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Published on February 5th, 2015 | by Chris Scott

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Metal Gear Solid Ground Zeroes and My Psyhopathic Murder Spree

I have a long history with the Metal Gear franchise. I haven’t played all of the games, Peace Walker being a notable miss from my gaming experiences, and I haven’t touched things like Metal Gear Acid, but I’ve played all the core games in the franchise going back to Metal Gear on the Nintendo Entertainment System to Metal Gear Solid 4 on the Playstation 3. Needless to say, I like the series. I like the insane twists and turns the Hideo Kojima penned stories take. I like the arcade-style stealth mechanics. And most importantly I like to play as Snake because he is one of the true ultimate badasses in all of gaming history.

But even with a deep affinity for the series, I had a hard time getting excited for its latest entry, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. In fact, its release kind of angered me a bit. How dare Konami charge for what seemed to be no more than a demo of what to expect when the real MGS V hit. Because I have supported companies and products in the past that had done the very same thing, this may have been a bit irrational on my part. But it was a real anger nonetheless, and I skipped out on getting the entry when it released. But then it went on sale around the six dollar mark and I bought it on a whim.

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Like many games I purchase on sale MGS V got tossed into my virtual backlog. Needing something short to play, I saw Ground Zeroes sitting there on my Xbox One and thought, I can blow through this quickly.

And make no mistake, Ground Zeroes is short. The main mission took me no more than 90 minutes and roughly 20 them were spent watching cutscenes. Ground Zeroes lays the groundwork for MGS V: The Phantom Pain. Playing as Snake/Big Boss, I was tasked with infiltrating a detention facility and rescuing two operatives. Getting to those two operatives unseen requires a strong dose of stealth, something I’ve never been quite good at despite my enjoyment of the Metal Gear franchise. Fortunately Ground Zeroes has the same arcade stealth mechanics and the same inane guard AI that past Metal Gear Solid games have had. Getting spotted doesn’t kill the mission, and running away or killing every single person in the area will clear things for you. This was fortunate because after almost getting my first target out without causing a scene, all hell broke loose and I reverted to playing Snake as I always have.

My version of Snake has always been a case study in extreme psychopathic behavior. Imagine The Joker on a military base gleefully running around and killing every henchman that comes his way. If my Snake could skip while on his murderous spree, he most certainly would. It’s not so much that I want to play as a complete psychopath; it’s more that I am just awful at stealth. But what I’ve always liked about Metal Gear Solid is that it understands that there are a percentage of players that aren’t going to be good at stealth, and Konami either designs levels where the stealth is so easy anyone can do it, or that are set up to allow me to just kill everyone and move on, all the while acting like I am some suave master of stealth in the next cut scene. And Ground Zeroes has the best controls in a Metal Gear game to date, allowing me to murder everything with the efficiency of a modern third person shooter. Shooting things feels good, something I’m not sure I ever really thought about a Metal Gear Solid game previously.

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But I’m not going to lie: I don’t play Metal Gear Solid for its gameplay. In fact, if anything, the gameplay gets in the way of what I am really there for. That is, of course, the insane narrative tale that Hideo Kojima weaves. Ground Zeroes, being the lightest Metal Gear game in terms of content, is also the lightest in terms of story, but the story that is here is vintage Metal Gear. The close to 20 minutes of cutscenes in the game has a major bit of context for fans of the series, context we’ve waited the entire run of the series to finally get. I’m not sure if that 20 minutes is worth the financial output of getting Ground Zeroes, even at a discount, but I can say that as a fan I am glad I saw it.

Aside from the narrative context and the demo of where the series is going on a gameplay front, Ground Zeroes offers some side content that can be “enjoyed” after finishing the “campaign”. These side missions are a little more strict in their rule sets and the missions can be failed, and failed easily. And without the narrative hook, I had no desire to work my way through them.

In the end, I’m glad I played Ground Zeroes. I like the direction that the game is taking both narratively and from a gameplay perspective. And I suppose as a prologue/demo endeavor, Ground Zeroes did its job in getting me excited for a full Metal Gear Solid experience later this year.

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