Reviews March 28, 2014

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

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Reviewed By: Jaime Mejias Jr.
System: Xbox 360 (Also on Xbox One, PS3, PS4)
Genre: Action Adventure/Stealth
Rated: M
Players: 1
Cost: $29.99
Release Date: 03/18/2014
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Kojima Productions

I’ve been a fan of the Metal Gear Solid Series for a very long time. It’s one of the first series I ever got into, so naturally I was excited for the announcement of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. After spending some time in game though, I can’t help but be overwhelmed with mixed emotions!

Ground Zeroes takes place right after the events of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. You take control of Big Boss on a mission to infiltrate Camp Omega and rescue two VIPs: Chico Valenciano and Paz Ortega. He is sent in by the MSF (Militaires Sans Frontieres) as they believe these agents might share vital information about their organization to Skull Face, the leader of the military group controlling the camp. Not only that, they also believe Paz can help them track down Cipher and…well, the story makes more sense if you’ve played the aforementioned PSP game. Really, all you need to know is that “this is a stealth mission, so don’t expect to get rescued if you get caught.”

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First things first, Ground Zeroes was supposed to introduce you to the new mechanics and features that’ll be used in the upcoming Phantom Pain. And in that regard, Konami succeeded. It seems if some of these new elements are geared towards making Ground Zeroes more accessible to newer players. One thing that stuck out for me was when you are discovered by an enemy you enter a slow motion state called reflex mode (bullet time in other games). This gives you the chance to eliminate whoever saw you before they raise an alarm. Of course, players can turn Reflex mode off if they want the original feel or just feel it makes it too easy. The other thing I noticed right away was the lack of an on screen radar. The radar, featured in just about every other entry in the series, is replaced with the iDroid. Functioning like the Pipboy from Fallout, you’ll pull it up whenever you want to see the radar or mission log. While using the iDroid, time doesn’t stop so you’ll want to make sure you aren’t out in the open.

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Speaking of being out in the open, the biggest change to the series is the open world design. From the start of the mission you can access just about every area in Camp Omega. The size of the camp isn’t massive by any means, but it does differ from the liner gameplay the series is known for. The open world adds a lot more variety to the normal play style; it feels like you have to pay more attention to your surroundings and if you do get discovered there’s no door to run through to reload the area like you could before. You’ll have to deal with the consequences for blowing your cover. That said, Metal Gear Solid fans everywhere will appreciate finally having an autosave feature. There’s no need to call a frequency on the codec to save the game. In fact there is no more of the traditional codec (because iDroid).

For me, all of the new features are great. They all seem to fit the series in a way that doesn’t hurt the core gameplay fans have come to expect from a MGS title. Having an open world made the sneaking even more fun. The combat has been improved for those times when things do get hairy; I felt more in tune with Big Boss, easily executing CQC techniques or firing on enemies when needed. One of my favorite things to do was interrogating the enemy soldiers. Interrogating enemies updated the iDorid radar with the position of another guard or a weapon like a sniper rifle. It feels like you have a reason to risk sneaking up behind a guard to interrogate him rather than just walk around them. The addition of the iDorid/removal of the on screen radar, improvements to combat and finally having the ability to autosave really allows you to be fully immersed in the experience.  

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Nothing is perfect and Ground Zeroes does have some areas that could’ve been improved on. The one glaring issue is the amount of content in the game. There’s just not enough. The main story is over by the time you really start to crave more. After beating the game, you do get extra missions for more playtime but they don’t really support the main story. Honestly, they feel a lot more like the VR missions from other entries then actual “side missions”. It would’ve been nice to see them alongside the main story rather than a separate part of the game. The way Ground Zeroes is set up it feels more like a demo than a full fledge game. I can’t really understand why Ground Zeroes is $29.99 (it’s even more for the current gen versions). It’s very similar to Dead Rising 2: Case Zero in terms of what their goal was and that game was only $5.00. Ground Zeroes is supposed to be an intro to the upcoming Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. It holds a pretty hefty price tag for a game that’s supposed to be an intro!

I’m not trying to down play what Kojima made by any means. What you do get in Ground Zeroes is amazing quality. Visually it is one of the best looking games on the last generation of consoles; amazing character models and some of the best rain/lighting effects you’re going to see. The audio is top notch. Music, gunshots, walking over different surfaces - all of it sounds good. The voice acting is amazing although it did take some time for me to get used to Kiefer Sutherland as Snake. The difference between David Hayter (original voice of Snake) and Sutherland’s voice work is very noticeable. Not a bad thing, just different. There’s not a part of Ground Zeroes that I don’t like. There’s just not enough of it for the asking price.

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It’s really hard to make a final decision on Ground Zeroes. It is a great game. That said, I can’t help but feel like I went to a five star restaurant, bought an appetizer and just got up and left after that. And because of that, I can’t really recommend someone new to the series to pay $29.99 for it (or even $19.99 for the digital version). However, for fans that have stuck by the series it may be worth the cash…  

Gameplay: 8
Ground Zeroes is a great game but there should’ve been more to do.

Graphics: 10
It looks beautiful all around. Kojima didn’t disappoint.

Sound: 9
Voice acting is top notch. Sutherland’s had a great debut as the new voice of Snake. The rain and the sound of your steps hitting against different surfaces such as metal, grass, and wood all sounded great as well.

Replay Value: 5
There is just not enough to do. I don’t think there’s much to really revisit the game once completed.

Final Score:

8