Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes - The "Glorified Demo" That Keeps On Giving

Short games have always been a norm in the videogame industry, whether it’s a five hour trip to save the princess in Super Mario Bros. 3, or a six hour assault on the Romans in Ryse: Son Of Rome, they have always been around. So why is it, that when another seemingly short game comes along in the form of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, there is so much controversy? This isn’t the first time there has been controversy surrounding a “demo” in the Metal Gear Solid series, as many fans bought Zone Of The Enders purely because it included a demo for Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty. Many people have stated that the game is nothing more than a “glorified demo”, and is something they won’t purchase until the game receives a price drop. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is currently retailing at around twenty pounds on most websites and I think that represents great value for money - here’s why.

The main mission, Operation Trojan Horse, equates to around two hours of gameplay depending on your play style, and upon completion of this mission, a further four side missions are unlocked. These side ops are not relevant to the main story, however they are a lot of fun and contain hidden tapes from Chico which help to explain the story of Ground Zeroes. Each side op takes between half an hour and one hour to complete on the first play through, and these can be replayed to better your rank. In total, the side ops represent a further three hours in play time. An extra mission can be unlocked if the player collects all the XOF patches spread throughout the main mission and side ops, and this mission is different depending on your platform of choice. PS3 and PS4 users will unlock a mission which plays upon the nostalgia of the original Metal Gear Solid, while Xbox 360 and Xbox One users will unlock a mission where you play as Raiden from Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. Collecting all the XOF patches and playing the extra mission gives the player another hour of play time, and a very enjoyable hour at that. In an update on 1st May, both platform-exclusive missions became available to all players for free, which only adds to the wealth of content on offer. If you’re a completionist, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes has you covered because every mission has an S rank to aim for which will require multiple playthroughs so you can learn the quickest and best way through. To complement these multiple playthroughs, there are trials which you can compete in such as “Fastest marking all enemies”, “Fastest Neutr. of all enemies” and “Fastest completion time”. While these trials are completely optional, it does promote more playthroughs of each mission to try and beat your friend’s time, and there’s a trophy/achievement to get if you unlock all the trials.

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In total, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes will offer about eight hours to a player who wishes to experience everything in the game, which works out at £2.50 an hour. Personally, I think this is very good value for money when we live in an age of a cinema charging up to £9 for two hours of content, and an average ten hour campaign in other games retailing at £40. For the asking price, Ground Zeroes gives you a wealth of content to play through, and is anything but a “glorified demo”. If anything, it would be nice to see more more developers adopt this approach of releasing a small prologue for an upcoming game at a reduced price to give gamers a feel for what to expect in the future, and increase hype for the upcoming instalment. I say give me more “glorified demos” if they offer as much content as Ground Zeroes does!

To confirm my thoughts, I took to NeoGAF where I asked other players how long they spent playing Ground Zeroes, these are the responses I got:

KojiKnight – “It was about 6:30 for all missions including doing the first mission twice to unlock Deja Vu, and then doing that.”

CambriaRising – “13 hours for all missions, about 22 to complete the trophies. I messed around a lot.”

SMZC – “I've put a bit over 50 hours, myself.”

JayEH – “I've probably spent around 30 hours across the PS4 and Xbox versions of the game.”

eXistor – “As of now a few minutes shy of 18 hours, but I'm still working on getting S-rankings on all the Hard missions and in a few days I can get started on Raiden's mission when it releases.”

So as you can see, players are getting a lot of play time out of Ground Zeroes, some even on the same level as an RPG. It is clear that if you are willing to explore everything the game has to offer, from the side missions to collecting secret tapes, then Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes will keep you entertained for a very long time.

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Not only does Ground Zeroes pack in a lot of content, there is also a variety of different ways you can tackle that content. You can play the game just like any other MGS game, sneaking around the base and taking out enemies silently without causing any alerts, and this works very effectively in all missions. However on the other hand, players do also have the option to go in all guns blazing and kill every enemy on the map, setting up a very easy getaway at the end of the mission. While this does affect your rank quite dramatically, it is always a lot of fun to approach the missions from a different perspective and experiment with new ways of reaching the mission objectives. As you reach a better rank in each mission, new guns will be unlocked and placed at the start of each mission area. These can be very useful because they can help you complete missions quicker and achieve an even better rank. For example, one of the side missions requires you to take out two targets before they leave the base, and this is best done with a sniper rifle. Initially the player would have to search the base for such sniper rifle, however once you achieve an A rank on this mission, the sniper rifle is placed right at the beginning of the mission. This opens the player up to speed runs as they can cut one part of the mission out entirely, and aim for that illustrious S rank. All these new play styles allow players to experiment with the content on offer and complete missions in ways they had never thought of before, which only adds to the enjoyment of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes.

Looking to the future, Ground Zeroes has given me a lot of hope for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain due to its open-world and the promise of a game being one-hundred times bigger than Ground Zeroes. If players are given this much content in a prologue, what does Hideo Kojima have in store for gamers in a world that is one-hundred times the size?

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