On March 18th, the newest game in the
Metal Gear Solid series, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, was released in North America, and on the 20th in the PAL regions. The game picks up right where the previous game that starred the iconic Big Boss, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, left off, and serves as a prologue to the upcoming and highly anticipated Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. According to rumors making their rounds across the internet, The Phantom Pain looks to be slated for a holiday 2015 release, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets delayed until 2016. In the meantime, Konami and Kojima Productions have given us Ground Zeroes to sate our appetites until The Phantom Pain, which is reported to be 200 times larger than Ground Zeroes, is released.

So how is that
Ground Zeroes anyway? Is it really only two hours long? Is it any good? Is it even worth the $30? We’ve got all your answers right here in our review of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes.

SPOILER WARNING: Though this review will not contain any spoilers about Ground Zeroes, it may contain a few spoilers about the previous games in the series, especially Peace Walker. I should also note that I played Ground Zeroes on the PlayStation 4, so it will told from that perspective.

The big question most people are going to want to know is
“is Ground Zeroes really only two hours long?

Well the answer is… yes and no. The answer is “yes” because technically you
can beat the main mission of Ground Zeroes in about two hours not including cutscenes (sans the short one at the very beginning). However, I would raise the counter point of: “What Metal Gear Solid game can’t be beaten quickly?” Most runs of any Metal Gear Solid game, when you skip cutscenes, usually clock in around three-to-four hours (even shorter for people who really know what they’re doing). However, despite my paper-thin defense, I am forced to admit that the main mission of Ground Zeroes is not super long. It’s definitely shorter than other games’ main missions, and really can be beat in just a few minutes if you are truly skilled… we’re talking Kojima tier here. So, yes, the main mission of Ground Zeroes is only two hours long.

But the answer to
“is Ground Zeroes really only two hours long” is also “no.” It’s also “no” because there is so much more content besides the main story to experience. The main story doesn’t even make up the majority of the game. I would compare it to Fallout 3, where the main storyline may be only nine missions long, but there are so many more sidequests, or “side ops” as they’re known in-game, and so much more content to explore, that the game ends up adding to quite a long and enjoyable experience. It’s the same thing in Ground Zeroes. After completing the main story of Ground Zeroes, the game told me I only had 9% completion. After beating the main story a second time, it was only 10%. And I did horribly on those first two runs, getting a C rank and a B rank respectively. So I’m going to have to play through many more times to get that perfect S rank. The five side ops also fall under this requirement of having to get a perfect S rank to get 100% completion… and that’s just on normal difficulty! You have to get an S rank on hard difficulty as well to truly beat the game. Plus there are all kinds of Easter eggs and collectibles to find, cassette tapes to listen to, files to read… it really adds up to a full-length game that’s quite enjoyable and long. Additionally, it’s only $29.99 for the disc, and $19.99 digitally… so it’s actually quite a good deal and well worth it. So, is Ground Zeroes really only two hours long? Not at all!

Now that that’s out of the way, we can knuckle down and really get into the game.

Ground Zeroes‘ main mission picks up right where Peace Walker left off. Big Boss is pulling out the sneaking suit once again for a stealth infiltration of Camp Omega, an American-ran refugee and interrogation camp hidden on the southern tip of Cuba. Paz and Chico, two characters from Peace Walker, have been captured by someone known as Cipher and are being held at Camp Omega. Big Boss, on the eve of a nuclear inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency of Mother Base, heads off to Camp Omega to rescue the two. The main mission of Ground Zeroes ostensibly picks up from there, but when you take the time to listen to the extensive list of audio files and cassette tape recordings, you find out that the events of Ground Zeroes had been building since before the ending of Peace Walker, and things are just now coming to a head. Though, anybody that’s played Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots already knows how it’s all going to end eventually between Big Boss and Cipher.

Once the main story begins, the player has loads of ways to infiltrate the base, all of them just as entertaining as the last. There are so many paths and so many options for you to choose from, that you can play through the game dozens of times and still not see everything there is to see, or find everything there is to find. It’s not quite “open world” yet, as is being advertised for
The Phantom Pain, but is it a lot more open than previous Metal Gear Solid games. The side ops also operate the same way: having dozens of ways to complete them, and to be able to experience them multiple times in multiple ways, with each way being just as unique and just as fun as the last.

The controls are different than in previous
Metal Gear Solid games. Gone are the “R2” and “L2” system of selecting weapons and items, and gone is pressing “select” to use the CODEC (especially since the “select” button on the PlayStation 4 is gone). The controls are more modernized to fit with current gaming trends. You use the D-pad to select weapons and items, and L2 and R2 are now “aim” and “fire” respectively. L1 is your CODEC and R1 takes you into iron sights aiming. It takes some getting used to, especially if you just got done playing Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, like myself. But the controls do work wonderfully for what it’s worth, even if they are different than classic Metal Gear Solid controls. They can be tricky to master, but isn’t that most video games in general?

It’s still classic Metal Gear Solid stealth gameplay though, despite the changes in controls. Your goal is to sneak in and rescue Paz and Chico. But, your goal is to also not get caught while doing it. Metal Gear Solid games have always rewarded players who are able to complete their mission without getting seen even once. It also rewards players who are able to complete it without killing one single person, including bosses, and are able to do it very quickly on the hardest difficulty. This is commonly referred to as a “Big Boss run.” Ground Zeroes, like all other Metal Gear Solid games, rewards the player for challenging themselves. And, of course, all the classic Metal Gear Solid tropes and features, such as the alert and exclamation effect, hidden Easter eggs, and even a guest appearance by a very special someone, are all still there. Despite changes to suit more modern gaming mechanics, Ground Zeroes still feels very much like a Metal Gear Solid game, and is sure to please both newcomers and fanboys alike.

The game also looks beautiful. Simply stunning. I can’t speak for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, or Xbox One version, but I can confirm that the PlayStation 4 version plays at 60fps and 1080p. I would imagine that the Xbox One version looks just as good. I’ve heard that the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions only play at 30fps though, but the gameplay and features should still be excellent. I mean, it
is a Metal Gear Solid game after all. Everything is meticulously detailed to give the player a truly interactable environment. The water effects, lens glare, lighting effects… everything in the game is fine tuned for an optimal experience. Metal Gear Solid games have never been afraid to push a console to its absolute limits. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots took the PlayStation 3 to the limits of what its technology could handle back in 2008. Even today, you’d be hard pressed to find a game that looked and played that good on the PlayStation 3. Ground Zeros spares no expense in the graphics, processing, and utilization department, and the raw processing power of the eighth generation consoles gives Hideo Kojima a veritable cornucopia of tools and power at his disposable to make some truly memorable experiences.

All in all, despite the shortness of the main storyline, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is still a great game and fantastic experience. The shortness of the main story is made up for a plethora of side ops, excellent gameplay and features, perfectly utilized graphic and computing prowess, and a new, but still adequate, control scheme. I tried not to touch on the story too much, in order to avoid spoilers, but it is also on par with how good other Metal Gear Solid games’ stories are. In the past, some Metal Gear Solid games sacrificed gameplay for story. Ground Zeroes makes no such sacrifice. Each aspect is represented and experienced equally. The game even goes so far as to stop the gameplay timer and give the player their score before the ending cutscenes and credits so that they do not add to the gameplay time, which goes against classic Metal Gear Solid mechanics. Everything the game does, it does for the player. It is a real hero! It is a true patriot! (oops, wrong Metal Gear Solid game)

I give
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes Gamnesia’s score of a 9 out of 10, but I would also like to give it my own score of 5 out of 5 Hideo Kojimas.

Our Verdict
It has an extensive amount of content, has a good story well told, and it’s atmospheric and has excellent usage of mechanics and utilization of next-gen technology. It has good controls, gamefeel, and graphics, and is overall a good value for the money spent.
The main mission is extremely short, but there is such an extensive amount of side content, that it more than makes up for the shortness of the main mission. But, it must be pointed out that the main mission is extremely short and can be beaten in about 2 hours. It also has new controls that take some getting used to, but they feel good once you do get used to them.


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