What Ground Zeroes lacks in content it makes up for in variety.
Hideo Kojima’s final Metal Gear game is set to debut on September 1st, in the form of the hugely anticipated Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. It is set to bring the epic series’ 25 year old lore full circle. In March 2014 Konami released a prequel to the Phantom Pain; entitled Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. It has been made available on PS Plus and most recently for free with Xbox’s live’s games with gold. As it is almost essential to play Ground Zeroes before the release of the Phantom Pain, now is the perfect opportunity to look back at the game and the reasons why you should play it.
Ground Zeroes takes place a few months after the critically acclaimed Peace Walker, in which Big Boss/Naked Snake had been building a huge private army while dealing with the effects of the Cold War in Central America. Snake’s latest mission brings him to Camp Omega in 1975, a U.S. black site in Cuba that would eventually become the infamous Guantanamo Bay. The main mission tasks Snake (Now voiced by Keifer Sutherland) with rescuing an ally and an old Enemy from the base. The narrative that ensues sets up the Phantom Pain and explains how Snake slips into a coma for the next nine years, and why he is thirsty for vengeance once he has awoken.
Ground Zeroes is Metal Gear Solid’s first use of the new Fox engine, previously used in Pro Evolution Soccer, which makes the game look incredible: adding great weather effects and realistic body movement. It also helps to facilitate the new open world structure. Camp Omega is an open environment, albeit a small one, and it is up to Snake to tackle his mission anyway he sees fit. Changes to the gameplay help make all options of infiltration viable. Snake no longer has the camouflage meter from previous Metal Gear Games, so it is harder to establish how close to an enemy you can sneak. To make up for this, Snake now enters slow-motion when spotted, giving the player the chance to make a last ditch attempt to silence the aggressors. Snake is also more agile than he has ever been. He can scale buildings and fences with ease and can sprint around the battlefield; a first for the Metal Gear Series. Players also have access to a small array of powerful weapons, if they wish to take a more action-orientated route, but to get the best out of the game, stealth should be your primary tool.
When the game first came out, there was much controversy about the length of its main mission, with one gamer on YouTube completing it in 8 minutes. It’s short, roughly taking the average player just over an hour, but there are also several side missions taking place in Camp Omega that will extend the playtime. The game has been compared to the famous Metal Gear Solid 2 demo that came packaged with Hideo Kojima’s Zone of the Enders, which came out in 2001. Many people solely bought that game for the demo and it was thoroughly and constantly replayed by scores of gamers, thanks to its revolutionary gameplay at the time. The same can be said for Ground Zeroes, it gives the player a sandbox to play in and while it lacks content, its core gameplay creates something that can be tackled in multiple different ways, giving it lots of replay value. It was released with a £30 price tag at the time, and for a game in which the main mission can be completed in under an hour, it seemed too steep for anyone other than Metal Gear fans. But now, due to its cheap availability and being free on some platforms, there is no excuse to miss this easily accessible and enjoyable stealth game. Additionally if you plan on buying the Phantom Pain, this will ease you into the new mechanics of the series, and excitingly sets up Kojima’s final chapter.
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is available now on PlayStation 3,PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC.