Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes Review
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes must be the most conflicting and confounding experiences in gaming today.
The Metal Gear Solid series has never been the easiest of gaming's storylines to follow but the real conflict with Ground Zeroes is far at a far more fundamental level.
This is not a bad game. In fact, in a lot of ways it's the closest that the Metal Gear Solid series has come to being perfect and, in a series that has racked up an impossible number of scores over 90 percent that's no mean feat.
It seems like Hideo Kojima and his team at Kojima Productions have managed to come up with the kind of tactical espionage gameplay that they have been striving for since Metal Gear Solid first hit the PlayStation back in 1997.
Ground Zeroes is a beautifully crafted stealth sandbox giving players the chance to approach Snake's mission in whatever way they choose even shooting up the place if they feel the need. Snake also now has the ability to drive jeeps, trucks and even tanks.
And the choice is glorious. Sneaking round this Cuban prison is a lot of fun and Kojima has created the perfect playground to test Snake's infiltration skills to the very limits.
The new free-roaming game mechanics work really well. Snake has a new toy at his disposal, the iDroid, which he uses to keep track of intelligence and includes a handy map of the area. He's also got some handy binoculars fitted with a microphone that picks up conversations at long range which can come in handy if you need to figure out what the people you're watching are talking about.
Snake now also has the ability to interrogate any guard he comes across. Simply catch them by surprise grab them and a prompt will come up with three options – interrogate, knock out or kill. Every guard has a secret to give up and their knowledge can come in handy when trying to disable security cameras or locating a cache of ammunition or explosives to aid in the mission.
All of these wonderful new abilities and toys are backed up by the powerful new FOX Engine which will form the backbone of Konami's game development moving forward certainly for the Metal Gear Solid and Pro Evolution Soccer franchises.
Kojima-san was not lying when he said that Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is best experienced on the PS4. It looks exquisite.
Just to show off how powerful the FOX Engine is it is raining for the entirety of the game and the particle effects are some of the most realistic around. Because it's raining all of the guards are wearing ponchos and this allows them to show off the fabric effects. They flutter nicely in the wind in a way that only next-gen processing power can manage.
And now we get on to the storytelling, one of the defining features of the Metal Gear Solid series.
The storyline of Ground Zeroes follows on from the end of the sublime PSP release Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. Naked Snake has to slip into a black site US naval prison in Cuba to locate and extract Chico and Paz.
As usual there are long cinematic sequences that, this time out, seem to be rendered by the in-game engine in breathtakingly detailed fashion. Snake arrives just as a new villain, Skull, is leaving the prison facility and must infiltrate on his own to complete his mission.
Finding the prisoners is a fairly simple matter and that is where those that play the Metal Gear Solid games purely for the storyline might find a bit of a problem with Ground Zeroes. If you want to hammer through the main story mission then you can but it can be done in around an hour. This will undoubtedly attract the ire of gamers all over evend with the game's lower price tag.
But wait. An hour of gameplay is not all there is to Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. At first playthrough you'll be lucky if you hit the ten percent complete mark. Once that is done then several side-missions are unlocked as well as the Hard difficulty level.
Replayablilty is a bit more than adding some new objectives and a difficulty level or two in the world of procedurally generated levels and random encounters though and however much additional shine Kojima Productions has tried to put on it, it's still the same misson map with the same enemies patrolling it.
This is just a taste of what is to come when The Phantom Pain is fully finished and the glimpse that Ground Zeroes presents is certainly compelling. The gameplay is fantastic and the new FOX Engine presents the next level of visual experiences that we've come to expect from the Metal Gear Solid series.
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is beautiful and wonderfully crafted its and shows that The Phantom Pain has the potential to be the perfect Metal Gear Solid game. It's just a shame that it's so damn short.
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is out now on PS4, PS3, Xbox One and Xbox 360 in North America. It sneaks in to European retailers this Friday, March 21st.