If you have been following the Metal Gear series and have thoroughly enjoyed it so far, chances are you were very excited about this game when it was being released…But what happened next was…very different…even for a Metal Gear game…(Or was it? I didn’t experience the Metal Gear Solid 2 fallout as ‘2 was my 1st MGS game back in the day) what was it? When this game came out this time last year, the asking price was about £20, and while it’s definitely cheaper now, it’s a big deal for what it was at the time. Because Ground Zeroes, to the disappointment of fans, is not the best video game ever made, but rather it is the best and most expensive video game demo ever made.
The game begins, the familiar aspects are welcomed, and anything new and interesting really captivates our eyes. The graphics, even on the version I got (PS3), were incredibly good. The gameplay was some of the best that the series has had, and its choice to take away the bird’s eye radar and make you rely on your binoculars really heightened up the tension as you sneaked past enemies that didn’t have a completely clear pattern. The voice acting is great, and even though I miss David Hayter as Big Boss/Snake, Keifer Sunderland does a great job playing a much older and wiser version of the character (a continuation of sorts if you have played the other games).
The story is rather minimal, as the focus of the game is much more on being a demonstration of things to come in the gameplay and graphics. But within the context of the big, overall story it definitely has its place in the series (as it contains some enormous changes/transitions that take us away from where Metal Gear Solid: Peacewalker left us the year (Peacewalker set in 1974, Ground Zeroes in ’75) and right into Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, where Big Boss will gradually transform from the hero in Metal Gear Solid 3, and into the ‘villain’ from Metal Gear onwards (or so it seems). Without Ground Zeroes, Phantom Pain might seem strange, so it’s important.
In terms of the characters, a number of familiar faces (and voices) do appear, but due to the length of the game they last about as long as the candles on a cake. Paz and Chico (who appeared in Peacewalker) return…and they’re not looking so good (they’re the 1s to be rescued), as do the likes of Miller, but he’s only in cutscenes. You could say that Big Boss does develop, and at the same time we’re introduced to a new villain called Skull Face. We’re only given a taster of the character, but it looks like he’ll be very interesting.
The music is minimal, but memorable, with 1 of the highlights being the use of the 1971 song “Here’s To You” by Joan Baez (with Spaghetti Western Music legend, Ennio Morricone) which plays at the beginning and end of the game (and did appear in Metal Gear Solid 4, where it was covered beautifully by Lisbeth Scott and Harry Gregson-Williams). Why is this song used? Because it’s a loose parallel/reference to what Big Boss intended when it came to creating outer heaven, as well as what he had lost, and why. Nicola Sacco and Bart Vanzetti (the men mentioned in the song) were described as having anarchist views, and were executed because of this (and possible anti-italian prejudice in the USA at the time) rather than because of proof of the crimes they were accused of, which included robbery and murder (It also depends if anti-war, anti-violence and anti-oppressive government qualified as anarchy). Big Boss became an enemy of both the countries he was fighting against and his own country. He disagreed with both of them, was betrayed by his own, and no longer wanted to be a pawn of anybody.
Around an hour and a half after the epic intro and after a fantastic experience full of high tension and a lot of excitement…it’s all over. The main story is finished. 2 main rescues and you’re done. That’s it. When you complete the game, it then opens up the side-missions, which are alternate missions that aren’t part of the story, but are a chance to explore the open world that you just played in again (only it’s not night time or pouring like a typical day in Florida). If you had paid £20 for this, I could completely understand being incredibly angry. It was far too short for what you were buying. Possibly about 5-10% of the length of a typical Metal Gear game. But, I was spared of this misfortune when I got the PS3 version for £4 on a PSN Sale. Sure, the graphics aren’t as good as the PS4 version would be, but it was a chance to play the game and move forward with Big Boss’s story.
Would I recommend Metal Gear Solid 5: The Ground Zeroes? Yes…but only. If. You. Get. It. Cheap! It’s not worth £20 at any time in history. Not even if inflation kicks in and years later the complete work of Shakespeare on kindle is £20. But it’s definitely worth £4, and I found it to be an incredibly good experience. If Phantom Pain is anything like this, you will have an excellent reason to buy it if you have tried Ground Zeroes, and if we’re fortunate, Kojima could include Ground Zeroes in the Phantom Pain package. But, we’ll just have to wait and see.
Voice Acting: *****
£20 value: -*****
£4 value: ****
Overall: **1/2 (at £20) ***1/2 (at £4)