“Kept you wanting, huh?” Yes Snake, you definitely did. While Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes competes for the longest title, it also competes for the shortest campaign. With such controversy coming in concerning its length, the question everyone wants answered is, “Is this two-hour long title worth the $20-$30?” The answer is yes, but only if you’re willing to go beyond just the main story.
Not Just Two Hours
To elaborate on that point, the main campaign of the game is sincerely not worth the full-price of admission. What the main campaign delivers is really darn good, but if you only came in to check out the story, then it’s not worth the price. That’s only a problem though if you are just looking for story. After the two hours that is Ground Zeroes, side missions will unlock that adds way more gameplay value and gives a hefty amount of personality. Therefore, if you’re willing to put in the time and effort to beat the additional missions, then I can without a doubt say that Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes is worth that price.
To address the main mission itself, think of it like a level in Metal Gear Solid 4: Sons of Liberty where the game was broken down into missions unlike earlier titles. Each mission in that game was incredibly fun to play, and Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes continues that trend. The story retains that espionage motif carried through all the Metal Gear games (sans Rising) and stays interesting. After the events of Peace Walker, Snake has to infiltrate a base in Cuba to extract Chico while a nuclear inspection at Outer Heaven occurs. The mission proceeds somewhat normally, but the cutscene at the end of the mission really showcases the crazy twists Metal Gear games are known for. If Ground Zeroes is an indicator of what’s to come, then Phantom Pain is going to be an amazing expansion into the mind of Big Boss and the entire Metal Gear Solid universe.
Familiar, Yet Streamlined Gameplay
The gameplay is very familiar, yet has some very nice tweaks that streamline the controls. The game is about sneaking around a base evading enemy detection. There are several ways to get around the enemy soldiers by either killing, tranquilizing, knocking out, or throwing an empty magazine to distract them. What is different are a lot of details regarding the methods used to dispatch these actions. For one, the game sports a very fluid cover system that is barely noticeable; instead of pressing a button when prompted, any vertical surface Snake is near can be cover just be walking toward it. There are a couple times that I had to wrestle with the feature, but overall it’s a very reliable system that never makes the player feel rooted to the ground like a turret. The close-quarters-combat is simplified as well, simply holding R2 or RT has Snake grab the enemy and a menu appears to give options on where to go from there. It’s great that the feature is cleaned up, and it also feels great to use.
Other small features that have been improved is the Radio now being a simple push on L1 or LB, and unlike previous titles where (Solid) Snake had to sit-still and time would be frozen, the game continues naturally and creates the conversation while playing. This is fantastic because even though the story was great, the act of just watching faces talk to each other definitely took the player out of the previous titles. Binoculars are also tied to a single button, R1 or RB , where not only can this be used for a quick survey of the field, but also used to tag soldiers and vehicles. It’s extremely helpful. The final extra gameplay feature is the reflex shot, where whenever a soldier discovers you, time slows down so as in a fraction of time you can use your weapon to stop the soldier from blowing your cover. Several times I was seen pulling a soldier away to interrogate, and the quick-shot made to save the mission created some really intense moments.
Much More To Do
The side missions that appear after the main mission will have you returning to the same base, but with different objectives. What’s nice is that these missions have their own independent dialogue and some light cutscenes that really make them more than just the usual VR Missions. One of them involved saving an insider by riding a helicopter and blowing soldiers to smithereens. It was refreshing to see Camp Omega (the base) from a birds-eye perspective while raining pineapples on the same soldiers you were running away from before. The side missions add a lot of variety, and because the base is well-designed, the fun really sticks around. It’s fun to try to beat your grades from the first time around and try different methods to complete the objectives. It’s the surprising bulk of Ground Zeroes, and is well-worth playing.
You’ll find that the game is less about forwarding the story, if you come in expecting the full-blown next entry into the wide narrative of the Metal Gear universe, you’ll be disappointed like I was. However back at the title screen, I noticed a counter appeared saying “Completion: 10%”, and when I explored the other 90% I realized that there was way more than just the story. Completing all the side missions, breaking records for distance enemies were sent flying, finding the XOF patches, listening to the interesting cassette recordings, and wrecking general havoc on a military base was super-fun. As long as you put in the effort to go past the first mission, you’ll find all the value the game actually provides. Now is the game a glorified demo? In all honesty it is, but it’s a demo that I was glad to pay for.
Replay Value: 9
Legacy Score: 8.3
Geek Legacy’s review scores are on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest possible score.
Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes was reviewed on Playstation 4.
Follow Victor on Twitter @fake_brasilian to see him cry during finals week.