REVIEW – Ground Zeroes is NOT a full game. While the actual 5th main Metal Gear Solid game called Phantom Pain is in the pipeline (which might arrive in early 2015 according to some DLC information), Kojima and his squad has released this preview with one area and several missions – all showing capabilities of the newborn FOX Engine.
So what is the deal with Ground Zeroes? To place it in the timeline of the Metal Gear Solid games (this is not really required to know, mind you), GZ is playing after Peace Walker. This means we are taking control of Big Boss. No Solid Snake – yet -, just Naked. Also, we can expect him to continue his lead role in Phantom Pain, if the first trailer can be believed. Or not, and Kojima Productions pull the same thing, as with MGS2. Whatever, let’s move on…
One mission? Not really!
There is NOT just one mission. There is one base only however, but don’t forget the fact that you can complete several missions on this area. It’s important to have a high ranking as we progress through these though. You’re getting more percentage if you can pull off the S rank. How to get an S rank? Simple: be very fast, while trying to avoid killing enemies – yes, it is true: if you neutralize them, that’s better… all this with one more factor in mind: try not to be spotted by the soldiers. Ever.
There’s more under the surface. Sure, for the first launch, you have to save two hostages, but as you progress, that book slowly opens out for you: later on, you’ll get a mission to save a VIP person… who is Hideo himself actually. He’s going to play around your menu until you launch a new mission! Don’t be surprised, if he just looks at you, touches the menu from behind, and give it a spin.
The way he wrote himself into Ground Zeroes is frenetic. How about some challenges? Let’s try neutralizing, or killing every single enemy on the map. GZ rewards your performance: for rewards, it will keep throwing new weapons and sound clips from previous games, just to try keep you playing. Try? Well yeah: don’t forget that the area is slightly limited, so in the longer run (especially in one sitting), it could get boring for you.
In a sense, yes. The game is short… when you only go for completing the main mission, nothing else. Doing this is bad from three separate points of view:
– Speedrunning GZ is no fun, only if you actually go for it seriously. Completing the main task can be done in under ten minutes;
– …but with this, the franchise’s traditional style loses its face;
– …and you barely get any completion % for it.
If you aim for that glorious hundred percent, then I can safely say: you will need at least 7-8 hours for it. I have seen a guy buying the Xbox One version (yep; Ground Zeroes is out for Xbox consoles as well), starting his stream in the morning… and he still kept playing in the late afternoon, without taking any bigger breaks!
So in this sense, there is still content in Ground Zeroes, but it divides the casual, surface scratching gamers from the maximalists, who are also most likely fans of Metal Gear Solid as well.
I have mentioned the Xbox One port, which actually has a different exclusive mission compared to the PS4 one. On the MS side, you can take control of Raiden in the Jamais Vu mission, but on the Sony side of the ring, the Deja Vu mission makes you relive the past. Nice solution, but if you install the 1.02 update (it’s free), I recommend you to take a look at the other exclusive mission… because yes, the update has ended the mission exclusivity between platforms. Kojima himself admitted that the PlayStation 4 version was the main focus all the time… and it shows, to be honest.
A technological masterpiece
Another reason why Ground Zeroes got released in this way is none other than the FOX Engine. Mind you, there is a weird explanation behind this. FOX actually did not debut in this game! In fact, the debut was in Pro Evolution Soccer 2014… but wait, that isn’t for the current generation! So yeah, on PS4, FOX’s entry was Ground Zeroes, and boy, how good it is.
It’s almost unbelievable how Ground Zeroes looks. On the beginning of the console’s lifespan – not having maximalized the PS4’s capabilities -, releasing a game that look so beautiful like this is not a crime. When you first start the game, it’s a good idea to look around for a few minutes. You’re most likely not gonna get that S in the end, so why not be amazed by the field of view, and the lighting effects?
I wouldn’t only call the graphics quality, but the enemy AI as well! They aren’t dumb (most of the time), that’s for sure: they mix the aggressive mentality with strategic movement, so they might actually flank you, if you go for a cover. For pro players, I really recommend turning off the bullet time, when enemies spot you! Don’t let them spot you much though, because it might turn on the alarm, which in turn can bring in reinforcements – and when you go for a killing everyone completion, this might make or break your mission in the long run.
I have not mentioned the audio and the music yet. There is a new voice actor for Snake, none other than Kiefer Sutherland, whose voice fits Big Boss nicely. Paz and Chico also have nice VAs. If there is one thing that I never thought of bad when it comes to MGS games, it’s most definitely the audio. I should not even talk more about it.
Best PS Plus PS4 game. Period.
The rating should not disturb you. It lost about 8-10 percents because of the length, but despite that, it is definitely worth a look. It’s not just a tech demo, there’s more to it. The fans eagerly await Phantom Pain already, which isn’t a surprise: the credit roll has a quite intriguing dialogue, preceded by a cliffhanger. Skull Face, here we come!
+ FOX Engine
+ Loyal to its traditions
+ More complex than you think
– Seems a little short for the first time
– One place – several missions. Don’t play it all in one run!
– That goddamn cliffhanger…