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Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes


Formats: Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4 (Reviewed)

Price: $49.99

Publisher: Konami

Developer: Kojima Productions

The first thing one needs to understand about Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is that it’s not the real Metal Gear Solid V, but rather a taster of the upcoming hotly anticipated Metal Gear sequel (which is tipped for release early next year with the subtitle The Phantom Pain). Whether it is worth buying or not is a personal matter directly relative to how open one is to this idea.

Continuing the story of series villain Big Boss in his younger, US agent days, Ground Zeroes’ story comprises a rescue mission in an internment/torture camp that is unavoidably reminiscent of Guantanamo Bay. The horror of war has long been a major theme of the series but has rarely been this willing to reference contemporary atrocities, taking on a noticeably darker tone that builds to a climax that is heavy on gratuitous shock value with a dash of the heightened, ‘Saturday morning cartoon by way of Tom Clancy’ ridiculousness for which the series is known.

As an experience it’s somewhat fantastic, with the smoothest controls ever to appear in a Metal Gear making the business of sneaking around, taking out guards and exploring the immaculately designed base a joy. It looks fantastic as well, especially on Xbox One and PS4 which are finally starting to show the visuals of which they’re capable, and makes for a great showcase of the versatile (and almost freakishly lifelike) FOX Engine on which the full MGS V will also be built.

It also takes two hours maximum to play through the main story mode, and therein lies the rub. Though it has been made available at a lower price than most full retail releases, what we’re talking about here is the opening act of a bigger game. Even with side missions that unlock as you complete the story material, the game has been built with density in mind rather than quantity, designed to be replayed and experimented with and littered with collectable objects to be gathered on subsequent playthroughs.

This has been an understandably controversial move, with publisher Konami accused by many of charging above the odds for a glorified demo. This is maybe a simplified interpretation, but the fact remains that if you’re in this just to play through the story mission and be done with it you’re looking at a one-to-two-hour experience. If you’re willing to replay, explore and tinker, you’ll find that the game yields up enough play hours to justify the price, but Konami deserves all the criticism they’ve received for not adequately communicating what this thing is to the public.

It’s a real shame because what is in Ground Zeroes works beautifully, though even those who do multiple playthroughs will come away wishing they could play the rest. It certainly bodes well for The Phantom Pain, but this time round it would pay to consider how you want to play before putting your money down. If you want a sandbox you’ll be happy, but if you just want the story prepare for slim pickings.





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