I think it should be no surprise to any long time readers of my work here on Gaming Respawn that I’m not an especially big fan of Konami. For a while now, I’ve hated the way they have all but seemingly given up on making proper video games anymore, even though they are more than happy to keep a number of IPs that I like locked up so that they can slap them over horrible fruit machines in Japanese arcades. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes came out just around the time I was starting to get my unapologetic hate-b@ner for Konami going, meaning that I never got around to playing it. However, when I saw it for less than £5 on the PlayStation store a while back, I decided I would finally give it a go, more to see if I would have any interest in playing the actual MGS V once I was done with it.
I’m a pretty big fan of the Metal Gear series and consider both the second and third Metal Gear Solid games to be amongst my all-time favourites. I have never actually managed to play the fourth game in the MGS series because I didn’t own a PS3, and Konami seem reticent to give it the old remaster job for the PS4, probably because it would involve them spending money and actually taking some time to do something properly rather than just lazily sticking a popular game series on something wholly unrelated to the video game world in order to make a quick, easy buck. Do I sound bitter? It’s probably because I’m exceedingly bitter. Anyway, though I missed out on playing the fourth game in the series, I was able to catch myself up with the story, so when I heard a fifth game was in the works, I was intrigued to see where they would go with the lore next.
MGS V: Ground Zeroes was a bit controversial when it came out as it isn’t actually a full game in a lot of ways but more a demo/teaser of what was to come in MGS V: The Phantom Pain. Konami still decided to charge a comparatively hearty fee of $40 for the game though, which wound quite a few people the wrong way, and I can completely understand why. Removed nearly eight years from when MGS V: Ground Zeroes first came out though, the price of entry has dropped significantly, if you don’t mind buying a used copy, which makes it far more palatable. I would say that if you had to pay around £5 to play the game then, you’ll probably be getting value for your money as there are a few additional missions you can play on top of the main prologue mission for The Phantom Pain.
The story of MGS V: Ground Zeroes sees you taking control of Big Boss and paying a visit to Guantanamo Bay in order to locate and rescue two former members of his crew. You will need to infiltrate the base, deal with pesky enemy soldiers, find the two targets and then safely evacuate them via helicopter. Along the way, there are some additional objectives you can take part in, such as helping some other prisoners escape. You don’t need to help these people, but if you do, it can sometimes lead to them helping you out with some info, as well as making you feel good about yourself for helping people break their way out of an absolute heck-hole.
MGS V: Ground Zeroes takes a less linear approach with its gameplay, essentially plopping you into the game world and then leaving it up to you as to how you want to go about things. Taking a stealth sneak-em-up into an essentially sandbox environment was something that gained both Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain plenty of praise, and I can see why so many like it. However, I have to say that I kind of preferred it when the games were a bit more straightforward. I concede that this is a view that many won’t share, but I much prefer the gameplay you find in games like MGS 2 than what we get here in MGS V: Ground Zeroes. Don’t get me wrong, the way the more open-ended gameplay is executed is done very well, so I’m not critiquing it from a mechanical perspective. It’s just not something I personally prefer, mainly because I think it ramps up the difficulty a bit too much sometimes.
The fact there isn’t even the option of an Easy Mode in MGS V: Ground Zeroes seemed a bit rum to me, especially as it was something that was always present in previous games in the series. One thing I always liked about the MGS series was that it had a good choice of difficulty levels so that you could find the one that worked best for you. As someone who has never really been that good at all the action and sneaking, I always appreciated being able to tone down the difficulty a bit until I was able to get myself up to speed. I’m someone who normally likes to grow into a game, and I find playing on an easier difficulty at first before easing myself into the more difficult ones is the pace I personally like best, so having that choice taken away from me here in MGS V: Ground Zeroes didn’t really sit that well with me.
Graphically, I thought MGS V: Ground Zeroes was very impressive, and I thought the sound effects and voice acting were on point too. I love how guards freak out and try to communicate with one another when you are trying to take shots at them from the shadows. It really adds to the atmosphere, and the voice actors do a really strong job. Being able to scout the area and apply markers to things is a nice organic way to build up your map, and some of the combat is admittedly very good, especially when you can shoot an enemy a couple of times to knock them down before kicking them right in the chops to knock them out rather than killing them. Big Boss in general is just a full-on keister-whooping machine, and that really comes across sometimes.
Overall, I didn’t personally enjoy MGS V: Ground Zeroes that much, but I can appreciate it for what it is, and I certainly think a lot of other people would have quite a bit of fun with it due to the fluid gameplay. Longevity is obviously the game’s weakest area due to how quickly you can blow through the main story mission, but as a relatively cheap playable demo, I’ve certainly seen worse. I’m glad I didn’t pay full price for it back in the day, but if you see it cheap and want to get a flavour for what The Phantom Pain will be like before purchasing that, then MGS V: Ground Zeroes could perhaps be worth your time.
The Urban Dictionary defines “The Fitzgerald Scale” as “A scale used to measure the awkwardness of a situation. The Fitzgerald Scale is divided into ten subunits, called ‘Geralds’. Each Gerald is in turn divided into ten Subgeralds, which gives 100 possible levels of awkwardness. One Gerald is a commonly awkward level, where a ten Gerald situation would be a scarring event.”
Man, the atmosphere of that party was off the Fitzgerald Scale when we decided to leave