Quantcast
Breaking New Ground: Metal Gear Solid V's Tactical approach to Open World - Destructoid




Game database:   #ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ         ALL     Xbox One     PS4     360     PS3     WiiU     Wii     PC     3DS     DS     PS Vita     PSP     iOS     Android


Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes  




Breaking New Ground: Metal Gear Solid V's Tactical approach to Open World photo
Breaking New Ground: Metal Gear Solid V's Tactical approach to Open World

8:00 AM on 03.05.2014

Snake is driving Jeep! How can this be?!


Considering that the series just celebrated its 25th anniversary, it might seem a little odd that Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is only the fifth game in the series. However, if you’re counting Peace Walker, it’s the sixth, and the seventh if you include Portable Ops, too. If you're counting every game with the words "Metal Gear" in the title, it's something like the thirteenth game in the series.

Plenty of other game franchises would've retired or rebooted by now (and plenty have) but somehow, this one manages to consistently reinvent itself, all the while staying within the confines of the same universe. Ground Zeroes makes some of the most drastic changes the series has seen in over a decade, while still managing to feel familiar.


Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4 [Previewed])
Developer: Kojima Productions
Publisher: Konami

Release: March 18, 2014
Price: $29.99 (Xbox 360, Xbox One,  PS3, PS4) $19.99 (Xbox 360 & PS3 digital versions)

The main mission of Ground Zeroes takes place a matter of months after Peace Walker, and twenty years before the original Metal Gear. Returning characters Paz (whose allegiances are unknown) and Chico have been captured by XOF, a newly introduced organization whose motives are unclear, aside from being bad guys. It’s up to Snake to sneak quietly into Camp Omega, where Paz and Chico are being held, locate them, and carry them a safe distance from the base for extraction.

So, basically, if you’re fuzzy about the plot, or are a newcomer to the series looking for a good point of entry, you’ll probably need to do some homework to make sense of the story beyond “a gruff man with an eye-patch must rescue teenagers from the clutches of a shadowy paramilitary organization.” In terms of gameplay however, Ground Zeroes is easily the biggest overhaul to Tactical Espionage Action since the jump between Metal Gear Solid 1 and 2, and for this overhaul, it seems to have taken some cues from other game franchises.

For starters, first-person view is gone. [Correction: first-person aiming is still there.] Snake primarily does his shooting in third-person, with the left trigger letting him aim more closely, in a fashion that should be familiar to us at this point. To switch into first-person, it's a matter of tapping the R1 button while aiming. The weapon selection and item management has been relegated to the D-pad. The health gauge is gone, and Snake will recover automatically as long as he stays out of harm’s way for a moment. Basically, the same regenerative health system you’ll find in most modern action games.

If he’s in really rough shape, an on-screen cue will appear to apply some form of health-spray, which will make him grimace in agony. Seriously, Snake? It’s probably just Bactine, calm down. Call me old fashioned, but I miss the silliness of hiding in a ventilation shaft and binge-eating rations to recover from half a dozen gunshot wounds.


Along with the health gauge and dual scrolling inventory slots, another thing absent from the HUD is anything resembling soliton radar or active sonar. Tracking guards now depends on tagging them, either by spying on them through binoculars, or by hovering the reticle on them long enough while in range. After doing this, a flag will appear above their heads. It’s very similar to the system in Assassin’s Creed or Far Cry 3. Once tagged, the exact position of enemies can be seen on the map, accessible from Snake’s iDroid device.

The iDroid is a portable device that’s also used to access intel and call in your chopper, and is the most anachronistic addition to Metal Gear Solid since Cold War-era giant robots. What’s interesting is that bringing up the iDroid doesn’t pause the game, which can lead to some fairly tense moments. I’d compare it to the on-the-fly crafting system in The Last Of Us; checking the map and calling a chopper are crucial parts of gameplay, so why should the entire game stop down and wait for you?

In addition to checking your iDroid, all radio conversations take place in-game. Kaz Miller will periodically chime in with tidbits of intel about your surroundings as you are playing. If you’d like more details about something you encounter (an APC, a guard tower, a security camera, etc) you can point your reticle at it and give Miller a call with a tap of the R1 button, and he’ll briefly give you intel. I really hope this is indication that The Phantom Pain’s story will be more smoothly integrated into the gameplay itself, instead of through exposition-laden codec conversations or long-winded PowerPoint presentations between missions.

Snake himself has a number of new abilities. One of the more controversial abilities is "Reflex Mode," which is a brief moment of slow-motion bullet-time that's triggered upon Snake's discovery. The concern is that this will make the game too easy, but I don't think it's the case. In fact, points are actually docked for each use of the ability. In any case, on the "Hard" difficulty setting, neither the enemy-tagging nor reflex mode features are available.

Sprinting is another of Snake's new abilities. It’s possibly the least stealthy addition to the series since the shotgun, but if you know what you’re doing, it’s a damn good way to get around. Snake's somersault has been replaced with a new ability to dive into a crawl too. The X button still makes Snake change his stance from standing to crouching to crawling, but now he can dive straight from sprinting to crawling with a tap of Square. It’s one of those mechanics that just feels right, and makes gameplay noticeably more enjoyable. It’s probably my favorite basic in-game action since the ability to karate-kick through car windows in Saints Row: The Third, though it’s considerably less ridiculous-looking.

The big, huge, obvious change Ground Zeroes makes to the Metal Gear Solid formula is its transition into open-world. The series has always granted players a fair amount of freedom in how to approach situations, but Ground Zeroes is almost completely wide open. In addition to that, there’s the added element of verticality, and Snake can make his way up on certain rooftops fairly easily. Don't expect him to be parkour-ing up the sides of buildings, but it's a welcome addition. Oh, Snake can also pick locks, but it's really just a matter of holding down the action button by a door and waiting for him to do his thing.

Unfortunately, it seems as though some sacrifices have been made for the sake of the game’s scale. For instance, there’s nothing resembling a boss fight in Ground Zeroes, which will undoubtedly be a letdown for some fans given Hideo Kojima’s amazing track record for cool boss fights. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Ground Zeroes also feels lacking in quirky details, and the odd touches that have always made Metal Gear Solid games so unique. There are no lockers to hide in, or to use for storing unconscious guards. There are no cigarettes or cigars or girly magazines, at least not that I came across. Worst of all, there’s no cardboard box. I have confirmation on that, there's no box.

Ground Zeroes also adds vehicles into the mix. As far as controls go, they’re a simplified version of the driving in any modern sandbox game. Don’t expect to be getting any insane stunt bonuses, but it’s enough to get around.

There’s obvious stupid fun to be had, like stealing jeeps and using them to run over guards, or knocking several guards unconscious, loading them into a Jeep, and driving it off a cliff, but vehicles can also be key when quickly completing missions. Driving might be faster than crawling, but it’s also a lot louder and even if you’re going the speed limit, riding around in a large diesel truck will attract the attention of guards. But that’s if you’re behind the wheel. Another option is to hop in the back when no one’s looking, gathering recon of the base while the truck goes about its routine. In addition to Jeeps and trucks, there’s also an APC with a fully functional cannon on it, if you feel like throwing stealth to the wind and blowing stuff up instead.

The helicopter plays a major role, thought it’s less of a vehicle and more of a replacement for the Fulton Recovery System from Peace Walker. While it’s slightly less absurd than tying weather balloons to unconscious guards and sending them airborne, there’s still something rather silly about concluding your top-secret covert mission by calling in a noisy helicopter that’s blaring the Peace Walker theme or Ride Of The Valkyries out of its PA system. Yep, that’s right. You can set a custom ringtone for your helicopter.

Shortly after you select a landing zone on your map, a chopper will arrive at that point, and any prisoners you’ve brought to that spot can be loaded onboard. In the main mission, rescuing additional prisoners aside from Chico and Paz only adds to your score/ranking at the end of the mission, though considering the presence of a second-screen app devoted to running Motherbase, it’s possible that retrieving prisoners in The Phantom Pain could play a role similar to the recruiting of NPCs to the MSF in Peace Walker. After all, Snake is “Big Boss.” Managerial skills are part of his job title.

If you’ve been following coverage of Ground Zeroes, you might’ve heard about the presence of “side-missions” amidst the main campaign. I sort of assumed that these would be secondary objectives that could be completed during the course of the main mission. In reality, they’re more like VR Missions; completely separate challenges that make use of the same map, but with different objectives and placement of enemies.

While The Phantom Pain promises a real-time day-night cycle, the time of day and weather conditions in Ground Zeroes depend strictly on which mission you’re playing. The main “Ground Zeroes” mission is set on a dark and stormy night, affording Snake plenty of hiding spots. One side-mission, in which Snake has to assassinate a pair of targets, is set in broad daylight, giving the guards much better visibility and eliminating the option of keeping Snake in the shadows. I’ll probably be booed offstage for saying it, but … the difference is like night and day.


 

I know one the biggest concerns people have about Ground Zeroes is its length. After Game Informer announced that they’d beaten the main mission in under two hours, the internet had a hissy fit. During my time with the game, I completed the core "Ground Zeroes" mission twice, as well as playing the other missions (with varying degrees of success) and it’s clear that this is a game meant to played repeatedly. If you're the type of player who likes to screw around and explore, and really mess with enemy AI, you'll most likely have a blast. If you're the type of player who's hell-bent on achieving "Big Boss" rank on extreme difficulty, this is probably also up your alley. If you're the type of player who falls somewhere in the middle, it's a tougher call to make. 

Ground Zeroes has been framed as an introduction to the new mechanics of The Phantom Pain, and a prologue to its story. I’ve often said, mostly kidding, that my favorite game in the series is the Metal Gear Solid 2 demo disc that came packed in with Zone Of The Enders. Others have expressed similar sentiment towards the demo for the first Metal Gear Solid. I would say Ground Zeroes is very much comparable to those.

The layout of Camp Omega feels reminiscent of the first few areas of MGS1, and the new mechanics like driving and climbing are as novel as arranging the bodies of unconscious guards in lewd positions, or hiding in lockers in MGS2. While I feel like I’ve experienced a lot of what the game has to offer, that doesn’t stop me from wanting to play more of it, and if the goal here was to whet my appetite for The Phantom Pain, I’d say mission accomplished.

Still, it really sucks about that cardboard box.

Breaking New Ground: Metal Gear Solid V's Tactical approach to Open World photo
Breaking New Ground: Metal Gear Solid V's Tactical approach to Open World photo
Breaking New Ground: Metal Gear Solid V's Tactical approach to Open World photo
Breaking New Ground: Metal Gear Solid V's Tactical approach to Open World photo
Breaking New Ground: Metal Gear Solid V's Tactical approach to Open World photo
Breaking New Ground: Metal Gear Solid V's Tactical approach to Open World photo
Breaking New Ground: Metal Gear Solid V's Tactical approach to Open World photo
Breaking New Ground: Metal Gear Solid V's Tactical approach to Open World photo
Breaking New Ground: Metal Gear Solid V's Tactical approach to Open World photo
Breaking New Ground: Metal Gear Solid V's Tactical approach to Open World photo
Breaking New Ground: Metal Gear Solid V's Tactical approach to Open World photo







Comments not appearing? Anti-virus apps like Avast or some browser extensions can cause this.
Easy fix: Add   [*].disqus.com   to your software's white list. Tada! Happy comments time again.

Did you know? You can now get daily or weekly email notifications when humans reply to your comments.






timeline following:
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes



12:00 PM on 11.21.2014
Fun with sliders: Ground Zeroes looks noticeably better on PC

Nvidia and Konami have released screenshots comparing next month's PC release of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes with the PlayStation 4 version, and I'm glad I waited. Officially, this is what's new: Additional deferred li...more



1:45 PM on 11.19.2014
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes' minimum PC specs

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, the prequel bit to Phantom Pain, is coming to Steam next month, December 18. Will you be able to play it? Appears I'd just be able to, according to the specs here, if my computer wasn't...more



12:15 PM on 10.06.2014
MGS V: Ground Zeroes zeroes in on Steam this December

While everyone's eagerly awaiting the release date for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Konami's opted to temporarily satiate the PC crowd. Ground Zeroes, the prologue to The Phantom Pain, will release on Steam on Decemb...more



1:39 PM on 08.13.2014
Both Metal Gear Solid V entries are coming to Steam

[Update: Konami has confirmed this news live at its gamescom conference. No release dates were given.] For years, Metal Gear Solid fans have been asking director Hideo Kojima if and Konami would bring the games to PC. Tr...more



11:30 AM on 03.18.2014
Watch Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes get beaten in 10 minutes

Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes can be as long as you want it to be. But it can also be pretty short. How short? Well as Eurogamer demonstrated, you can beat the entire story in just 10 minutes.more



2:00 AM on 03.18.2014
Review: Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

Ever since I randomly picked up a conspicuous looking Metal Gear NES catridge in 1990, I've been enjoying Snake's adventures. I've collected every Metal Gear game released in the US, and while I'm busy waiting for t...more



3:00 PM on 03.15.2014
MGS: Ground Zeroes reversible cover art looks fantastic

The cover art for Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes is so serious. What's the matter, Snake? It's like you're about to lose an arm or something. Oh ... right. On the other hand, the reversible cover art looks so hot. The artwor...more



7:00 AM on 02.21.2014
Puma making Metal Gear Solid V themed jacket, shoes

Want some sick new gamer threads, bro? Well Konami has partnered up with Puma to put out some Diamond Dogs branded jackets and shoes based on Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. The jackets are running for 15,000 yen ($146), w...more



6:00 AM on 02.19.2014
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes platform comparison

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is one of the three major new releases in March. We just found out the Xbox One version is in 720p, while the PlayStation 4 version will be in 1080p. So what does that mean when the differen...more




Hideo Kojima

12:15 PM on 10.06.2014
MGS V: Ground Zeroes zeroes in on Steam this December

While everyone's eagerly awaiting the release date for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Konami's opted to temporarily satiate the PC crowd. Ground Zeroes, the prologue to The Phantom Pain, will release on Steam on Decemb...more



11:30 AM on 09.26.2014
Diamond in the ruff: MGSV: Phantom Pain in English

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain's E3 showing stirred a deep love from within my belly. More games like this, I thought, stuffed with a wealth of deep and idiosyncratic mechanics. I missed the TGS Phantom Pain showi...more



7:00 PM on 09.24.2014
A closer look at Metal Gear Solid V's eyepatch-wearing dog companion

Oh, how I love Diamond Dog. He's my BFF. Following that 20 minutes of Metal Gear Solid V footage out of Tokyo Game Show, here are some related screenshots featuring the pup, Quiet, and Snake's robot hand doing its thing. So, so glad The Phantom Pain is coming to PC as well as consoles.more



View all Hideo Kojima






Back to Top




All content is yours to recycle through our Creative Commons License permitting non-commercial sharing requiring attribution. Our communities are obsessed with videoGames, movies, anime, and toys.

Living the dream since March 16, 2006

Advertising on destructoid is available: Please contact them to learn more