Title: Metal Gear Solid V – Ground Zeroes
Platform: PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC

Reviewed on: Windows
Genre: Stealth, Shooter
Players: Single player


Written by Whistler 24th December 2014
















Ah the Metal Gear franchise, only Kojima’s twenty seven year spanning franchise could worry me so much in regards to reviewing due to the several layers of fanboyism I’ve developed for the series ever since it’s ascendance into the Playstation era (well that and Final Fantasy). Luckily though I’ve had a fair break from the series since I missed out on the majority of the PSP arc, that being Portable Ops and Peacewalker; and while I was temporary heartbroken when Ground Zeroes came to home consoles and not PC, after a seemingly eternal wait I got my chance to walk once again in Big Boss’ boots in Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes.


Several months after the events of Peace Walker, Snake or Big Boss as he’s more commonly known as during this arc (cause there aren’t enough characters with the Snake codename in this franchise), is called to action after Militaires Sans Frontières receives news that Paz, a double agent working for the secretive organization Cipher, has survived. An MSF agent reveals that Paz is currently being interrogated by the mysterious XOF forces on the black site Camp Omega, located in the southern tip of Cuba. So while the MSF clean up the motherbase as best they can for an upcoming UN inspection Big Boss is sent into Camp Omega to infiltrate the base undetected, to determine Paz and another child soldier by the name of Chico’s current status, what information they may have leaked and to extract them should they still be alive.





























Now I went into this with the full knowledge that Ground Zeroes is hampered by one striking foul in that it’s over far too soon, even then I’ll fully admit I was left feeling disappointed and was ready to begin furiously typing up a negative review at how soon the credits rolled. But this is not a negative review, in fact I’ll say this is a good thing, introducing us to new mechanics, a new format of play and giving us a taste of Kojima’s open world that is to come, Ground Zeroes does exactly what it needed to do; to leave us wanting for more.

I do sympathize though with those on console who forked out around £30 mark but for the modest £13 on Steam I’d say you are getting your money’s worth as after you have completed the main objective you will slowly gain access to a handful of other missions.

While at first I felt like these were just thrown in there to avoid this being an expensive demo I realized that they offer us taste into what is to come.


Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes merely dabbles in story compared to its predecessors’ legacy but it dives head first into its re-envisioned stealth playground. Veterans of the MGS series might find themselves a little perplexed at fist seeing as what we have here is more akin to titles like Splinter Cell as opposed to the traditional MGS format, however once the growing pains have subsided you’ll realized that the canvas, while small, that Kojima has handed to us offers a rich interactive experience.

Once we’re able to get into the thick of it we’ll see that Snake still has it in him in his old age and is more than capable of crawling, crouching while granted he can now only carry a realistic amount (no switching between all your weaponry this time). While our arsenal in GZ is a little limited the simplicity aids the potential different methodologies available to us, such as the return binoculars.
The binoculars have always been in MGS in some form but this time they play a far more vital role during our tactical espionage, instead of scrambling through your items the binoculars can be brought up with the touch of a key and easily put away again. The binoculars this time will mark targets of interest such as soldiers, anti-air guns or vehicles once you hover over them whilst zoomed in; while hardcore fans will feel this sits right up there with other types of visionary aids like Assassins Creed’s Eagle vision or the bat vision in the Arkham titles the use of these goggles is completely optional and considering the size of the complex you’ll be hard pressed not at least consider using them.


Similar small tweaks can be seen across the board, such as the smooth transition where pressing up against an object will have you effortlessly lean into it, allowing you to peek around corners safely. Much like in MGS4, you can hold up soldiers so long as you catch them off guard from behind but now the system feels a little more refined giving you the ability to interrogate them on the spot for info. Thankfully controls are vastly improved, even on the trusty keyboard and mouse set up I felt right at home as I shifted between crouching, to crawling and so forth. It should be mentioned though that there is an odd occurrence that sadly happens often where the controls seem to get stuck forcing you to watch as Snake shimmies way out into the open to ruin what was once an impressive stealth record. Besides that though obviously the controller was the primary control method when GZ was being developed, as is apparent seeing as you can’t control the speed of your movement like you could with the analogue stick; small tweaks do make it a lot more bearable like tapping the key will have Snake tip toe ever so slightly to avoid being detected.





























And avoiding detection has never been so fun as thankfully Kojima productions have stuck to their promises from that E3 trailer back in 2013, as even now only been given a glance at what they have cooking for Phantom Pain, this is arguably an unrivalled level of freedom within the stealth genre. Even now with a singular map after 9 hours I’m finding and mastering more ways to complete my missions with finesse worthy of Big Boss himself. Thanks to the fluidity of the mechanics combined with the surprisingly reactive level of the AI you’ll be making up new plans on the fly as you set your sights on that ultimate S rank.


On one occasion my mission was to retrieve some sensitive intel onsite, once I discovered via my man on the inside that he stowed the info away in a cassette tape the real mission began. One problem, the tape was located in the control room of a tower right in the heart of the fort at the north western section of the base. Luckily I was mark the guards way ahead of time and while one guard almost caught me when he sneezed I was able to brush past unnoticed. Just before grabbing the cassette I quickly remove the pesky CCTV camera posted above the room entrance; however I then learned of a nifty change to the AI. Here’s where the reactivity comes into play, since the camera went down security instantly jumped to attention and ordered the nearby officers to scope out the issue, you see the soldiers on duty at Camp Omega have shed that scripted drone-like mindset that almost every stealth game has been plagued with and instead feel like actual humans. They respond to suspicious movements, odd sounds and will go off their paths in order to check something out.
I manage to duck away by the time an officer reports back the damage done to the camera, however now security has been tightened and my path of entry is no longer viable as an escape route and my other path is laden with multiple troops. Thankfully as I check the map on my iDroid (I still say it’s a stupid name), one of the trucks I previously marked is making its way to the site; and here’s one of my most memorable examples for when GZ’s creative freedom shines. As the truck makes a stop and the driver drops off some deliveries I stow myself away in the back, the driver gets back in, drives off and unknowingly carries me to safety.





























It’s moments like this that (are surprisingly plentiful) really make me smile with glee as I eagerly await Phantom Pain. Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes feels like the change I’ve been waiting for. While I wasn’t too keen on the idea of an open world orientated stealth title at first; I can easily say now that if you’re looking for a stealth game that challenges your creative side and gives you vast amounts of replayability through its fluid strategic freedom and surprisingly reactive world that this is one stealth game you don’t want to pass up. Maybe the tenner for this singular level might seem daunting but considering I’ve gotten ten hours so far, and that’s easily five hours more than some £30-£50 titles have given me I’d say you should give this ‘demo’ a go and if rumours are to be believe then when Phantom Pain launches, February is looking pretty good for 2015.


Pretty please Kojima.


Pros:   

Vast amounts of strategic freedom,

Intuitive controls,

Great visual quality,
Highly reactive world,

Brilliant PC port,

Intense stealth gameplay.


Cons:   

Ludicrously short story length,

Occasional wrestles with camera,

Odd performance issues during a certain mission.

   


Final verdict,

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes scores a solid (Snake) 8/10.


Written by,

Whistler














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