Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes - Content is King

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is a peculiar beast. Despite what Konami would have us think, I can't help but shift the feeling that this "prologue" is nothing more than an expensive demo. It's an extremely good demo and I enjoyed it immensely, but I couldn't help but somewhat guilty for my girlfriend Emma who bought me the game for my birthday, and watched as I swiftly conquered all of the missions multiple times in roughly five hours.

One could argue (as I expect Konami has done itself) that Ground Zeroes warrants a physical retail release due to the large amount of content Kojima Productions has managed to knock up from the small, Guantanamo-style facility that makes up the game's single playable location. But it's exactly this additional content that makes the Ground Zeroes experience so awkward.

Did Kojima really want to include a sub-mission that has players simply blow up AA guns, especially considering the game's main mission, a narratively driven and engaging POW rescue? Or did he just want to show off the Fox Engine's wonderful weather affects? Did Kojima really feel the need to include a finicky on-rails escort mission, or did he really just want to have his digital avatar break the fourth wall in his own game? Did Kojima really want to include secret collectible cassettes, or did he just run out of space in the short amount of Ground Zeroes' gameplay to insert more exposition?

And why is all this worth paying for?

There's other aspects of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes that bothers me, such as the limp jokes aimed at Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, the poorly devised bonus "trials", and the fact that weapons have to be re-unlocked for each individual mission. However my primary concern is with Kojima and Konami's attempt to squeeze the absolute maximum amount of content from the game, even though most of that additional content is identical, and lacking in substance.

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes isn't the first title to offer a "sample" of a future product, with Gran Turismo 5 Prologue being first to mind. However I worry that if somewhat unscrupulous publishers like Konami are able to make such a game financially viable, that other publishers will also follow suit. 

I mean, I got a hell of a lot of gameplay hours out of the original Metal Gear Solid demos, and those were essentially free.


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