BADGP Reviews: Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

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Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (Konami, Kojima Productions)

Released: March 18, 2014

Alex Linna, Brock Morgan, Thomas Linna, Kiersten Kelsey

Review: Ground to a Halt

Obvious first statement: Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is short; typically under two hours for a first run-through kind of short.  Call MGSV: GZ what you will: a demo, a slice, a taste, a teaser, a prologue, a prelude, regardless, it is a shining example of what a full Metal Gear Solid V can be.  It is highly polished, looks great, sounds great, and plays great.  By most general gaming criticizing standards, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is a wonderful experience aside from its brevity.

Audio/Visual

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes may be short, but it also looks great. There’s not likely to be any one thing in Ground Zeroes that takes your breath away graphically, but the Cuban prison facility that the player explored is very realistically rendered, from buildings to plants, and from textures to weather effects. The main mission of Ground Zeroes takes place entirely at night under the cover of a fairly heavy rainstorm (very convenient for Big Boss, as the natural darkness and the sound of wind and thunder can help cover his tracks as the player guides him through the facility), and while I didn’t notice any puddling of water on the ground (which would have been interesting to try to sneak around or through), the lighting effects were very impressive. Searchlights cut across terrain realistically and are intensely bright, effectively communicating to the player when they’re likely to be spotted and when they can usually move about undetected. While not the most visually impressive game on the Xbox One, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes holds its own as an impressive demonstration of the kind of graphical fidelity we can expect from The Phantom Pain, whenever that comes out.

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Equally impressive was the sound design implemented in the game. Guns sound realistic, the weather effects are impressive, and the voice acting is everything you’ve come to expect from a Metal Gear game in the past (for the record, I think that is a very good thing). Sounds echo within the concrete confines of many of the prison’s buildings, and Harry Gregson-Williams returns to deliver his trademark style to the impressive soundtrack. Metal Gear has always delivered fantastic music, and Ground Zeroes is certainly no exception. I’d also be remiss to go without mentioning the change of Snake’s voice actor from David Hayter to Kiefer Sutherland. While I will surely always miss Hayter’s gruff delivery, Kiefer Sutherland does a decent enough job stepping into those very large shoes. Best of luck to him in The Phantom Pain, which will surely be a truer test of how well he can step into the role.

Gameplay

Ground Zeroes controls similarly to, but more easily than, that of its predecessors and it moves in the direction of more popular third-person and first-person shooter games. The commands are fairly fluid and, after some trial and error, become easy to understand. The guns used in this game were realistic with their accuracy and design. The one and only thing I found to be slightly unpleasant was when carrying bodies, you automatically switch to your pistol and cannot change back until the body is placed or thrown on the ground. The game was so brief that the mechanics were only touched for the some odd minutes you actually played the game. Overall, the controls and gameplay were pleasant and leave you wanting more in the next installment of the series.

The water effects are quite impressive.

The water effects are quite impressive.

Close-Quarters Combat is vastly enhanced from Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walkers’ already immense strides of improvement, all while looking and feeling incredibly cool.  There is record kept of longest headshot with lethal and nonlethal firearms encouraging self-competition.  During the brief playtime, Big Boss is tasked with rescuing prisoners via helicopter extraction in Ground Zeroes’ biggest new gameplay feature.  It becomes strategic.  Here you are with a body on your back limiting your weapon options and speed, so do you risk calling a helicopter deep in enemy territory and take out all the enemies as they come to your location, or do you attempt to sneak out the outskirts of the base where it is safer to summon a chopper?  This mechanic made for some intense moments with its inspiring of risky gambits versus safe and clean getaways.

Let’s Talk Pricing Structure

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes’ brevity is met with a $29.99 price point for all physical copies of the game and a ten dollar discount digitally on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.  This was only after fan outcry upon Game Informer reporting that they completed the main mission in around two hours.  It was going to be $39.99 for the now current-generation platforms physical copies.  After knowing what Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is, we have to ask ourselves: “Is this okay?” and “What does this mean for the future?”

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Is this type of paid demo going to become a more prevalent trend as the cost of making games continues to go up?  Was Ground Zeroes released so that Konami could help fund The Phantom Pain like Double Fine’s Broken Age?  At $30, is one to expect that the full version of Metal Gear Solid V is going to be twice as long, due to it likely going to cost $60?  I sure hope not, I doubt that MGSV: The Phantom Pain will only be a four hour game.  I suppose we will have to wait for sales numbers to know if Konami’s bite-sized Metal Gear is something to be emulated by other publishers.

Replay Value

This being a very short game, I think there needs to be a lot of replay value. I think I, personally, would probably play the main mission a total of 2 maybe 3 times at most. I am more excited about the side missions, however. I would like to play all the side missions at least once, and be able to compare my scores with other gamers. As for the game in its entirety, it has some replay value, but not a whole lot because there is not a whole lot of game to being with.

Kiersten’s First Metal Gear Experience

Coming from someone who has no past experience of the Metal Gear series, I did not much care for this game. When you start off, you are given very little instruction on gameplay. When I started playing, I got lost really quickly. I knew, more or less, where to go and what to do, however there really is not any tutorial in the basics of control. They tell you how to crouch and use binoculars, but when I got spotted really quickly I had a hard time figuring out how to get out a weapon and how to shoot. It resulted in a few deaths at the beginning, but I got the hang of it fairly quickly.

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After knowing how the game works for the most part, the story itself did not make much sense either. I knew who Snake was, but as for the person talking to me or the prisoners that we were rescuing I would have liked a little more backstory other than a little text at the beginning. There was already a lengthy cutscene at the onset, however I could have sat through a little more if that meant less text and better understanding of what was happening.

All in all, I will probably play the next Metal Gear that comes out.

The Recommendation

So, the four of us decided that, to give a better picture of our recommendations as to whether or not MGS V: GZ is for you, we’d sit down at a table and discuss that experience with one another. We happened to record this discussion, and you can listen to it here:

Thanks for reading and listening!

Score:

Alex: 7.0               Brock:   7.5          Kiersten: 7.5       Thomas:  7.8

BAD: 7.5

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