Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes perfectly crystallizes an argument gamers have constantly: If a game is really, really good, does it matter if it’s short? In this case, unfortunately, yes. Which is a shame, because this game is really, really good, although not without flaws.
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is essentially one level with a story objective. You’re Big Boss, and you’re infiltrating Camp Omega to save your friends. As I’ve never really cared much about the absurdly convoluted Metal Gear universe, I found the story fairly easy to ignore, not least because it’s limited to a long cutscene in the opening and a long cutscene at the end.
The rest of the game is sneaking around or blowing things up, and part of the fun is juggling the two approaches. The game is admirably a change of pace for the series in that while stealth is undeniably the best way to go, if you have to start blasting everything to hell, that’s actually a workable strategy. The infamously dumb enemy AI of previous games has also gotten a substantial overhaul; take out a guard in midsentence on the radio and you’ll actually alert them something’s up. They do still have patterns they follow, but the game is playable and replayable to an admirable degree, and the challenges that unlock after you finish offer some more fun.
And if this were a self-contained game, that’d be fine. But it’s not. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is on the horizon, albeit we don’t have an actual release date, yet. This is the demo, and Konami wants $30 for it. Which includes sitting through twenty minutes of cutscenes, including a dumb, gory finale that makes you thankful the game is worth playing. That’s just a bridge too far, especially since it’s unlikely this won’t be included with the full game at some point, whether at launch or as part of a “Complete Saga” edition.
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is a fun demo, a replayable one, and you might be able to milk $30 worth of enjoyment out of it if you’re a fan of the series and really love stealth gameplay. For everyone else, it’s a title to sit and wait until the full game actually comes out.