Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

Moby ID: 64533
Xbox 360 Specs
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Description

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is a third-person action game with a focus on stealth. Part of the long-running Metal Gear franchise, it is a prologue to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and it takes place after Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker as a part of a sub-series or prequels in the main franchise set long before Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots.

The most important change for this title is the shift to an open world design with a real-time day and night cycle doing away with the linear mission approach of previous games. The protagonist is Big Boss (Snake) and the game is set in 1975 after the events of Peace Walker. Snake works with Militaires Sans Frontières and needs to infiltrate an American black site Camp Omega on Cuba where Cipher agent Paz and child soldier Chico, two returning characters from Peace Walker, are held. This is the only location in the game and it consists of a large base with different sections, courtyards, outhouses and concrete tunnels, surrounded by rocks and foliage offering many entry points. The game offers the single objective to free them and the player determines the approach. To add to this freedom, helpful tools from previous titles, such as the Soliton radar map with the waypoints, have been removed. Snake can however mark enemies through his binoculars to keep track of movement. The mini-map has been replaced with a map accessed through a handheld iDroid device, but using it does not pause the game. The iDroid functions can also be accessed through an Adroid or iOS companion app on a real mobile device in conjunction with the game. It can be used to set waypoints, check mission information and listen to audio files. There is no longer a camouflage system. Instead, cues need to be taken from the opportunities in the surroundings and the time of day, with light and shadow, also play a role. Although the focus is on stealth, the sandbox design also offers a more direct approach with guns and explosives. A flare can be used to call in a helicopter, for support or extraction, and different types of vehicles such as tanks, jeeps and trucks can be stolen and driven.

With a stealth approach enemies can be knocked out or taken down with a knife. It is also possible to take them into a chokehold and threaten them for information. When using a pure third-action shooter approach (with the ability to shift to first-person) many means can be found inside the camp, including turrets and guns stolen from the base or taken from soldiers. Enemies have a line of sight and Snake can stay hidden through crouching. Once detected, enemies become suspicious with an indicator that changes its colour based on their alertness. When Snake is observed directly or body is discovered, a different alert mode is triggered without an indicator. In that state Snake needs to track their radio signals where they pass on his movement and wait until they calm down again. When spotted directly, a slowdown feature is activated where there is a short time-frame to lock on an enemy and shoot him or take him out through other means.

Next to the main mission Ground Zeroes, four additional side missions can be unlocked in the same location but set before the main mission. A fifth one becomes available after collecting all XOF patches and it is different one based on the system (PS/Xbox).

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Credits (Xbox 360 version)

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Average score: 75% (based on 23 ratings)

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Average score: 3.1 out of 5 (based on 32 ratings with 1 reviews)

An enticing, delicious appetizer

The Good
MGSV: Ground Zeroes takes place in 1975 at Camp Omega, a black-site prison camp located on a small island off the coast of Cuba. Snake is sent in to rescue two key characters from Peace Walker : Paz and Chico, just before a UN inspection of the MSF Mother Base. There's a pair of really shocking twists at the end that immediately set the stage for the epic main course, The Phantom Pain. The ending in particular, will hit you harder if you spent a lot of time playing Peace Walker. One thing is clear while playing GZ - this is easily the darkest Metal Gear game ever. It delves into some seriously controversial stuff. In general, the tone is much more grim and dour, with most of the series' trademark humor being entirely absent.

Perhaps the boldest departure, and most controversial twist, however, is one which occurs at the beginning of the game - as soon as Snake takes off his goggles and says his famous line, the voice that comes out of his mouth is not the Snake that MGS fans grew to love over the course of the series, David Hayter. Instead, it's the voice of Kiefer Sutherland, best known for playing another covert agent on television, Jack Bauer. I have absolutely no idea why Kojima decided to replace the voice of such an iconic character - it's not like people were playing these games to hear "name" actors anyway. That's not a knock against Sutherland, however, who does a fine job with the role.

MGSV feels less like a classic stealth game and more like a stealth "sim", reminiscent of the Deus Ex and Thief games. Light and shadow, movement and noise play a huge part in whether or not you get detected. Enemy guards are eagle-eyed and can spot you in some of the most out-of-the-way places. I once had a guard spot me through a small window in a door - from a tower. At times, the spotting can seem almost unfair, but it's more about simply paying close attention and knowing how fast you can move so that you don't give away your position.

The previous MGS games, especially 3-4, were very linear sneak-fests. They were simply all about traveling from screen-to-screen, taking out soldiers and trying not to get caught. MGSV does away with this entirely in favor of an open-world setting. No longer can you simply rush to the next checkpoint to get rid of the alert - you'll have to complete your mission regardless of what happens.

Camp Omega has some really interesting opportunities for emergent gameplay for those who wander off the beaten path. For instance, there's a power station which can be shut off to provide a temporary escape from the guards. Your helicopter pilot can be called in from anywhere, allowing him to serve as a distraction.

There is no radar or solid eye to assist in situational awareness this time around. Instead, you have to mark enemies by staring at them through your binocular. This allows you to see them through walls, and get their locations on a map. Of course, this could easily backfire on you - forget to mark an enemy, and you might rush into an unsafe area and be spotted. It's very tense, and requires you to look around and be vigilant at all times, not just simply relying on your markers.

The game's most controversial addition is undoubtedly "Reflex Mode". Reflex Mode is a slo-mo, bullet time effect that kicks in whenever an enemy spots Snake. It gives you JUST enough time to fire a shot at the guard who saw you - if you can kill or knock him out before reflex is over, the alert won't begin. Luckily, purists can shut it off, but even with this "safety net" on, the game is still incredibly challenging.

Of course, tranquilizing a guard isn't always as easy as it seems, as the shooting mechanics have also been changed. Every weapon, from pistols, to sniper rifles, is affected by bullet drop when fired. This means that if you're out of range, you'll have to aim further above a guard's head to compensate for gravity's pull, and this distance isn't always easy to gauge.

I haven't even talked about the new gameplay controls, which have been changed from MGS4. There's an emphasis on verticality that wasn't present in the other games - Snake can climb obstacles and even up onto rooftops. The controls for changing weapons and items is now completely different and takes a bit of time to get used to, but it all comes together to create the best playing MGS game.

When you do get spotted and decide to fight your way out, you are treated to tight, snappy combat, with a sharp lock-on system and a cover system that works automatically when Snake is pressed against an object. Fighting isn't always the greatest option, as it could prevent you from fulfilling the mission goal.

Ground Zeroes is both cross-gen, and the first simultaneous multiplatform release in the Metal Gear series. This game, and Phantom Pain are running on Kojima Productions' Fox Engine, which has been in development since at least 2008. You would think that playing on old-gen hardware would make for a rougher experience compared to the next-gen systems. You would be right, but within the confines of comparing it to other PS3 games, and in particular MGS4, I'd say that Kojima Productions did a really good job making use of the hardware here. YouTube videos of the game don't entirely do it justice. There were plenty of times where I simply could not believe the visuals my PS3 was outputting, and forgot I was not playing the game on a next-gen system. The rain effects, lighting, and animations are impeccable. There were some unfortunate frame-rate drops during heavily lit scenes and when lots of particle effects were on-screen, but it was never worse than anything in MGS4, while still managing to look better, in my opinion. You can really tell that the game is pushing the hardware, as the console's fans spun louder than any other game I've played on PS3. A lesser game would have had me worried for my console, but Ground Zeroes is so engrossing, I didn't care.

The Bad
There's not a whole lot actually there. You have the main mission, Ground Zeroes, plus a small handful of "side-ops", all taking place on the same map. These side missions are varied, ranging from simple infiltration missions, to barnstorming the camp from a helicopter, and even stranger mission types. There are two side missions that you can unlock by collecting all of the XOF patches during the main mission While it is impressive to see just how much mileage Kojima Productions was able to get out of one small-sized map, you'll have seen pretty much all there is to see in a matter of hours. The game is hugely replayable, but that doesn't entirely excuse just how thin the game is in terms of content.

As this is Kojima's first open world game, there are a few odd bugs here an there, such as vanishing markers, soldiers popping into view when zoomed in, and odd physics bugs.

I also had issues with the cover system. It seems like I had to run into walls a bit more in order to stick to them. An annoying thing is trying to use your binoculars behind cover is that as soon as you use them, you won't be stuck to it anymore. This can be the difference between not being spotted. There is a "peek" function that lets you mark enemies fairly close without the binoculars, but it only works up to a certain range. And popping up from cover to get a mark on an enemy, is a risky proposition, at best.



The Bottom Line
MGSV Ground Zeroes is bold. The game strays quite far from the other Metal Gear games in terms of story, tone, and gameplay. And yet, at the end of the day, it is unmistakable as a Metal Gear game, down to its very core. As an appetizer for the Phantom Pain, it is utterly satisfying. It is even more astonishing seeing a game of this level of depth and graphical quality running on such old, outdated hardware.

PlayStation 3 · by krisko6 (814) · 2015

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Game added March 19, 2014. Last modified February 24, 2024.