By now, gamers have had a chance to dive into the world of Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes, which is only a fraction of what Hideo Kojima has planned for tech-noir stealth fans.
When the game was revealed during E3 last year, fans of the popular series went absolutely insane over the news. Not only did it look next-gen, it would mark the first time that Snake (also known as Big Boss) would venture into the open-world sandbox territory. With the title now available for purchase and digital download, we are only left with Ground Zeroes to play, as The Phantom Pain is no longer on the 2014 release calendar. But, as you'll note when you get hands on the game, it is only a brief at look at what's to come.
Konami's Ground Zeroes serves as a prologue to The Phantom Pain, and is priced at $30 for next-gen consoles, $20 for last-gen. The military tactical espionage series finds Snake, voiced by 24 star Kiefer Sutherland, attempting to infiltrate an American black site on Cuban soil called Camp Omega. His mission is to rescue Cipher agent Paz Ortega Andrade and Sandinista child soldier Ricardo "Chico" Valenciano Libre. Taking place after Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, players are introduced to some new elements of gameplay such as the removal of the ever-present radar in favor of marking enemies, and a slow-motion event to take out whoever spots Snake.
The game also offers new and exciting ways of stealthily traveling around the mission, as well as the choice in what order the story events take place by selecting missions in any order the player wishes. This, in part, is due to the wonderfully named Fox Engine, which was designed specifically for Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain. The more you play, the more you witness why Hideo Kojima and his production company worked so hard at giving us such goodies. The engine offers players a chance to see Snake in a realistically new light. Armed with an iDroid, players are able to keep up with what goes on around them without needing to pause gameplay. The gun controls are much easier than in previous incarnations, as there is a soft lock that targets enemies and help players to fight their way out of trouble. All in all, the gameplay in Ground Zeroes is tighter, more fluid, and packed full of different approaches that will be enjoyed by those who like varying play-styles.
A detracting mark for Ground Zeroes does come with the price tag, as it offers not a lot of meat in terms of story. The hefty price tag for next-gen fans may seem like a bargain, but with such a short run-through, the lack of a larger narrative may turn off certain gamers. Apart from the two epic cut scenes at the beginning and end of the game, Ground Zeroes doesn't take that much time to complete, clocking in at five-to-eight hours of gameplay (depending on one's skill level). The other down mark is, sad enough to say, the lacking presence of David Hayter as Snake. Sure, Kiefer Sutherland adds some Hollywood star recognition to the project, but in those lengthy moments Sutherland doesn't really kick as the lead in Hideo Kojima's next-gen offering.
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is more impressive, responsive, and explicitly inspired by Guantánamo Bay. With a new setting and an open world narrative, Kojima shares his thoughts on war, morality and the necessities of conflict — backed by the powerful Fox Engine. Players will enjoy the rich detail and freedom to play to their strengths. Upon completing the main two missions, players are welcomed to try their hand at the numerous other side missions that offer extra insight to the characters they'll face in The Phantom Pain. This is arguably Hideo Kojima's most exceptional and meticulously designed interactive experience to date. There are moments during replay that feel like something epically is missing throughout the game, but it doesn't stop this from being an enjoyable taster for Metal Gear Solid fans.
Don't believe us?! Well, you can watch the trailer for yourself below:
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is available now for purchase and digital download for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One and Xbox 360.