Developer: Kojima Productions
Price: Disc: PS4 (Reviewed) / XB1 / PS3 / XBox360 = £29.99; Digital: PS4 / XB1 = £29.99; PS3 / XBox360 = £19.99
Big Boss back and on a signature sneaking / extraction mission at Camp Omega, a Blacksite being used for redition and interrogation of suspected terrorists. It is also being used by another organisation under the name of XOF, headed by a disfigured Stetson wearing mysterious bad guy.
On PlayStation4 Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes looks jaw-droppingly glorious from the intro and seamlessly into the game, using the same game engine throughout, powered by Kojima’s Fox Engine. The depth of interaction is incredible, various things can be destroyed, character animations are second to none, weather and lighting effects and enemy AI all add to the high level immersion. The audio is also of an impresively high standard, with Harry Gregson-Williams is back on original score duties. The sounds are rendered in 7.1 and allows for hightened situational awareness, with flapping flags, enemies conversations, movements, gun sounds all making Ground Zeroes sound deeply realistic. Gameplay controls feels like a mixture of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker HD and Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, in terms of Close Quarters Combat (CQC) and gunplay, as well as controlling Snake. There is a new Reflex ability, which slows time down allowing you to take out enemies before an alert is raised. You now have the ability of using R1 to look through binoculars to mark and track enemies and objects of interest, something that feels lifted directly from Crysis and Far Cry 3. These marked enemies appear on Snakes in-game Map system called iDroid which is activated by pressing the DualShock 4 Touch Pad, which doesn’t pause the game whilst viewing it. iDroid is also used to playback obtained cassette tapes, check mission information and call in a Helicopter for extraction.
The iDroid can also accessed via the free MGSV:GZ companion app for iOS & Android, which works really well as an in game map, and also features an empire building mini-game set on Mother Base. The Militaires Sans Frontières hub which can be expanded, adding additional accommodation for troops, supplies etc. You can then send recruits and Snake on missions to gain XP. Feeling very reminiscent of Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood recruits mini-game.
This has a lot of potential for use within Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, when it’s eventually released.
Ground Zeroes is really enjoyable to play with the short (90 minutes for first playthrough), with some very controversial parts, which I won’t spoil here. Hideo Kojima definitely appears to be making a political point regarding Rendition, holding without charge of suspects, torture, child soilders. Camp Omega could easily be set in the modern day and based at Guantanamo Bay, but Kojima has chosen to set the game in the late 1970’s.
Upon completion of the Ground Zeroes mission, a Hard difficulty and futher Side Ops, which are different scenarios from the main story mission. These show off different settings for Camp Omega, which makes it feel like playing optional missions during Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops. On PlayStation / Xbox there are [timed] exclusive unique Deja Vu / Jamais Vu Missions, which is opened by completing as specific challenge, this is a an interesting idea. All these extras add replay value, but it feels very finite. As these are all set in the same location and for £30 on XB1/PS4 it’s too high a price, for what is really a glorified prologue / demo.
Now on to a bigger issue, that of the new voice of Big Boss, Kiefer Sutherland (24’s Jack Bauer). Initially I was majorly disappointed at the limited amount of his Voice Acting in the game, then I discovered the main parts are found in the menu screens, back story discussions take place via recorded conversations between Snake and others. Kiefer sounds good but unsurprisingly isn’t of the quality of David Hayter’s unique and seminal performance. There’s a lack of narrated back story of the events of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater; Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker which feels lazy, as it’s done very briefly via text and comic book style images. This is either a major oversight or a cheaper alternative than having a lead voice actor telling the story, but would have gone a long way to fill in the background story and warrant the game’s price point.
If you’re a Metal Gear Solid fan, I’m sure you have paid for an MGS demo previously but at least Konami gave you a full Horror Game (Silent Hill – PS1) or an odd Mech-Anime game (Zone of Enders – PS2), but I feel Konami are taking the micky. Trophies / Achievements are included but due to “Sony restrictions” not a Platinum, which tells you it’s not a full game but a playable proof of concept demo.
Ground Zeroes does look, sound and feel like a modern game but the lack of depth to the story and the fact you will likely have seen everything it has to offer within six hours and 100% all trophies within 15 hours of play. There are challenges and online scoreboards but this doesn’t save it from being too little for too much cash. Given this is a prequel to the main Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, it does give people a chance to see and play with the Fox Engine and speculate as to where the MGS Universe is heading, just at a price.
It is worth noting that my copy came with a DLC code for redemption when The Phantom Pain is released, and accomplishments and rescued POWs in Ground Zeroes will carry over too.
PS4 disc copy purchased by reviewer, images Copyright of Konami.