PS4 Review: Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

Kept you waiting, huh?

After Peace Walker, I wondered where the MGS series would go. Luckily it’s a true sequel as Ground Zeroes takes place shortly after PW, but it’s more of a taste of whats to come, splitting Metal Gear Solid V into two different games is a risky move for the series and with the knowledge of the game’s length widely publicized, it leads to one question, is Ground Zeroes really worth £30 for a game that can be completed in less than an hour?
The story takes place shortly after the events of Peace Walker with news that Paz is still alive and Chico has also been captured. Those unfamiliar with the story will be at a loss, but a brief summary can be found in the game that explains what happened in Peace Walker and gets you up to speed on Big Boss’ missions thus far. The game is split into 1 main mission and 5 side missions, the main can be finished fairly quickly…there’s a speed run of just 10 minutes online, while the side missions take place in the same area…the open sandbox of Omega Base.

The story is true to the series’ roots, but it doesn’t dominate the game like past MGS games. The focus is more on the game itself; Kiefer Sutherland replaces the brilliant David Hayter as the voice of Snake/Big Boss and while I will always miss Hayter as the voice of Snake, Sutherland does a commendable job as the legendary soldier, even if it’s hard to judge his entire performance due to the short story. There’s a great twist at the end that sets up things perfectly for The Phantom Pain as well as a dramatic cutscene that pushes the boundaries of what I’ve seen in a game before, it’s dark and brutal but leaves you wanting more.

Those who want more story for their cash will have to be content in the cassette tapes that are scattered throughout the game’s main and side missions, there are also hidden XOF patches in the main mission which when found will unlock the game’s platform exclusive mission. Xbox 360 and Xbox One owners get a mission called Jamais Vu which stars Raiden while the PS4/PS3 versions contain a mission called Déjà Vu which stars Solid Snake as he tries to recreate specific scenes from MGS 1.
The great thing about Ground Zeroes is that you can tackle it any way you wish, sure you can go in all guns blazing if you desire…but it won’t earn you an S Rank, nor will it be as rewarding as getting through Omega Base without detection. Codec calls are a thing of the past now as well, instead conversations take place during the game. You can also call a rescue chopper to any location on the map, but it’s best to do so in a quiet area while undetected. There’s also a companion app for the game on iOS and Android which can do this during the game as well as listen to cassette tapes, it’s a nice addition for those who have the tech to do so.

Besides gaining collectables and S Ranks, the last thing you’ll have to tackle in Ground Zeroes are the Trials that unlock one after the other and on both normal and hard difficulties. These objectives can vary from tagging all enemies to neutralizing them all, which is no easy feat. One mission has you flying in the chopper gunning down everyone while trying to protect a VIP and trying to kill them all without missing any is a challenge to say the least.

In terms of visuals, Ground Zeroes is a masterpiece to look at. It’s 1080p, 60fps of pure brilliance, realistic weather, dynamic lighting and shadows, it’s probably the best example of what the next gen systems can do so far and the only issue is that the facial animations for the enemies can look a little awkward, but other than that it’s a joy to look at. Voice-acting is decent for the most part, like I said Sutherland’s performance is hard to judge but I did enjoy what was there, there’s the odd silly line from Kaz like “They played us like a damn fiddle!” but for the most part, the dialogue is well written and the performances are believable, making the wait for The Phantom Pain all the harder.

The Verdict

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes was a big risk for Kojima to make. It’s essentially a prologue to the full game, more of a demo if you will. But it does have huge replay value thanks to the Trials and collectables throughout Omega Base. While I miss David Hayter as Snake, Kiefer Sutherland takes to the role well from what is here but it’ll only be when we see his full performance in The Phantom Pain that we will know if he was the right man for the job. Let’s hope Snake doesn’t keep us waiting too long for that…