Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is a roughly 2-3 hour prelude to MGS V: the Phantom Pain. Essentially, it’s a 2-3 hour tutorial, due to the revamped EVERYTHING.
In MGSV:GZ, you reprise the role of Big Boss (Naked Snake), sent in to rescue 2 targets from a military camp run by the new bad guy of the franchise (at least I think he is). It takes place in the 70’s and it’s place in the MGS timeline is somewhere between PeaceWalker and the Original Metal Gear for the NES. Honestly, that’s really all I can tell you about the plot. I’m not doing this to avoid spoilers, mind you, I’m doing this because without a King James Bible-sized lore book at my side, that’s all I could actually understand from the convoluted War Economy-centric, multifactioned, hastily expositioned intro that rolled by too fast for me to read or digest in the beginning of the game.
The last 20 minutes is a cutscene (this is a MGS game, after all) that provides 2 things:
1) a very awesome action scene that will leave you saying, “boy, I’d really like to play this part.”
2) the most disgustingly brutal thing I’ve seen in a Metal Gear game and possibly any video game that I have played in the last 5 years. It came out of nowhere and it seemed like it was only put in for shock value. Maybe it was to show the “darker tone” Kojima is going for, but at the same time it was so sudden and jarring that it came across more as being played as a squirm worthy gross out shock than being able to convey a new darker overall tone of the things to come in Phantom Pain. It just felt plain out of place.
Garbled storytelling aside, let’s talk about the aforementioned “Revamped EVERYTHING.” First, the menu is streamlined. Instead of rows of equipment, you have night vision, pistol, rifle, and grenade that are mapped to the D-Pad. The camera is easy to control and shooting is L aim, R fire. Standard 3rd person shooter fare, very smooth and intuitive, and a far cry from the days of having to hold down like 6 buttons to shoot something in every MGS game till MGS4. Snake now has binoculars he can use to survey the landscape and marks any enemies on the map as long as you focus on them. There is also the new “reflex” function. In the other MGS games, if a guard has “!” over his head, you’re basically done. Using reflex, everything slows down and you have a chance to draw your weapon to take the guard out before he can notify the others. It’s kind of like an easy button, but when you suck at stealth like me, it’s a Godsend. Interogating enemies now rewards you with enemy intel, unlocking different things on your iDroid map such as armories, patch locations and objectives. One thing though: the enemies in the game stay knocked out for only a few minutes and must have THE BEST vision plan from their insurance provider, because these cats can see you from a mile away. Sneaking is imparative, and if you do get into a firefight, enemies will keep respawning until you hide, so please, DON’T BE A HERO. If ever there was a game to train you in the fine arts of Team DBAH, this is that game.
So as you can tell, it’s a mixed bag. Is it essential to play to enjoy Phantom Pain? I’d say yes. But with a $20 digital price tag and a $30 physical price tag, it’s a rental at best. Sure the replay is bolstered by the challenge missions you unlock at the end of the game and it serves as a primer for the Phantom Pain, but it’s nothing you can’t knock out in a weekend. Rent it because it’s MGS it’s good practice, but as far as buying it goes, save your money unless you are a die hard MGS fan.
Konami’s Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes gets 3 rain drenched corners to hide in out of 5.