The long and very anticipated return to the Metal Gear Solid series saw Hideo Kojima release what technically is a tech demo, but this isnt any ordinary tech demo, and Ill explain why. Im going to break this down into sections and this relates to the next generation version of the game, more specifically the PS4 version as that’s the one I own.
Main Story (Spoilers)
The main story itself isn’t that long, I think there are speedruns on YouTube of around 8 minutes. However for the average player this will take you probably around an hour, it involves rescuing 2 people, Paz and Chico, Chico being the first you rescue is a little boy that’s being tortured, and Chico his mother (from what I can gather). A lot of the lore from this game which leads up to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is generated from this, and there are several cutscenes as well which offer some explanation into how Phantom Pain begins or comes about.
The area in which the first mission is conducting is actually quite deceptively big, split into kind of zones, a prison area, an admin area, a camp, a heliport/armory, and an undergound section, there is a lot to explore and find, and offers quite a bit of variety in terms of how to go about your “stealthy” ways.
To get the S Ranks you are required to no kill no alert as well as rescue as many people as possible, which is a lot harder to do than you first think, it will take memorisation, quick reflexes and to some extent good strategy to manipulate guards and cameras to your advantage.
Fairly short section but to put it bluntly this is where MGS V:Ground Zeroes opens up a little, once you complete the main mission once with any rank, you open up a group of Side Ops, these are different missions to complete but held in the same complex as the original story, there 4 side ops (5 on PS4 as we have the Deja Vu mission), these are different types of missions as well, 1 is an elimination mission where your tasked to take out 2 targets without being spotted, being spotted will result in a mission failiure, 1 is a rescue mission where from a helicopter your tasked to overlook a target to be rescued and ensure nothing happens to him, the next is a gathering mission, where you have to locate 2 pieces of information and obtain them without being spotted, and the last is a destroy mission where you have to take out several Anti-Air emplacements and extract as quietly as possible.
All in all these over quite a lot of variety to the game and these can be run over and over to improve score, time, rank and even leaderboard positions on the trials as well. So there’s a little more content to be had here.
As you can guess this portion of the review is going to be about the new engine, called the Fox Engine, and I have to say it looks impressive, graphics are top notch, visuals are crisp in day and night, lighting effects are as you would expect them to be, shadows generated look pretty slick and all in all this is probably one of the best looking games currently out for console. But its not without its flaws, and im assuming these will be polished for Phantom Pain, invisible walls do exist, even by accident, fences can glitch out, at one point I had snake continuously climbing upwards into the sky as he refused to unglitch himself.
Facing against walls to look round corners isn’t as accurate as it should be and Snake clips himself to the wall often half hanging out from it causing a guard to see you when your input wanted him to press himself against the wall with plenty of room. Guards will reanimate falling asleep and being knocked out by simply turning the camera away and back on to them, and in one mission I actually managed to glitch out a jeep so it was stuck to a fence. So there is definitely room for improvement.
The sounds are pretty spot on, guards voices are nice, and Kiefer Sutherland funnily enough wins me over, I was very very skeptical about him being Snake, but he does a pretty solid job of it. And I was pleasently surprised to see him pull it off. After all, we all expected him to sound like 24 mark 2.
But isn’t that the purpose of this game.
So this is the main question of the review, we already know it looks nice and sounds great, but is there any value to this game. And this is my argument, its a discounted title (£22 or around $30), and there’s a reason for that, there isn’t the same amount of content in this game as a full retail title such as Assassin’s Creed which would probably be its closest rival in terms of style of game. But again there isnt meant to be, this is a taster, however that doesn’t mean is skimps on re-playability, I am by no means a Metal Gear Solid expert, in fact i’m a very average stealth game player (unless you give me Tenchu then im a beast), but I found myself wanting to get them S Ranks, not only on the side missions, but on the main story, there is also Normal and Hard difficulties, and Hard ramps up the amount you have to focus to complete the missions let alone get an S Rank, and I found this challenge entertaining. All the missions can be completed in different ways, either full stealth or go loud, there is plenty to do here and its not shying away from it.
I’ve played this game on stream for around 15-20 hours and i’m still only 26% complete and on top of that I haven’t even unlocked the Deja Vu mission yet. So the media perspective of this “glorified demo” is a little out of context, yes the content isn’t plentiful, but what content there is, is sheer quality and makes you want to play it again and again.
Value for Money
So a question I kept getting asked on stream is “Is this worth buying”, the answer to this question solely lies on YOU, this is basically a half price game, if your only going to play through the main story and that is it, this is probably worth borrowing from a friend, or renting it out. If your an avid fan or someone who likes to play a game over and over, you will definitely get your monies worth from this title.
And to put that in perspective we are going to use some simple common sense. Metal Gear Solid cost me a grand total of £19.98, My current total playtime including streaming is just over 22 hours, I have completed 25% of all the trials and so forth, I paid £30 for TitanFall (this may see an unfair comparison but wait for it) and the campaign is a grand total of 18 levels, this took me less than 90 minutes to complete. On top of that, Knack a premium title at launch costing in some shops £50 took me around 6 hours to complete and again that’s an offline only title.
I’ve seen a lot of the major gaming sites talk about how this game is designed to be replayed over and over again, but what they are failing to understand is not every game is capable of doing that, so ive tried to be realistic in terms when scoring this in my value for money section.
The content in game is well worth the money in comparison to other games, but that worth is based on how much time your willing to put into it.
My overall opinion of this game is that of slightly neutral, this is an excellent purchase in my opinion, but this review is intended to help others. The game itself on a technical level is very well done, great polish, plays great, and feels good to complete a mission, has that reward factor when you get an S Rank and so on, but in terms of how much content there is physically, unless your like me and doesn’t mind running a game over and over to find new things, experiment so to speak, this really isn’t worth buying for you. And my scores do kind of reflect on that and why it recieve’s a slightly lesser score than it probably deserves.
You kind of have to take in the fact that this is a discounted retail title as well, but that still doesn’t stop this being an excellent title that really deserves to have more content in it, as a prologue it does exactly what it says on the tin, but as we saw with the Gran Turismo prologue on PS3, prologue games don’t always work in favour. And in this case, I do believe it needs more content to be justified at a £25 price tag especially with the likes of Final Fantasy X/X-2 retailing at the same price.
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Thank you for taking the time to read this.