Sunday, March 23, 2014

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (Playstation 4, 2014)

Time to look at the most controversial demo game of 2014 so far. Is it controversial because of the incredibly dark story, depictions of torture, insinuation that the United States is often villainous, the replacement of David Hayter with Kiefer Sutherland as the primary voice actor, or the short length? The answer is all of the above.

 The title screen is trippy because the title seems to be between Big Boss / Snake and the wall. And everything moves in this screen. I let it sit for a few minutes to see if something would happen, but nada.

One of the Terminator DVDs - I believe T2 - has a T-800 walk onto the screen and look right at you if you idle on the title screen. Freaked me right the fuck out, it did.

 Regardless, this game is supposed to be the first chapter of Phantom Pain, the "real" MGS5. Why they had V in the title is beyond me, as it makes this look like it's supposed to be a full game rather than just a chapter/demo. Having two games with MGS5 in their title will be weird, to say the least.

This game tells the story of Big Boss, hero of MGS3 and Peace Walker and villain of the two original Metal Gear games that started this whole series. He's the most interesting character in the series, and it's little wonder that Kojima wanted to focus on him instead of Solid Snake after MGS2. Big Boss is absolutely more three-dimensional than Solid Snake in every possible way, and we likely only got another Solid Snake game (MGS4) because Konami's corporate overlords were pushing for it.
The game begins with insanely good graphics. Seriously, the PS4 is what I wish the PS3 had been in that department. This looks like real HD, while PS3 always struck me as half-ass HD (aside from the few 1080p games, which seemed to stop appearing after 2010 or so). That's just my opinion, though.

 This game takes place in an American prison camp in Cuba in 1975. This is some sort of predecessor to Guantanamo Bay, and it wouldn't surprise me if the place actually existed.

The villain of the game, quite literally, wears a black hat.

 This is Skull Face, rumored to be a returning character from the series after suffering horrible disfigurement. Who he is is anyone's guess. He seems more like a Batman villain than an MGS villain, as MGS tends to be less overt about the alignments of its cast.

Our hero, Big Boss. Not yet a bad guy, though getting there. Hopefully Phantom Pain will tell the full story of his turn.

In this game, he's voiced by Kiefer "Kiefer" Sutherland of 24 fame. Kiefer didn't bother to make any changes to his Jack Bauer voice, so playing this is almost like playing a 24 video game.

I must re-iterate that the graphics in this game are unreal. Super high-resolution. Unfortunately these screenshots had to go through a Facebook filter (might want to fix that, Sony) and lost quite a bit of resolution in the process.

The draw distance is amazing, and the lighting effects are the best I've ever seen in a game. Nearly movie-like.

 The object of this game is to infiltrate the base and rescue two of Big Boss' minions who are being held captive.

 Illuminated by a light. The fact that you can see people walking hundreds of feet in the distance is crazy.

 There's no life meter in this game, but as you take damage the screen starts to "burn up". It's important to hide and regenerate once that happens.

 Fail to get to cover, as I did here during an ambush, and you're dead.

Check out how the spotlight is illuminating the rocks. This is awesome stuff. I'd love to play an open RPG with this level of detail. Fallout IV and Final Fantasy XV can't come soon enough.

 This game introduces a slow-mo reaction period when an enemy detects you. Not only does time slow for a few seconds, Big Boss automatically looks directly at whoever spotted him. This gives you a moment to snipe the enemy or dive for cover... or just keep beelining along, whatever works for you. It's a GREAT gameplay addition and makes the game even more playable than its predecessors. Purists may argue that it makes the game too easy, but for most of us it simply enhances the experience.

The first of the two hostages is Chico, possibly the most memorable character from Peace Walker. Despite being his friend, Big Boss needs to choke him out to carry him out of here. This choking-out is accompanied by Big Boss growling "don't fight it", a deliberate 24 reference. Nice. Jack Bauer had to choke out friends of his quite a few times, and he'd always growl that as he did it.

 Double B carries Chico to a cliffside helicopter extraction point. One down, one to go.

How messed-up would it be if Big Boss turned heel right now and gave Chico an Attitude Adjustment off the cliff? NO! HE'S JUST A BOY! DAMN YOU BIG BOSS!

You start with night-vision goggles in your inventory. Somehow, they make everything look even higher-res.

 The second hostage, Paz, takes a bit longer to find. You can interrogate guards for clues, but either way you end up sneaking around a boiler room.

 Paz is another Peace Walker character. In that game she was a prancing sex symbol, but in this game she's a bit worse for wear, hanging from chains in a Christ-like pose.

 Our hero kneels in a beam of light after unchaining the crucified Paz. This game sure is dark, and I haven't even gotten into all the torture stuff.

 Escaping with Paz is the hardest part of Ground Zeroes, though I likely made it a lot worse than it needed to be by getting spotted and having to fight through.

I actually delivered Paz to a helicopter pretty quickly, but then the helicopter immediately took off without me. Not sure if that was a bug or not, but I then had to run to a different extraction point and re-summon the helicopter just to climb in myself.

 Being able to summon a helicopter is quite dope, as the kids say. It takes a minute to arrive, and once it does it can't stick around long before enemies spot it and converge. It makes for a great escape tool, though.

 Big Boss bids a farewell to Not-Guantanamo as I bombard it with infinite-ammo rockets for no real reason. Because I'm BIG BOSS!

And...that's it. The game is over, the credits roll. I finished this demo game in 80 minutes, and that's with me going intentionally slowly - stopping to take pictures and so forth. No walkthrough help. Had I used a walkthrough and not been taking pictures, it would have probably taken half the time. Considering this game retails at $30, I feel like Konami is ripping people off by marketing it as a game on its own. This isn't even a full chapter of a game, it's a tech demo with a bit of action. Having it be a $10 downloadable game on PSN and XBL would have been a much, much better call, and would have led to less of a backlash over the length of the game. This isn't MGS5, it's a demo of MGS5. Looking forward to the real game, whenever that is, but I can't recommend this one unless you're playing it for free (as I did) or a similarly low price.


  1. Looks dope, though. Excited for the real thing.

  2. I hear there are missions once you finish the demo, did you get a chance to check those out?

    1. There are, but I didn't check them out. I mostly play MGS games for the story... mostly. Side-ops and VR missions don't really interest me in these games.