Hey gang, Valkor here. Whenever I or the gang over at 2D-X (site no longer available) ever get into a gaming discussion, it never fails three topics always come up without fail – Final Fantasy, whatever the hell Sega is doing, and Metal Gear, with some in our group being fans more than others; I’m sort of the inbetween, though I’ve been a fan of the series since the first Metal Gear on the NES. Last weekend, each team was able to procure a copy of Hideo Kojima’s latest in the ongoing Metal Gear series – Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (TOV gets the PS4 version). And while the journey is kinda short, it was still a whole lot of fun.
In Ground Zeroes, you play as “Big Boss” Snake and your main mission is to infiltrate a Cuban base to extract two prisoners. The game takes place after Peacewalker but before the next game in the series – The Phantom Pain. If you’re familiar with the groundwork of Peacewalker, then you’ll be in familiar territory as the game has the same feel. As you enter the base, you’ll do your best to stay one step ahead of the guards; if you get within their sights they’ll come after you and/or call reinforcements. And like any Metal Gear title, if you stay out of their sights long enough, they’ll slowly call off their search before going back to their posts. If you’re able to capture a soldier, you have the choice to either interrogate them or just straight out kill them. The same goes for when you begin traversing the base – you can knock out the guards, choke em out or lay em down permanently. Once they’re down, you can take their weapons and either refill your own or replace the one you have.
While you perform the mission(s) solo, you do have your trusty iDroid to lend a hand; you can use it to access mission data, check the map for the location of targets, listsen to found cassette tapes, mark your map for key locations, see where certain enemies are stationed and call for the helicopter to aid in the extraction of prisoners or yourself. You're map loads up crucial information you can get the enemy to divulge through interrogation so it's always key to keep a close watch on it. You can also use your binoculars to tag enemies, allowing you to keep track of them on the playing field. And what’s new to the series is “Reflex”; once you’re spotted, the world will slow down, allowing you to take down an enemy before they’re able to call for backup. Lastly, new to the series, is the use of vehicles to get out of hot spots such as a Helicopter or truck. Though the Helicopter takes awhile to get to your position, it’s my preferred choice of extraction as it’s more intense and dramatic, especially when the enemy is honing in on your position.
The world of Ground Zeroes is somewhat open in the sense there are different ways you can handle a scenario; the first time I played through, I simply rescued my main prisoners, heading straight for their positions and exiting at the rendevous point. The second time however I learned there were multiple ways of playing the scenario – some easier and more interesting than others (clawing through a sewage drain to get to the admin building - nice). So you can tackle the main mission straight forward, but it’ll be a short journey; however in the main mission there are smaller side quests you can participate in, such as extracting other prisoners or saving another from execution. Or looking for certain items (i.e. the XOF patches). Once you’ve beaten the main mission, you’ll be given a grade and you’ll unlock further side missions that’ll lead more into the story. And depending on what system you purchased the game you’ll get an extra exclusive mission. For the Playstation, you’ll be able to replay scenes from the original Metal Gear Solid. And for the XBOX, you’ll get to play as Raiden.
If you didn’t already know, David Hayter, a regular to the MGS series since the first Solid game, is out and his replacement for Big Boss Snake is none other than 24’s Kiefer Sutherland. So there are a lot of interesting changes to the series, but overall how does the game fare?
To me, Peacewalker was a lot of fun and the game did an amazing job of balancing action with stealth. And I’m glad that Ground Zeroes follows along the same lines plus adding new elements to mix things up a bit. And unlike Guns of Patriots, thankfully you’re not bogged down with heavy cinematics; there’s just enough at the beginning before throwing you into the mission. And there's a lot of post credit stuff to, so stick around until the very end. To me, it’s all about the action and I haven’t been this amped about a Metal Gear title since Revegeance. You don’t have to be too stealthy, but it helps. And if the enemy is starting to swarm on your location, you can go all-out Rambo on them until you can get to a safe distance. The controls are spot on and Snake handles well; he crouches behind obstacles with ease, draws his weapons and fires in a fluid motion, can duck an dive away from enemy fire, it’s all so beautiful to watch. Also the transition from cinematics to gameplay and back again is a seamless and smooth. The music and voice work are both fitting and as much as I enjoyed Hayter’s work, I’m equally impressed with Kiefer Sutherland, who fits so well into the role and I can’t wait to see his range, though I’m pretty sure I’ve seen some elements of it from his 24 “Jack Bauer”. Finally, the song “Here’s to You” is mad catchy and I can’t seem to stop humming it long after I’ve finished the game.
The running joke from my weekend meetup with the 2D-X crew was that the game is just a demo before the big release. And I would agree with that. Thankfully the game costs just 30 bucks and you get a nice chunk of a gameplay. But then I think about “Bravely Default”. Now THAT’s a demo that was completely free plus it did enough to prepare you for the main story with a lot of carryover. I think Ground Zeroes could have easily been a free download on the same level as that title. But alas… that’s just a minor nitpick from me.
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is available now and it’s also available for the Playstation 3, XBOX One and 360; the game offers quite a lot for players looking to delve further into the franchise. While the main journey is a short one, there’s still enough to hold you over until the major release of “The Phantom Pain”. And for that I’m ready. So, out of TOV 5 stars, Ground Zeroes gets a 4.5.