Starting with the poorly ported NES original, I have been a rabid Metal Gear fan since the inception of the series, playing through every single US released title since. Like the rest of the world, I am anxiously awaiting the Phantom Pain (currently with an unannounced release date) and feel the need to suck out every drop of Metal Gear lore I can get my hands on. But as we wait for the Phantom Pain, Kojima Productions has given the world Ground Zeroes as a bridge that links the events of Peace Walker to this upcoming sequel. Without question, Ground Zeroes is a unique experience not only from a gameplay perspective but also from an overall presentation point of view.
Ground Zeroes is unique and needs to be understood as such. The digital version is only $20 whereas the retail disc version is priced at $30 for both new gen and current gen systems. Also, the point of GZ is to provide a glimpse of the new gameplay style that will be featured throughout the PP. In comparison, GZ is like the Tanker Mission in MGS2 whereas the rest of the GZ’s content is like the Snake Tales/VR Missions of the extended version of MGS2.
Although the Ground Zeroes mission can be completed in a short amount of time, with some speed runners finishing in under a dozen minutes, the game still offers a decent amount of replayability that is entirely based around reusing the same environment but with a completely new set of objectives and circumstances. This is all thanks to the newly developed and powerful Fox Engine. With a realistic presentation, character models, facial animation and even weather effects, Ground Zeroes is undoubtedly the best looking MGS game yet.
The idea of replaying the same stage but with new objectives is a fully explored concept here. Although the player will learn the layout of the map after spending a few hours with it, each side mission offers a completely new experience. Once the short exposition is completed, the player is free to choose from a few other side missions that take on a life of their own. One mission is more of an on-rails shooter as Snake provides aerial cover for a cameo VIP from a chopper, one mission involves sabotaging anti-air guns, another involves taking out to heavily guarded moving targets, and there is an exclusive mission depending on the hardware platform. Depending on how well the player completes each mission, side objectives become available like how fast can all the targets be scanned, how fast can all the mines be collected, and even how fast can you kill all innocent wildlife. The more you play, the more that is unlocked including bonus weapons that are available at the start of each mission. For example, perform well enough to start the assassination mission with a long distance sniper rifle will create an entirely new mission experience instead of sneaking in and taking out the target quietly. Again, Ground Zeroes is all about replaying the same environment but with a different coat of paint, a true sandbox title.
Ground Zeroes is also very different from other Metal Gears besides the obvious sandbox gameplay. Kiefer Sutherland is now the voice of Snake, the control scheme has evolved, the soundtrack is more powerful than ever, the marking system and slow motion effects bring a new form of balance to the realistic stealth based gameplay, there are no hour long cutscenes or long codec calls, rations and the cardboard box are gone, you cannot distract guards by knocking on walls… the list goes on and on. Even though the overall gameplay is much shorter than previous Metal Gear titles, Ground Zeroes really feels like a new generation game and is worthy of the “V” in the title as so many gameplay elements have been redesigned. Snake now has an iDroid – an all-in-one device using for mapping, mission data and more, he moves more realistically and even gun play includes bullet drop, there is no pause button and codec calls can be made in real time, Snake can hop over walls, has more CQC options, drive vehicles, and even call in a chopper… Even though all these changes create a new Metal Gear experience and a whole new type of Metal Gear game, it is still strangely Metal Gear through and through. It is also pretty safe to say this is the most realistic sneaking game ever made.
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is a positive sign of what’s to come with the Phantom Pain. Despite the shorter but more creative length of gameplay, GZ is still an impressive title that cannot be missed by any MG fan. The amount of content might not blow everyone away but the unbelievable visuals and Fox Engine presentation values will. No question, GZ is worth your time and money for this appealing appetizer for what is shaping up to become a grand meal.
Make Sure To: play through Peace Walker in its entirety
Ask For It: Metal Gear Solid GBC on 3DS Virtual Console
Also Try: The Metal Gear Legacy Collection
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com