We have now had chance to play Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes, the short yet sweet preview to next year’s The Phantom Pain. Check out our review right here.
Being a big fan of the Metal Gear series, I already had high hopes for Ground Zeroes when it was announced, but after watching the trailers and gameplay demos my interest and excitement skyrocketed. Once I had heard of the game I immediately pre ordered, and I was impressed when I got my hands on the game.
Ground Zeroes follows directly on from the events of Peace Walker, Metal Gear Zeke is on the ocean floor along with the nuclear warheads and mother base is secure. The main mission begins with Big Boss and Kaz Miller talking about the upcoming nuclear inspection of Mother Base and the mission taking place during the inspection, rescuing Chico and Paz, returning characters from Peace Walker. Whilst this conversation is taking place we see Chico in a large cage, being asked how it feels to ‘play the traitor’ by Skull Face, a new character in the Metal Gear series and clear antagonist for Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain.
The main story mission clocked in at just over 2 hours on my first play through, which was quite disappointing as Metal Gear games are renowned for their intricate and complex, and most importantly, lengthy stories. The tone of the game is much darker than the other games in the series, which serves it well for the most part as it adds a sense of realism that was lacking from the other games, which were very tongue-in-cheek for the majority of the time. The ending of the game sets up The Phantom Pain quite well, but it feels as if it is just an interactive trailer for the game, or a demo for TPP as many people have said.
As soon as I got control of the more athletic Big Boss I could immediately tell that a lot of time had gone into streamlining the controls, which makes the game easier to pick up and play for new comers to the series and Metal Gear veterans alike. The guns pack a punch and all have their uses but the lack of weapon variety led me to become somewhat bored with them by the end of my playthrough, but it is enough to take you though the story and half a dozen side missions which will each take around 10-30 minutes to complete first time around.
The Metal Gear series is also well known for creative bosses such as Psycho Mantis and The End, but there are none in GZ which was a letdown. The main mission is set at night and is very tense, but once you get into the extra missions set in the middle of the day the tension, and difficulty go straight up, especially when the enemy spots you in the distance and comes to investigate. Speaking of enemies, the AI in the game is very intelligent and adaptable causing some great encounters, even if they follow the modern stealth rule of ‘if I haven’t seen the intruder who killed 30 men single-handed for a few minutes then everything must be fine.
Lastly, the replay value for the game is great, each mission can be tackled in different ways and there are unlocks and challenges to aim towards, because of this, the 2 hour main mission and 6 extra ops (side missions) have lasted me in excess of 20 hours, but I could still get more out of the experience.
If you have seen any of the trailers or gameplay, you will know that the game looks stunning, but in person, it is even better. Although the graphics are not as good as on the PS4, the Xbox One edition is still incredible, beating out any game on the platform for this, or the last generation of consoles, although some come close.
For the 20+ hours I have played the game I have experienced a few minor graphical glitches but no frame rate drops which is a great feat as the game is very graphically intensive. There is a bit of pop- in when using the binoculars but apart from that there is nothing much to speak of.
Ground Zeroes is a treat from Kojima, although the short story lets down the game as a whole even if the replay value allows you to play it multiple times over and have completely different experiences each time. The overall experience of this gem will win back any fans disappointed by the length of the story mission and it makes a great intro to the ‘Metal Gear Solid V Experience’ as Kojima calls it.