Metal Gear: Ground Zeroes Review

     In a strange change of pace, the usually drawn out story-telling of Hideo Kojima's Metal Gear series has come through with something of a wonder- a moving piece that doesn't take 50 hours to experience, and I am quite thankful for it.  Finally a restrained narrative in the series.

     In fact this feels a lot like the Tanker Mission from Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.  A small opening sequence to give us a taste of the grand game to come.  A gaming appetizer to whet the palette.  My only complaint about the duration is that when the end of it came, I was unsure if I had truly finished it.  The end is a bit vague and just stops, with no real indication of having been completed when the credits started to roll.  (Although the post credits sequence does clear the path for next part.)

     With such brevity, many fans have asked if the game is worth the price to play.  Personally, I would say...  maybe.  This is definitely not justifiable to all players.  It has the feel of a really long demo- limited to a single location, only the most meager of missions, and the sparsest of plots possible.  The main mission and single location of a Guantanamo-like islet that only took me about 3 hours to finish.  To make matters a little worse, I play very slowly, very, VERY methodically during first playthroughs of games.

     When it comes to the actual play- it is a tremendously well handled game.  The controls are outstanding and the core mechanics from the previous games have been given an update. There no longer a camouflage index, improved CQC handling, and an ability to "tag" enemies for tracking are all improvements.  I am not a huge fan of the new bullet-time "Reflex" reaction to enemies spotting you, but I might get used to it.  The new and simple alert system is nice.  It's just a small circular indicator that gets fuzzier as the enemies lose interest is a very nice touch.
     There are still some small irritations though.  The common Snake-seizing-when-touching-things-while-sneaking rears its ugly head again, and the only thing that really bothers me still is the movement while laying down.  Something about it is impossibly ridiculous to control.

     Honestly though, it was nice to play something in one sitting.  The detention facility island is quite well made, and gave me 6 small "Extra Ops" challenge missions to complete, none of which took long.  The Playstation version gave me a mission (Deja Vu) to recreate a slew of "flashbacks" (flash-forwards?) to the original Metal Gear Solid missions, including an instruction book reference that was damn hilarious if you played it.  Each completed mission unlocks various items for you as you play, such as new challenges, more starting weapons, and a couple skins (I got the MGS Solid Snake skin!).

     Kojima stated that there would be unlimited replayability to this prologue to The Phantom Pain.  I can't say I fully buy that, but it has offered me enough entertainment for the price in the handful of replays I've done.  In one of the replays I had a grand time "securing the island" to make it safe for the prisoners I was supposed to be rescuing.  In another I made it my goal to kill everyone on the island.  Not infinitely replayable by any means, but there's certainly a lot of fun to be had on this complex little island.

     In the end, we've been given a very tiny, but densely packed sandbox to explore and play in while we wait for the main feast.  If this is the tip of The Phantom Pain's iceberg, it might be quite the impressive and substantial game we'll be getting soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment