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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes - The Phantom Game Review

This review should start with clarifying what it is we are reviewing.  Is this project a game? Is it a demo? Is it a money grab? My intuition and natural cynicism would tell me that it is the latter of the aforementioned but nonetheless we will go through it and see where the conclusion leads us.

So, I know that you are asking right now 'But Marc, listen... is this worth the money?'.  Well, that question isn't as simple as it sounds.  If you are a fan of the MGS series and can't wait until the full game, then yes, it's worth it.  If you are on the fence about it, I would say... go for it, it has great re-playability and it's not going to break the bank.  If you are coming into this already sceptical, give it a miss.

MGS: Ground Zeroes is a strange beast.  I don't know if I love it or hate it.  In fact, I think I both love it and hate it.

The game starts off right after the events of Peace Walker and it starts with a cutscene that is around 10 minutes long, a fraction of a second in MGS cutscene time, there are a lot of characters and acronyms that wont mean much to you unless you have played the previous games.  Luckily, you don't have to understand what is going on to enjoy the game mechanics.  Even if you have played the games you might get thrown off by Snake's voice, about which there was much uproar.  Guys... Jack Bauer... C'mon, he's cool.

When the cutscene finishes you are left at the edge of a cliff with the wind blowing strongly, flapping tents echo against buildings and the rain beats down on you.  It's beautiful and I was staring at it motionless for a good 30 seconds before I realised that the cutscene was over and that I had taken control of the character.

The story line is definitely going to pan out into something long, convoluted, frustrating and, when it's all over, amazing.  With that said, it feels like they are going for a more 'realistic' approach to this story.  Snake is a legitimate business guy who has a nuke and just doesn't want people to find out about it. Okay, so perhaps 'realistic' isn't the best adjective, but it does feel more grounded.  Promise! (pun totally intended)

The first thing I noticed was that the trusty mini-map was gone... there were no gadgets... disappointment.  I continued to play through it for the sake of a review and see what happened, I'm glad I did.

From your beginning vantage point you can survey the camp that you are overlooking and mark targets, a mechanic we are all familiar with by now.  There will always be a few guys you can't see and will probably almost get spotted by.  Go slow, be careful... listen.  You will hear enemy footsteps echo against surfaces, the metal of assault rifles scraping against belts as the soldiers patrol.  You have a mini-map, you just can't see it.

It's not all sunshine and rainbows though.  If you are spotted (and you will be spotted) just restart at a checkpoint.  You loose points for killing people and, more importantly, the combat mechanics are either not fleshed out completely or are just plain old bad.  Also, with the side missions you unlock after the main story you get to see the map during the day.  It's still beautiful, but not late night thunderstorm beautiful.

And then, we have the elephant in the room.  Are the really charging for this?  If they decided to
come in at 10 dollars I would think it the most they could charge.  I guess the demand is there though.

All in all I would say that MGS:GZ is a fun game with great mechanics and if it were a few dollars cheaper it would be worth every cent.  As it is right now, it's hit and miss.

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