Game Name: Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes
It’s been 16 years since Metal Gear Solid was released on the PlayStation and boy has Hideo Kojima taken us for a ride. What started out as a simple adventure has spiraled to an out of control globe spawning conspiracy and at the heart of it all there is one man that has been the driving force and his name is Big Boss. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is the story of Big Boss and his operation Outer Heaven and it is a direct continuation of Peace Walker. This might be an issue for players who have not played Peace Walker as they will probably be a little lost. Konami did provide a synopsis of Peace walker, but do yourself a favor and pick up the Metal Gear Collection which includes Peace Walker and give the game a play through since most of the inspiration for Ground Zeroes is lifted directly from Peace Walker.
Without trying to spoil Ground Zeroes story (not that there is much there) you are tasked as Big Boss to rescue two of your soldiers of fortune that have been captured. That’s all the reason you need to infiltrate the base and bring the legend out of retirement. Right from the start you can feel this is a different Metal Gear made evident by several key changes you are introduced to at the beginning of your mission. The first is that the codec no longer takes you to a different screen where you would have two talking heads. Instead the conversations are in real time with the L1 button handling incoming calls and letting you communicate with Miller as well. The second is Kiefer Sutherland replacing David Hayter as the voice of Snake. It takes a little bit of time to get use to, but once the game gets going Sutherland does a good job of portraying an older Snake.
The game play in Ground Zeroes is a drastic departure from past entries into the series but it’s for the best. Snakes controls are smoother and more natural and there are more moves available to him than ever before. This helps with the stealth aspects of the game more than the gun blazing from Metal Gear Solid 3 did. Sneaking up behind an enemy and grabbing them has never been more satisfying. With a new CQC system that is more intuitive, you are now able to interrogate enemies, knock them out or kill them. The hand to hand combat is much more fluid and can lead to interesting outcomes. Another enhancement has been the improved gun play which now leads to more interesting gun fights and intense moments with bullets flying over your head. Another ability that helps is the slow motion, which you might think would be over powered, but it is just another tool you can use and it provides a helping hand and not a game breaking ability. Also another new addition is the ability to drive vehicles which helps with traveling around the map. The vehicles controls take a bit to get used to, but for the most part they work. For Ground Zeroes Kojima decided to ditch the radar system. You now have to tag enemies with your binoculars and Snake can remember their location. The Idroid map system provides a new way to navigate and hide from enemies. If Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is any indication of how the Phantom Pain is going to play, we are going to be treated to probably one of the best Metal Gear games, but also to one of the best games this new generation will experience as it will redefine the stealth genre again.
For this review I played the game on the PlayStation 4 and it looks fantastic. However, there are still some issues with invisible walls and awkward animations. The environmental effects are superior to anything you have ever seen in a previous Metal Gear game, with the lighting effect being the star of the show. The character models have been improved along with Snake looking the best he ever has. On the PlayStation 4 this game does not miss a beat. There is some clipping issues when carrying a soldier over your head and running. The frame rate never drops even in the most intense sequences as the PlayStation 4 keeps the action moving at a brisk pace.
Sound is one of the key components and plays an integral part in this stealth adventure. Listening to the guard’s footsteps as they walk can give you a clue to their location without revealing your own to them. You can hear vehicles as they drive pass you, even from a distance their engines are loud and proud. The binocular which has been probably one of the most useless items in earlier games is now essential for your survival. It also comes equipped with a microphone so you are able to listen to guards conversations which can provide you with clues to access items or additional story context. You have the addition of audio files that are provided to you, which can inform players on some of the back story they might have missed out on from Peace Walker. These also provide additional story that would have probably been an hour codec conversation. It is a testament to the sound design of the game when you can listen to the sounds of rain as it falls on Snakes sneaking suit.
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes might be an extended demo but the price is well worth it. For fans you will have hours of content to explorer and learn more of the story leading up to the Phantom Pain. For new players that have not experienced Metal Gear before, Ground Zeroes provides a great platform to get into the history of Metal Gear and learn the mechanics before the Phantom Pain comes out early spring 2015.