I’ve been a massive Metal Gear Solid fan for as long as I can remember. Infiltrating an enemy stronghold coupled with an intense plot is in my blood. A series so close to my heart
The game starts off with an opening cutscene outside in the pouring rain, following a group of soldiers through to a prison cell area littered with small cages where a small boy is being held. He looks frail and broken. A mysterious man with what looks to be a face scarred with burns, taunts the boy before throwing him a cassette tape which contains the song “Here’s To You” by Joan Baez. People who have played Metal Gear Solid 4 may remember a version of this song play over the credits. The voices of Big Boss and Kaz are heard discussing mission details and priorities. The camera continues to follow the soldiers as they make their way to a chopper. It’s clear by now the man with the burned face is the leader of this platoon of soldiers who appear to be wearing an insignia of “XOF”. (“FOX” backwards), as he dons a hat and orders them all to get on board the chopper. The chopper takes to the air highlighting the amazing graphic fidelity of the Fox Engine. The way the lighting is used and even sound is convincingly real. The soldiers begin to remove their arm patches and hastily discarded and blown away by the air. The camera fixes on one particular badge which continues to fall to earth. The camera then stops to reveal our character Big Boss or Snake as he carefully proceeds to the sneaking point. He is wearing night-vision goggles reminiscent of the old menu screen image of Solid Snake in the original Metal Gear Solid. Kojima still playing the nostalgia card it seems. Big Boss gets into a crouching position, lifts his head up and tilts his goggles off his face as the camera zooms in. A dramatic sting entails as Big Boss utters the immortal words, “Kept you waiting, huh?”. Any fan of the series will recognise this quote. Snake then grabs out a device which projects out a map of the surrounding area. Kaz briefs Snake that he must locate Chico, the boy in the cage. And the mission begins.
Because that’s what Ground Zeroes is. One mission. One mission that lasts around an hour to maybe two hours depending on which way you go about completing it. It’s extremely short but little to wonder with a lower price point to most full retail games. There are side missions set in the same area which involve planting explosives on AA guns, protecting a VIP and assassinating a few targets. They do add considerable length to the game but those looking for extra juicy story content will be disappointed. Collectables can be obtained such as audio tapes out fill in a little back story on what happens in the Ground Zeroes mission but that’s about it.
But what we do have is a gripping first mission to Metal Gear Solid V which only makes you want to see more and continue playing. I personally spent a good few days just trying out different ways the complete the mission, collecting songs to play on your in-game Walkman and feeling amazing while doing it. I feel like this is what Playstation 4 and Xbox One are missing. A character that feels cool to play and a game with high production values.
Gameplay is incredibly satisfying and switching to open world has been a good design choice for the series. Don’t go in expecting Grand Theft Auto levels of freedom but you’ll be pleased to know you can hop in a small selection of vehicles. Open world now means you have to plan much more strategically and be ready for every possible situation you could find yourself in. Them is a slow-motion bullet time mode for when you get spotted that many fans were sceptical over but believe me, you’ll need it and praise it. If not, you do have the ability to turn it off if you wish. Enemy AI is intelligent and will work together to search the area for you or work to flank you when caught in a fire-fight.
The graphics provided by the Fox Engine, Kojima Production’s in-house engine are a wonder to look at. It’s never felt closer to watching a CG film. Sure there’s the odd bland texture here and there but overall the game is very impressive looking on all systems. Especially the Playstation 4 which boasts 1080p and both Playstation 4 and Xbox One run at a smooth 60fps. Motion capture looks very good which makes it easy to forget you’re watching a game. It is a shame not to see some more complex rendering methods in use such as tessellation on the newer systems as edges and rounded objects can look rather hexagonal looking.
Now on to voice acting. To me at least, kiefer Sutherland seemed ok. Just ok. Nothing particularly special about his performance. It just sounded like Keifer being Keifer. No attempt at any sort of over-the-top groaning and grunting which is a good thing as it doesn’t come across patronising and overall a more real performance. Fans missing David Hayter’s Snake voice should soon settle into Kiefer’s rendition.
Ground Zeroes ultimately makes me very excited for the full Metal Gear Solid V experience but I wonder if it’s actually worth purchasing right now as Konami might pull a fast one and package them both together later on. I highly recommend you give this a try if you can find it cheap enough, or indeed a rental.
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is available now on Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and coming soon to Steam on PC