Feature Article

Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes - Rumor vs. Reality

It's what Paz would have wanted.

It's two weeks before the release of Ground Zeroes, and there's still a lot of misinformation floating about. After spending over eight hours with the game, seeing the majority of its content, I'm going to take this opportunity to debunk, and verify, some of the rumors about the latest Metal Gear game.

Whether Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima likes it or not, his legendary stealth series is complicated. Nearly everything and everyone has multiple aliases, key comrades betray allegiances, and subsequent games crisscross between decades while also featuring leading characters with nearly identical names and faces; a reference to a character named Snake may refer to one of four people: Naked Snake, Solid Snake, Solidus Snake, or Liquid Snake.

Kojima took a similar convoluted approach to the reveal of Metal Gear Solid V. It began with the announcement of Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes at an event celebrating the series' 25th anniversary in late August 2012. Then, Kojima stayed silent about Metal Gear until the VGAs in December of 2012. In typical Kojima form, he announced the other piece of the Metal Gear Solid V puzzle as simply The Phantom Pain, but did so under the guise of bandaged developer Joakim Mogren. The Metal Gear Solid V portion of the title was hidden in the negative space of the logo, and we were told that it was being developed by a new Swedish studio, Moby Dick Studios. It wasn't until the Game Developers Conference the following March that Kojima revealed that he was behind The Phantom Pain and that it, together with Ground Zeroes, would make up Metal Gear Solid V.

Rumor: Ground Zeroes is a glorified $30 demo.
Reality: Ground Zeroes is a $30 game.

Packaged copies of Ground Zeroes are $30, but a digital version can be downloaded for only $20.

Demos come in different forms. Typically, they're slices cut from the main game that offer a glimpse at the setting and plot, while giving you a chance to explore the core mechanics that will drive the gameplay experience. Sometimes game demos break these rules; Bravely Default's recent demo for the 3DS offered curious players distinct content that's separate from the final product. It wasn't short either, keeping many people engaged for 10 or more hours. Despite its length, the demo revealed very little about the main game's overall plot.

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes can also be played for 10 or more hours. It also contains content that can't be found in the "main" game, The Phantom Pain. However, I will argue that because Ground Zeroes offers key plot points that lead into the Phantom Pain, it truly is a prologue game, unlike the Bravely Default demo.

For each of Ground Zeroes' missions, you're given the entirety of Camp Omega to accomplish your goal, but that is the sole environment in the game. This limitation is no doubt the reason for the "demo" branding by some, but Ground Zeroes is a stand-alone product. If you hold to the notion that a short game can only be a demo, and you refuse to pay for something that "should" be free, you've got a long time to wait before the "full" game is released, likely in late 2015, or even early 2016.

Even if you manage to hold out and ignore Ground Zeroes for that long, there's no guarantee The Phantom Pain will contain the same content found in Ground Zeroes. It may not be as broad or as long as most games, but Ground Zeroes can be had for one-third of the cost if you opt to download it for $20.

Rumor: Ground Zeroes is two hours long.
Reality: Ground Zeroes has over ten hours of content.

When Game Informer pointed out that they completed Ground Zeroes in two hours, everyone was up in arms. There were a lot reader comments that read something like this: "Two hours? What a rip-off!" We've since learned, and I can confirm, that the two-hour time frame is a reasonable estimation of your first playthrough of the main mission. I completed my first run closer to the one-hour mark, but I took one of many routes to get there. Ground Zeroes isn't a linear experience, and there are a lot of paths that will lead you to your goal.

Metal Gear is traditionally a stealth-based experience, and Ground Zeroes is no different. However, it's more open ended than its predecessors. The main mission, if handled as succinctly as possible, incorporates only a quarter of the setting, Camp Omega.

Pick it quick!

There are also a handful of side missions--called side-ops--to explore. The first four give you new challenges that take you directly to new parts of the map. The weather and time of day change for these missions as well. These changes alter the need for and implementation of stealth, and give the base an entirely new feel. Though you only explore Camp Omega in Ground Zeroes, there's plenty of opportunity to explore every nook in a variety of scenarios. While playing through the side-ops, I spent about three hours during my first run of the lot, but I consistently ranked poorly. Time permitting, I would have readily and happily jumped back in to improve my rank. It's not just for pride: better ranks reward you with better bonus items that can open up new ways to play any mission in the game.

If you want to open up the platform-exclusive missions, you'll need a keen eye, a quiet step, and a lot of patience. In order to unlock them, you need to collect badges hidden throughout the base. It may be one location, but Camp Omega is full of buildings to explore and corners to pick through, making the badge hunt particularly challenging. I certainly wasn't able to find them all without a bit of help.

All told, I spent about nine hours playing Ground Zeroes, and my completion rating was only 30 percent. I beat every mission, but I failed to complete them in every way possible.

Rumor: Ground Zeroes is easier with the slow-motion stealth mechanic.
Reality: Ground Zeroes is just as difficult with the slow-motion stealth mechanic.

When the going gets tough, the weak get choke-slammed.

One of the most obvious changes to the stealth gameplay is the new slow-motion effect that occurs when you’re spotted by an enemy. Before they have a chance to alert fellow guards and soldiers, you have a few seconds to silence them and avert danger. It’s not a total crutch, however. After all, you no longer have a radar system to track noise and enemy movements. You can mark enemies with your binoculars and keep track of them that way, but you're required to spot them in the first place. This is no small feat when there are dozens of enemies in the area and you’re constantly watching your back.

Even though I always knew where some enemies were, there was always a little voice in the back of my head reminding me that there are probably another one or two nearby that I haven’t spotted. Sometimes though, I got cocky, and brashly bolted into un-scouted territory. The moment I was spotted and the slow-motion effect kicked in produced a fight or flight sensation that was immediately difficult to manage. You know that your window to act is only open for a few seconds, and the pressure therein had a noticeable impact on my ability to focus. Maybe it speaks to my abilities as a player, but the slow-motion “crutch” did me no favors compared to the old way of doing things.

Rumor: Ground Zeroes is an open-world game.
Reality: Ground Zeroes is not an open-world game.

As I've said already, there's only one area to explore in Ground Zeroes. Now, according to Kojima, the Phantom Pain is supposed to be "hundreds" of times larger than Ground Zeroes, which will likely fit into the open-world paradigm that we've grown accustomed to in games like Grand Theft Auto V. You will not get that same feeling when playing Ground Zeroes. If you attempt to exit the base through one of many available exits, you'll be prompted to confirm that you're quitting the mission at hand and want to return to the main menu. Perhaps a better descriptor for Ground Zeroes is that it's an open-format game, as there are numerous paths and means to reach your goal. In that sense, it's more open than previous games in the series.

Camp Omega looks small at this scale, but it will take considerable time and effort to see everything it has to offer.

You could ignore your mission objectives and spend an hour running around Camp Omega and still miss half of the soldiers, vehicles, and interactive objects strewn about. So yes, it's more open than usual, but there's no basis to call Ground Zeroes an open-world game. The Phantom Pain, on the other hand, will almost certainly offer what Kojima has talked about since the inception of Peace Walker: a (mostly) persistent world where you can recruit soldiers, build your army's base, and break free from the bonds of linear mission structures.

There's obviously a lot more to talk about, and with the Ground Zeroes release date looming, you can be sure that everyone's questions will be answered soon. What I can say at this point is that for $30, Ground Zeroes offers a robust glimpse into the future of Metal Gear. It looks great, offers intriguing plot points to digest, and has enough extra content to keep you busy far longer than two hours.

Written By

Want the latest news about Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain?

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Discussion

345 comments
jxsilicon9
jxsilicon9

This looks like nothing more than what would be downloadable content for a full game. I wouldn't pay for that. 

dmaa88
dmaa88

In preparation to the upcoming Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Kojima decided to give us a brief taste of what's to come for both next and current gen. A prelude of sorts, GZ (ground Zeroes) takes place after the events of Peace Walker, Chico and Paz have been abducted by a man referred only as "Skull Face" and taken to a fictional version of the infamous Guantanamo detention center, where they are being tortured and interrogated, so it's up to Big Boss to rescue the pair; the Boss goes in solo for this one (I still have no idea why he keeps doing the lone wolf routine when he has a freaking army at his disposal.), you are equipped with an assault rifle, a tranquilizer dart pistol, NV goggles, some grenades, and a nifty new piece of tech called "idroid" (yeah...), despite it's name, this one is one cool and useful peace of equipment (also it has a longer lasting battery), it serves as a mission hub, it grants you access to the usual stuff, mission objectives, recordings in the forms of cassette tapes, a map (the map hologram is handled exceptionally well), it even has an option to customize your game's soundtrack (setting ride of the Valkyries for when your chopper comes in for exfil never gets old), the idroid doesn't pause the game, so it feels like an organic part of Snake's inventory (although you can pause the game by hitting the back button), which is great, because it avoids getting the screen all cluttered with too much onscreen information.
Gameplay has been simplified and streamlined for GZ, the shooting controls are as good, if not better than the ones on the console port for PW, Snake moves a lot more smoothly that in any previous installment, and enemies also act and respond more naturally to whatever is going on around them. It's a lot less punishing to get into a firefight with several enemies at once this time around, health packs and field medical treatment are now gone and replaced with the ever-growing health regeneration, although you do get to use some sort of spray if got get critically wounded before getting to cover and regenerating... Now before everybody starts ranting about how the MGS franchise as you now and love it is dead, let me tell you something, it's not, if anything it has been improved upon by making a more organic experience, everything works, looks and sounds as it should, without making it unnecessarily complicated and detracting you from the game's experience, also if you feel that things are a bit too easy, you can always disable a whole lot of options from the game's menu and try your luck in hard mode.
Graphically speaking (on the Xbox 360), the game is amazing! textures, lighting, animation, lip synch, the overall look and feel is gorgeous (can't wait for Konami to use the Fox Engine on the next Silent Hill installment), no stuttering, no visible or annoying frame rate drops, nothing! Now the game does use only one level, sure it's a sandbox level, but it´s not that big really, although it is very detailed and grants you enough freedom to go about the main campaign mission or side missions however you see fit. Now for the bad news... It is short, very, GZ could well be considered a demo for MGSV: TPP, nonetheless it's a very enjoyable one.

My conclusion:

The game is nothing short of amazing, and serves as proof that the MGS universe still has some great stories to tell (although not much is revealed in GZ, more like hinted actually.), the game plays and runs smoothly, it looks great, and the more goofy and campy factor of previous installments has been practically removed, I for one actually liked that a lot (I mean, a soda chugging monkey? really?!), MGS plays out better in a more serious and darker tone, which kinda explains having Keifer Sutherland playing Snake, rather than having fan favorite David Hayter do it; what little we hear of Sutherland is convincing and conveys what a former SF, gruff, PMC dude would sound like, while Hayter's was more of a one tone caricature of a bad-ass soldier (kinda like a GI Joe 80's cartoon charatcter).
A little bit expensive for a demo, but a worth while purchase if you decide to take the plunge.

badboy_32820
badboy_32820

people Will buy this -me included- but just don`t say it has 10 h worth of contents, it does not!! playing a mission over and over in different ways does not count!! it`s like saying Deus Ex has 10000hs of content because you can finish each level in 20 different ways. That is replay value! totally different thing than content!!!!

wolfman2187
wolfman2187

Ok, my only question is will this be available for current gen consoles, or only next gen?

The_Last_Paladi
The_Last_Paladi

Rule of thumb:  Anything that tries this hard to convince me to play it is probably not worth the price.  I think I'll just wait until this comes down in price.  I don't think I'll regret it one bit either.

chi_qwan
chi_qwan

Good article. I'm only envious that US gamers are getting this 2 days earlier than Europe. But I am so pumped for this game, it has been a long time waiting. As for the price at £22 is very satisfactory knowing that it will have the Peace Walker's extra ops implemented. The only time I have had a grievance with the Metal Gear series is buying the HD collection without Substance & Subsistence only to have the Legacy collection come out soon after. And with Sons of Liberty where Raiden and his whinny girlfriend Rose having a domestic tiff throughout the game while on a mission to save the president.

TheMurderLord
TheMurderLord

No one ever has anything positive to say anymore... this has rubbed off on me.  This is what internet media and discussions have done... turned the world into a bitter place.  Perhaps we should all stop questioning and comparing all of the things that some people have heart and passion for.  Instead, enjoy what YOU enjoy without erupting your thoughts and continuing a bitter chain of debates.  This way, we learn to find a way to cope with the hardships of life.  Also, might I add, that if you enjoy something - that is absolutely brilliant! Well done! If you despise something, why is it important to let other people know that?  Not only are you venting frustrations to the ones who it shouldn't concern but are also looking for a way to be noticed because you may, on a day-to-day basis, struggle to be noticed for all of your hard/lack of efforts.  


Wow! I wish messages like these would stick around for many to see! We would all learn to be so much happier and appreciative of any heart and soul put into things that are made to entertain us... and stop complaining about anything you can just to be heard.


I think I'm going to flag myself for being such a good person right now! Even if I am known as 'TheMurderLord'.


But then again, what the hell... we all love a good argument right?  So be it...

This game, dubbed "demo", will suffice as a winning Metal Gear Solid game for the franchise... and the fans.  The ones that count.  Why?  Because no matter how disappointing it may be... everyone has the ability to find whats good in something - even if it's just a little.  And they can live with those good feelings.

Or you can just live with the bad ones.

colt_walker44
colt_walker44

I don't understand the uproar behind this release. Over the last few games each one was split into two different missions. MGS2 was The Tanker Incident, then The Big Shell Incident. In MGS3 it was The Boss's defection, then The Boss's assassination. First Cause, then Effect. Isn't that what Ground Zeroes is? The first part? Or am I mistaken? Either way, I'd rather have Ground Zeroes than nothing at all for two more years. Count me in.

clay865
clay865

I WILL be paying $20 to download this.

ZellyPoof
ZellyPoof

The whining is not necessary, if someone is shelling out around 400 bucks for a ps4 with a ps+ yearly membership of 50 bucks, and xbox one at 500 bucks with a yearly xbox live membership of 50 bucks.  20 bucks is less than people spend on most movie outings with concessions for arguably less entertainment.  Drop 20 bucks on watching wrath of the titans and bitch less, and drop 20 on a game that has never truly let down their gaming audience and has a pretty decent track record and bitch more?  If you've got bling to drop on a console, a yearly online fee, plus your internet costs and buying full price games on the side, there's this thing they call insane that you should check into.  20 bucks is nothing, go give some blood and its done.

IntegralReaper
IntegralReaper

I am really looking forward to this game! I can't wait to play this game. 


I am excited. Thanks for this article, I really enjoyed reading it.

cofeebogart
cofeebogart

I'm buying for march infamous second son, in april Driveclub and Wolfenstein the new order, in may watch dogs. These games are worth buying for ps4, and would be well spent 240 dollars, while 30 dollars for ground zeroes, that is that short as said several times, mgs 5 release not known??? and its ripoff 30 dollar not worth it, for that money ill extend 3 months ps plus membership and get more free games and have more hours to spend playing. There, I said it.

HipHopBeats
HipHopBeats

This is basically pre-DLC any way you cut it. I'm a MGS fan but I'm not blinded by nostalgia.  I'll wait for a bargain bin deal or the inevitable Ground Zereos / Phantom Pain bundle to scoop this one up.

ronan52
ronan52

$30 for the game which is roughly €22, but in Ireland Gamstop are charging €35 for the game (about $48). Why is that? Even if I buy the game from the U.S I still have to deal with region locked DLC. Why can't games be the same price worldwide?

themanitou23
themanitou23

I've never been a huge fan of the MGS series but what I've read of this article has me excited for this game. I enjoy games with a lot of replay-ability. I do see the viewpoint of people who are concerned with the game's length, though, I just hope that those people don't miss out on an awesome experience just because they couldn't keep an open mind. Oblivion's main story could be completed in 15 hours or less with dedication to that singular aspect yet no body dwells on that game as a "short RPG."

rogerpenna
rogerpenna

Well, back in the time of Genesis and SNes, it took you several hours to master a plataform game. But after you were good in that game, you could finish it in less than one hour. A very longplay of Kid Chameleon, a game famous on Genesis for being ultra long with 100 levels, takes 2:30 hours.


Except for RPGs, just check Youtube for longplays of your beloved 16bit era games. They are ridiculously short games.


And yet, more than once I see people complaining that games NOWADAYS are too short. If anything, it´s the exact opposite. In average, games have never been so long.

justice2328
justice2328

This game is under-priced and if you're a fan of the series, like me, you would gladly pay more for it because you realize what you are getting.  If you have not played the other games in the series and do not know the background of the Metal Gear universe, and are just buying this game as if it were any other release just to play through it, it may not be for you.  


This game is a prologue. It is to get you use to the controls and how the game mechanics work, before the "full" game, "The Phantom Pain," is released.  In the more recent Metal Gear games,  Rising: Revengance included, re-playability is encouraged and is how these games are meant to be played.  Hence, the ranking feature.  


So if you are a fan of the series as the poster of this article is and replay this prologue game to get familiar with the controls, the story (which takes place after Peacewalker and leads into The Phantom Pain), and try to attain the highest rank, and find all the collectables, and find all the audio tapes to hear all of the story, and explore the land to try different routes and variations, as well as doing all these things as well for each of the side ops..... $30 is a steal and Kojima productions should be praised for giving us this title for such a bargain.  I can't wait for the release as I am super excited for everything that this series has become and everything that is going to have to offer a hardcore fan of the series like me.


Like I said, if you are not a big fan of the series, and are just going for a single playthrough, you may just want to wait on The Phantom Pain to release and stop complaining about this title, its price, and what it is going to have to offer.

Johny_47
Johny_47

Good comparison video for once but to be honest it looks bloody brilliant whatever system it's on. Anyone know how long the story is on average? I really couldn't be bothered to read through all that just to find out =/

Goukakyuu91
Goukakyuu91

''I completed my first run closer to the one-hour mark, but I took one of many routes to get there. Ground Zeroes isn't a linear experience, and there are a lot of paths that will lead you to your goal.''


This is the case with pretty much every video game in existence, so how this could be an argument to justify the price tag of Ground Zeroes is unclear to me. The main mission takes one to two hours, apparently. It took the author of this article three hours to complete all the side quests? Alright, that's five hours of play time. According to howlongtobeat (website), it takes 19 hours to beat MGS3 including the extras.


Congratulations, you've got yourself 1/4 a game for 1/2 the price. Not exactly fair.

FighterforJC
FighterforJC

"Over 10 hours of content" doesn't change the fact that it's a 2-hr game.  If the developers would've spent the millions of dollars they're paying Gamespot, IGN and other video game websites to convince consumers that they're getting their money's worth, instead on actually making the game longer in a meaningful way, then there'd be no issue.  Playing the game over and over for OCD reasons doesn't add value to the game.  The same logic could be applied to most games.  For example, play Splinter Cell Blacklist the first time without using mark and execute.  Then the second time around, use mark and execute.  Then next time you use a shotgun for the whole campaign.  Or never get spotted.  Then always get spotted.  These things will give the game "an entirely new feel."  It's still the same game you're playing over and over again, except that Ground Zeros is about 10 times shorter.  I've said it before there's a difference between running 20 laps around a track and running back and forth the 100 meter straight 80 times.  They'll both amount to 5 miles but come on, who would want to do the latter?

Hoski0999
Hoski0999

People buy Map Packs for 15 bucks... What the heck is wrong with peoples logic when they think a game like this is outrageously priced... doesnt make sense.

crimzonrazor
crimzonrazor

Ill buy it for ten bucks out of the bargain bin, which should only take a few months for it to reach.

Bowser05
Bowser05

Meh. Kojima hasn't let me down yet. I hope this won't be a first for him in that regard, but I will put my faith in him and buy this.

Ripper_TV
Ripper_TV

I'm pretty sure Konami will be sorry it has released it in this form ($30), because the outcry will be humongous!

ChiefFreeman
ChiefFreeman

$30 is a bit steep, but if the replay value is there, I'll get it.

akumous
akumous

I don't know how I feel about this series anymore. In retrospect, Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid 3 were the best games I have played of that generation and in most respects considered classics. However, if the series follow the same path in terms of gameplay then count me out...I love the crazy stories, plot twists, and quirkiness but I have moved on.  

dani3po
dani3po

It is an "early access", only paying twice, now and when the full game comes out.

Hoffymann07
Hoffymann07

People will pay $30 to see three movies totalling $30 and get 6 hours of "content" yet will complain when others are willing to spend the same amount for something they can put as much effort as they want into.

People who are trashing the price of this game, or for whatever other reason, are either just trolls or lack the ability to look past their own noses and realize that people are going to spend money on the things they enjoy. 


There are a lot other worse things on this site to raise a fuss at. Oh wait. You probably have. 

Hoffymann07
Hoffymann07

Seeing that I have spent $60 on games that were a total waste of money, I think it is safe to put $30 towards a company that has never failed me yet. 

dantesergei
dantesergei

Excellent article it clarifies a lot.

littlegoodson
littlegoodson

It may not be the 'full' game but I blast through so many full price games in 10 hours or less with little or no free replay value (think COD now that multiplayer access will require PS+).


Of course I want quantity, but I'd prefer 10 hours of densely packed quality gameplay than 30+ hours of mostly filler.

Lhomity
Lhomity

@cofeebogart If $30 for about 10 hours of a non-linear game is short and a ripoff:


Would you say the same about a $60 game that you could finish in 20 hours?

Lhomity
Lhomity

@ronan52 You pay VAT. It's 21% in Ireland, is it not? It's also included in advertised price.


Sales tax in the US varies by state, and is not included in the advertised price.


Retailers in each country cannot act as if they are in the United States and charge the same price American retailers do. Different economies. Different currency. Different tax system. Different wages.

Porphyriaa
Porphyriaa

@Goukakyuu91 Or you could get 1/4 of a game for 1/3 the price and pay $20 for digital download. $40 was definitely overpriced, but I think $20 digital download isn't so bad.

sinclairhxc
sinclairhxc

@ChiefFreeman ^said by someone who has mostly like bought DLC that was linear, less than 2 hours long, offers no sense of replayability, and digital only for $15.  meanwhile, GZ is longer, non-linear, offers many hours of replayability, and the digital only copy costs $20.


i'm not personally attacking you as much as i am  people who think $30 is "steep" in general... when it is not.  especially since, aside from DLC, there are full games that are about 6+/- hours long, offer no replayability, and are $60.


i honestly think the price is as fair as it can get.  so, to attack Konami/Kojima directly for a "steep" price tag or "ripping people off", think about how many games before GZ were a rip-off in terms of content and length and remain highly regarded.  they are highly regarded because they're quality titles, in most cases, which the majority of Metal Gear entries are.


it will be worth the $30 price tag if you're a fan of Metal Gear.  if you're a newcomer, you may not like it as much... in which case i urge you to start elsewhere in the series and come back.  this way you'll have a better experience with the game at a cheaper price due to purchasing it at a later time.

Porphyriaa
Porphyriaa

@akumous Not sure about ground zeroes, but the phantom pain has some of the most drastic changes the series has ever seen. Just the fact that it's an open world game should tell you that.

Hoffymann07
Hoffymann07

@Vidpci  I guess you decided to pass up on reading the article so you could speed to the comments to post your uneducated comment. 

Lhomity
Lhomity

Also... shop around. GameStop/EBGames are generally dicks. I'm in Australia. Here, they slap $10-20 extra on just about everything. And people still shop there. Every other retailer in Australia is cheaper than them. And people STILL shop there!

GameStop/EBGames charge whatever they can get away with, because they are predominantly concerned with getting you to trade in games at well below their secondary market value. And they want you to buy more used games to line their pockets while their system exploits both gamers and the industry that relies upon them.


Lhomity
Lhomity

@ronan52 @Lhomity You could do that, but a lot of people doing that does ultimately affect your local retailers who provide jobs. And the taxes you pay when you buy locally pay for public services, etc.


I prefer to buy local whenever possible. I import when I have to, for games that don't get Australian releases. Usually some Japanese games that never get Western releases. I recently got Puyo Puyo Tetris for PS Vita from CDJapan for around just under $60 including shipping. Will be getting the PS3 version next week. One of the best games money can buy right now..




ronan52
ronan52

@Lhomity  Thanks very much for the insight, all true of course. One of my friends just said the best possible way around it would be to make an American PSN or Xbox account with a fake billing address and transfer funds into it. Then just buy US games from Amazon and get the DLC with the US account. Doesn't seem legal but if it works why not. Thanks again