laszlokovacs's Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (Xbox 360) review

A Solid Introduction

Ground Zeroes is an interesting game. As a bridge between Peacewalker and The Phantom Pain, it doesn't do a great deal of storytelling. In fact, most of the story cutscenes from Ground Zeroes have already been shown in promotional trailers for MGSV proper. It's also very brief - once you know what to do, it's possible to finish the story mission in a scant few minutes. At first glance, it appears that there simply isn't enough content to justify the asking price, but if you're willing to do some digging, Ground Zeroes has plenty to show you.

The first thing that unlocks after finishing the story mission is a set of four additional side missions, each about as lengthy as the main mission. These all take place in the same base as the main mission, but during the day rather than a nighttime rainstorm. They're also non-canon, which allows for some signature Kojima silliness in a couple of the missions. Each side mission also changes guard and camera placement, which changes the way you'll need to navigate the base significantly. The side missions are all pretty different in terms of goals and the way you'll play them, and each features two difficulty settings and an Achievement for completing an extra challenge objective.

Between the Achievements and the many collectibles scattered throughout the game, there is plenty of reason to replay all of the game's content. The collectibles offer new story exposition through audio recordings, as well as an unlockable fifth mission, which is platform-specific. I played the Xbox 360 version, which featured a guest appearance from Raiden. The 360 version looks good and performs admirably, given the aging hardware. The only problem I experienced over several hours with the game was guards popping in and out at long distances, though this never interfered with gameplay.

And it is the gameplay that you'll find most compelling in Ground Zeroes. The plentiful audio and text logs explaining the story from Peacewalker and backstory to the Ground Zeroes story mission are interesting, but ultimately the hugely-improved gameplay is what kept me replaying missions. There are multiple controller layouts, which make the control scheme feel much more modern and accessible, and there is a newly-added Reflex mode, a sort of bullet-time allowing you a few seconds to take down a guard who has spotted you before he can warn others. It's a small addition but it makes a world of difference, and it makes the game feel much more forgiving.

Ultimately, your enjoyment of Ground Zeroes is going to hinge on your desire for Metal Gear's brand of stealth gameplay. If you've been waiting for more Metal Gear since the conclusion of MGS4, you'll find plenty to like in Ground Zeroes.

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