Metal Gear Solid Ground Zeroes – Review

Is Metal Gear: Ground Zeroes really as short as they say? Well the answer to that would unquestionably be yes. But this should not deter you or anyone else from playing a fantastic new chapter in the long running espionage franchise, which really is by every definition of the word – an appetiser to the main event.

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The game opens with a cut scene, which was released some time ago to demonstrate the games graphical prowess. Those that read the back story pages from the main screen and that played Peacewalker, will be in familiar territory in terms of the era and some of the characters present throughout.

The plot revolves around Snake (or Big Boss) being dropped in to Camp Omega, to retrieve and rescue Chico (a young volunteer in Snakes PMC). Chico was kidnapped by a group known as XOF, whilst looking for the operative Paz Ortega.

(Spoiler for those that haven’t played Peacewalker) Paz is a character from Peacewalker who was believed to have been killed during a showdown with Snake, but with news of her survival and Chico’s capture, Snake springs in to action to find out what’s really going on.

As usual with the Metal Gear series, the plot is heavy on military conspiracies and the multitude of military factions that were present during that era. In true Metal Gear style the games plot and script make you feel as though you are right in the middle of military history or amongst a great spy/espionage film. The downside is non-followers of the series may feel ultimately lost by the plot and character references, meaning they will never understand the real repercussions of events unfolding before them. Unless of course, they read the backstory pages available on the main screen or play 3 decades of Metal Gear history!

As the game finally puts you in control of Snake, the main protaganist, you get a good look at the base you will soon become familiar with. Just standing here at this starting point is enough to make you marvel at the advances next gen can offer, making this setting an impressive sight to behold as the rain pours down.

Once in control you will hear your comrade and ally from Peacewalker, Miller, give you directions on how to control Snake. Miller will also give you pointers on how to use the iDroid.

metal gear 101Why is it called iDroid I hear you say? Honestly? I have no idea, but the concept is that this device will be your map, mission objective display as well as your tracker on cassette tapes – a collectible within the game. However, the iDroid is used in real time, this helps to engross you further in to the boots of our protagonist. With this in mind you must find the right time to refer to the iDroid and be wary of how long you spend within it. There is a real danger of approaching enemies, as using this feature does not pause the game. I later found this out after returning from a toilet break to find myself receiving bullets to the face from enemy soldiers.

Another new feature is the ability to ‘mark’ patrolling enemies by focusing on them with your binoculars. After the enemy is marked they will remain visible by a small orange marker and by a silhouette, which will keep the enemy highlighted through walls and fences. This feature is a fantastic addition and is a great replacement of the mini-map from previous games in the series. This feature also trains you to scout out your area and think carefully about how to proceed through to your objective.

Enemies that have also been marked are sent to your iDroid map, this means you can track their movements and placements all the way on the other side of the base if needed. With these additions at your disposal, the game plays like a dream. Controlling Snake has not felt as universal before. Playing this entry gave a strange feeling of nostalgia, but also felt like new territory and a completely new game, as you feel small elements from other games bleeding through to the controls and the gameplay.

metal gear 103As a huge fan of stealth games and any game that forces you to have a little think about your actions and what they may unleash, I could not help but feel familiar mechanics at work from the Splinter Cell series, especially Conviction and Blacklist.

For a developer to research the best parts of some of the best games out there and to integrate them in to their project is of course not a bad thing and this really pays off in Ground Zeroes. The controls and gameplay mechanics feel smooth and easy to, adapt to if you are happy to learn from your mistakes.

Of course the huge talking point of Ground Zeroes is it’s length and although I can’t lie that I was shocked when the end credits began to roll, their was not a second when I felt like I had been cheated. Playing through the base for the first time made it quite apparent just how much ground I could cover in this game and through small amounts of exploration, I was already finding new routes and new areas to assist me as I traversed from objective to objective.

As soon as the end credits appeared I was already planning my next outing through the base, with the intention that on this occasion I would not be detected and I intended to do this before attempting any of the additional missions that unlock at the end of your first playthrough.

The additional side missions offer some great new ways to play as well as some interesting challenges that will get you to further explore the base. These addition missions will also help you to find collectibles in the shape of XOF patches and cassette tapes – pieces of intel which you can listen to in your iDroid, that help to add depth to the story.

Throughout Ground Zeroes you will find 9 patches and 12 tapes, if you are a true completionist and like to get your moneys worth out of any game, then these collectibles will have you exploring every crevice of the base. Side missions will have you destroying anti air guns and taking out high value targets. Although these might not sound all that challenging, even the slightest twist to the environment such as the base being set in the daytime, means you have to shift your approach and be ever more cautious, unless you prefer an all out gun fight, which the game can also cater for.

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Another much talked about detail of Ground Zeroes is Snakes voice. All previous entries of the Metal Gear Solid series have had Snake voiced by David Hayter. His voice was a staple of the series and the idea of anyone else voicing the character seemed inconceivable and the sheer thought that they would consider changing voice actors seemed too ridiculous to comprehend.

Imagine my surprise, and I’m sure the surprise of many other fans of the franchise, when it was announced that Snake would be voiced by a real life nuclear deterrent – 24 actor, Kiefer Sutherland. Knowing how excellent an actor Kiefer is, my fears were soon dashed and although I had no concerns over his ability to portray a believable performance, the only feeling that lingers inside me regarding this, maybe due to blind loyalty, why did they change it at all? Either way the change is still a welcome one and Mr. Sutherland lands the roll perfectly. Before you know it, I had forgotten all about the change and was pulled in by a stellar performance.

Although Ground Zeroes maybe short, it can also be as long or as short as you want it to be. Ground Zeroes offers great replayability value and rewards those that master the new engine with satisfying results. So if you want to boast about how quickly you completed the game – then more fool you as you just missed the beauty of what could be the greatest Metal Gear Solid so far.

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