Here it is, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. The review for Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes is in. Does this game have what it takes to stand alongside your gaming collection as a masterpiece? Or has the series gone from “Hero” to “Zero”?
Presentation: Wow. “Wow” spelled backwards. It is immediately apparent that the production values for this game are extremely high. The game starts you off with a view of Big Boss sitting down, with the menu system overlaid on top of this to the left, making it look like Big Boss is in thought. This approach appropriately sets the tone for the level of immersion this game creates. Light realistically reflects off of each surface, the wind billows through snakes hair, rain drops trickle down on in-game character models, and you always have a sense of groundedness (heh) in the world. Frame rate is consistently buttery smooth on PS4, but there was an instance or two where the frame rate hitched for a second. Sound design is equally impressive, with ambient noise effects bring the world to life all around you. It’s even more impressive with headphones (I used the Astro A40’s.) Mud ever-so-subtly squishes under Big Boss’s boots, and some impressive CQC moves have especially satisfying and impactful sound effects. Guards converse with each other, and voice acting overall is superb. Kiefer Sutherland does a “decent” enough job as Big Boss, but it still baffles me that Kojima went this route, keeping all voice actors in place except for David Hayter. Nothing in Keifer’s performance screamed out to me “this is a perfect match!” or “I see why they swapped voice actors because this is definitely better than the last Snake!”- a disappointment more so than a heavy detriment to the overall package.
Gameplay: Up until MGS3: Subsistence, controls for the Metal Gear Solid franchise have been a touchy subject for many. While it has always been possible to get used to the control scheme in past MGS games, accessibility was never it’s strongest point. Ground Zeroes is easily the most accessible of all Metal Gear Games to date, rivaling games like Splinter Cell: Blacklist and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier in the controls department. You no longer use the trigger buttons for selecting equipment, but rather, the directional pad (which makes sense.) You can still toggle crouching, lay on your belly, or roll around. Aiming feels fast and responsive, which is a must if you want to utilize your split-second, cat-like reflexes. Metal Gear Ground Zeroes fully embraces a more modern control scheme, and that certainly works in the games favor. There are a few standout features that differentiate this from other stealth games though. Pulling the left trigger aims your gun, while pulling the right fires your weapon.- Pretty standard affair. Tapping Right Trigger activates a swift CQC maneuver while holding it gives you options on how to handle disposing of your enemy. Through this, you can question them for more information including ammo pick ups, possible locations for your objective, and other secrets scattered throughout the map. R1 activates the binoculars, which lets you tag enemies a-la Splinter Cell or Far Cry 3 status. It’s a really nice feature for keeping tabs on your enemies, as it’s easy to forget where an enemy is positioned. Tapping L1 radios in to Lieutenant Miller, and serves as a way to quickly get information about something you’re looking at, so you no longer have to bring up the codec menu to communicate with your support team. Genius. Although you can approach the game a bit less carefully by going guns-a-blazin’, stealth is still king in this franchise. Stalking enemies, and silently knocking them out has never felt so satisfying. Tranquilizer ammo is much more scarce in this game, so getting up close and personal to your enemies is more practical in the long run. Enemies on normal difficulty can spot you fairly easily compared to other Metal Gear games, so you have to be much more aware of your surroundings. You must become a true stealth operative.
Story: For newcomers of the series, there is a simple recap of what happened in the previous games, and it’s presented in a very easily digestible way. For the first time in the game’s history, you DON’T have to be a rocket scientist or quantum physicist to understand the plot. All in all, this story takes place in 1975, and is centered around one character’s supposed fall from grace from Hero, to Villain. I can say with certainty, that the story sets itself up very well for “The Phantom Pain.” There are some subtle hints at some provocative concepts, but they are mainly implied and relayed in audio logs- this was Kojima’s chance to really push the boundaries of what’s expected in video games, and it seems like a missed opportunity.
Lasting Appeal: I won’t beat around the bush- this game is shorter than Napoleon with his knees chopped off and still in micro-organism form. The main mission can technically be completed in about 8 minutes if you speed run it. But that’s no fun, right? You could have intimate relations with a significant other (sex) in 2 minutes, but if you really want to savor it, and explore what it has to offer, you’ll want to spend more time on it. The game offers several extra missions, and replayability in the form of leaderboards, and unlockables for the full release- The Phantom Pain. This game aims to wet your tastebuds with the slightest bit of what the full game will offer, and in doing so, accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do. My body is ready for the Phantom Pain. While it’s hard to justify to most people $30 for essentially, a demo, Metal Gear Fans will undoubtably enjoy this experience and come back for more to really get a handle on how the mechanics work, and find all of the hidden goodies. For everyone else, perhaps you should wait for a price drop before committing your hard earned dollars towards this game, unless you’re genuinely intrigued.
- Amazing graphics, art direction, cinematography
- Smooth, intricate, and rewarding gameplay
- Excellent set up for events that take place in Phantom Pain
- Really short
- Kiefer Sutherland as Big Boss is a needless replacement for David Hayter
- Expensive for amount of time it will take to complete
You can buy MGSV: Ground Zeroes here.
All MGSV Images copyright Konami