This is one expensive demo.
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes was released as a standalone product meant as a teaser/introduction for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, it’s a very small game that simply isn’t worth its retail price but it is a quality snapshot into the wider world of Metal Gear Solid V.
In Ground Zeroes you play as Snake, now voiced by that guy from 24, and are tasked with rescuing a little boy and girl who are instrumental in your team’s operations for whatever reason. The game tells a fairly limited (but interesting) story in a rather over-the-top fashion, sticking true to the series’ roots. The main mission is one that can be completed in a very short time (no longer than 2 hours really), but there are multiple missions available to attempt, and a bunch of hidden collectibles scattered around, for if you really get into it, or have little else to play.
In the game you are given a fairly small map to traverse and sneak around, and although it is a map filled with detail and gives a great introduction to the world of Metal Gear Solid V, it seems too limited for a retail release of £20. More on that later, but onto the gameplay, Ground Zeroes is top-notch, as are the graphics and sound. Moving Snake around in Ground Zeroes is smoother than it ever has been and gunplay is excellent, but it is in the stage design and stealth gameplay where Ground Zeroes had me most impressed.
Lights in a stealth game have never felt as scary as they did in this, and never have they looked as realistic, hiding away from light sources is a must, but you could always destroy the light, or take out the guy operating one. Stealth has never been one of my strong-points in videogames, more often than not I am spotted, killed, or have to resort to killing everyone in a mad gunfight, but it has never felt as natural as it did in this. Kojima and Konami obviously know what there are doing with design, as Ground Zeroes feels like it was lifted right out of a full game – and that’s its biggest problem.
I understand that Konami wanted to make a quick few bucks out of people who had been waiting so patiently for Metal Gear Solid V, but I don’t agree with it. The quality of the release isn’t the issue here; it is that it exists as a product for purchase. If this was released as a free demo/tutorial thing, that would’ve been okay, it would’ve successfully whetted the appetites of those waiting for The Phantom Pain.
However, even if Ground Zeroes was released for free, it still would have been an odd thing to play, as, realistically, it is the opening of Metal Gear Solid V, a prologue that would’ve worked absolutely fine as the opening for The Phantom Pain. The thing is, there will be people out there who have never played this, and would have played The Phantom Pain, missing out on the beginning of Metal Gear Solid V, making The Phantom Pain even more confusing than it already is. I think it’s pretty bad of Konami to make people pay for something that should’ve just opened the final game.
Fun, exciting and rather intense, Ground Zeroes is worth your time if you can get it incredibly cheap (or better yet, free) due to its small amount of content. The fact that its story is instrumental in The Phantom Pain’s (acting as a prologue) makes Ground Zeroes a strange thing, as those wishing to fully understand the story of Metal Gear Solid V would need to play it. This leaves the game in a sort of no-man’s land in that it is worth playing, but definitely not worth buying for anything over £5. I don’t really like that this exists to be honest as it is dubious business for someone to release a demo that has to be paid for, especially a demo that should’ve just been the opening of the final game.
A strange game that technically very good, but also incredibly short. Konami should never have charged for it, or just included it in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain as the opening and tutorial for that.