PS4 Game ReviewsMetal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes Review

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Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes Review

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Graphics:

 

9.0

Gameplay:

 

8.0

Sound:

 

9.0

Control:

 

8.5

Replay Value:

 

8.1

Overall Rating:       8.3

 

 

Online Gameplay:

Not Rated

Publisher:

Konami

Developer:

Kojima Productions

Number Of Players:

1

Genre:

Action/Adventure

Release Date:

March 18, 2014

Many gamers have two pressing questions concerning Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes: 1. Did we really need this prologue/introduction? and 2. Is it really worth the cost of admission? The answers are “probably not” and “depends,” the latter of which requires more explanation. Let’s just say that if you’re a fan of the franchise, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be disappointed with Ground Zeroes, even if it is a little short. Don’t forget that we’re talking about Hideo Kojima and his incredible production team, which typically produces top-tier products.

Nowhere is that more evident than in the visual presentation. The PlayStation 4 version is especially pretty, with brilliant special effects, beautiful animations, and a ton of detail in a compelling, well-designed world. Unsurprisingly, the cut-scenes are wonderfully choreographed and loaded with a variety of artistic virtues. This series excels in the interactive and non-interactive categories, which is why each game feels like a full, dramatic experience. What I’m wondering is whether or not we’ll see significant visual improvements in The Phantom Pain and if so, we’re all in for a very big treat.

Stellar sound accompanies a rich, technologically proficient graphical palette. We get professional voice performances that help to solidify the reality of each character, and the soundtrack is impressive. I almost wish the music was at the forefront of the action a bit more often, but that’s a minor complaint. With crisp, nicely balanced effects and the captivating score, you know you’re playing a Metal Gear Solid game. The ambient audio adds a great deal to the experience as well; this goes double when you’re sneaking about, desperately attempting to avoid detection. What you hear is almost as important as what you see…

Before we get into the gameplay and mechanics, let me remind everyone that this franchise’s claim to fame is the story and characters. The revolutionary stealth gameplay, on full display in the original title back in 1998, is a big part of the MGS legend and mystique. I understand and appreciate that. But the narrative has always been a focal point, which is why I’m simultaneously encouraged and disappointed by the story in Ground Zeroes. On the one hand, those fantastic cut-scenes keep us riveted at all times, and our surroundings are incredibly immersive and engaging. On the other hand, we end up with a lot of questions after seeing the climax.

Yes, I recognize that this is essentially just an intro; some might even call it a demo. However, if Kojima’s scripts have a downfall, it’s this: They’re typically a little long-winded and convoluted. Given what we see here, we can assume the narrative in The Phantom Pain will fit those adjectives, which I think is unfortunate. I’ve been hoping that Kojima and his writers would’ve honed and fine-tuned their scripting style by now. The problem is that despite all its potential, despite its many epic moments, one can still sense an amateur-ish element in the construction and implementation of the plot. However, I’m not about to pass judgment on Phantom Pain.

I’m only talking about the hints gleaned from Ground Zeroes. Don’t get me wrong, though; the story here is still interesting, and the characters are great. Good ol’ Snake never lets us down! And for the record, the voice acting has gone in the right direction: Rather than mirroring the overblown and overly dramatic story, the voices of the cast (and especially Kiefer Sutherland as the protagonist) are plenty realistic. As for the gameplay, we’re introduced to a new stealth mechanic that enhances the tension and requires both patience and tact, and a sense of freedom never before experienced in the series.

It’s your mission to invade a military black site on the coast of Cuba. Heavily guarded, this is a definite challenge because thankfully, this game doesn’t hold your hand every step of the way. You must use your observation and stealth skills to properly progress and with a minimal HUD, you’re always in the center of the action. Snake has a sweet array of next-level gadgetry that makes his job easier, but at the same time, we don’t get the benefit of that automatic radar. So familiar in the MGS series, it has been removed for the sake of an extra challenge. If you want to see and track your foes, you must first mark them with your binoculars.

Crouch, slink, crawl; do anything to avoid detection. If you are spotted, however, you’ve got a second chance to remain incognito: When an enemy spots you, you’ve got a few seconds to dispatch that enemy before he sounds the alarm. It’s a slo-mo sequence that’s obviously not realistic, but it works exceedingly well and above all else, it’s fun. If it doesn’t work out, though, and that alarm sounds, be prepared for a difficult time. You can either attempt to face your attackers head-on – depending on the situation and your equipment, this could be an immensely stupid idea – or you can hide, and the latter is tougher than you think.

In past MGS entries, there was a counter that would tell you how long your opponents would remain on alert. This, combined with the auto radar, made it relatively easy to avoid the searching guards. Again, though, the developers have worked to give us more of a challenge; so, no auto radar and no countdown timer. Don’t forget that enemies can stay on high alert for quite some time, so there’s even more incentive to stick to the shadows. And speaking of incentives, it’s awesome that you’re rewarded for playing the game properly: Your mission ranking, based on how many times you were spotted, how many enemies you dispatched, etc., will determine your future bonuses.

In other words, if you complete a mission with great precision and aplomb, you’re more likely to land special weapon drops and other nifty items. Personally, I think MGS should be played stealthily, and I’m glad to see such rewards for that approach. However, if you’d rather go in guns blazing, you can give that a try as well; there are plenty of bad-ass weapons and ammo lying around. You can take out watchtowers and vehicles with heavy stuff like C4 and RPGs, and there’s no shortage of deadly firearms with which to mow down oncoming foes. Your approach is really up to you, which is what the designers meant by “freedom” when first describing te game.

It’s not Grand Theft Auto or Assassin’s Creed; you do have more room to move, but it’d be inaccurate to call this an open-world sandbox title. You simply have more options at your disposal. Your approach is no longer dictated by your surroundings. This is what the modern-day gamer demands and you have to applaud Kojima and his team for keeping up with the times. The best part is that they’re striking a great balance between storytelling and player control, which, for me, is by far the most exciting aspect of MGSV. It’s just too bad we have to wait so long for The Phantom Pain.

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is a highly accomplished, technically impressive introduction to a brave new world. Even the most legendary franchises have to adapt and assimilate eventually, and Ground Zeroes is an example of a long-running, established IP embracing new technology and trends while still retaining its core. The story’s construction is a little concerning, the length will be a definite issue for some, and I have to say, the AI could use some tweaking. But as this is just a taste, it’s…well, a tasty taste. It’s not everything you could possibly want, but it hints at an amazing main course.

The Good: Engaging, highly detailed graphical presentation. Great sound and top-tier voice acting. Freedom to approach a situation however we see fit. Added challenges makes experience more intense. Fantastic new stealth mechanic. Story has plenty of potential.

The Bad: Yeah, it’s really short. Narrative could end up being overblown and convoluted (again). Occasionally questionable AI.

The Ugly: “I want more…and you’re telling me I have to wait how long?!”

3/19/2014 Ben Dutka

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Comments (37 posts)

Killa Tequilla
Wednesday, March 19, 2014 @ 10:39:22 PM
Reply

I love MGS. The only franchise that has yet to disappoint. Me.

Agree with this comment 6 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

LimitedVertigo
Wednesday, March 19, 2014 @ 10:49:28 PM

That's actually a good point that you make. It used to be FF for me but honestly it's the Half-Life series but since it's only 2 games and 2 expansions and nearly 7 years of nada. I'm not sure it holds as much weight as MGS.

Agree with this comment 3 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Solid Fantasy
Thursday, March 20, 2014 @ 9:45:12 AM

Agreed. You used to be able to count on SquareSoft and even Capcom. Now it's down to Kojima's franchise branch of Konami. And of course ND and maybe GG. Can't wait to pick this one up next week!
I guess the story can be a little disorganized at times, but compared to the rest of the competition (games, film, and a lot of modern lit) it still head and shoulders above.

!

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Bigimpactpooch
Wednesday, March 19, 2014 @ 10:40:52 PM
Reply

I def agree with the ugly part lol. The game play is top notch fun. I was worried about all the changes they made when they first showed it but after playing it I want more!

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LimitedVertigo
Wednesday, March 19, 2014 @ 10:57:10 PM
Reply

One of the best reviews I've read by you Ben. I had so many questions about this game and I feel you answered a lot of them. I've never been a big fan of the series. This sentence of yours sums up why. "They’re typically a little long-winded and convoluted" (referring to the story). Maybe it's ironic given my love for JRPGs but I just have never been able to get into the story or characters.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Thursday, March 20, 2014 @ 12:20:11 AM

Thanks. I actually didn't think the review was that great.

Just goes to show I often have no idea what goes over best with readers. LOL

Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 3/20/2014 12:20:25 AM

Agree with this comment 2 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

telly
Thursday, March 20, 2014 @ 3:51:34 PM

That was my thought as well. Really well-written, Ben, nailed it.

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DIsmael85
Wednesday, March 19, 2014 @ 11:28:15 PM
Reply

A nice score and I really figured it would earn this from you. The game is very fun, despite length. Anyone who likes MGS or wants to get into the series why wait? The Phantom Pain can't come soon enough.

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tes37
Wednesday, March 19, 2014 @ 11:45:27 PM
Reply

After reading this review, I can deal with the high price of admission. I took my daughter to see a 3D movie and it cost more than $30. I'm sure I'll like Ground Zeroes a hell of a lot more.

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LimitedVertigo
Thursday, March 20, 2014 @ 12:20:26 AM

Be honest, what movie?

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tes37
Thursday, March 20, 2014 @ 7:56:55 AM

We went with friends and they picked the movie. We saw World War Z and although it was several months back, in 2013, it still comes to mind when I think of wasting money.

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LimitedVertigo
Thursday, March 20, 2014 @ 1:21:56 PM

Ah, I still haven't seen the movie. I loved the book but never saw it making for a good movie. I'd watch it if it was a television show.

Agree with this comment 2 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

coverton341
Thursday, March 20, 2014 @ 7:11:11 PM

The only thing, seriously, the only thing the book and movie have in common is the name.

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akmdpc
Thursday, March 20, 2014 @ 12:00:59 AM
Reply

I want to play this with the Morpheus. I bet it would translate very well.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, March 20, 2014 @ 12:43:32 AM

See I don't understand how that would work, does my character on screen turn their head as I turn mine? I can only see its use in first person stuff cuz you'd control the viewpoint with your own head.

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Lord carlos
Thursday, March 20, 2014 @ 12:37:39 PM

in MGS 4 you could more or less play the game in 1st person
mayhaps they carried that feature over

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, March 20, 2014 @ 12:41:54 AM
Reply

So will Phantom Pain be no bigger of an open world? Cuz I gotta admit the way Ben talks about it, the game has barely gotten much bigger. In fact it sounds like everything they've been saying about that huge world was a great spot of BS.

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Japanese_Gamer
Thursday, March 20, 2014 @ 5:03:05 AM

I think The Phantom Pain will involve more travel so the World might be much bigger.

Agree with this comment 2 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

telly
Thursday, March 20, 2014 @ 3:54:01 PM

if you ever played Peace Walker you get an idea of how this will probably go -- lots of sandboxes to travel between, I'm guessing you start off walking or driving or riding a horse between them at first and them eventually you get to take a helicopter.

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Bigimpactpooch
Thursday, March 20, 2014 @ 12:53:30 AM
Reply

Metal Gear Solid VR with the Morpheous...that would be sweet.

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telly
Thursday, March 20, 2014 @ 3:51:55 PM

WHOA

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Fabi
Thursday, March 20, 2014 @ 1:12:51 AM
Reply

Really enjoying the game. I literally spent like an hour or more trying to get used to everything new that was going on so I know I'm gonna spend way more than two hours playing it and replaying it.

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Japanese_Gamer
Thursday, March 20, 2014 @ 4:58:34 AM
Reply

Just finished this incredible game.Shocking ending.
Boss hope you're alright

Took me Three hours to complete mission ground zeroes in Normal without any alerts.I love to play in the rain.

Last edited by Japanese_Gamer on 3/20/2014 5:04:17 AM

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MRSUCCESS
Thursday, March 20, 2014 @ 9:16:41 AM
Reply

I got it on lauch day since I had it preordered, but I need to be 100% focused and home along in order to grasp essense of the best franchise from the past two decades.

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Oxvial
Thursday, March 20, 2014 @ 10:14:06 AM
Reply

8.3! almost has good has Dark Souls 2? e_e.. damn there are a lot of things I don't agree one of those being the lack of a boss( for me that matters a lot ) at least tanker had one can't say the others that would spoil too much,but Ben review put aside things I don't like at all so this must be a 8.3 for people with the same kind of opinion.

Last edited by Oxvial on 3/20/2014 10:14:21 AM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Thursday, March 20, 2014 @ 11:22:54 AM

You might not have noticed, but Ground Zeroes and Dark Souls II are entirely different.

You shouldn't directly compare review scores for these games, just because the reviewer most certainly didn't compare the two in his (or her) head.

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tes37
Thursday, March 20, 2014 @ 12:42:43 PM

I think the 8.3 was meant for people who are intelligent enough to read and write.

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DIsmael85
Thursday, March 20, 2014 @ 6:10:16 PM

Sorry Oxvial not everyone is on the same hate wagon you are. We've been over this in other topics, you don't like it we get it, stop feeling the need to rain on everyone's parade. It's like you have some personal vendetta against Konami and Kojima. :/

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Oxvial
Thursday, March 20, 2014 @ 6:51:26 PM

Hate on Kojima? nah Dismael even Kojima didn't want this to be released separately, the only thing I have against him are some of his weird commentary's but he started to act like that only in the last couple of years.

Ben I know they are different genres but imo games that rank at similar rates are in the same league of quality and for reasons like the lack of boss battles (only one would be enough) and others that I don't wanna do mention now (spoilers) I just can't see this as an 8.0 + game.

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Lord carlos
Thursday, March 20, 2014 @ 12:42:08 PM
Reply

I'll probably cave but i'm gonna try to wait for 1.both games to be released or 2.one bluray containing both games.

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Underdog15
Friday, March 21, 2014 @ 9:19:07 AM

yeah, you know it'll happen

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telly
Thursday, March 20, 2014 @ 3:55:37 PM
Reply

Spot-on review, as far as I'm concerned. If $30 (or $20) is too much for you, that's certainly understandable. For me, it is well worth the price of admission. Can't WAIT to get home from work to tackle those side ops.

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frostface
Thursday, March 20, 2014 @ 5:25:22 PM
Reply

I'm happy for any one who's a fan of the MGS games if they're happy to shell out for what in my opinion (which doesn't hold too much weight when it comes to MGS) is nothing more than a cash grab for a piece of the full game coming out next year/2016.

But despite it's length, if the game is quality and fans are happy, who am I to judge.

Where I do have a problem however is the precedent it sets for other developers to do the exact same thing to other popular series based solely on the good will of the named brand and it's fanbase. This wasn't done for the fans. That's just some PR bulls*it.

And if the "game" is as short as has been claimed, there's no reason it couldn't, or in fact won't be, included in the full MGSV when it arrives.

It's sad. Personally I'd be voting with my wallet and less forgiving than some but I do know what it's like to be a fan of a series and we tend to overlook the things that might turn us sour on said franchise.

On the flip side, there's a day one patch for Second Son which gives players something in the range of 19 new missions that add at least another five hours worth of gameplay for no extra cost. Now that's doing something for the fans.

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Oxvial
Thursday, March 20, 2014 @ 7:02:50 PM

''Where I do have a problem however is the precedent it sets for other developers to do the exact same thing to other popular series based solely on the good will of the named brand and it's fanbase. This wasn't done for the fans. That's just some PR bulls*it. ''

Nah, Konami can pull this one with Kojima being one of the most idolized persons in gaming also the last proper MGS game on console was launched on 2008, if a ''prologue'' of Call of Duty or Assassin Creed like this one (and same price) was announced , it would be rejected and hated a lot.

Last edited by Oxvial on 3/20/2014 7:05:03 PM

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DIsmael85
Thursday, March 20, 2014 @ 9:02:22 PM

@Oxvial it would be rejected for justifiable reasons. We get Assassin's Creed games every year as well as Call of Duty games. You know what? They charge 60 bucks for them every year for a minimal increase in gameplay and mechanics. I agree that folks were dying for a new MGS experience since it's 2008 release, but for 30 bucks and having a blast that's awesome. If you have not played this yet you wouldn't understand. How it seems though and with your stance on this I really really doubt you will sit down and give this a chance any how. The folks that have played it, myself included, can tell you right now it's worth the price of admission. Then again that's out opinions.

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Oxvial
Thursday, March 20, 2014 @ 9:23:53 PM

Dismael bro, I already agreed that Konami can pull this one for those factors that franchises like Assassin's Creed or CoD in this moment don't share, now the game... the gameplay look still Metal Gear to the T plus new features which must be enjoyable.... but that's the only thing I liked.

I youtube all the thing this it's why I know that and the lack of boss battles :(, I just don't feel the urge to buy this and I don't gonna need it in order to enjoy Phantom Pain I don't agree much with the review and I shared that opinion.

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Godslim
Friday, March 21, 2014 @ 12:42:09 PM
Reply

Huge mgs fan! but im sorry the length is shocking, completed it in 30mins. It is basically a demo.

Last edited by Godslim on 3/21/2014 12:42:37 PM

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