Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes (PS4) Review
Posted by Gavin Napier on 03.28.2014
Hideo Kojima's legendary franchise returns with a prequel to a prequel, but is it worth half the price of a full game? 411's Gavin Napier covers the game so that you can know before you buy.
Title: Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes Publisher: Konami Developer: Kojima Productions Genre: Action/Stealth/ Players: 1 Rated: M for Mature
Hideo Kojima's Metal Gear franchise is one of the most enduring in all of video games. With the original Metal Gear showing up for consoles on the NES, we're nearly thirty years and six generations of consoles removed. On the original box art, we saw a figure that was heavily inspired by Michael Biehn as Kyle Reese from the original Terminator. As the series progressed, it was pretty clear that Snake had adapted to be modeled after, well, Snake Plissken as portrayed by Kurt Russell. Not a bad legacy for character inspiration, especially now that the same character is being voiced by Keifer Sutherland.
Jack Bauer is Snake/Boss. Well then. The bar has certainly been raised.
The main mission of the game itself is very brief, and can be played through in anywhere between 45 minutes and 2 hours. At first glance, this may make many customers balk at the idea of dropping $30 on the game. Completely and totally understandable. However, there's much, much more than meets the eye to this one.
The first, and maybe most impressive, part of the game is found in the main menu. It is here that gamers will have the opportunity to catch up on the admittedly convoluted story of the franchise. The game devotes a significant amount of time to a text recap of the story to this point, as well as over an hour of audio diaries that put characters into perspective. For newcomers to the series, or for old friends that may have missed a couple of installments, this is a remarkable gift. Plus, if somebody is so inclined, they could listen to Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries." There's worse things to do.
As the game kicks off, two things caught my attention. First, as I already mentioned, that's Kiefer damn Sutherland. It's impossible not to feel like a badass when playing a character voiced by the guy that's saved the country time and time again....and held a guy hostage in a phone booth. Secondly, the game is gorgeous. Cutscenes are high quality and the game environments are lush and detailed. Given that we're into an era of near photorealism on consoles such as the PS4 I expect a lot from games visually. Ground Zeroes didn't disappoint.
There's something of a learning curve to the controls, especially for players that haven't visited the franchise in a while. The game makes marginal use of the touch pad on the PS4 controller, but I would prefer the intuitive function that it serves (calling up the iDroid tool) as opposed to something convoluted and difficult to manage that interfered with gameplay. Once familiarized, gamers should have no problems with the controls. They're remarkably smooth.
There's not a lot to the main mission. It's very brief. The task? Rescue Paz and Chico, being held hostage in a South American country. The game is pretty straighforward here. There's some variance in how players can choose to carry out the mission, but it is very largely a "Point A to Point B" situation. It took me roughly two and a half hours to complete the mission, and that included learning the controls on the fly as well as intentionally setting off several alarms. Thankfully, the game doesn't end there. Credits roll like a movie, as gamers are treated to several minutes of action that will lead directly into Metal Gear: The Phantom Pain, the next full release in the series. No spoilers, but there are a couple of big cliffhangers included.
Beating the main story mode in a timely and efficient manner unlocks a plethora of additional content. There are four side ops that are relevant to the overall story, but not essential. They are, in fact, prequels to a prequel of a prequel. Something something Inception. The side missions don't skimp on content or gameplay. They're just as fleshed out as the main story, complete with lavish environments and fantastic sound. Between the side ops and the main mission, gamers should be able to easily get 10-12 hours of gameplay on the first play through, all relevant to the story. There is another "non Canon" side op, as well.
Ground Zeroes isn't perfect, but it feels like pointing out flaws is trying very hard to nit pick. Would I give it a perfect 10 on graphics? No, but only because some of the bushes clip out when Boss goes crawling through them. Otherwise, I ran into no issues.
A perfect 10 on sound? Again, no. But the only glaring issue I can think of was something that sounded like dubstep popping up twice during the game for about three seconds in an otherwise quiet environment.
What may hurt the game more than anything is its brevity. Even packed with additional content that directly ties it to the timeline of the franchise, it's difficult to expect gamers to drop $30 on what amounts to a demo of the first level of a new game with some bonuses thrown in. I understand why Konami did it - to generate buzz and remind people that something big is coming. It's great marketing strategy. And there's a fun game to be had from it. I'm just not so sure that it couldn't have been dropped on the Playstation Network for $15.
Again, I encountered only minor issues. Otherwise, the game is beautiful.
A bit of a learning curve on controls, and the on-screen menu is written in font size 4.
Other than the occasional burst of dubstep, the sound is flawless.
The game's biggest failing. Little reason for a second playthrough of the main mission.
Fans of the series or the genre will be extremely happy with what Konami has given them.