No, Ground Zeroes, no. No–don’t even try! You’re as clear as glass in your intention and lots and lots of people ain’t having it.
Once Metal Gear Solid V was announced for the next generation, I knew that was the game that would tip me over the technological edge. I love Metal Gear, Metal Gear Solid, and even Rising for how short-lived that branch was. Acid sucks dust bunnies. But the rest is such a grandiose, enrapturing experience that I’m going to be throwing out a Metal Gear Solid themed month sometime next year.
It’s a thin, thin line between my fandom and my wallet too. Death Stranding, despite being more or less a jumble of images and actors at this point, already has money earmarked for it based on the faith of Hideo Kojima alone. I’d trust that man with my mortgage if I had one.
Konami, as it turns out after many months and years of unraveling, are the ones that shouldn’t be trusted with even their own property. Ground Zeroes is one of the most elaborate proof-of-concept tests that a company has ever had the balls to ship for money. It is, fully and completely, a demo level with some extras – bait thrown to a ravenous group of salmon.
Kiefer Sutherland’s Big Boss is tasked with finding Paz and Chico who have been taken to a Cuban black site. In that course, you must learn how to acclimate to the new Metal Gear control scheme which admittedly is a huge departure from previous entries. Then you have about five extra missions and a handful of unlockables, all on the same fairly-small map.
The naked greed likely stems from the use of a brand new, seamless Fox Engine that Konami hadn’t had a chance to use anywhere despite years of work. Hindsight leads this to being a very silly worry as the engine works flawlessly. In other games, you can throw the words “runs smoothly” around despite seeing a glitch or two or some clipping. Here, that phrase falls short. Ground Zeroes runs as smoothly and flawlessly as any game I’ve ever seen despite having dozens of balls in the air at a time.
Once you plow through the story to a cliffhanger ending, you’ll likely have a feel for the gameplay that is, again, nearly flawless. So many seams from Guns of the Patriots have been removed, so many walls torn up from the root, that it’s an intimidating toolset. For all of that, this may be one of the most impenetrable games in the series – and that’s saying something.
Snake can roll, slide, dive, slow time to prevent alerts, sneak, crawl, choke information out of enemies, drive, hang, shimmy – it’s exhausting to not even be exhaustive. The sense of speed and power at your fingers feels immense given that it’s still distinctly human, and enemies feel it quickly in firefights to such a kinetic degree that it can become addictive. If this were, say, a complete game, Ground Zeroes would be a sight to behold.
As it stands though, that honor passes over this prologue and into Phantom Pain. That doesn’t excuse this immensely presumptuous release that sold gangbusters because of that drought of Metal Gear Solid titles, not because of the title’s content. If it had, Konami may have shut down the entire project for good, denying the world a chance to see what the Fox Engine could really do.
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes Score: