Metal Gear. A series that became insanely popular with Metal Gear Solid on the PlayStation. It actually has its roots on the Japanese MSX computer. Suffice it to say, it has been around a long, long time. Filled with geopolitical intrigue, and action movie influences, it’s no wonder why so many people love it so much. But not everyone who plays Ground Zeroes is going to have the same level of loyalty, and admiration.
PROS: Stunning graphics. Stunning voice acting. Amazing controls.
CONS: Far too short.
WHAT? THAT’S IT?: Is what you will shout at the screen when you beat it.
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes has already gotten flack. But if you aren’t gaming on consoles at all, whatsoever, you may not have heard about it. Ground Zeros was recently re-released on PC’s through Steam, with some minor improvements. The game looks amazing. It really does. The amount of detail in the character models, texture work, and overall presentation is simply stunning. Konami really outdid itself here, and the PC port allows you to max the game out even further, so long as your hardware is up to snuff.
To give even more credit where credit is due, the game has a very good voice acting cast. Kiefer Sutherland, Tara Strong, Troy Baker, and James Horan lend their talents to create some really compelling moments. The cut scenes are even rendered in real-time within the game’s engine. Konami calls this the FOX engine, and it does deliver on its next generation promises. Simply watching the opening cut scenes will be a testament to that fact.
The story is told through a combination of prologue screens, and the beautiful cut scenes. Snake infiltrates a Black Site in Cuba to break out two prisoners, only to find one of the two is even deeper in the secret prison site. This is where you’ll actually start playing the game. Let’s get this part out of the way. What you are given here is a lot of fun. It’s an open, prison compound that you will be infiltrating. Gone are the linear levels of the old MGS stages, where you had only a handful of ways to sneak around. Ground Zeros pretty much lets you go wherever you want. There are some locked doors, or stone walls to keep you from doing anything too cheap. But for the most part you can tackle the game how you want. Although going in guns blazing, is going to prove far more difficult.
The game carries over all of the stealth mechanics of the older games. You can slowly creep through the shadows, sneak up on guards, and interrogate them for info. You have access to silencers to keep your shots from being heard. These can also wear out after so many shots, so you’ll also want to conserve their use. You can even use a tranquilizer gun to make guards fall asleep at their posts, or shoot out lights, and cameras to keep from being seen. As always, you also have the ability to pick up, and hide dead bodies. The enemy A.I. in this game is actually really good. They can see you through their periphery, hear noises, and notice when you’ve opened a door, or turned out a light. They will actively run toward any suspicious activity. They’ll often times spot you even when you think you’re impossible to find. It all comes together very, very well.
You can even hijack vehicles on the prison grounds, like tanks, and jeeps if you don’t mind everyone taking notice, and descending upon you. Gun play is also a lot of fun. Aiming isn’t a chore, you can mark threats with your binoculars, and all of the weapons feel like they have good weight with realistic recoil.
When you do finally get to the prisoners, you’ll have to summon your helicopter to pick them up. Here is where you can pull up your map, along with audio, and data logs the game hands you for each mission. You’ll then have to carry them to the pickup site, hopefully without getting detected. The enemies have no reservations about killing you or the prisoners. If a prisoner dies you’ll lose the game, and have to restart at the last checkpoint. Checkpoints seem to be almost arbitrarily chosen by the game. Sometimes it might generate one after a cut scene. But other times it will seemingly be when you get near a certain place on the map.
When you do complete the mission, you’ll be treated to some more amazing cut scenes. Beautifully rendered in the FOX engine. All of which are to set up the next game in the series. It’s a beautiful, and entertaining game, that will leave you asking”Wait, that’s it?” Because it will take most players one hour to beat the game. That’s right, one hour. This game is tremendously short. It basically, ends up feeling like a demo for the next game, rather than a prologue. The game does have side missions you can play once you’re done with the short campaign, but these aren’t all that different in how they play. Some involve killing specific people, or specific targets. There is one that is slightly different in that it has an on-rails segment. But all of the missions take place in the same level.
It’s unfortunate that the game is so disappointingly short, because what you do get is a lot of fun. If you’re a dedicated fan, you can try to speed run it, play through the side missions, or try to get all of the achievements. Many players certainly have. But for everyone else the short length really makes this difficult to recommend. It truly feels like a demo in every sense of the word. The alternate, optional missions may add a couple of hours of play time, but for most players that probably isn’t going to be enough. Unless you simply have to have every game in the Metal Gear series in your game collection, skip this one.
Final Score: 5 out of 10