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From the time Metal Gear Solid V (MGSV) was first talked about it was shrouded in mystery and eventually accompanied by weird viral videos and teaser trailers. I don’t think anyone expect this game to be quite what it ended up being though. When Hideo Kojima announced that this would be the precursor to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and not a substantial full length game I have to be honest, I was kind of let down. We’re all used to MGS games taking countless hours of strategic belly crawling and wall knocking. So yes, MGSV:GZ is short. I guess the question is, does that matter?
MGSV:GZ takes place after the events of Peach Walker. Paz Ortega Andrade is missing and believed dead. Kazuhira Miller and Huey direct the Militaires Sans Frontières (MSF) to focus their attention on an upcoming UN inspection based on the UN believing the MSF has a nuke. MSF believes this to be an attempt by the Cipher organization to stifle the MSF. Cipher’s plans get put on hold when MSF agents head to Cuba to investigate intel that Paz is alive and detained at Camp Omega. The situation gets even more complex when Ricardo “Chico” Valenciano Libre attempts to rescue Paz and gets captured as well. Obviously, these two are now a liability for the MSF since they both have sensitive info that could be retrieved by their captors. Snake is sent in to extract them both if they’re alive or confirm their deaths. It’s what you’d come to expect from a MGS game and I love it even if this is more of an epilogue to a larger picture for MGSV – it sets the stage nicely.
Once the cut scenes roll and you’re given control of Snake you will most likely notice Snake feels a little less stiff in both his movements and animations – it all feels more realistic and smooth. I played MGS4 so long ago, I don’t know if that’s how it was in that game but MGSV:GZ feels great. Snake’s abilities are mostly all here with scrawling on your belly, slowly/swiftly walking crouched, and of course running for your life when you set off an alarm. Snake can also hang, jump, and climb like a champ but don’t expect this to be a platformer, though it was hilarious trying to make some jumps between cracks or buildings. In his defense, Snake is wearing one of those hi-tech sneak suits that can’t be lite and I’m sure that eye patch doesn’t help matters with it’s stylized stitching – Big Boss is a bad ass.
Weapon handling felt completely natural as well with the usual left trigger pulling the gun up so you can stare down the barrel as you unload on some unsuspecting bad dude’s head. The weapons I came across in my play through were a few pistols, shotgun, assault rifles, grenades, C4, and trip mines. I’m sure I’m missing something but the point is, there was never a shortage of fire-power, though I did crave quieter weapons especially since your suppressor eventually expires. In addition to weapons, and I think this is new for MGS games, there are vehicles you can drive around in or control. My favorite are the anti-air cannons that turn MGS into more of a CoD or GTA experience when all else fails. My first playthrough of the initial mission ended with me killing everyone without prejudice with one of these things. It was a weird feeling for a MGS game but enjoyable all the same.
One of the newer features that Snake has is the ability to mark enemies on the battlefield with a red triangle when staring at them through his binoculars. There didn’t seem to be any limit to this, which was welcome because there ends up being a lot of baddies in this rather large camp. Marked enemies will also alert you when they’re near and that really comes in handy for the blind spots. You really start to see the worth of this when you’re able to get to higher ground then overlook the battlefield and the enemy combatants walking about. The mark system definitely appealed to me and seemed like a natural evolution to MGS’ old radar system.
MGS:GZ is broken up into missions rather than one long linear story, and really, there isn’t much to the main story here. It truly is an epilogue to a larger picture we’ll eventually see in Metal Gear Solid V:The Phantom Pain. This bugged me at first because I wasn’t expecting the credits to roll so soon. I remember thinking, “the internet was right” and I just spent my money on a demo. Once the credits rolled and I saw “mission select” I realized there was more here to play and my disappointment dissolved entirely. I’ve put about 4-5 hours into MGSV:GZ so far and there is still plenty for me to do, so it’s hard to call this game a demo. I’d be more inclined to call MGSV:GZ an EP or Single to a full length album coming sometime in the near future. And if I’m being honest, I think this game is well worth the $30 price tag. I’ve paid far more for shorter “full length” games that were no where near as solid (pun totally intended).
There were some things I didn’t like about MGSV:GZ but just a few. For starters, I disliked the pacing of the timed missions. I felt rushed and unable to play how I wanted to play. I really like to take my time with stealth games. I like to canvas the playing field and take account of weapons, enemy movements, and shortcuts in and out of buildings. So for me, the timed missions threw a wrench in my formula and 9 times out of 10 while playing these missions I just went balls to the wall because I felt rushed. At one point I even got into a jeep and just started running people over GTA style. That’s a big issue for me – I do not want all open world games to boil down to GTA moments of mass chaos. Another issue I had was the constant nagging of Kaz in my ear in the usual pseudo tutorial style even after I did what he asked of me. You’d figure he’d shut his face after you open the damn map screen as he’s asking you to do. Kaz, I got this – STFU please and thankyou. Obviously, the last complaint is a slight contradiction to my claims that this game being short is a non-issue and really it isn’t but I would have loved more of the main story arch here. A little less VR and a little more deep, convoluted, espionage would have been welcome.
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes delivers the exactly what MGS fans need to hold them over until Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is released in the near future. MGSV:GZ also continues to open the deep wounds in Snake that help paint a picture of his hatred for the country he once aligned himself with. We get a brief glimpse at Hideo Kajima’s next epic and I can’t wait for more.