Kept you waiting, huh?
Ground Zeroes is, quite literally, the first chapter in Hideo Kojimas monumental vision for Metal Gear Solid 5, acting as a prologue to the events that will occur in the sequel proper when its released next year. And while it makes for a perfectly rousing and polished return for Snake (now voiced by Kiefer Sutherland), its hard not to feel short-changed by its obvious brevity.
The game takes place completely inside Camp Omega, a prisoner internment site not unlike Guantanamo Bay, where two of Snakes compatriots are being held captive. This is one mission rescuing a couple of kids which can realistically be completed in under an hour, but the meticulously crafted design is flexible enough to support multiple strategies that can span several more.
Its a superb introduction to the world and systems of Metal Gear Solid 5, stripping back some technological advantages instead placing an emphasis on utilising the environment while introducing new gadgets that effectively streamline play binoculars can tag enemies and also feed Snake information on targets. Less linear than previous Metal Gear games and an acute focus on gameplay rather than drawn-out cinematics this has more in common with the Hitman series than any of Snakes previous adventures theres a newfound depth and relevance found in its fresh approach to suggest that a game changer has arrived.
Yet, despite the accomplished mechanics and the pliability of the world, this is frustratingly abridged and falls far short of a complete experience. While a handful of Side Ops missions (an enjoyable selection of one-note objectives) try to add some longevity, this is a mere precursor to what promises to be something quite special; an elegantly refined and thrilling return of a classic stealth franchise. A hugely inviting taster of things to come then but Ground Zeroes is, in essence, a very expensive advert.