Letting Off Steam – Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

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I have a problem. That problem is a list that’s over 500 games long and growing. This series is an attempt to get through that list. Once a week I’ll write a review of a steam game I’ve been playing. In about 12 years I might get through them all…

Less than 2 hours. That’s how long it took me to finish this game. 10 hours later I’m still playing it. This is why this game is great. This review series would be a whole lot easier if there were more games that had the guts to have a main campaign as short as that.

I love that I can get such a great, complete experience in such a short time, and if I liked I could have left it right there and waited happily for Phantom Pain to come out. But to do that would be obviously missing the point because there’s so much more to this game. After “completing” the game I started it straight back up again. Not even one of the side-ops, but the main mission again. Because the joy of this game comes from exploring Camp Omega and finding all its secrets, and trying to find new and interesting ways to outsmart its guards.

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Let me give you two more reasons why this game is great. Firstly, carrying Paz (not much of a spoiler, Paz is the person you’re tasked with extracting from Camp Omega) from one side of the camp to the other without getting spotted once was one of the most thrilling bits of stealth gameplay I’ve ever experienced. You have no radar, very little equipment, and while carrying someone you’re left more exposed than ever. To succeed you have to be totally aware of everything around you. You need to learn and adapt to the enemies. You have to be brave and dive out in front of enemies at the moment they sneeze. And when you pull it all off it feels amazing.

Finally, the reason this game is great because it plays how I remember the original Metal Gear Solid playing. Not how the original¬†actually plays, obviously, because the original’s stealth involved running around avoiding little blue vision cones and stopping every 5 seconds to answer a codec call. But how I remember it playing when I first experienced it on a demo disc over 15 years ago: outsmarting an intelligent AI, exploring a huge, cleverly-designed complex, and feeling like a bad-ass. It feels like being Snake, and what else could you ask for from a Metal Gear game?