It’s probably the most expensive demo of all time, but Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is one of the polished experiences you’ll ever play and it also serves as a prologue to the bigger release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Fans to the series are in for quite a treat and let’s face it, for the expensive price you’ll most likely follow the series quite closely.
Putting the price tag to one side though, Ground Zeroes brings new life to the Metal Gear series through its new open-world gameplay. The map provided has been opened to a larger scale and you’re no longer thrown into being told one objective and then executing it. Instead, there’s now more added freedom in tackling multiple objectives and calling for extraction from various zones. It’s a gameplay experience you’re going to enjoy and most of all, be in control of.
Hideo Kojima has painted an immersive lively world and at times it feels like an action movie while the soundtrack plays in the background and helps to create those tense moments when you’re just about to free the captured Paz and Chico, who you’ll recognise from Peace Walker. Very often than not, the game leaves you in awe to watch on as the plot unfolds, something which has been written with a lot of care and consideration to create a truly remarkable, yet short storyline. However, this will lead on to Phantom Pain and bigger things, as Ground Zeroes is just a prologue.
There may only be six missions all taking place on one map, which isn’t exactly the sort of scale we come to expect from an open world game, but this is effectively a preview to The Phantom Pain and its gameplay mechanics. Whatever you want to call it, it’s still a tad bit pricy for what it is, but if we’re judging this on gameplay alone, which is what we do as reviewers, then hell yeah it’s worth every penny, but only for fans of the series.
As soon as you’re placed into the military prison complex of Camp Omega, you’ll quickly discover that there are various routes to take when you’re attempting to tackle objectives. There are lots of choices to make such as the approach when encountering enemies – do you kill them on sight or attempt to hide in the shadows and sneak past them. The way you play is completely left down to you, just expect enemy detection to raise the alarm and call a large group of enemy reinforcements over to you. The level design is very smart and even allows players to get behind the wheel of a tank to cause some real havoc inside the military camp.
Ground Zeroes strips away many of the features of previous titles, for starters there’s no map displayed on your HUD anymore, instead you have to go through the pause menu and use a handheld device to view the radar. There are also no waypoints anymore, so you’ve got to become aware of your surroundings and use your deduction skills to locate your objectives. For example, when finding prisoners would lead to think you had to find an area full of cages and detained prisoners, which will quickly become apparent when you do some investigating of the map.
The AI are particularly clever at tracking you as well, they’ll call for backup and not give up chase if they do manage to spot you on one of their patrols. However, if you do encounter trouble there are always plenty of options provided for you to tackle the deadly situation. Thick areas of shrubbery provide cover to hide from enemy patrols or a conveniently placed tank is parked right outside for you to grab and clear the area of enemies. You’re never left head scratching on Ground Zeroes, but you are left with a lot of choices to make and very often than not they can be punishing if you choose incorrectly. For instance, when I was escorting Paz out of the prison cell I was detected by a guard outside smoking, who alerted everyone to my whereabouts. I consequently took a turn around the corner and through a door in desperation to escape the threat and then it happened, I walked straight into an enemy tank waiting outside and that was the end of the wise Snake.
Every mission you embark on plays differently to one another, which means you have to tackle enemies using your skills and wit. Grabbing hold of a guard will present you with a number of opportunities – interrogate him for information regarding hidden stashes of ammo or items or use them to lure other guards over so that you can deal with them or sneak past them both. The AI may seem very easy to dispatch of, but if you play the game correctly you’ll present yourself with a challenge every time. I was frequently looking for stealthy approaches to missions rather than going in the easy way all guns blazing, so it just depends on your playing preference.
So how has this set up for The Phantom Pain? Well, let’s just say you won’t necessarily have to play this game/demo to understand the storyline in The Phantom Pain. It serves as a prologue, but it isn’t completely necessary and you could miss this out if the price seems a little too steep. In doing so though, you miss out on what I would call the best and most polished preview ever. Let’s just say there’s a lot of excited Metal Gear Solid fans right now.
- Sets up for The Phantom Pain
- A game to be proud of Hideo Kojima
- Very atmospheric
- A tad bit pricey
- Too short