For fans of the franchise, Metal Gear Solid 5: Phantom Pain can’t come soon enough. Though a year off, Konami and Kojima productions have an intriguing bit of gaming for your consideration. A prologue, Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes packs a lot of new direction in one small package. With a short play time at a reduced price, this newest installment of Snakes sneaky adventures is a curious, but ultimately successful venture.
Release Date: Mar 18, 2014
Genre / Rating: Stealth Action / Mature
Both something of a sequel and a prolog, Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes is also something of a curiosity. Taking place after the events of a PSP title, it sets up the events of the next big release Metal Gear Solid 5: Phantom Pain. Though it has been criticized by some for its short length, 1-3 hours for the main campaign, Ground Zeroes is a hard disk release though it’s not a full priced game. As if that wasn’t enough to make it stand out, the unique direction doesn’t stop there.
Ground Zeroes follows on the heels of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walkers, the 2010 PSP release. Taking place in Cuba, 1975 at an appropriately quasi-military sounding ‘Omega Base’, Ground Zeroes is actually the prequel to the much anticipated Metal Gear Solid 5: Phantom Pain, which is scheduled for a 2015 release date. Something of an experiment with the franchise, it may be that, coupled with its smaller scope, Konami and Kojima are simply beta testing some game mechanics, a ‘try it on for size’ to gauge the reactions of series faithful. Perhaps they simply want to throw the fans a bone to sate their appetite; a cynical person might suggest they’re after the money, I choose to believe it’s more benign than that. At any rate, doing away with series **competitor** enemy radar and vision cones, Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeros instead uses a marking system familiar to those who have played Far Cry 3. Spotting guards with Snake’s binoculars will highlight them, but (as with Far Cry 3, I can tell you) it’s the one’s you don’t spot that will cause you grief. To that end, what appears to be fairly impressive sound design fill in those gaps, the patient infiltrator being the successful infiltrator, footsteps and ambient guard sounds tip players off to unseen guard location. In a similar vein, listening in to radio chatter and back and forth between complex guards fill in the players limited intel, as well as helping a player spotted by guards duck patrols. This sort of ‘sneak and observe’ gameplay might not be for everybody, but chances are if you’re playing Metal Gear, you like some stealth. Pared down and running lean, much has been made of the tension added by this focus on observation and patience, as well as the intelligent, unforgiving AI. It should be noted that one doesn’t have to play thing sneaky… this is a military base after all, they tend to keep some big ole boom sticks in such places, but to get the most out of a game designed to be stealthy… well, you get the idea.
Hideo Kojima has gone on record, stating a dissatisfaction with the linear nature of Metal Gear games of the past. Considering it’s a fairly long lived franchise, I’d assume that started as a side effect of hardware limitations and turned into a trend. With Ground Zeroes, players will find more options in how they approach missions; as ever, the fans will decide how successful the experiment is, but I always applaud an attempt to evolve and innovate. Though the short length is a puzzler, if Ground Zeroes overall purpose was to (besides giving the fans something to play) test its new approach, generate some chatter, and place Metal Gear back in the collective unconscious, mission accomplished. Personally, I get the impression there’s big things coming for Metal Gear, and Ground Zeroes is merely a herald of what’s to come.
How do you feel about using smaller content like this to bridge between games, or give fans a sample so long as it’s at a smaller price point? Comment Below!
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By Kurt Diston, Gaming & Gadgets
A firm believer in “you have to get old, but you don’t have to grow up,” I’ve been an unabashed lover of nerdy things for a good long while and don’t plan to stop anytime soon. With experience on both sides of the video game, both as a consumer and a producer, and a love of the written word, I’ve managed to combine all three right here with the Plug-in blog