A SkinnyReview of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
(Note: I am aiming to make SkinnyReviews a different take on the traditional review formula. This will evolve over time, based on feedback from the community, my peers, and my perfectionist mindset. I hope you all enjoy.)
What is a SkinnyReview? Well, it is where I will pick two aspects of a game, then a brief bonus aspect, and base my review around those areas. It could be game mechanics, story, multiplayer, second screen use, gameplay, or something else.
There Has to Be a First
I have wanted to do reviews for sometime now, I feel I have let peers down by not doing them. This isn't good of me. However that is about to change; I have wanted to bring a unique spin to the format, I hope this is it.
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes on Xbox One felt like a great game to start with. It was the last title I sunk my teeth into that wasn't an MMO or multiplayer game in any way.
It is Metal Gear Solid, but smoother. You turn like a ballerina on a very large penny and traversing obstacles is the smoothest it has ever been. You glide through grass and shadows like air, you crouch like a child perfectly sneaking behind the sofa to get to the kitchen for cookies. The camera is responsive, binoculars are your best weapon on Hard, and patience is your best friend. Sprinting is located behind the right analogue stick with a click, and while Snake does look a little like he has taken lessons from Usain Bolt, it is effective nonetheless. The d-pad allows you to select between four equipment slots - these can contain grenades, pistols, assault rifles, or my personal favourite, the RPG.
Eliminating hostiles is slicker and more satisfying than ever. Numerous actions can be completed using a very limited number of controls. For example, holding RT when climbing a ladder and crouching behind your target present a number of option outcomes all using the same button. Using a choice menu you can either formulate a plan to trap other hostiles, or interrogate your target for information such as guard placements, weapons and ammo, and even collectibles locations. After this you can decide if you want to KO them or simply kill them, reducing the risk of the base going on alert.
The most notable flaw in the controls are when you find invisible walls at the edge of a wall or cliff face which force you to rise to a crouch stance - thereby risking detection.
The game begins with the usual, and welcomed, Hideo Kojima style of saying you have got no idea what is to come. We know who the boy is, we know who the person who didn't suffer long is, but who is Skullface? What information was revealed about Cipher? XOF? Why do they have amazing laser removal technology?
The removal and disposal of the XOF badges in the introduction is a great move by Hideo Kojami. This seemingly throwaway moment is the key to unlocking the side ops Jamais Vu and Deja Vu, because collecting them is the only way to gain access to the Raiden and classic Snake operations.
There is a great deal of freedom with the approach to completing the story, and several nice side missions you can complete to change some cut-scenes. Try exploring the base before heading to the prison camp, or rescuing all the other prisoners before entering Chico's cage.
Overall, the story of Ground Zeroes is a departure from the normal Metal Gear Solid storytelling formula we know. It is like a tanker version of the tanker prelude to Metal Gear Solid 2, setting us up for what is to come without actually revealing anything... other than building bases on top of oil rigs is a bad idea.
Bonus: Kiefer Sutherland
Kiefer Sutherland takes over the mantle of Snake from David Hayter. Hayter has been the voice of Snake since 1998. He is loved by fans, and many feel that he is the embodiment of the Metal Gear Solid portion of the Metal Gear franchise.
I can simply say that Kiefer Sutherland fits the role, not great, but well. I never once felt that I was listening to an out-of-character performance, just a different take.
Solid or Liquid?
So, is Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes a solid entry to the series, or is it just a glorified $30/£19.99 demonstration of what Konami has locked away in an underground bunker?
It is light on story, heavy on action and stealth, but redeems itself with a fantastic ending and backstory-filled cassette tapes. Yes, cassette tapes. It is 1975, after all.
A solid 8 stars.