Giant Bomb Review

101 Comments

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes Review

4
  • PS4
  • XONE

Ground Zeroes makes up for its initial brevity with plentiful side content, a gorgeous look, and the most dynamic, satisfying stealth gameplay Metal Gear has seen in some time.

There's just the one base to infiltrate, but there's a lot to do in there.

With a $30 price point and a main story mission that lasts somewhere between an hour or two, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes sounds like a bad deal. It's a simple "get in, extract a couple of prisoners, and get out" affair that's seemingly intended to give you a taste of what the actual Metal Gear Solid V, The Phantom Pain, is going to be like when it releases sometime in the next two years. Given this profoundly unattractive value proposition, it's a good thing Ground Zeroes is actually highly replayable and offers a lot more side content than you might think at first. It's also possibly the most fun Metal Gear has ever been to play.

Ground Zeroes acts as a short bridge between Peace Walker, the last appearance of Snake--he who would be Big Boss--and the forthcoming Phantom Pain. We all know Big Boss will go on to found the mercenary state Outer Heaven and become the big bad guy in the original Metal Gear, and Ground Zeroes makes it clear things are heading in that direction. That said, if you're like me and all but ignored Peace Walker, you'll want to read the dense recap of that game's events available from the main menu here before you undertake the main mission. Otherwise the characters and events of Ground Zeroes won't mean a whole hell of a lot. The game relegates most of Metal Gear's typical absurdity to the periphery of the short storyline, instead focusing primarily on the private-army and nuclear-proliferation stuff that was the series' stock in trade for its first 15 years. It's worth noting the story visits a number of violations on one character in particular that hover somewhere between unpleasant and grotesque. Some of that stuff exists in collectibles, but one in particular is part of the core storyline and is unavoidable.

I stopped showing up to Metal Gear looking for satisfying stealth gameplay a long time ago, so it was surprising how much I enjoyed roaming around Ground Zeroes' lone military base, shooting guards with tranquilizer darts, hiding bodies, interrogating guards for info...all the stuff a super spy is able to do. The stealth feels dynamic; guards run a wide variety of patrol routes, occasionally get in and drive vehicles around, and mostly behave in a pretty believable way whether you're secure in the shadows or they think they've seen you moving around. On the normal difficulty, the game really empowers you to stay hidden. You can tag enemies, vehicles, turrets, and security cameras by aiming at them with your weapon or binoculars, after which you'll always be able to see them through walls and as icons on your map. And when you get caught, the game gives you a pretty generous slow-mo period so you can try to quietly take out whoever spotted you before they raise an alarm. Combine this stuff with other modern third-person amenities like a proper dash and responsive aim-and-shoot control and Ground Zeroes starts to feel like a really damn playable stealth game.

Each side mission is set at a different time of day, keeping the visuals fresh.

That main story won't take you long even your first time through, although if you aim for an S rank, you'll have to play pretty meticulously without getting spotted. But I found it highly replayable, going through it four times and having a pretty different experience, sneaking around different parts of the base and having different emergent guard encounters, each time. Ground Zeroes makes it feel like the game designers really get how to put an interesting stealth-based open world together. As a good counterbalance to the brevity of the main story, there's also a truly respectable amount of side content that opens up after you finish your mission. There are a handful of alternate operations set in the same base that each give you a brief story setup, different objectives, and a different time of day that refreshes the visual style of the environment, setting it apart from the main story's rainy nighttime motif. The game is also rife with collectibles and tracks a lot of real-time challenges like headshot distance, two-wheel driving time, and how fast you can tag every enemy in the base. If all you want to do is see that main story once, $30 is asking way too much. But factoring in all that side content will easily get you at least a good six or eight hours out of Ground Zeroes.

Snake and a little of the ol' left-trigger-right-trigger.

This package also acts as a great showcase for the new Fox Engine, and an indication of what the new consoles can actually do. The PS4 version looks absolutely fantastic, running at a solid 60 frames per second with some great lighting effects coming from the base's various searchlights and other light sources. (The inclusion of everyone's favorite canvas for lighting effects, wet pavement, certainly helps.) The game is no slouch on the Xbox One, running just as smoothly and with all the same effects, though it isn't as sharp as the PS4 and has an unsightly screen door effect in some of its transparent objects. The lower resolution was pretty obvious to me sitting three feet from the TV on my desk, but in my living room at home the difference was minimal enough to be barely noticeable. Each platform has an exclusive, quirky side mission that ties into various aspects of the Metal Gear lore, and the Xbox's mission is arguably more interesting than the one you get on the PS4. I'd still lean toward the PS4 version for its overall sharper presentation, but you can't really go wrong with either one.

Ground Zeroes is a strange product, appearing like such a bad deal initially but then more than making up for it with side content you can't access until later. But it looks gorgeous and plays great. If this game really is indicative of what The Phantom Pain is going to offer, there are some good reasons to anticipate Snake's next full outing.

Brad Shoemaker on Google+
112 Comments
  • 112 results
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
Edited by Qjt

Might be worth checking out. The tapes sounds cool.

Posted by Rydemption

yay

Posted by Rydemption

so happy to be getting this soon

Edited by Hassun

I just wish this was part of the main game like previous entries in the series did it.

Edited by BinaryDragon

Well, I'm convinced. Thanks Brad.

Although I hope it's less than two years before we see PP, it's certainly good to see something new on the new systems. It's a tad dry at the moment.

Posted by Zirilius

Glad to see the review be positive on this. Its a great game with a lot more content then people give it credit for. I'm not regretting this purchase one bit.

Edited by Yurtigo

Nice

Posted by jimmyfenix

My copy did not arrive today so heres hoping it will arrive tomorrow! got FFX HD InFamous SS keeping me busy at the moment!

Online
Edited by Chaser324

I really like this game. I've spent around six hours playing it and will probably spend many more going for S ranks and higher completion percentage.

However, it's definitely not a product that I'd recommend to the casual Metal Gear fan. While I can see where Brad is coming from and respect his opinion, I'd personally say that this is the very definition of a three star game on the GB scale -

An inherent appreciation of this game's specific gameplay style, characters, subject matter, and so on may play as big a role in your enjoyment as the actual quality of the game.

Regardless of the polish and refinements, if you don't have an appreciation for the Metal Gear flavor of stealth gameplay, the lack of plot development and short main mission are going to leave you wanting.

Moderator
Edited by Atwa

I would recommend checking out Peace Walker The Movie on youtube instead of reading that large chunk of text in this game before playing it. Its almost essential if you want to know who the characters are and want some context for their existence and why you need to save them.

Posted by BBQBram

Kept you playing, huh.

Posted by SomeJerk

I'd like to clarify, having experienced both: There's more actual gameplay in the Xbox exclusive mission. In the PS exclusive mission, there's no need to kill any of the guards hence less gameplay, but it's filled with MGS-fan essential wonderful goodness including hours of extra voice acting and imitations of voices in the PS4 version, skins and environmental "skins".

Unless you're the kind of gamer who should turn in their gamer card and considers a game done when the staff credits roll, this is a good purchase. If you're new to MGS, this makes a great purchase that tops out at $30. If you don't want to sneak or stun and just shoot, something is wrong with you but give it a shot anyway. (And the PS4 version runs at 1080p60, not just 60fps.)

Posted by Benmo316

I agree with Brad's review. Though I've only played through the Ground Zeroes mission so far I will be going back and doing the side missions once I get time. Having a game like this where I can set aside one hour to do a mission and then set it down is great. It's like a console version of a mobile game.

Posted by MooseyMcMan

I'm kinda surprised Brad gave this four stars. Not saying it's not a four star game, I was just figuring that with the relative lack of content it'd get three, though he really stressed the replayability in the review, so there you go.

Edited by NoodleUnit

I like how they just dump you in front of a base and let you figure out the mission for yourself. More of that, please.

Posted by Taku128

@hassun said:

I just wish this was part of the main game like previous entries in the series did it.

And as somebody who's already put twelve hours into it replaying missions for higher ranks, going for alternate endings to side-ops, and searching for collectibles I am so glad I can play this chunk of the game now instead of having to wait until 2015 when The Phantom Pain comes out.

Posted by TheHBK

I have always liked the Metal Gear gameplay. I just kept getting pushed away by the increasing stupidity of the story/jokes all while it is being presented as some glorious serious war epic. I get it, taking a dump in the middle of battle is funny. But you want me to feel for these characters and yet, it feels like a Saturday morning super hero show.

Posted by Solh0und

It's definitely worth spending 20 dollars on this digitally(I rented this personally). I definitely enjoyed the plot of this and I can't wait for Phantom Pain next year.

Glad to see this 4 getting stars.

Edited by Heycalvero

Just another left-trigger-right-trigger. (but not really)

Posted by AuthenticM

Love this game.

Posted by csl316

It's neat, I beat it in an hour but I keep wanting to get back to it. It's really just fun to mess around.

Now I'm torn between splitting my time on this and Infamous this weekend. Oh, the problems!

Online
Posted by Deusoma

It's worth noting the story visits a number of violations on one character in particular that hover somewhere between unpleasant and grotesque. Some of that stuff exists in collectibles, but one in particular is part of the core storyline and is unavoidable.

Were anyone else's eyebrows raised by this bit here? I get that he's being vague to avoid spoilers, but at this level of detail it makes no sense other than to paint a general idea of unpleasantness.

Posted by xbob42

I dunno, even with a bunch of replayability, $30 is really pushing it. Basically if they released a "sequel" to this that takes place on a different map and has the same amount of content, they've made the $60 you would've spent on the Phantom Pain proper. So what's the incentive for them to actually ever make that game if everyone's willing to ostensibly pay more for way less?

Not saying that will be the case at all, but it sounds like a way easier way to make cash than spending hundreds of millions on a fully-fledged game.

Edited by LobotomyKing

I bought this thinking i was going to regret it, but when i put it in my friend and I played it for like 7 hours straight. It was ridiculous how much fun we were having. We would pass the controller back and forth and see who could get into more trouble just wiping everyone out and going on a spree of total destruction. After we taking it seriously it offered a lot of challenge even with the marking and slo-mo. its one of the best feeling stealth games i played, which is a lot of games because stealth is my favorite genre, especially for a Metal Gear game. I think 30 bucks is totally worth it

Posted by CorruptedEvil

@binarydragon: it's apparently coming out Q1 2015 so only 1 year

Posted by jimmyfenix

@me3639 said:

DLC content for $30 is a rip off. But how would you know from someone who paid zero.

Please elaborate.

Online
Edited by CorruptedEvil

@jimmyfenix: i think he's talking about how Brad got a free review copy and so doesn't have a clear view of the money/quality balance

Posted by JayEH

Good review Brad. I'm really enjoying the game but yeah if you aren't a huger Metal Gear game, just wait for The Phantom Pain.

Getting those S-Ranks can be super frustrating but I'm working on it!

Posted by Brad

@me3639 said:

DLC content for $30 is a rip off. But how would you know from someone who paid zero.

If you don't trust us to weigh the value proposition of the games we review, why are you even here?

Staff
Posted by Dan_CiTi

I actually found myself getting spotted more often in this than in previous games because it so open, usually in past MGS games you can scope out your terrain and where all the enemies can be, but here that's a lot harder. It's not necessarily bad, but it was frustrating as well because there really isn't any where or way to hide either.

Posted by mrfluke

Expected the score and yea i fully agree with the score, the game did its job, im super excited for the proper MGS5 next year,

and thank you brad, for not turning this review to be all about what happens to that certain character. thank you so much, yes its raw (both the audio and the certain scene in particular), but its also their way of attempting to set their tone for their villian and for the phantom pain story.

Posted by Bocam

@deusoma said:

It's worth noting the story visits a number of violations on one character in particular that hover somewhere between unpleasant and grotesque. Some of that stuff exists in collectibles, but one in particular is part of the core storyline and is unavoidable.

Were anyone else's eyebrows raised by this bit here? I get that he's being vague to avoid spoilers, but at this level of detail it makes no sense other than to paint a general idea of unpleasantness.

If you don't mind spoilers Brad's referring to the fact that there's gangrape and paedophilia in the collectable tapes

Posted by Generic_username

@me3639 said:

DLC content for $30 is a rip off. But how would you know from someone who paid zero.

Please elaborate.

@jimmyfenix: i think he's talking about how Brad got a free review copy and so doesn't have a clear view of the money/quality balance

I think he's been doing this long enough to have a sense of that. The idea that he didn't factor price in because he got it for free is really pushing it. Does anyone really think him handing the publisher thirty bucks before playing the game would have influenced the review?

Posted by Zacagawea

@me3639: 1. I doubt you've even played it so why are you judging quality or value 2. Downloadable content content doesn't make any sense 3. Even if this was DLC (it really doesn't matter what you label it) for an existing game it would still be $30 because that's what they think it's worth 4. If you don't trust Brad to do his job that he has done his entire life why are you a paying member of his website 5. It seems like you wouldn't have bought this anyway and are just complaining to complain

This is coming from someone who bought this, got bored 29 minutes in, and probably won't touch it again

Posted by Taku128

@bocam said:

@deusoma said:

It's worth noting the story visits a number of violations on one character in particular that hover somewhere between unpleasant and grotesque. Some of that stuff exists in collectibles, but one in particular is part of the core storyline and is unavoidable.

Were anyone else's eyebrows raised by this bit here? I get that he's being vague to avoid spoilers, but at this level of detail it makes no sense other than to paint a general idea of unpleasantness.

If you don't mind spoilers Brad's referring to the fact that there's gangrape and paedophilia in the collectable tapes

Also vagina bomb.

Posted by crcruz3

I played it a lot and had a blast. Hard mode is truly geat.

Posted by crcruz3

@csl316 said:

It's neat, I beat it in an hour but I keep wanting to get back to it. It's really just fun to mess around.

Now I'm torn between splitting my time on this and Infamous this weekend. Oh, the problems!

I'm splitting my time between these games too and I'm having a lot of fun. I bought almost everything that was released for the PS4 and these are the first 2 titles that feel really next gen.

This is great.

Posted by indieslaw

Would have appreciated a line or two about the Xbox 360/PS3 version of this, even just to say that it's fine. We're not *that* far into the new generation, and we're going to have cross generational games for a while.

Posted by pyrodactyl

@taku128 said:

@bocam said:

@deusoma said:

It's worth noting the story visits a number of violations on one character in particular that hover somewhere between unpleasant and grotesque. Some of that stuff exists in collectibles, but one in particular is part of the core storyline and is unavoidable.

Were anyone else's eyebrows raised by this bit here? I get that he's being vague to avoid spoilers, but at this level of detail it makes no sense other than to paint a general idea of unpleasantness.

If you don't mind spoilers Brad's referring to the fact that there's gangrape and paedophilia in the collectable tapes

Also vagina bomb.

Oh... that what she meant be that huh. Well fuck.

Edited by thefozz26

I pretty much guarantee that this will be free for ps+ members sometime running up to the release of phantom pain, ill wait

Posted by LucidDreams117

Hey that's awesome to hear. I wasn't sold before but I just might be now. Great review Brad:)

Posted by TruthTellah

Glad to hear you liked it. I do hope the replayability will make up for its initially short length. Some of the content may bother me, but no game is perfect. Hope the quality of the gameplay is a sign of things to come with MGS V. :)

Edited by gyozilla
@generic_username said:

Does anyone really think him handing the publisher thirty bucks before playing the game would have influenced the review?

Sometimes I feel like reviewers should just shove the money in their faces anyway if only to stop people from using that dumb "reason".

@me3639

I think it's fine If people aren't convince a game is worth such and such price, but to come right out and say your judgment is basically void because you didn't pay for it is absurd, and kind of rude. By that logic, why even bother to read any reviews from the media to sift through them for that voice of reason?

Posted by development

Looks good. Sounds good. Still can't justify buying a new console yet, but I'm getting closer.

Edited by Soapy86

I'll pick it up when it hits $20. To me that seems like a fair price for what's being offered. I'll probably buy used though. I don't exactly want to reward and encourage this type of shit.

Edited by Chocobomoshpit

I played through the Ground Zeros mission a little bit ago, and the "unpleasant and grotesque" stuff towards the end actually had me scrunching my eyebrows and pulling my head back. It felt out of place, particularly in the context of a Metal Gear game which I've always seen as self serious, but able to have a sense of humor about itself. This stuff just felt shocking for the sake of being shocking, like a guy running up to you on the subway and bare-ass farting in your face, cheeks spread. Unpleasant for pretty much everybody involved.

That said, this is the most fun I've had playing a Metal Gear game since Solid. It's long needed a control refresh/simplification, and most of the "Metal Gear Weird" is still present. I loved 4:SotP, but it took a period of adjustment to get to the good stuff, and even then, I hated the controls. This one feels "right".

Haven't really dug into the side content, but I look forward to it. I'm terrible at this game, but I feel like I fucked up when I get spotted - I was careless! - so I can't fully speak to my personal value assessment yet.

Aside from the weirdo try-hard <spoiler> stuff, I'm digging it.

Posted by MormonWarrior

I was thinking about getting this for the PS3 from the Red Box, but I think I'll hold off till I get a next gen console at some point. Just seeing the visuals in the videos makes it seem like the difference would be worth it.

Edited by NTM

Yeah, a four seems fine, though as far as fun goes I'd probably give it a five. I enjoy it a lot, and though it can take you only about twenty minutes to do the story (if you really wanted to), there's a few side missions, and collectibles, some more hidden than others, as well as a lot of replay value because it's just fun to play with great stealth mechanics. I think it also takes a surprise amount of time to feel as though you mastered how to play the game, at least it took a while for me to feel as though I'm good at it (though perhaps it's because I didn't read the manual). I'm still going to go back, after I finish Second Son, but I stopped at around ten hours I believe.

  • 112 results
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3