Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes Preview for PS3

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Thanks to the invisible handcuffs of the dreaded embargo, I'm not allowed to give you our score for Ground Zeroes yet. That comes in two weeks.

With that said, MGS: Ground Zeroes is one of the most enjoyable gaming experiences I've had for a while. After using – and coming to rely on – the camouflage systems of MGS 3 and 4, it's interesting to get back to some old-school infiltration, and the open-ended nature of Ground Zeroes make doing so a joy.

In a lot of ways, GZ plays similarly to Far Cry 3, thanks to the prevalence of hostiles, the open nature of the stage, and your available choices within it. Your mission - well, one of them, which we'll get to in a minute - is to infiltrate a Guantanamo-style US blacksite, rescue your buddies from torture, and then get out.

To do so, you've got to navigate both the environment (there are far more options for exploiting vertical spaces, with rock faces and climbable buildings to hide on top of) and the guards themselves. There's no Soliton radar: instead, you tag enemies with binoculars. From then on you can see their movements just by looking in their direction, even through walls. There's also a 'Reflex' mode, whereupon getting spotted slows time and gives you a precious few seconds

Despite these new toys, the mission itself isn't overly simple or easy. The differences in both natural terrain and the buildings (encompassing simple tents to underground bunkers and massive control towers) need care and attention paid to them when executing your sneaking mission. You may be able to recover from being seen with Reflex, but with guards often working their (expansive) routes in pairs you'll probably not get both of them down before backup is called, especially if you're using a tranquiliser gun, an unsilenced weapon, or are seen just as you round a corner.

Besides, the actual stealth is as engaging as it always has been, made moreso by the superb engine that powers the game. The initial Ground Zeroes mission takes place at night, in the rain, and Snake is so beautifully animated, the world so well-realised - lovely weather effects tie in with exceptional sound design, superb texture work, and a solid framerate - that going loud feels rude.

It's a world that wants you to spend time working it out, and you won't need much encouragement to do so. Comparing it to earlier games in the series, it feels like the original two games' stealth via MGS3's more open play areas, navigated via an improved take on part 4's controls. Hiding in flatbed trucks, diving to cover in some bushes, calling in helicopter airvacs while hiding out from ever-advancing enemy patrol states: you'll do all this and more, and slight fiddliness of control and frustration at getting spotted aside, you'll enjoy every minute.

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Which leads to the all-important question: just how many of those minutes will it take to 'finish' Ground Zeroes? Doing so took me, after a couple of fresh restarts thanks to my stupid brain, 63 of them. Which is some way short of the two-hour figure being bandied around, but Zeroes mission doesn't end there. After you've choppered out for the first time, there are five more Side Ops to plough through.

These take place at different times of day, and are presented as non-canon, 'pseudo-historical' events. One has you tracking down and assassinating two US Marines wanted by other nations for war crimes. Another has you meeting an informant before recovering a data cassette. When you're done there it's on to sabotaging gun emplacements and then an action-packed helicopter rescue of, erm, Hideo Kojima. Finally, there's a special mission on PS4 (Xbox One has a different stage) that renders parts of the world, including Snake, in sort-of '90s-o-vision.

Each of these has a different quirk to it, and each shows the flexibility of the engine and the environment. For example, the assassination variant - which feels like a Blood Money hit - is set in broad daylight, and although your enemies are still a bit dumber than they would be in reality (otherwise you'd be dead in seconds), it shows just how differently you play the game when the weather is against you.

The Side Ops aren't as in-depth as the actual prologue, but that they're there is something, and, like in Zeroes, it's just fun to dick about (if there's a king of dick-aboutable games, it's Kojima), snag the various collectibles, and try and beat your speed run.

Whether you think all of this is worth the money is, of course, up to you. But, personally, having played Ground Zeroes for some four hours or so I'm still eager to play it again.

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12 Comments

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Bretty's Avatar

Bretty

I've seen it for £20 on GameSeek and I must admit I am very tempted.

I love the MGS series (3 is my favourite) and this does intrigue me but I'm waiting for review scores to come in. Famitsu gave it 38/40.

For £20 it's much easier to justify forking out the money for not much time. Pay over £10 for indie games that only last a couple of hours.
Posted 09:22 on 12 March 2014
Lucifuron's Avatar

Lucifuron

Think I'll just wait until it's game of the month on PS+ for my PS4. Awesome value for money. Had my PS4 for a little over a month & already have over $80 worth of free games for the $20 access I've already paid. It's just a pity I missed out on Contrast.
Posted 14:13 on 08 March 2014
chrishatton's Avatar

chrishatton

24 quid for an hour? I really think length of game to a certain extent is important and i understand you can stretch a bad game out to whatever length with filler and then say its got loads of content. But there has to be a reasonable middle ground for value for money. Different games have acceptable lengths based on the game type itself. For example no one expects a fps to drag on for 40 plus hours just like no one expects an 8 hour rpg. One level with different play through types is not worth it and shouldnt be sold as a stand alone. But money wins again.
Posted 19:03 on 06 March 2014
BombaLuigi's Avatar

BombaLuigi@ BritishWolf

I'm not whining, I just say I'm not supporting that. And I also never said I think everybody should think like I do, its totaly fine when you are happy about this and all.
If you like that Idea then support it, thats cool!
Posted 18:14 on 06 March 2014
Manguy17's Avatar

Manguy17@ BombaLuigi

Kinda agree, regardless of quality the practice of charging for what is essentially a large demo is not one I want to support.
Posted 17:05 on 06 March 2014
tvr77's Avatar

tvr77

It's less than 24 quid from Shopto and that's on PS4 too, so i really don't think people should be complaining so much. Also anyone who has a problem with this type of release can simply just avoid it.
I don't think it will be opening any flood gates either, unless releasing shorter well made titles for half the usual asking price counts.
Posted 16:08 on 06 March 2014
BritishWolf's Avatar

BritishWolf@ BombaLuigi

Stop whinging. I'd rather pay for a few missions and have a nice taster for the full game than not. Ps4 is so bare at the moment and needs a game like this desperately
Posted 15:22 on 06 March 2014
BritishWolf's Avatar

BritishWolf

Everywhere I've seen/read seems to be enjoying it and that's good enough for me. Been dying to play a decent game for months.
Posted 15:20 on 06 March 2014
BombaLuigi's Avatar

BombaLuigi

I really don't care how good or bad it is, its a Prologue. Something that should be Part of the Main Game, much like so many DLCs these Days should be Part of the Main Game but get cut out to make more Money.

Its a diffrent execution here, but not a better one. I'm not supporting that, no matter how good it is.
But in the End, its just one of the Things why I just cant become friend with that whole new Direction of MGS. I probably wouldn't play it either when it would be Free to Download, so I guess I'm the wrong person to judge that Thing.
Posted 14:32 on 06 March 2014
pblive's Avatar

pblive@ SimonMiller

They short changed you there, Eurogamer got to go to Japan. :)

Better for you, in a way, as it removes any accusation of bias from any review (not that VG would be, of course, I've never had reason to doubt the reviews here).

Interested to see the final review for this, anyway. Just wondering if it justifies a full release. Could open the floodgates to more retail based 'demos'
Posted 14:27 on 06 March 2014
SimonMiller's Avatar

SimonMiller

Unfortunately we only flew to Windsor!
Posted 14:24 on 06 March 2014
pblive's Avatar

pblive

Nice. Konami seem to be keen to get their game liked, must have cost a fair bit flying everyone to Japan.

I just think that this is one of those partial game releases that will appeal to the same mindset as the people who are happy picking up the Gran Turismo Prologues, but I'm not overly comfortable that they haven't really advertised it as anything other than a full game.
Posted 14:18 on 06 March 2014

Game Stats

Release Date: 21/03/2014
Developer: Kojima Productions
Publisher: Konami
Genre: Unknown
Rating: TBC
Site Rank: 3,415 3
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