The lights are on
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes got a lot of crap when it released back in March for being too short and too expensive. Now that all that the furor has died down and the price has fallen, it's the perfect time to give the prelude to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain a chance if you haven't already.
It all begins with a visually rich and cinematic cutscene partially set to "Here's To You" by Ennio Morricone and Joan Baez. At first it's strange to hear music from early '70s obscure soundtrack, but the lyrics fit the story well and the game's set in 1975, so it all makes sense looking back. At first, it's strange to hear Kiefer Sutherland's new take on Big Boss (he replaces longtime voice actor David Hayter), but it doesn't take long to get used to it and even enjoy it.
Big Boss and Master Miller's goal is to infiltrate Camp Omega in Cuba and extract Paz and Chico. He starts on a rocky cliff with rain pouring down and lightning flashing in the sky. This seemingly simple mission can be completed in any number of ways and in any order. You're not given the location of the targets so it's all about gathering intel to pinpoint them first.
Ground Zeroes is full of new gameplay innovations to the Metal Gear franchise. Marking targets with your binoculars keeps them highlighted, making them easier to monitor. When you're spotted, a new slo-mo Reflex moment kicks in, allowing you to pop a few shots in the enemy to stop them from sounding the alarm. And the sparse HUD keeps your eyes on the action instead of a minimap in the corner.
It's likely you'll succeed in around an hour, but if you want more you can always shoot for higher rankings in the main mission to earn unlocks, dabble in the four Side Ops, or collect all 9 XOF patches to earn access to the Extra Ops. The latter used to be a separate Sony or Microsoft exclusive missions, but both have since migrated to the other side as part of free content updates.
In the end, you're running around the same area again and again with only slightly different objectives in each of these bonus missions so it's not going to be endlessly captivating. However, you can stick with Ground Zeroes as long as you're having fun and experimenting. Plus, there will still be plenty of time left over to spend with friends and family on Labor Day.
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Email the author Bryan Vore, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.