Review by WhatTheDeuce92
For what it's worth, Ground Zeroes provides a nice taste of some fun, new, open-world stealth gameplay.
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes serves as a sort of prologue to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Think of Ground Zeroes as the appetizer to the entree that is Phantom Pain. As such, there isn't a whole lot to Ground Zeroes, but it was made for the purpose of giving a taste of what kind of game to expect from The Phantom Pain. Still, it is a full-fledged game of its own and not simply just a demo. While there isn't a lot of content in the game compared to some other games out there, there is enough for the game to be substantial and worth your time.
The story of Ground Zeroes takes us back into the role of Big Boss, the legendary war hero from Metal Gear Solid 3. The game takes place a year after the events of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, and as such features some characters from that game. In Ground Zeroes, Big Boss is infiltrating a black site in Cuba called Camp Omega. Both Chico and Paz (from Peace Walker) are being held prisoner in Camp Omega, and so Big Boss has been sent to rescue them. I was surprised that story is typically the biggest aspect of Metal Gear games, but here in Ground Zeroes it's not quite as forced on you as in previous entries. There's a decent-length cutscene to start and finish the game, but other than that there isn't a whole lot in between. I did enjoy the story scenes that you do get, but I was surprised that the story wasn't as deep as in past entries.
Since story takes a slightly less focus, the game focuses heavily on its gameplay instead. This is where I found Ground Zeroes really shines. The gameplay has been revamped from past entries to become an open-world stealth experience. Basically, you are thrown into Camp Omega and must sneak your way around the entire camp while avoiding guards to find your targets. That's literally the entire premise of the game, but you must explore the camp and use clues to figure out where Chico and Paz are at and get them out of the camp. It's a very different turn for a Metal Gear game to be open-world, but the game is tailored so that it really works in its favor.
To sneak around, the player is given a set of binoculars that can be used to search out the area and mark enemies. From there, you have the option of trying to avoid or sneak past those guards, tranquilize them from a distance, sneak up behind them to interrogate/kill/knock them out, or just straight up kill them if you want to be risky. If an enemy detects your presence before, more guards will be alerted and you'll have a hard time trying to fight your way out. While the game allows you to tackle situations in a variety of ways, it rewards you for being stealthy and non-lethal. A new reflex mode has also been implemented where time will go in slow motion for a little bit after an enemy spots you, giving you time to kill them before they alert other guards. I really do like the way the game allows you to tackle your objective in a number of different ways. Half the fun of the game is trying to figure out the best way to complete your mission.
While the main mission in the game has the player trying to rescue Chico and Paz from the camp, there are a few other side missions in the game as well that can be played after the main mission is completed. These are also set inside of Camp Omega, but they contain separate tasks, such as finding a specific guard in the camp or blowing up some large weapons. This added some nice diversity to the game and gives you a few other fun, smaller missions to complete.
As far as technical aspects go, I was really impressed with Ground Zeroes. The level of detail in the graphics is really incredible, and it's amazing how realistic character models and environments manage to look. I never had any problems with the game running badly either. Things were constantly running smoothly and I never even noticed any load times that detracted from the experience. The music, sound effects, and voice acting is all top notch as well. I have to admit that I was very hesitant about Kiefer Sutherland voicing Snake instead of series-favorite David Hayter, but luckily he does a good job with it. It is a bit of a jarring difference at first, but it's by no means a bad performance.
I feel like the thing most people have complained about with Ground Zeroes is its length. Most players will be able to finish the main mission in under 2 hours, but if you're someone like me that really explores the map entirely (and is kind of bad at stealth games...) then you might be able to add another hour or two onto that length. Also, on average each side mission takes about a half hour to beat, so if you want to play through all the missions then you're adding another few hours onto the playtime. If you really want to get your money's worth out of Ground Zeroes though, the option is there. To get 100% completion, the game will probably take at least four playthroughs of every mission. This is one of those games where the length is kind of subjective, but if you are someone who just likes to play through a game and beat it, then you might be disappointed with the the length of the game.
Overall I thought Ground Zeroes was a great game for what it is. It's one of those games where you should know what you're getting before you get it, because if you're expecting a game with a lot of content you might be disappointed. The game was meant to be a prologue to The Phantom Pain that would introduce players to the types of mechanics that you can expect from that game, and for that the game does succeed. I recommend the game to Metal Gear Solid fans for sure, but outside of that it depends on your preferences.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (US, 03/18/14)
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