, as I found the previous system was more tactical, and more importantly, realistic. The lack of an on-screen map is also noted, but the addition of tagging enemies makes this negligible.

While Ground Zeroes removes some of the more traditional MGS features, it adds many new ones. I found these made the experience much more interesting and fun. One example is the ability to tag enemies using your binoculars, which is a great addition with the absence of an on-screen map. Speaking of a map, you can view it on your iDroid, a new device that allows you to perform many new abilities. Using the iDroid, you can play in-game music, call a helicopter for extraction, or, as previously mentioned, view your map. Another great addition is the ability to drive vehicles, which should become more prominent in The Phantom Pain. While there are many new, smaller features, there is only one more truly game-changing one- reflex mode. Once spotted by an enemy, reflex mode is triggered. This slows down time (i.e. bullet time), and allows you to eliminate the enemy before they are able to alert the others. This is a fantastic new addition, as it tackles failure in stealth games like no other game has done before. There is nothing more annoying than spending twenty minutes crawling past a group of enemies, only for one to spot your toe poking out , and alerting the others as a result. Hopefully more stealth games will include this approach in their games. Other than that, slight game-play tweaks and additions allow for a more fluent experience. It really feels like Kojima has mastered stealth game-play once and for all.

The AI, in usual MGS fashion, is top notch. It really doesn't get any more realistic than this, and I never felt I was being cheated, or face palmed at a moment of stupidity by the AI. The missions themselves, of which there are 6, are fun and relatively varied. One mission has you eliminating a pair of targets, another has you assaulting a base guns blazing, while another has you retrieving intel. Something you may take into account when deciding which platform to purchase Ground Zeroes on is the platform exclusive mission. The Playstation version contains a nostalgic heavy mission, deja vu, while the Xbox exclusive version contains an action heavy mission, Jamais Vu. It has recently been confirmed however, that you will be able to download both for free if you have an internet connection. Apart from these missions there are collectibles, (in the form of XOF patches, music, weapons etc.), records that can be unlocked and broken, as well as Kojima's signature Easter eggs. The game actively encourages you to complete these, as is evident by the % completion statistic ominously present in the title screen.

Which brings us to the most controversial part of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, the ratio of length:price. Certainly, it is true that Ground Zeroes provides enough content to last avid MGS fans many hours of game-play (It took me around fifteen hours to reach 100% completion), but that does not change the fact that playing each mission once will only net you around four hours of game-play. This is not acceptable. Ground Zeroes was not needed to be released as a separate product to The Phantom Pain and, in doing so, may become a bad influence on other game developers, who may follow suit. If Kojima really felt it necessary to release this "demo" (as said in his own words), then he should have released it as a demo, or included in another soon to be released game. It is undeniable that The Phantom Pain will sell well, and so the release of Ground Zeroes feels unnecessary, almost like a cash grab, reeling in it's loyal fan-base who feel like they cannot miss this chapter in the MGS series. Saying this, it must be noted that the game retails at €30/$30 on next-gen, and €20/$20 on last-gen, which is less than half the price of a normal game. It could have been worse. However, despite this lack of length, I feel that many MGS fans will want to get the most out of their money, many of whom will reach the coveted 100% completion mark.

Game-play= 7/10

Appearance

Metal Gear Solid looks stunning on the PS4. While not the best looking game on the system, it doesn't have to be. The map you will roam is well detailed and believable. It's authenticity makes you feel like you are actually in a military base, not a flimsy recreation built by tech nerds with little experience in these areas. The area changes immensely in response to weather change. The game basically consists of two weather types, dry daytime, and rainy night-time. These changes of weather do change the feeling of the base, and force you to change your approach in accordance with these weather changes. The frame-rate never dips, even through the most action packed of times. Something I did notice however, was a low draw distance. Most people wont encounter this problem, but, when driving in a vehicle, you will find that you are driving faster than the game is able to process.Also, when using your binoculars, you may spot things suddenly appearing in the distance. Additionally, I found that dead bodies will disappear if they accumulate. You do need an extremely high body count to encounter this problem, but considering the relatively small scale of the game, these problems really shouldn't exist.

On a brighter note, the sound effects are flawless- the attention to detail is impressive. Shooting an assault rifle sounded authentic, as dozens of bullet casings rattled off the ground. The soundtrack also does well in supporting the more high octane moments, and heighten the drama and excitement. One of the most controversial changes with Metal Gear Solid V is the replacing of David Hayter as the voice of Snake. This caused an uproar among MGS fans (including myself I must say) , causing Kojima Productions quite the headache. Hayter's successor, Kiefer Sutherland (who previously acted in 24), does a fine job as Snake. While many fans may still be disappointed by this decision, I am sure this will be looked at as a good decision by fans in years to come. The other cast, while small, also do a great job at backing up Sutherland. This excellent voice acting only adds to the drama of the main mission's later scenes.

Appearance= 9/10

Story

Ground Zeroes, as previously mentioned, is the prologue to The Phantom Pain, due for release in 2015. Ground Zeroes continues on from the events of Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker, and details the first chapter in Snake's journey from hero to villain. In Ground Zeroes, Snake must infiltrate an enemy base to rescue two prisoners, while his back-room team prepares for a UN inspection of their base.

Metal Gear Solid is renowned for it's great, while a lot of the time complicated, storytelling. Metal Gear Solid V is no different and, despite the main mission's short length, still manages to throw in some surprises and monumental moments, supported well by a great script and equally impressive voice acting. MGS fans in particular will enjoy the story at offer here, although newcomers may not see the true importance of these moments in the whole scheme of things. At one point, my jaw hit the floor as I was unable to comprehend what was happening,and another had me peering through one eye at one of the most horrific scenes in the MGS series. The ending is exceptionally harrowing, and will undoubtedly make players excited to play The Phantom Pain. Personally, I cannot wait to see Snake's transformation from hero to villain in The Phantom Pain.

Story= 10/10

Overall, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is an exceptionally good game which perfects stealth game-play in a way no game has ever done before. However, it's short length pulls it back from being a real game of the year contender, or even game of the month contender. Still, MGS fans will feel gratified in their purchase, thanks to it's attention to detail and perfected game-play. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes sets a new standard for stealth games, and lays down a strong foundation for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.

Overall= 8/10

Rating:   4.0 - Great

Product Release: Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (EU, 03/21/14)

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