Solid Snake is back! I am quite chuffed that I finally got my mitts on this number, and as some of you may know from one of my previous entries, I am quite a fan of the Metal Gear Solid franchise. This is also why I was a little bit concerned with the departure of David Hayter, the original voice of Solid Snake and replaced with Hollywood actor, Kiefer Sutherland. Will he be able to fill the stealthy shoes of David? Can his smooth voice cut the mustard? Read on and let’s find out!
Plot: Ground Zeroes is set around 1975, just a few months after the events of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. Players control returning protagonist Solid Snake, also known as Big Boss, as he is ordered to infiltrate an American black site on the coast of Cuba called Camp Omega. Once used as a refugee camp for people fleeing Cuba and Haiti, it is now used as a prison with nefarious means, all run by a Freddy Kruger looking commander by the name of Skull Face. Snake’s mission is to rescue a prisoner called Paz, who has important information regarding the whereabouts of the Cipher organisation, and another prisoner called Chico, who attempted to rescue Paz and was ultimately captured by Skull Face.
Gameplay: Since this game is just a prologue until The Phantom Pain comes out, the game is very, very short and the entire game is set in the prison camp. You start off at the cliff face leading up to the camp and you are given instructions via codec on how to proceed and certain points on how to roll around like Riggs in Lethal Weapon, using your binoculars to highlight enemy targets (just like in Far Cry 3) and if you need advise with your mission. Navigation is a lot easier, instead of the small map in the corner, you bring it up in the main menu and it shows the entire camp and if you have highlighted enemy targets, it shows where they are too. There is a lot more freedom in Snake’s movement this time round, he can also drive vehicles when they are available, but being such a small map, it kind of seems like a waste of time.
Taking out enemies is very entertaining. Using non lethal means is a lot more fun, it also requires patience in some parts. You have your standard tranquilizer gun, the good old CQC or if you sneak up on an enemy with a gun equipped, you can hold them up. Doing this will give you a few options. Holding down L2 once they have their hands in the air will give you a choice of interrogation, which is mighty handy to find targets, weapons etc, telling them to get down on the ground, or telling them to call the nearest target over. After this you can choke them into unconsciousness or kill them. You can use lethal means by using various firearms found throughout the map, grenades, anti aircraft guns or just sneaking up and snapping their necks. If you are spotted by the enemy, time slows down and you have about 10 seconds to kill or knock out your target before the alarm is raised. Holding L1 will automatically target the guard that has seen you and allows you to take them down.
Snake also has use of a standard Walkman which he can use to play mission briefings, audio tapes and The Ride of the Valkyries. This is very helpful when you rescue Chico, because he drops a cassette tape with audio on Paz’s location that you have to decipher. Rescuing hostages involves calling in a helicopter from the main menu, there are a few landing zones in the game, some are more dangerous than others, so choosing where you want the helicopter to land depends on whether you want to clear the enemies out or not.
Graphics: This game is certainly a step up from MGS 4, very realistic facial expressions on all characters, I found myself a few times during the night time mission just watching the rain fall on the ground under the flood lights. Definitely one of the most stunning games I’ve played this year.
Side Missions: There are 5 separate side mission in the game, only one of them varies from the standard prison camp. All of these can be accessed from the main menu, the Deja Vu mission can only be accessed by collecting all of the XOF badges in the main mission. Yes, I did find this out the hard way after swearing at the game for 10 minutes. The side missions are;
Eliminate The Renegade Threat – Take out two Marine sniper / spotter targets.
Intel Operative Rescue – Rescue Intel operative.
Classified Intel Acquisition – Locate undercover contact and secure cassette tape.
Destroy The Anti Aircraft Emplacements – Destroy 3 anti aircraft guns.
Deja Vu – Recreate scenes from Metal Gear Solid 1.
Best Bits: I’d have to say, rescuing Hideo Kojima during the side mission Intel Operative Rescue was a nice touch. But my absolute favourite part was re-creating the scenes from Metal Gear Solid 1, basically I had to find places that matched the scenes selected. Like the helipad at the start of Metal Gear Solid 1 with the chaff grenades in the middle, I had to recreate that scene and a flashback would play out. While we are on the topic of the Deja Vu mission, at the end, Liquid Snake gets you to do a quiz with game show sound effects, all the questions are about Metal Gear Solid 1, answering all the answers correctly gets you special weapons for the next play through. Liquid also says if you fail any answer, there are no continues or second chances and you will regret it forever. What did I do? I got the last name of the ninja wrong. I had to do the entire mission again to have another shot at it. Very unforgiving that man.
Final Thoughts: This game is a stealth lovers dream, even more if you a Metal Gear Solid fan, or a completionist. This took me an hour and a half to finish, my suggestion, if you are not a collector of Metal Gear Solid games, rent it out at the video shop, no way is this worth the $60 odd dollars they are charging for it in the shops. Still, it was an enjoyable ride, it was just too darn short. Also, Kiefer Sutherland does sound a bit like David Hayter.
Play If You Like: Metal Gear Solid, Snake, Stealth, The silky smooth voice of Kiefer.
I give it 6/10