It really didn't take long for me to cave in and purchase Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. Initially I wanted to let it sit and maybe give it a play through this summer, however my inner child wouldn't stop kicking and screaming. I was well aware that this game would be nothing more than a short end taste test of what The Phantom Pain would be....however, now that I've put my 1 hour of gameplay in and have seen the results of it all, I have a few gripes to make.
As a teacher I've learned well that any and all criticisms must start with the positives, so that's where we will begin. I really appreciate the graphical details that Kojima's team has put into this game; it looks very good. Me being picky, I definitely spotted a few bland textures in walls and surfaces that certainly didn't feel like they fit in with the rest of the atmosphere, but again that's a picky observation. I feel that the voice acting was done pretty well too, however I must say it didn't quite feel like the experience that I have had in the past with the franchise. The loss of David Hayter is a bit of a let down, but as many fans will recall the voice of Big Boss was not done by Hayter in MGS 4 (that was Richard Doyle) so a transitional phase is certainly acceptable for this point in time. The controls are pretty tight for the most part, and will feel familiar to most series fans. There are a lot of new tabs and features to sort through in the menus now, however; the map is a very different aspect to the series, and you can also check your tapes and recordings at any point in time through your menu system. Again, different but not overwhelming.
That all being said, there were many instances where I felt that Ground Zeroes was literally built to be nothing more than a test drive than an actual game. In Kojima's mind it was, but as a consumer I have to say I'm a little disappointed. With the lightning fast experiences you will have in Ground Zeroes, you will definitely become immersed and emotionally connected with the same old Metal Gear Solid twists and turns. The thing is, every thing will only feel half as satisfying. To me, it feels as though Kojima's team wasn't trying very hard to make this game a lasting experience, and while I respect that I can't help but feel disappointed. The game is lacking in depth (other than the few small nuggets of story that go along with it) and hardly feels unique or original by any means.
An open world Metal Gear Solid sounds very promising on paper, but in this case I don't feel that it is very efficient. While I appreciate how challenging the game is, the enemy AI is VERY sharp. This provides for a realistic experience, however it takes away from the whole 'open world' pitch. At no point in time while playing MGS V: Ground Zeroes did I ever feel safe moving around in the open, rather I was in a constant state of paranoia. Even crawling and sneaking will only get you so far. A 'guns blazing' approach might sound fun to some, however it won't last you long. Enemies will quickly overwhelm you and you'll find yourself restarting time and time again. For a game that was meant to give you a touch and feel of the new system, it certainly isn't very user friendly in the grand scheme of things, and I hope this will have been modified a little bit before the next installment.
I'm a little confused by the advanced technology that Snake now wields as well. Holographic projectors in the 1970's? Sounds amazing in a world of fantasy, but it does detract a little from the experience in my mind. One thing I have always admired about the Metal Gear titles in the franchise is that they have really done well to embrace the time frame they portray, give or take a few quirky scenarios. I didn't really feel that way with Ground Zeros whatsoever....rather, I felt that the game didn't know when it was supposed to be taking place at all. Again, these could be minor gripes in the grand scheme of things, but they do leave me with a few question marks in my head.
My only final gripe will be the retail pricing of this game (as many people have griped about). I've listed quite a few 'little' gripes that seem uncharacteristic of a MGS game, and for a teaser demo I wouldn't think anything of it. That being said, I spent $30 for a game that has even been made into physical disc copies and retailed as it's own entity. I certainly don't regret my purchase as a die hard fan of the series, but I do feel as though I was ripped off a little. For $30, I would expect to have a little bit more content than a generic sandbox built on a new engine with Metal Gear slapped on the title. The game would have done best to go as a digital download, and would have been priced more fairly at $15 or so. I will always love Metal Gear Solid and support the franchise, however this is the first time with the series that I can honestly say I feel I've been taken advantage of. It would be lovely if we could see some DLC in the near future that would at least add on a few more missions (or God forbid a new play area). I suppose I can always look forward to the bonus items that are unlocked for Phantom Pain....that is, whenever it see's the light of day.
All in all, Ground Zeroes is a neat concept that brings some fun new elements to the series, but also brings a few flaws as well. As a consumer, I would advise you NOT to purchase this game for $30, or else you may likely end up as disappointed as I feel. If you do approach this game with the mentality that it's nothing more than a pilot that is lacking the depth, detail and precision of most Metal Gear Solid games, you should enjoy yourself quite a bit. However, if you are expecting Ground Zeroes to really set the bar for a new entry in the series, you'll honestly end up feeling a little let down.
Scuba Steve's rating: 6/10