Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes PS4 Review
Publisher: Konami Developer: Kojima Productions Genre: Stealth Players: 1 Age Rating: 18+
Other console/handheld formats: PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox One
As you probably already know, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is really short, but provided that you look for it, there’s more content than one might think hidden away in the game. With that said, it really depends on who you are, if you feel that there’s enough there to justify its price point and not end up feeling short changed.
In terms of setting, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes takes place shortly after the events of Peace Walker and acts as a prologue to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. It sees Big Boss heading out on a mission to rescue Chico and Paz from an enemy base. It’s a beautifully presented story as always, which rivals many a film with its overall direction. More unusual however is that this is a Metal Gear Solid game that isn’t obsessed with plot exposition, with just the beginning and end of it being dedicated to lengthy cut scenes, which means that you never really get a true sense of just how good of a replacement Kiefer Sutherland is for David Hayter as the voice of Big Boss, though based on the little that’s there he seems to have done a respectable job.
Being a stealth game, you must avoid the gaze of enemy guards by hiding behind walls and in amongst grass and such. Unlike Metal Gear Solid 4 which didn’t have improved AI to fit the larger environments, Ground Zeroes most certainly does. Enemies can see a much farther distance ahead of them, so you must be more mindful than ever to stay out of sight, but adding a risk and reward element is the fact that you can interrogate enemies by grabbing them and, in turn, be rewarded with helpful information such as security camera, guard, weapon or ammo locations.
There’s no longer camouflage, a radar, or a sound device, all of which makes the game very different to previous entries in the series. To easily keep tabs on the positions of enemy guards, you can however tag them by aiming at them with your gun or from a distance with your binoculars.
If you do happen to be spotted, there’s a fresh reflex feature, where the game momentarily goes into slow motion, granting you the opportunity to take out whoever it was that saw you before they have the chance to alert the entire base to your presence, though you are awarded with a bonus to your score for never using it, and those that feel this makes things too easy can opt to turn it off altogether for a sterner challenge, if they so desire.
In terms of controls, the game is better than ever. Getting in and out of cover is smoother and there’s a new dive ability, which allows you to quickly leap out of the view of an enemy or gunfire, a welcome and invaluable addition that works beautifully in the more generous in scope level layout.
The much larger environment offers much more in the way of choice than your usual Metal Gear Solid game. Missions can be completed in different orders and different ways, for instance after freeing a prisoner you have a choice of landing zones to take them to and some might be closer at hand but more dangerous, with anti air defences that you also have the option of destroying to make your helicopter pilot’s life easier. There’s also various routes to take around the base and, just as long as you don’t mind a rubbish post mission rank, there’s even the option to go loud with gun emplacements and even a tank to steal, which is unusually empowering for a Metal Gear Solid game.
Completion of the main Ground Zeroes mission can be done in as little as 90 minutes, though will vary from person to person. But completing it will unlock three side missions, all of which have a pleasing level of variety. One tasks you with taking out two enemy snipers, whom will attempt to flee whenever you alert the base, another is an action driven assault on the enemy base (with an amusing conclusion, it has to be said) and there’s one where you must take down enemy air defences to prepare for an incoming air assault. A further mission can be unlocked by finding the nine hidden XOF patches around the base in the primary Ground Zeroes mission, and this final mission will prove to be nostalgic for many a series fan.
As mentioned earlier, completion of missions will grant you a rank, penalizing you for doing such things like being spotted or killing enemies and rewarding you for staying out of sight and rescuing prisoners. Those that like to push themselves to get the highest S rank might well find themselves playing for hours to perfect all five missions, you’ll also unlock trials, requiring you to do thinks like mark or eliminating enemies in as quick a time as possible and there are hidden tapes around the base that will reveal further snippets of the story and grant further prospective value to the game.
Kojima Productions new Fox engine that powers the game is lovely, with special mention going to the rain soaked environment and lighting of the primary mission. This PS4 versions runs at 1080p and a very smooth 60fps as well, but one still can’t help but feel that the game is somewhat held back by being a cross generation release, and it simply doesn’t look way beyond the previous generation in the way that Infamous: Second Son and Ryse: Son of Rome does.
There’s no getting away from the fact that there’s just not going to be enough content on offer for everyone, but for a certain type of person there is potentially hours worth of game here, either way Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes functions as an excellent and enticing preview to next year’s main course of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, introducing its wonderfully executed new mechanics, which gel well with the old and displaying just how well Metal Gear Solid can work and thrive in a more open environment.