Gaming: Metal Gear Solid - Ground Zeroes

Michelle reviews the super short Ground Zeroes.

" exactly does this
thing work with only
one good eye?"
As a huge fan of the Metal Gear series, I was beyond ecstatic when I heard that Konami would be releasing a playable prologue to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain—the so-called Ground Zeroes. My excitement waned a bit when I heard the price point (initially $40.00 but later lowered to $30.00) and the short playtime of the mission. Having finally played and beaten it, I can say that while the gameplay and production value is outstanding, it is nothing more than a glorified demo.

Ground Zeroes takes place after the events of Peace Walker and features Big Boss, who they refer to as Snake, on a mission to rescue Paz Ortega from a Cuban military prison. The entirety of the mission takes place on a small island and it is completely open world. The area is rather small but there are many ways you can infiltrate the base to accomplish your mission and there are some hidden areas to find as well. It’s a good taste of things to come and does a good job of introducing you to all the new play mechanics. This game has a much darker tone than the previous ones and there is no fourth wall breaking or wacky Kojima humor (not a single cardboard box to be found). I’m not sure why they went this direction with the franchise but I am definitely intrigued and curious to see where it goes. 

The first thing you will notice is the substantial graphical upgrade—the Fox Engine looks absolutely incredible. For all you number crunchers out there, on PS4 the game has a resolution of 1080p and runs at a silky 60 fps. I didn’t notice any slowdown even when the action got hot and heavy. The character models are gorgeous and the facial animations are top-notch. Probably the biggest improvements are the lighting and shadow effects—there is copious lens flare and use of depth of field. The menus for items/weapons and your map have been streamlined and it makes it less cumbersome to select things you want to equip.

There have been some major game play changes and die hard fans of the franchise might not like them at first. Gone is the iconic codec screen and it has been replaced with a hot button direct radio line. One of my favorite parts of Metal Gear were the lengthy and often hilarious conversations you could have with all the characters and I was sad to see it nixed. Snake now has regenerating health without a health bar indicator and does not need to use rations. He can’t knock on the walls to distract guards and cannot hide in dumpsters and lockers like the previous games. The radar doesn’t show the guards’ line of sight cones anymore and you have to be extra vigilant to avoid being seen. However, Snake can now “mark” enemies on the map by looking at them through his binoculars (similar to Sniper Elite) which makes it easier to keep track of them. Additionally, if Snake does get spotted it goes into “reflex mode” which puts the game into bullet time. If you can take the guard out in that short period the alert will be cancelled. This feature can be turned off for purists who want more of a challenge.

One of the most controversial changes was the replacement of Snake’s voice actor David Hayter by Kiefer Sutherland. Snake doesn’t do a lot of talking in Ground Zeroes but Sutherland just doesn’t have the gruffness needed to play Snake. Sutherland isn’t completely horrible but in a game known for its outstanding voice work, it’s not up to the usual standards. It sounds like Sutherland is phoning it in but hopefully it improves in the Phantom Pain. The music is great and Harry Gregson-Williams provides another interesting and moody score. It is more subdued than the previous games but still fits the action perfectly.

The rumors are true: Ground Zeroes is a woefully short game. I beat the main mission in under an hour but it might take a person new to the series a bit longer than that. There are four side missions and each console has an exclusive “special op” that adds a couple hours at best. For a thirty dollar game that is not acceptable! That’s ten dollars an hour for what is essentially a game demo. We as gamers should not perpetuate the gaming model of paying full game prices for demos. This game should have been ten dollars at the most or packed in with another retail game release. It’s a cash grab plain and simple and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I’m conflicted because on one hand, the game is absolutely amazing and has AAA production values but on the other hand, IT’S A FRAKKING DEMO! I just cannot recommend it at full MSRP. If you play it, pick it up used or borrow it from a friend because you will be disappointed by the amount of game play versus money spent, I guarantee.

-Michelle Kisner