Commentary
12:30 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Your Move: A 'Metal Gear' Teaser

I’ve been a fan of the Metal Gear Solid series since the first one in 1998. Since then, I’ve played them all and followed the story of the two main protagonists, both code-named "Snake."

The latest, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, was released last week.

The game is set in Cuba in 1975, at a U.S. military black site. Your mission is to rescue two prisoners, whom Metal Gear fans will recognize from 2010’s Peace Walker. As this is an infiltration mission, you try to rescue these two without alerting the guards to your presence. You sneak around corners, crawl through grass and get to your objectives without the enemy ever even being aware. You are equipped with both a silenced rifle and a tranquilizer gun, and you get awards at the end of the mission if you get through without killing anyone.

The trouble is that there isn’t a whole lot here. I was done with the main story mission in less than two hours. There are several side missions and objectives that could keep you occupied, but these are all variations on the theme, and all take place in the one location in Cuba. The mild variety in the missions doesn’t much make up for the single location being used over and over.

The gameplay itself, though, is incredibly polished. Snake controls better than he ever has before. The controls are refined and are more friendly for new players. The radar Snake has had in previous games to let him omnisciently see other soldiers around him has been removed, but now if you look at an enemy with your binoculars, you will “tag” them, and be able to track their movement no matter where you are in the map. It’s a blessing and a curse - you’ll always know where those soldiers are, but you may not know if one you missed is right around the corner.

The game isn’t for everyone. Some people are upset they’re being charged for what is essentially a long demo. But I think it was released more for Metal Gear Solid fans that were getting anxious for the next major installment of the series, as Metal Gear Solid IV was released nearly six years ago. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain will be released eventually, and this gives us fans a taste of what it will be.