(PlayStation 4)

Game Review

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Ben Potter

Kept us waiting

Hideo Kojima is one of the most talented and respected developers of all time. The patriarch of the Metal Gear franchise has led us on one Hell of a crazy ride over the course of the last year or so, that saw just as many twists, turns, and red herrings as the plots of the very games that he’s famous for. The end result of this masterclass in deception was the announcement of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and its prologue Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. However, now that the agonising wait for more tactical espionage action is over, is there enough in the developer’s pricey preamble to satisfy hardcore fans – or should you give the bite-sized adventure a miss?

Following immediately on from the events of PlayStation Portable exclusive – and recent HD Collection participant – Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, our eye-patch wearing, terrorist killing, enemy base infiltrating special operative Big Boss is forced to enter a US military black site to extract familiar faces Chico and Paz. The repercussions of this jolly onto Cuban soil are huge, and set off a chain reaction of events that set up proceedings for the forthcoming full-blooded sequel.

Perhaps what’s most striking about this instalment is its presentation. Kicking off with the same cutscene that introduced the title last year, the game looks incredible. The wait between Kojima titles seems to get more unbearable with each entry, but one of the main reasons for the property’s recent absence on consoles is immediately obvious here, with the FOX Engine really shining on the PlayStation 4. The weather effects are particularly noteworthy: rain batters guards, structures, and objects – each reacting appropriately, with water running down coats and tarpaulin tied crates flapping wildly in the gale-force storm.

The new engine has also allowed for some of the most comprehensive patrolling guard intelligence ever. The security forces will still walk their respective routes, of course, as well as scouting out their surroundings with search lights – but occasionally they’ll stop and chat with their colleagues, and should they hear a noise or catch a glimpse of you, they’ll wander over inquisitively, taking out a torch and gingerly peering in the direction of the disturbance until their curiosity is satisfied.

If, for whatever reason, they remain unconvinced by the silence and the (without doubt) amazing sneaking skills on show, they’ll radio or shout to a nearby compatriot to remain vigilant, and their ability to spot you will be intensified. Assuming that you’re not the type of player that finds stealth especially entertaining, and you’re spotted, the trademark exclamation mark and noise will be displayed, and everything will go into slow motion, providing you with a couple of seconds to “silence” whoever it was that saw you. A tranquiliser dart to the head will instantly render a foe unconscious, but, especially when you’re outside and can be spotted from afar, it’s not always an easy shot to pull off.

At this point, proceedings can become a full-on slugfest if you allow them to, because when that alarm sounds, all of the guards will know where you are, and they’ll begin to flood out of buildings to come and take you down. Upon approaching cover, Snake will automatically lean against it a la The Last of Us, and if you’re feeling it, you can bring the fight to your pursuers. Weapons have both a standard third-person and iron sights aiming option depending on the distance of your enemy, with the latter allowing for far more accurate shooting at far away targets. You can also pick up a fallen foe’s ordnance should you wish, meaning that if you run out of elite, silenced weapon ammo, you can quickly swap it out for a louder, fully loaded model.

Big Boss comes equipped with all sorts of goodies in this level that you shouldn’t have to find yourself utilising, but by the time that you’ve reached the point of no return, flash bangs and grenades will go some way to help thin the crowd a little. But, of course, this is just one of two options: if you’re spotted, the game doesn’t dictate that you enter a high-octane shootout, as you can just as happily adopt a ‘hightail and hide’ strategy until all of the chaos blows over.

The Phantom Pain promises to be the first Metal Gear game to feature a more laissez-faire approach to matters, leaving you to tackle objectives and missions from more angles than ever before. While the relatively small map found here is hardly comparable to the open world Kojima appears to be alluding to in the sequel, there are already glimpses of what we can expect.

Indeed, your starting point or setting may never change here, but your approach to completing the objectives on offer can differ greatly. Crawling under buildings and through pipes, traversing up search towers, hugging the perimeter fence, and even hitching a ride in the back of a truck are all sound strategies, but it’s your unfamiliar first run that will be the most memorable, as you’re forced to adapt your plan on the fly.

Our first attempt saw several nail-biting occasions where we were lying prone, praying that the particularly inquisitive guard that had caught a glimpse of Snake’s skin-tight morph suit would leave satisfied that there was no one there. It’s the kind of moment that can only be created in a game with more freedom, and one of many that’s perfectly tailored to the PS4’s share button.

Luckily, though, you aren’t going in completely blind. Using your binoculars not only allows you to marvel at how gorgeous everything looks, but also serves as a means to scout out the area ahead, temporarily marking the location of any guards that you spot on your screen. You can also radio your confidant Kaz should you require assistance, as he’ll feed you useful information on whatever it is that you’re looking at.

Snake also comes equipped with the iDroid – a small, handheld device that projects information into the air surrounding it from a small lens. A local map and mission details are two of its features, but perhaps the most engrossing element is that the not-iPod is used in real time, with the game continuing around you as menus are navigated and information perused. This not only leads to a further sense of immersion, but also a feeling of danger, as someone could attack you at any moment while your guard’s down.

Perhaps the biggest change implemented in Ground Zeroes is the departure of series mainstay David Hayter as the voice of Snake, and the introduction of Kiefer Sutherland – a man with an equally imposing and gravelly set of lungs. This may prove to be an unpopular opinion, but we actually found that the protagonist’s newfound diction proved to work in his favour, at least from an acting stand point. At the very least, he seemed to be more capable of expressing emotions other than the oft comedic barking that Hayter’s Snake was partial to, providing some much-needed seriousness to affairs that was occasionally missing before.

However, as outstanding as the gameplay and engine may be, we have to scrutinise whether or not the paltry prologue is worth your money. It took us some 68 minutes to complete the single mission that comprises the title’s narrative, leading us to gawk in surprise as the credits began to roll, and we were disappointed to discover that, as with the introductory cinematic, most of the final cutscene has also already been published as promotional material, meaning there were only a couple of short videos included that we hadn’t seen before.

Fortunately there is incentive to continue playing, as you can unlock higher difficulties, audio tapes, and a handful of bonus missions that take place outside of the main narrative. These additional operations are still set in the base, but are far more varied in scope, and range from having you ride shotgun in a chopper and provide overwatch for an ally to planting C4 on all of the base’s anti-aircraft guns while remaining undetected.

The additional content is a nice touch, but along with the menus full of Peace Walker’s audio tapes, an explanation of the plot so far, and other assorted tidbits, everything feels like an afterthought – a justification of the price tag attached to the package. Don’t get us wrong, our hopes for The Phantom Pain are sky-high after experiencing a taste of what it’ll have to offer, but Ground Zeroes is just that: a taste.

Conclusion

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes would undoubtedly make a powerful introductory mission to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, so it seems a little insidious of Konami to hold it to ransom. That being said, we really can’t fault what little we played – as far as the mechanics and design are concerned – but although the additional content does go some way towards sweetening the pot, we find it difficult to recommend this on those merits alone. Although long-time fans of the series are likely to pick it up regardless, we believe that this single mission should never have been released on its own.

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User Comments (43)

ZeD

#1

ZeD said:

68 minutes! It is shorter than originally reported. This is the real reason it has not got a Platinum

N711

#2

N711 said:

@ZeD I think its fine if people know what to expect but I'm afraid quite a few people will buy it thinking its a full game

Dodoo

#3

Dodoo said:

I'm not sure why this has been released with such a little amount of gameplay in it. If Phantom Pain is 200 times bigger than this (Kojimas words not mine) then why didn't they move some more of that game across into this one?

Was looking forward to this but I'll only grab it now if I see it for about £10.

ELAWIS

#4

ELAWIS said:

this game is not even worth $30..I could get better other than this with the same price. This should have been included with the MAIN game....seriously Kojima

RaymanFan2

#5

RaymanFan2 said:

I don't mind short games - TLOU Left Behind's length:price ratio was fine IMO, but this is next-level bull-crappery here.

RawShark

#6

RawShark said:

OK putting aside the dubious value, is the PS4 version worth getting over the PS3 one?

Swiket

#7

Swiket said:

Damn. I'm still buying it because I love Metal Gear, but the price is definitely iffy.

Bad-MuthaAdebis

#8

Bad-MuthaAdebis said:

This should be a psn download for 10 or 15 quid. It should be free with a phantom pain pre order, as short as it is I'm still going to be renting it, I'm no huge mgs fan so I won't be playing it over and over. Makes me wanna get back on my mgs HD collection for vita.

rastamadeus

#10

rastamadeus said:

We have to hope this game tanks horribly so other developers don't start thinking it's okay to charge us a ridiculous amount of money for glorified demos.

Kage_88

#11

Kage_88 said:

Great review, Ben.

I can't wait to play this. I'm curious as to how well in runs on PS3...

kingandaval

#12

kingandaval said:

Luckily I have some fake money in the form of a gift card so I don't have to tend my hard earnd dosh to fund the rest of MGS5.

rogue_agent

#13

rogue_agent said:

Ben, the audio tapes also add to the game's main narrative and flesh out some of the characters.

Confused_DudeStaff

#17

Confused_Dude said:

@rogue_agent that they do, although that still works in favour of my point: all the additional content seems to be an attempt to flesh out, what is technically, a demo.

rjejr

#18

rjejr said:

Since nobody else mentioned it:

68 minutes = 8 minutes more than a PS+ Time Trial, which it sounds like this taste of a game should have been. PS+ on Sony and Gold on MS. Or like Simon says - free as a pre-order of Phantom Pain.

$30 for 1 mission is nuts. $5 sounds about right. I mean, this isn't really even a game is it? "Brothers" was only a couple of hours but it was a full story beginning to end, this doens't sound like a fully fleshed out game.

"The Bouncer" on PS2 was only 20 MINUTES long for a $50 game but it had a complete story to play thru 3 times for a total of 1 hour. I guess this is cheap by comparison then.

eaglebob345

#19

eaglebob345 said:

@rastamadeus But instead we keep getting reviewers and some players trying to act like it's worth it. The examiner guy was a bit harsh, but a lot of people in the comments were not trying to understand what he meant. They had the "It's whatever hype game, no one can insult it" mentalty. People had a similar reaction to the Gamespot review of GTAV, even though that was a fully fleshed out game. Releasing it as a paid demo for $10 tops would be okay, this should not be accepted. Even better, this should have been their playable demo for The Phantom Pain at E3 or some other event, this seems like a waste of money to me. I care not for graphics, just content.

Madd_Hatter401

#22

Madd_Hatter401 said:

Shame on game companies. do not buy this game!!! The industry will think its okay to sell us games one mission at a time, its BS. These friggin greedy pigs have already been greasing us for years with DLC that was made before release that could have been in game. Do not be a STUPID friggin consumer! STUPID consumers screw ish up for all of us.

EDIT: nevermind micro transaction starting to show it's disgusting face in our console video games! Do not allow this to become acceptable.

rogue_agent

#23

rogue_agent said:

@Confused_Dude Don't get me wrong, I do agree that it's literally a paid glorified demo. It's just that the audio tapes explain key elements of the story and flesh out characters like Snake, Kaz, Skull Face, etc.

Nevertheless, it's not worth the price if someone;s just gonna play the main mission, which I'm sure many people will do, and they'll feel cheated. I agree.

charlesnarles

#24

charlesnarles said:

@Madd_Hatter401 Grab your torches and pitchforks, why don't we? No real fan is gonna miss an opportunity to patronize Kojima. Video games inherently waste time and money, so don't rely on that argument to dissuade anybody. "The demo is too short" is like saying "the volcano is too hot". And Kojima said preordering will get you something special in PP, plus the console-dependent bonus mission. It's like buying BF premium or a collectors set--we're just getting a part of it early instead of a lil art book or some medallion. Bein' immature, yo!

Punished_Boss_84

#25

Punished_Boss_84 said:

@rastamadeus +1 but MGS = Popular Franchise = Last Game sold? Well it did well enough on one platform (MGS4) = Four platforms = better chances.

I'll be waiting for a heavy price drop or i'll just wait for TPP which is rumoured to be early 2015 and this will inevitability be bundled.

Madd_Hatter401

#26

Madd_Hatter401 said:

@charlesnarles perhaps you could tell me what Kojima's colon looks like... I'd assume you're head is shoulders deep in his arse after that defense of this unacceptable practice. I'm not saying "grab your torches and pitchforks" I'm saying with the way things are going this is something that could become the norm and it's dumb consumerism. Fluff it however you'd like.. As a non fanboy (I do enjoy the series but never played last gen) I'm giving my opinion.

Munkyknuts

#28

Munkyknuts said:

What's the UK price for this? If it's about the same as DLC usually costs I'm somewhat interested. It's really just like paying for DLC before the main game comes out rather than after. If it's more than £10 there is no chance I'll buy it.

Diddy_kong

#31

Diddy_kong said:

Off topic, but I really wish that this series remained a Sony exclusive. Considering the heritage of Metal Gear Solid it just seems weird that Revengeance and now this and The Phantom Pain are/will be available on Microsoft consoles. These are big-time games that, were they exclusive, would really give the PS4 an edge over the X1. Metal Gear Solid 4 is what started to turn the tide of the PS3 after all... oh well. The industry changes I guess.

Tony_342

#32

Tony_342 said:

It seems to me that the very first thing you should learn in Business 101, is that if there is any question as to whether something is priced higher than it should be - it is. There should never be any question as to whether or not your wares are worth what you're charging for them.

I definitely want to play this, but I just can't bring myself to spend $30 on it. From everything I've read and seen, it seems like this "game" offers about as much as a 10 or 15 dollar downloadable game. I know I can get the PS3 digital version for $20, but I really badly want something to play on my PS4.

And to think it was originally going to cost $40.

kensredemption

#33

kensredemption said:

Eh? I thought Sony's policy was that a game that costs $20+ would have a platinum trophy? Oh well. I just finished my undetected run on MGS3D, so I'm dying for more Snake.

charlesnarles

#34

charlesnarles said:

@Madd_Hatter401 lol no I've only seen Arsenal's. I just mean he's not doing it for money (price drop), it's to have fun and be interactive with his giant fanbase, like he always does before a release. I understand/appreciate your passion, and obviously wouldn't buy any other studio's demo in a thousand years

DrJoeystein

#36

DrJoeystein said:

Despite the length of this game, I'm actually going to pick it up today since I'm a pretty big fan of MGS. My local Toysrus is including a $10 gift card, so I'm going to jump in and see what Ground Zeroes is like (and yes, Toysrus actually has really awesome deals and promos on games). But I can totally see where everyone is coming from if they're not buying it.

Shellybird27

#37

Shellybird27 said:

Still don't care about the length, I'm still getting it. If anything just out of spite of all the people b*tching. It's been known for months now the content of the game and people are still getting up in arms when they haven't even played the game yet.

Fenriswolf-

#38

Fenriswolf- said:

Man I'm so torn about this.. I want it so bad, but as mad hatter said, it can turn into a trend quickly...the way COD made it acceptable to pay $15 for 4 new maps and a couple weapons every other month when that kinda thing use to be free and the only way you paid for additional content was with an actual expansion pack!

Ryumoau

#39

Ryumoau said:

great review. i'm not buying this game out of principle. I can see evil companies like EA using this method for their future games if this sales well. I recommend people just rent this from their local redbox if they feel that compelled to play it.

Gamer83

#41

Gamer83 said:

Been playing the game today and it's damn good. I was concerned about the direction it seemed the franchise was taking but this has convinced me that Phantom Pain is definitely a game worth putting on my most anticipated list along with Batman: Arkham Knight and The Witcher 3.

baconcow

#42

baconcow said:

This game is a prelude to another that will bring in $60+ per copy. This game should be released as a $10 release digitally and treated no differently than other high-quality, yet short, DLC. Many will argue its AAA status makes it deserve a higher cost, but I disagree. I am not stating this in an DLC or indie (based on my price recommendation), but there are many DLC for AAA games that have tons more content for a much lower cost. If this engine was built exclusively for this game, then I could understand their reasoning. This, concept, to me, feels like a parallel to all of those Early Access games on Steam with exclusive content if pre-purchased. Poor practice. If this sells well, we all might as well expect this to happen again... and again (again).

KillTheG1mp

#43

KillTheG1mp said:

If you skip the cutscenes and codec calls, most MGS games can be completed under 3 hours. Besides, those games are all about the experience and the replayability. So what if the main mission lasts an hour? There's stuff to unlock, tapes and XOF patches to find, two difficulty settings, trials to beat. I mean, the game HAS some meat to it!

I loved Tomb Raider, played it once on hard and sold it? Why? Cause there's no replay value. Here? I'll play the MGS games over and over and still play a different experience each and every time.

30$ seems like a damn good deal for the game in my opinion!

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