Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
Metal Gear Solid is one of the most esteemed franchises in gaming history. The multiple storylines can sometimes be a little dense to digest, and unless you follow them closely, you may end up more than a little confused. Overly complex plots and convoluted narratives aside, the venerated series has featured an overall consistency in design sensibilities, as well as some truly fun gameplay elements and innovative combat mechanics.
Metal Gear Solid V is actually a two-part game, with Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes functioning as a sort of smaller prequel to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, which is slated to be released later this year (2015), and will contain the bulk of the story. Legendary game producer and designer Hideo Kojima has stated that this iteration of the Metal Gear saga will be his last, as major reshufflings have been happening over at Konami. He has also told the press that he intends to follow through with the production of The Phantom Pain in spite of said reshufflings, and that Metal Gear Solid V will be his best version a Metal Gear game ever.
Many of us in the gaming PC community were a bit skeptical when Metal Gear Solid V was initially announced. This was partly due to Konami’s bureaucratic readjusting, and partly due to the fact that there hasn’t been a Metal Gear game for the PC in ages. I’m happy to report that any suspicions of the series faltering have been put to rest after playing Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes.
Ground Zeros takes takes place in one big military base called Camp Omega, and players take the role of Big Boss, a near-perfect soldier. Just to give a little background on the character; long time Metal Gear protagonist Solid Snake was genetically derived by cloning some of Big Boss’s cells, meaning that he is one big badass, and the original apex killer. Big Boss’s mission is seemingly a simple one; he must break into the heavily guarded base and rescue two hostages from Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker: Chico and Paz. But players will soon realize that this task is not as easy as it first seems, as there are a number of formidable challenges that must be overcome in order to accomplish the mission.
The Metal Gear Solid series has always been known for its lengthy and cinematic cutscenes, as well as its over-the-top and sometimes downright corny dialogue. However, these elements have been toned down significantly in Ground Zeros. This game only features two sizable cutscenes, one both at the beginning and end of the campaign, with a couple of shorter ones midway through.
Players new to the Metal Gear series may scratch their heads at times, mystified at some of the more cryptic references to past characters and story elements which come naturally to any avid fan, especially if they haven’t played through Peace Walker. However, thankfully there are breakdowns that can get newbies up to speed with some of the series’ lore, through a slideshow feature available from the main menu.
Outside of the main campaign, which is relatively short, there are a number of Side Ops which may be completed in any order seen fit. This extends the game’s longevity and offers players new objectives to accomplish in the same expansive open environment, which range from finding and interrogating specific targets to eliminating important enemy VIPs. The main campaign itself can be completed in around an hour including cutscenes, if the player chooses to be super-stealthy and takes out enemies when necessary.
Gameplay is Ground Zeroes’ strong suit, and that it has in spades. Players will quickly notice what seems like a quantum leap up from previous Metal Gear titles, featuring for the first time a large open world area to traverse and investigate. The late Kojima Productions outfit really created a believable and well-crafted military environment here. The gameplay mechanics have been retooled and tinkered to the point of near-perfection, and besides its main rival, the Splinter Cell series, it really epitomizes what a smart, modern stealth title should be like. Now players can jump into a prone position for slick (and cinematic) last minute evasions, sprint, and administer first aid, pick up and stash bodies, and many other improvements. On-screen ques indicate when Big Boss has been detected, and the game switches to slow-mo in these instances, allowing him to neutralize a threat before any alarms are raised.
Barring a few minor framerate issues with owners of AMD graphics cards, the visuals have taken a big step forward as well, featuring some really gorgeous particle effects as well as some sumptuous and highly detailed environments; the military base’s lights at night are particularly stunning, and reminded me of watching a top-tier, big budgeted Hollywood war movie. Props must be given to the developers for their attention to detail, and for providing some real eye-candy for PC gamers to behold. The game’s new Fox Engine also offers the option to natively play the game in 4k resolution, which bumps things up an additional notch in the beauty department.
In all, of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes features all of the stealth-action that we’ve all come to enjoy throughout the series, and improves it for modern gaming audiences. It just feels tighter, smoother, leaner, and at the same time, more intuitive than previous incarnations of the Metal Gear saga. It’s a little on the shorter side, but admirably functions as an adrenaline pumping prequel to the much anticipated second act in The Phantom Pain.
As mentioned, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes features some jaw-dropping visuals that are show-off worthy. However, they also require a more aggressive PC gaming rig in order to fully pull-off, so here’s a recommendation:
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