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Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes Review

Many moons ago, before I had even reached any sort of a double figured age, I received a shiny new Playstation for Christmas - cue the sort of excited child that you’d typically find on YouTube. Being a PC gamer until that point, Sony’s Playstation became my first games console at the grand age of eight years. The mainstream success of the SNES or any of SEGA’s offerings has completely passed by my youthful eyes as I blissfully passed my time on Lucasart’s X-Wing.

It wasn’t long before I hit up my local newsagents with any pocket money I had managed to scrape together and buy the official magazine for the newest toy to enter my life. Issue 42 with a strange looking purple ninja on the cover. But more importantly, a demo disc featuring a world exclusive demo for Metal Gear Solid? Never heard of it. In fact, I booted up the Cool Boarders 3 demo before MGS at first; but that soon changed. That atmospheric murky opening, excellent blocky graphics, James Bond-esque lead character and Hind D’s? It was the first time I had witnessed a game take on the sort of cinematic approach that hollywood blockbusters had taken on. Still to this day, there hasn’t been a game or demo that I’ve put more game time into. 

Fast forward sixteen years and at least four significant titles in the japanese series later and we’ve arrived at Metal Gear Solid V….Well sort of. MGS V has been split up in to two separate releases which form one larger combined work. Part one - Ground Zeroes serves has a prologue to the main events found within MGS V: The Phantom Pain. Think the Tanker portion of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty but being released as it’s own title to soften the blow of a lengthy wait before TPP.

Ground Zeroes takes the form of one main story mission and five separate, non canon, side missions. The lead mission is a direct follow on from the events of MGS: Peace Walker and the side operations follow a more relaxed approached offering a difference pace in terms of gameplay and overall feel. Still, it’s probably best you dive into your Metal Gear Solid encyclopedia or almanac before starting.

Big Boss has been sent into Camp Omega, a fictional guantanamo bay style ‘black site’ - a term used for a facility whose existence is denied by the government running the joint. Boss and Millar discovered that two allies, Chico, a child soldier first met in Peace Walker who had been incarcerated in Omega after attempting to rescue another familiar face, Paz - an enemy agent who infiltrated Big Boss’s ranks during the events of Peace Walker. Intel supplied is a little thin, so you’ll have to investigate the area with the hand you’ve been dealt.

Gameplay has changed a little for this outing, long gone are the days of the top down perspective and as with Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of The Patriots, a third person follow camera features extensively and most gunplay is seen from the over-shoulder perspective. It does seem that streamlining was the order of the day at Konami. MGS’s traditional screen sprawling weapons and item drawers have gone in favour of 4 snappy ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ directional pad shortcuts. Weapons can be modified within these menus, but it’s only light changes, such as turning on a flashlight or attaching a silencer, all in all making inventory management crucial. Two other series staples have been trimmed as well with Codec conversations now just existing by pressing the L1 button at certain times while traversing throughout the game and then there’s the topic of health. In a first for the series, MGS V: Ground Zeroes features regenerative health and the gamers favourite bloody screen effect when injured. Personally, I feel these changes move the series forward for the modern generation of gamers and after a short time with the title, they feel right as rain.

Now onto the topic of length which rears its ugly head when any mention of Ground Zeroes is discussed. As I previously mentioned in the preview, I completed the main storyline mission quite easily within 102 minutes. During this time I played at my own pace, wandered around, surveyed surroundings and listened to intel tapes but as with any Metal Gear Solid game, the more you put into it, the more satisfaction you’ll get out. The entire game, main story and side missions are all set within Camp Omega which, while split up in to varying sections, is open from the start for the player to explore. Each mission is littered with little secrets ranging from hidden XOF patches, collectables, informational audio tapes and other techniques that ensure that no two playthroughs will be the same. Sure, you can race through it, but then you’d be missing out on the true nature of Hideo Kojima’s stealthy action adventure. 

Among the new additions are the iDroid and Reflex Mode. The former is Big Boss’s new all encompassing device for maps, intel and like MGS4’s iPod, music playing. You can bring up this pocket computer at any time in game by pressing down on the PS4’s touch pad, but be warned, it doesn’t pause the world around you. Once activated, the iDroid will activate a holographic map of Camp Omega allowing the player to drop waypoints, check out compass locations and plan objectives accordingly. Reflex Mode allows for a few vital seconds of slow motion reaction time when spotted by a guard, before he alerts others. Thankfully, those wishing for a more authentic experience can turn Reflex Mode off and the game will even reward you for doing so by dishing out points at the end of each mission.

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes offers new and old players a rewarding experience that will have all eager for the full release some time next year; it offers a large open-ended level for players to turn into their personal tactical playground. The way you play shapes the gameplay and what Kojima and co has crafted beams with personality and love. It chaotically sets up The Phantom Pain in a way that will leave players grasping for more after it’s controversial and extremely dark ending.

Words by Colin Gallacher.

(Version Tested: PS4)


+ Metal Gear Solid is back!
+ Graphically stunning on the new consoles
+ Packed full of content for £25


- Short main story
- One for the die hard fans and completionists

Edited On 18 Mar, 2014

( 4 )
Anonymous user's avatar
Daniel 3 years ago
Nice review Joe, looking forward to reviewing it for myself
JoeToots's avatar
JoeToots 3 years ago
Daniel the review was done by Colin
Anonymous user's avatar
Jake 3 years ago
http://n4g.com/news/1476842/mgs5-ground-zeroes-guide-how-to-speed-run-it-in-10-minutes apparently it's shorter than the MGS2 demo. Not that the length always determines the quality of a game but I'm not paying that much for a demo that would have been free in a magazine 10+ years ago.
JoeToots's avatar
JoeToots 3 years ago
just got a copy of ground zeroes so i'll give you my thoughts tomorrow.

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