|Title||Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
|Release Date||March 18, 2014|
|Platform||PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One|
|Age Rating||ESRB- Mature|
|Official Website (http://metalgearsolid NULL.com/)|
After the release of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, it seemed to me that Kojima Productions might have written themselves into a corner in regards to the Metal Gear franchise. There isn’t really anywhere else to go with Solid Snake’s story, and, as much as I liked Revengeance and what they did with Raiden, I know not everyone shares that sentiment. While fast-paced cyborg fighting works for some, others just want some good ol’ Tactical Espionage Action. As options on storylines go, one of the biggest questions that still remains revolves around one of the franchise’s most significant characters: Big Boss. From a talented, but conflicted soldier in Metal Gear Solid 3 to a resolved leader of men in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, the missing link here is how Big Boss went from a strong and admirable man to the power-crazed villain seen in Solid Snake’s early adventures. It is my hope that Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes and the follow-up, The Phantom Pain, coming out later this year, will answer that question.
Some time after the events of Peace Walker, Big Boss learns that one of the key members of his Militaires Sans Frontières, Chico, has been captured by a mysterious group known as XOF, and is being held in an old prison camp in Cuba. Additionally, a young woman named Paz, who betrayed the group in Peace Walker, is also in custody at the camp. In addition to saving Chico, Big Boss will need to extract Paz to make sure she doesn’t give away any of MSF’s secrets – namely that they have developed their own Metal Gear with nuclear capabilities. After a short opening cutscene (at least by Metal Gear standards), Big Boss reaches the outskirts of the prison camp, and commences the rescue operation.
When it comes to video games in general, I tend to care about gameplay more than the presentation. However, I feel I simply must address the graphics in this game right away. I’ve only played a few other games on the PlayStation 4 so far, but this is the first time that I was really impressed with the graphical capabilities of the system. Seeing Kojima’s new FOX engine in action firsthand is truly amazing. Aside from some of the most realistic character models I’ve ever seen, the little details are also appreciated. Throughout the game, the prison camp is under a perpetual rainstorm, and seeing drops run down not only Big Boss’s face, but also those of enemy soldiers’ greatly helps with immersion. Plus, spotlights and other sources of light cast realistic shadows based on where they shine. Gunfights are more immersive, as well, with ragdoll physics being used to full effect when enemy soldiers fall. As Big Boss takes damage, he suffers visible cuts and bruises, which I was surprised and pleased to see. Sure, it may not be the first time we’ve seen these kinds of thing in games, but, in this case, Metal Gear has never looked quite this good.
Now that that’s out of the way, we can look at how the game itself plays. While early stories about MGS V described it as being open world, that’s kind of hard to gauge that here. Since you’re pretty well restricted to the prison camp, you don’t exactly have an expansive world in which to play. That said, the camp is pretty sizable, and players are free to explore to their heart’s content. Loading screens are also non-existent, with area transitions and cutscenes seamlessly integrated into the gameplay.
Gameplay itself has undergone a few changes, as well. The first big change that you’re shown is the ability to use your binoculars to mark enemies, cameras and other objects of interest. This will then allow you to see them through walls to better track their movements. You can then view them on the map on your iDroid, which is accessed by hitting the right side of the touchpad. You can also view current objectives, listen to tapes and call a helicopter for air support using the iDroid. Big Boss may be older, but he can still lay out his opponents with ease. Using the Close Quarters Combat techniques for which he is known, Big Boss can grab guards in the open or from behind cover. Once subdued, they can be interrogated, choked unconscious or outright killed with the knife. Repeatedly tapping the R2 button will allow Big Boss to perform a CQC combo that quickly knocks out an opponent immediately. There are also a few different firearms that players will find scattered about the map. Most of these can be outfitted with a suppressor and a flashlight. However, it was never dark enough for me to see the point in using the latter, so it really did nothing more than give away my position.
Sneaking in Ground Zeroes is well-implemented for players wanting to stay true to the series’ roots. While Big Boss’s earlier adventures had him relying on camouflage to stay hidden, he has no such luxuries here. Instead, players must stay low, stick to the shadows and hide in bushes to avoid detection. As has always been the case, it’s extremely satisfying to get the drop on an unsuspecting guard and knocking him about before he knows what happened. However, should a guard see you, there’s a handy new feature that can help you stay hidden. Once you’re caught, time will slow down for a few seconds, which allows you to turn to face the guard who spotted you, and shoot him before he can alert anyone nearby. Veterans might think this mechanic makes getting caught too forgiving, but I found it pretty helpful, especially if a guard that you didn’t see spots you. Considering there’s no radar to help you keep track of enemies, any little bit helps. Not that it matters that much, though – aside from the odd vehicle here and there, you likely won’t be too challenged even by a group of guards if they sound an alarm. Taking them down is fairly easy, and it takes sustained fire to keep Big Boss from quickly regenerating his health. Sadly, Ground Zeroes contained no setpiece boss fights for which the series is known. Honestly, simply fighting guards keeping me from my objectives felt more like a classic Splinter Cell game than anything else. That’s fine, I suppose, but removing the presence of any delightfully outlandish bosses made the game lose that distinct Metal Gear feel more than any other feature.
The mission continues on Page 2
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