+ Gameplay is smooth
+ Looks absolutely fantastic
+ Controls have never been better
+ Great stealth mechanics
- Simply too short
- Some context sensitive actions are hard to perform
If you’re like me, you’ve been keeping an eye on any releases for your fancy new Xbox One or Playstation 4. A couple weeks ago Kojima’s first “next-generation” game finally released in the form of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. Ground Zeroes is the latest entry in Metal Gear Solid, a stealth action series known for it’s hiding mechanics and interested characters. Unfortunately, I can guarantee with almost 100% certainty that Ground Zeroes will be quickly forgotten in the future. Ground Zeroes gets a lot of things right, but in the end, it is really more of a demo for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
I’ll start with everything that Ground Zeroes gets right. Right off the bat, I can say without a doubt that Ground Zeroes is one of the smoothest and satisfying games I have ever played on a console. The entire experience from a gameplay standpoint is fast, fluid, and fun. Everything is streamlined in a way that makes it easy to pick up and play, but hard to master. For example, you’ll need to watch enemy patrols and time your movements to sneak past them. If you’re spotted, you’ll enter whats known as a reflex mode where you have a few seconds to dispatch (lethally or nonlethally) the patrol that spotted you. Each time that something went wrong in my mission, I always felt like it was my fault and never the fault of the game being cheap or unfair.
You can play through Ground Zeroes in whatever fashion you want. One of the great things is that you can choose how to approach every situation. If you want to run in guns blazing, that’s fine but I think the goal of the game is to take a more stealth oriented approach. You could go through the entirety of Ground Zeroes without killing a soul, but it’s pretty challenging. Not to mention there are different approaches to finishing each objective. The first time I played through, I snuck in to a military base through a broken fence but on the second run through, I actually hopped in the back of a truck to have it take me into a higher security area. The choices are really up to you, which gives Ground Zeroes some degree of replayability.
Visually, Ground Zeroes really feels like it’s starting to flex the Xbox One and Playstation 4’s muscle. It runs at a solid 60 frames per second, and the lighting effects are absolutely spectacular. Searchlights create huge shadows, and the weather effects are impressive. There’s even some really high draw distance as well. It’s safe to say that this is the most immersive Metal Gear Solid game, and is visually stunning.
The entire game consists of one large military compound with several different missions inside. As a player, you can choose between several different missions ranging from assassinating targets to raining fire from a helicopter to the story-canon mission of rescuing two children. Unfortunately, that’s the entire extent of the game. It took me about 45 minutes to play through the story mission and learn how to play. Now I can finish it in about 20 minutes. The other missions add some much needed variety, such as changing the time of day or changing the objectives, but it’s a major bummer that everything takes place in the same compound.
The length is really the only problem I have with Ground Zeroes. It’s simply too short. There are some other nitpicks, such as context sensitive actions being hard to perform on occasion. For example, I had some issues with trying to lean up against a wall in certain spots, but these are non-issues. Even the story elements seem rushed because of the game length; there’s not really enough time given to the backstory of Snake to make newcomers appreciate the complexities of his character. He’s simply thrown into a military compound and told, “Go find these two people” and that’s the end of it.
Try, Buy, or Avoid?
Now don’t get me wrong, Ground Zeroes is an amazing game in terms of gameplay, but I have a hunch the only reason it was released was to build hype for The Phantom Pain. There simply isn’t enough content here to warrant a purchase over a few dollars, if not free. I highly recommend you rent this or borrow Ground Zeroes unless you are a collector or a huge Metal Gear fan.