A SkinnyReview of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

A skinny look at Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. Is it Solid or Liquid?

(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.


Right from the get-go you are introduced, via text slides, to the backstory of The Boss, Big Boss (Snake), and the events that triggered the entire Metal Gear franchise.

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.

solid 8 stars.

Our Rating
A skinny look at Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. Is it Solid or Liquid?

Senior Intern

A gamer borne of all formats.I am currently borrowing games off my son, the circle is complete..

Published May. 19th 2014
  • Spyke_3447
    If you ended every sentence praising it positively with

    "But it doesn't justify it being a glorified demo with a stupid price tag on it

    Then absolutely I'm sure people would agree, technically it's a great game and people are hyped about the actual game.

    Still nothing justifies the ridiculous price tag on what is essentially a prologue demo. No controls.. No graphics... nothing is going to stop it being a ridiculous cash grab and insult to gamers in doing so.
  • Proto Foe
    Senior Intern
    I do agree that GZ being split from TPP isn't the best move. That being said, the price tag doesn't impact my time playing GZ.

    My hope, my dream, is that if we purchased GZ then we'll be able to get a reduced price on TPP. Or, better yet, TPP will be £19.99/$30 off standard rrp, period.
  • Spyke_3447
    Understood, I'm not so much disagreeing with the aspects you reviewed, for the most part every other reviewer has praised the aspects you have and more, it's just that in order for the game to score high one has to kind of "ignore the elephant in the room" which is it's price tag and ACTUAL content.

    I just find this "it's a demo of sorts but with a large price tag" approach to be VERY cynical minded. Even if they did in fact reduce the price of TPP or it to be cheaper still... It just makes me think of two questions immediately.

    Was it REALLY all that important to release this as a standalone and not as... well as a part of TPP like an ACTUAL prologue... a question I'm sure baffled you as well given that you state you think it should have been a prologue in-game.

    And secondly...

    What's with this cynical approach to pricing and offering up less for near full price... between forza 5 and it's nonsensical freemium aspects from a game with a full retail price... to GZ's which would be considered a high quality demo at one point in terms of content... it seems now that consumer standards are slowly slipping...

    But more importantly, the question remains... you say the price tag didn't bother you, that's a fine subjective opinion to be proud of. But WHY doesn't it impact your time playing it?

    do you feel that it's due to the overall changing climate in terms of how we view retail games, that it's become expected and less shocking or was it more due to your subjective position and financial comfortability helping to shape your perspective perhaps?

    What I'm driving towards, is that while I think your review is solid while kept within the confines of it's own self set parameters, it still begs those burning questions... why didn't it's price tag effect you? Did the AI and new regenerating health add to the experience or take away from it? people have been complaining about stealth being more trial and error now which seems to be a bit of a step back.
  • Proto Foe
    Senior Intern
    It's 6:30 here. I'll answer your questions when I roll out of bed in a few hours.

    Briefly - I haven't found the stealth to be trial and error so much on hard. Whereas on normal I felt the AI wasn't always tuned correctly, one guard would see from a greater distance than his comrade who was slightly closer.

    Is this 'smart' AI, each soldier having unique parameter? Or just an annoying issue?
  • Proto Foe
    Senior Intern
    Let me tackle the elephant first. The price tag was never an issue for me, this could be due to the fact that Metal Gear is in my top 5 franchises of all time, but it is mainly due to the fact that if I mix the price tag with the content on offer (not including the Deja Vu mission). Approxamitly 10 hours so far for £19.99/$30, that is more content than I get from some full price titles.

    If I had felt no reason to go continue playing after my initial play, then I would have used that as my bonus point to drive home the "demo" factor. With it not being a point of contention for me, I didn't raise it.

    On the release of GZ as a "a tanker version of the tanker prelude", I am not sure why Kojima/Konami released it. Investor pressure? Kojima wanting to show off his new baby? Or is it tied to what Kojima said about the PS4 causing delays with TPP?

    Pricing/Freemium. Quite simply, it is down to 'us'. We have let it grow from expansion packs on PC, becoming DLC on Xbox, to now not knowing it it's expansion content, shelved content that is coming out due to success and/or pressure from the higher ups.

    We as content devourers have the power to change, but we don't. I am guilty of this, I purchase editions of games to get Day One dlc, skin packs and the like. Why? Because I need to absorb the whole universe!

    With GZ though, again, it has a lot more content than a demo, and a lot of full priced titles.

    Why doesn't it impact me time playing? I think I covered that at the start of the reply :D

    AI/Health: As I mentioned "I haven't found the stealth to be trial and error so much on hard. Whereas on normal I felt the AI wasn't always tuned correctly, one guard would see from a greater distance than his comrade who was slightly closer." And the health, it is a feature change that I didn't like or dislike, it's part of the new Metal Gear.

    Apologies if I missed anything.
  • Spyke_3447
    I get that the game pushes all the right buttons for you, after all I've enjoyed all of the MGS series up until snake eater so I've a lot of respect for the series.

    I don't however see how it is offering up more content than other full price games, what games are these you speak of? how have they been scoring on sites like metacritic and are they or have they been parts of long standing franchises like MGS. Because if something offered up less gameplay than this, I'd be VERY worried if it was a full priced game.
    Unless we're talking indie games and well...

    See, for me at least. I don't think it's right to compare a massively well known and popular franchise, to some small startup game from a new company trying to find it's feet. This is the Triple A big time and for them and so to release what many called a "demo" well... it just seemed cynical and a little insulting to it's playerbase.

    It used to be that a kojima game would push the boundaries of games design, and not the patience of consumers.

    But coming back to the point about how we've "let" this happen.

    Expansion packs have always been a great aspect of PC gaming, no one ever complained when a while after a game had been released and seen success, that an expansion was announced and developed.

    the "day one DLC" is not the same thing. It's "similar" but it's got a whole host of fundamental differences. For a start there's the issue of "on disc DLC" and the drama that capcom raised when they started calling their on disc locked content "DLC" it was more than misleading.

    But you have to have noticed how it's all drifting along a slippery slope, and rather than claim anything hyperbolic I'll simply ask that as a fellow gamer, you consider just what you're supporting and be a little more careful. Sure we can overlook the odd flaw for the sake of personal bias for a series that has given us so much. But there was no excuse for a massively popular genre shaping title like MGS to jump on the "offer less for more cash" bandwagon and start pissing out the back window on the fanbase wearily running behind said wagon, doing so just makes it seem worse than the rest.

    As for the regenerating health changes, it seems like a large step away from the classic systems of MGS ie rations etc. And while I'm not going to immediately consider change to be "bad" it's certainly a questionable change for me. I mean, my reaction is less "omg they changed it, I don't like it waaah" and more "what did changing it accomplish"

    It seems the game has sacrificed a bit of it's originality or "kookiness" in this generation leap. Still, if you enjoyed it then that's your call. Just feel that this was better served as an ACTUAL in-game prologue as opposed to a purchasable demo/tutorial
  • Proto Foe
    Senior Intern
    Firstly, let me say I am really enjoying this discussion :)

    I am not going to compare GZ to an Indie title, not ever. I am relating it to titles, the single player parts, of games such as Halo, Call of Duty, Battlefield, some of the Command & Conquer titles. They are $60, ish, and offer less playtime than GZ. I will be very clear, I have replayed GZ and the side missions to get to me now over 10 hours of play. So, maybe it isn't a completely fair comparison :/. However, it is the closest I can see.

    What I meant was we've let it happen is that we just accept. Day one dlc. Times have changed, we don't always like it, but our voices aren't loud enough (and we're too far gone) to make a change if we wanted to do so. I will say this - I am very pro for expansion packs over DLC.

    On disc DLC? Can go burn in a drum somewhere!

    I said in the note of my SkinnyReview that I'd take feedback and evolve my reviews over time, the request from you as a gamer to a gamer is exactly what I am looking for. I am so thankful that you have offered this in a respectful manner.

    To me, MGS is adapting to the next generation of gamers. Kojima could very well keep it like MGS4 in terms of mechanics, it'd do well with the core audience. Would it be a supermarket pickup for the other audience? I can't say it would be.

    If GZ would have been simply the prologue to TPP on disc/download then it'd have been super. It isn't, the game is still solid (yea, yea) and enjoyable.

    What scares me? If other titles follow this path AND charge $60 for the game...

    Again, I am sorry if I missed anything.

    PS: Halo is my all time favourite franchise, but I can say that Reach and 4 didn't give the campaign length we deserved.
  • Spyke_3447
    As a quick aside, one of my biggest disappointments was Halo: ODST. I had enjoyed the halo series since the beginning and was really looking forward to them mixing things up on release, the "Recon" helmet didn't even bother me...

    What followed was quite literally halo 2's co-op system, THE most poorly implemented co-op system and net code I had ever encountered, being copy-pasted into an otherwise brilliantly fun game, it was a mess... unfinished too... as there wasn't even matchmaking... seriously, it was such a joke... that game bombed, and yet for some reason that sort of mentality, that you can release something has horrid as that... and get away with it.. seems to have stuck around...

    I mean, I almost wept when I got stuck into the game because underneath all the rushed garbage and poorly implemented net code there was a GREAT game underneath it. There was no excuse for that. they were capable of so much more.

    As for FPS games, the reason why you won't see much in the way of compaign length is because the real meat and veg of those are the multiplayer modes... something again, that Ground Zeroes is completely lacking... I also feel that that would have gone a LONG way in extending the value of the game, heck is there even a level editor? another tried and tested addition to extend games that are lacking in some areas...

    Also, the reason I go into the overall climate and reference the "freemium" games and the questionable ethics of on disc dlc etc.. is that in this current climate, where GDC had over 20 conferences on "monetizing" and there was (I shit you not) a conference on "how to reduce backlash" which is pretty darned damning in terms of showing they KNOW they're pushing it... and where upcoming non established IP's like watchdogs have not one, not two but FIVE separate special editions all with differing content, which is so convoluted there is a effing SPREADSHEET for players to see the available content and what edition contains it... and... well... I'm sure you can see where the cynicism is coming from right?

    For an established publisher to release what many dubbed a "glorified demo" for 30 bucks was absolutely disgusting especially as people are continually getting louder and angrier at the lack of restraint from games companies in their money grubbing attempts to siphon as much cash out of each available facet and also, there is absolutely no guarantee that this is being done as you hope.

    Will we see a reduced price for TPP?

    I can't say for certain... but you'll have to forgive my doubts on the matter because it seems that everywhere I turn, I'm continually watching industry giants IGNORING successful models of monetizing for free to play, and instead adapting inferior models for the sake of a few bucks...

    They'll sell you aesthetics, but you'll have to spin the wheel of fortune with their lockboxes to WIN the aesthetic items (Rift), they'll sell you advantage and in unlimited amounts and without caps on how much you can get at a time with money, which would keep you in line with other players in terms of progression (Hearthstone)

    And all the while games which either offset with design to downplay the non aesthetic advantage while focusing on making their aesthetics appealing are PRINTING MONEY...

    So my point really, if you managed to follow my slightly ranty exchange is, that this is NOT the climate to get your name on the shi*list along with all the other companies that are literally arrogantly taking working alternative monetary systems, and twisting them into versions that are horribly anti-consumerist. which is EXACTLY the reason why they're not working out as vastly successful as their more ethical and consumer friendly counterparts.

    It's like watching a guy bring a delicious packet of potato chips to a party, and in return, later on when he ran dry on beer... being given more beer than he can possibly drink and being praised as the king of chips by the other party goers... Only to then watch another guy, "inspired" by the first's growing popularity, to run to the store and buy a bag of chips and then start charging people a small fee for each potato chip, lewdly asking women for "favors" if they refuse to pay... then wondering why people call him an a**hole and reject him...

    So when you speak of the next generation of gamers, I think that it's our responsibility to make sure that they're not sitting around thinking that the second guy is the same as the first guy in that analogy. And that there is such as thing as being a good consumer, everyone has a guilty splurge of cash and buys stupid things. But right now when the entire market is slowly morphing into a consumer nightmare, it's horribly irresponsible to overlook how this "demo" got a 30 dollar price tag, it's pretty. but they absolutely HAVE to be held to a higher standard than this, or else we're bad consumers and their shitty business practices go unpunished. And that's not ok.
  • Proto Foe
    Senior Intern
    I like your analogy :) I don't want to buy potato chips one by one.

    Have you thought about writing some opinion pieces on GameSkinny?

    Edit: No matter how people feel about ODST, it gave us the first iteration of Firefight in Halo! :D
  • Spyke_3447
    I might possibly at some point, but you have to remember an opinion piece can be like a magnet for people to make the nauseating fallacious arguments, the straw men etc... and to be honest, it's depressing to see people get subjectively screwed over, only to then lower their standards because their favorite dev/publisher is infallible in their eyes etc.

    If I approach these sorts of things I have to do it right and that involves a LOT of heading people off at the pass in terms of what arguments would work and not work. Essentially the only way to write an opinion piece on anything that gamers fanboy the crap out of needs to be written carefully and with all the bases covered.
  • Proto Foe
    Senior Intern
    I do agree, to a point, about cutting people off at the pass. There is great community engagement that comes from leaving the field of play open...

    Look at our discussion?

New Cache - article_comments_article_14354