"With such short playtime is Ground Zeroes really worth the $29.99 price tag, let alone its own release?"
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes released on March 18th and is Hideo Kojima's attempt to hype up franchise fans for the release of The Phantom Pain. Despite good intentions players have been experiencing a lot of doubt, primarily when it comes to playtime. The primary mission can be wrapped up in about 2 hours, but with such short playtime is Ground Zeroes really worth the $29.99 price tag, let alone its own release? Ground Zeroes covers the events between Peace Walker and the yet to be released Phantom Pain. The primary mission consists of infiltrating Camp Omega and extracting suspected double agent Paz and child soldier Chico. This can be achieved in about 2 hours, including the beginning and ending cut scenes. If you've done any digging via Google you've most likely seen that by skipping all cutscenes and side quests the primary mission can be completed in 10 minutes. If players choose to be meticulous, there is the option of playing through with the goal of collecting all cassette tapes and achieving S rank. Additionally you can complete all five side-ops, but doing so only fluffs up the playtime by a couple of hours. It's easy to see why players are feeling overwhelmingly ripped off by Ground Zeroes.
"Even at a lower resolution Ground Zeroes still looks fantastic. Stylistically Ground Zeroes is realistic, dark and gritty."
Both the primary mission and all five side-ops take place on the same map. By the time you’ve completed all side-ops, you’ll have intimate knowledge of the camp layout. Camp Omega consists of an old prison, a refugee camp and a couple of administrative buildings. The virtue of the side-ops contributing to the game feels false when you take into consideration that they feel more like menial chores than anything engaging - and the map looks terrible during daytime.
Players on the PS4 are enjoying the game in 1080p while all other platforms are in 720p. Even at a lower resolution Ground Zeroes still looks fantastic. Stylistically Ground Zeroes is realistic, dark and gritty. The game opens with a gorgeously pre-rendered windy and rainy cutscene. It's done shaky hand-cam style adding to the game’s realism. For the primary mission the detail put into the map is wonderful, as everything looks appropriately grungy and desolate in the stormy night environment. However, as mentioned earlier the side-ops take place during daytime and everything looks bleary and overly bright in comparison.
"However, the side-ops take place during daytime and everything looks bleary and overly bright in comparison."
In-game audio shifts between clear conversations between Snake and Miller, radio conversations between the soldiers of Camp Omega and cassette tapes being played. All three have a different effect. Snake and Miller's conversations are clear and uninterrupted, guiding the player around the camp and through the mission. Radio conversations between Camp Omega soldiers are clouded with static and allow the player to gauge their stealth level, warning them before alert status is triggered. Cassette tapes possess the low-fi quality that they did from the 1970's to the 1990's and are a great reminder that while this game looks perfectly new and present, it's at a place on the Metal Gear timeline that is definitely aged.
Fans of stealth games will definitely enjoy the gameplay. Snake's mission is to infiltrate Camp Omega and extract Paz and Chico, and it's truly in the player's best interest not to get caught. Snake can belly crawl, crouch walk and jog. Snake's aim can shift over either shoulder and players have the choice of looking directly through the sight of the gun or aiming in 3rd person via crosshair. Like previous games, Snake can flatten against objects like walls and fences while the camera shifts to peer around corners. If Snake comes too close to someone from Camp Omega players can execute a couple of barehanded stun hits. As previously mentioned, it's heavily advisable not to get caught. Once Snake is caught the alert is triggered sending all Camp Omega units to the last area where he was spotted. On top of that if he is spotted in areas near Chico or Paz, players are unable to rescue them until an all-clear is given. It's definitely a fun experience for players who enjoy the challenge.
"But here we are, with a game that feels much more like a $29.99 info dump than an experience."
The playtime may not justify the price you pay for it, but what Ground Zeroes does have is a lot of narrative. On the home menu players have the option of selecting a backstory option and reading about events from Peace Walker before ever touching the missions. The backstory is really more of an info dump in the form of written narrative with relevant art in the background set to music. It's clear that these are details necessary to know before playing Ground Zeroes but the balance between telling the story and experiencing it is horribly off. Ground Zeroes is a beautiful game that provides a brief experience for stealth gamers out there, but really would have been more successful as a straight to home release movie. As a movie it could still serve its purpose in terms of plot without upsetting players with a terribly weak playtime. But here we are, with a game that feels much more like a $29.99 info dump than an experience.
Review by: Katelyn Berry | Reviewed on: Playstation 3