Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

13 things you need to know about MGSV: Ground Zeroes

We've played the upcoming new entry into the Metal Gear Solid V - Ground Zeroes, which will serve as a prologue to MGSV: Phantom Pain. While the review's a couple of weeks off, here's what we can tell you so far.

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1. Think of it like the classic Metal Gear Solid demos

MGS2's prologue opener debuted the cutting edge tech of that powered the game, and introduced the game's mechanics within a small sandbox environment. Ground Zeroes does much the same. Anyone who played Sons of Liberty's tanker chapter, by way of the demo bundled with Zone of Enders will remember replaying that prologue to death to find every secret and try every possibility. You'll do much the same with Ground Zeroes.

But that's not the only MGS GZ reminds us of. Remember the initial open area of Shadow Moses in the original MGS, the one that served as a demo on Official PlayStation Magazine? The one where you tried to grab that box from between the spotlights on the helipad and messed around with guards just to test out the A.I? Design-wise the US military base in Ground Zeroes is similar, and you'll soon be pissing off the guards just for the fun of it.

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
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2. Yes, it's some two hours long.

That is, for the main, story-driven mission. We timed our play through and, even with a judicious exploration of the US military base / P.O.W camps, we were watching the ending credits with two hours and twenty-three minutes on the clock. If you know what you're doing? Yes, you could finish the mission in more than half that time easily.

3. But that's not everything.

Come our return to the main menu after those credits, a completion percentage was tallied. That number? 9%. Alongside the main mission, there's also four more side ops to unlock and complete. Each is set in the same location, but offers a different approach, objectives and time of day. Finish those, and the completion tally's still in the low 20%.

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4. Rankings and Collectables

One word that sums up Ground Zeroes? Replays. There are scores and a final grade attached to every mission, and there are leaderboards in place (not available during our session) to compete for best results. Rankings are based on a number of factors - such as time completed, enemies alerted and such. There are also cassette tapes and XOF patches hidden around the base to collect.

5. Cutscenes are at a minimum

Aside from a lengthy opener cinematic, which we've already seen in preview trailers, and a as long ending sequence, Kojima's reigned in the overlong non-playable sections in-between. There's brief chatter at key points, but audio updates on your surroundings are optional (press L1 when training your binoculars on anything) and audio logs are for the most only over a minute long. The longest, weighing in at over seven minutes, is again, optional to listen to - and with any of them you can listen while still sneaking around the base.

6. Reflex Mode

Get spotted, and MGS's newest mechanic comes into play. Reflex mode will have hardcore stealth fans hating the inclusion, but we love it. Time slows, and you've a few seconds grace to knock out or kill your spotter, stopping them from calling in backup. It's wasted though if you haven't got a silencer on your weapon, as you'll still alert everybody on the base...

7. You can call in a chopper evac to Ride of the Valkyries

There's multiple chopper evac points around the map. Two are along the coast out of sight of the base, and some are right in the middle of the military complex, if you want to be cocky and try and evac under enemy fire. You unlock an option to ‘score' your helicopter's appearance; while there's music tracks from PSP title Peace Walker, best is the stirring opening of Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries.

8. Interrogate guards for intel

R2's your go-to button for CQC. Quick taps from behind will slam enemies into the ground or nearby walls with bone-crunching ease (there's also the option to chain these when surrounded). However, hold R2 instead and you'll grab guards and a set of options will pop up on screen. Choke them, kill them - or interrogate them. Doing the last can extract information on otherwise unfindable supplies and weapons, as well as key mission objectives, which will be added to your map.

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

9. Turtle Power

As usual, you need to conceal downed guards else they're discovered by patrols. Instead of having to drag them away, Snake flips them onto his back, freeing up his hands to continue to shoot if needed, and he's still able to jog with someone over his shoulders. Nicely, human cargo doubles up as a bullet sponge. And if you want permeant rid of your enemies? Head cliffside and hit R2 to hurl them into the ocean.

10. Mark 'Em

Angered by the Reflex mode? You may hate this as well - but crucially it's an optional mechanic. There is a mini-map buried in the menu screen, but keeping track of guard movements involves tagging them first. Use your binoculars and zoom in on them, at which point they'll be automatically tagged forever more. A red triangle, along with distance count from you, will pop up above their heads. Plus if you stop moving, nearby tagged guard outlines will appear, even through walls. There's even a mini-game to tag all the guards as fast as you can.

11. No Tap, No Cam

Unlike his successor Solid Snake, Snake - or Big Boss as he's now known - can't tap against walls to distract guards. You can, however, toss magazine clips like grenades to turn guards' heads at the sudden noise and sneak by. Equally there's no high-tech camouflage gear helping Snake blend into the environment. This is old style stealth - crouch-runs, crawls, and pressing up against a corner will have Snake lean in, with a press of R3 letting you look around.

12. It's casually brutal

There are scenes, which we can't talk about else we'd spoil the story, that'll have you catch you breath. Grimace, even feel your stomach churn. Kojima and his team don't pull any punches about what goes on at this Prisoner of War camp.

13. Kiefer Sutherland

It's still weird shearing Jack Brauer now voice gaming's most recognisable face. He does his role well, and given what we see in the game, the 24-vibes feel right. We've a theory to why Kojima's decided to shift those duties from series stalwart David Hayter, but that's another discussion for another time...

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

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Metal Gear Solid V: Ground ZeroesScore

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

REVIEW. Written by Gillen McAllister

"For a game of this size we'd have needed more content, or a much lower price point, to make this a recommended must buy. Have some patience, and wait until The Phantom Pain releases."

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