Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is a unique "game" since it's not really a game. The best way to describe it is that it's an appetiser to the main course meal that will be The Phantom Pain.
Instead of making fans wait an eternity for The Phantom Pain to come out, Konami has released Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes to make the wait less agonizing. This is similar to how Polyphony Digital released "prologue" versions of Gran Turismo 4 and 5.
That being said, is there enough content in Ground Zeroes to justify its $69.99 price tag?
Ground Zeroes is a prologue to The Phantom Pain and only features one main story mission and five other side missions. The story follows the events after Peace Walker as Big Boss infiltrates a military base to rescue Chico and Paz.
It's a great introduction to what's to come, but newcomers to the Metal Gear Solid franchise will be scratching their heads about what's going in because little is explained here.
Ground Zeroes makes multiple changes to Metal Gear Solid's gameplay for the better. Gone are the bad guys with poor eyesight and you won't see the comical cardboard boxes to hide inside either. This game takes a more serious approach, and also allows you to play the game anyhow you want.
The one military base you have to infiltrate is free for you to roam anywhere. You can literally just steal a jeep or tank and drive around if you want to. Although this is ill advised since enemy patrols are stationed at every corner.
Still, it's great you have the option to either do things quietly, or go in all guns blazing. Missions can still be completed no matter how many alarms you've raised.
Another change is that Big Boss now has recoverable health. You don't need to find rations to replenish the health bar anymore. Not to mention the "close-quarters-combat" has been improved immensely as you can take out lots of enemies more efficiently now. You can even tag enemies with your binoculars so you know where they are at all times.
The new Fox Engine that Hideo Kojima produced is stunning. If you thought Metal Gear Solid IV looked good, Ground Zeroes blows that game out of the water in terms of visuals. I cannot comment on the next-gen version of the game, but the PS3 version I played still looked awesome on its own right.
One huge change that I have yet to get used to is Keifer Sutherland's voice as Big Boss. David Hayter voiced the same character when Big Boss was younger and was known as Naked Snake instead. It's hard to get used to Sutherland's voice if you've been playing the series for over a decade. It felt like I wasn't playing a Metal Gear Solid game anymore without hearing Hayter's gruff voice as the main character.
The $69.99 price tag in New Zealand is the biggest flaw of the game. The gameplay itself is excellent, but the length of the experience is too short. I finished the main mission in just 69 minutes.
This included cutscenes as well as multiple tries since I died so many times. The side missions don't offer a lot of gameplay either as those can be finished in 10 - 20 minutes on your first go. I managed to finish some of the side missions in just 5 minutes when I played through them again.
Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes is an excellent game that makes changes to the series for the better. That being said, its short length and high $69.99 price tag brings it down several notches. Unless you are a huge Metal Gear Solid fan, it's best to just rent the game or wait until it's in the bargain bin instead.
Score: 6.5 out of 10