Is Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes worth £30? – opinion

Wednesday, 19th March 2014 08:23 GMT By Dave Cook

Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes is a tricky one to peg down. Is is a prologue or demo, and is the boxed code actually worth £30 on PS4 & Xbox One? Gamers have asked Dave Cook many questions about Kojima’s latest this week. Here are the answers.


Is Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes worth £30?

No, I don’t think it is.

Does that, then, imply that the game is poor?

Not at all. In fact, it’s superb.

See, Hideo Kojima has never lied about the fact that Ground Zeroes is a prologue to The Phantom Pain, so it’s puzzled me that many gamers out there seemed to be expecting some kind of 10-15 hour epic. This has purely been constructed to showcase the Fox Engine, familiarise fans with Kojima Production’s new suite of stealth mechanics and tide us over until the full game drops next year.

I won’t get too deep into the game’s content and finer points here, because Stace has already written a final impressions piece that goes into how the game feels to play, and covers the base mechanics. You should read it if you’re interested in the game or are currently sitting on the fence.

Gamers have been asking me a lot of questions about the game’s length, how it expands over time and if it’s worth the money on current-gen formats. These things are subjective of course, but I’ll tell you what I personally think after having sunk some five hours into it. First and foremost; it’s a strange product, one that grows with each completion of the main Ground Zeroes mission, and the side content that follows.

You could say it’s as long as you want it to be.

Here’s a raw PS4 video of me playing the game slow and methodically

“For argument’s sake, you could probably dash across the whole base in about five minutes if there were no enemies stalking the grounds, but if you want the satisfaction of a high rank you’ll play this slow and methodical.”

The core story mode can be finished in around an hour on your first pass, although I took my time with it to try and complete a passive, no-detection run. It took me about two and a half hours, purely because I’m one of those annoying Tenchu: Stealth Assassins players who likes to choke out everyone on the map and leave no guard standing by the end of a stage. I also took time to explore, try out mechanics and tricks like any good critic should.

This is a different stealth experience to, say, Metal Gear Solid on PSone. The lack of Soliton Radar on your HUD is the biggest game-changer, as you need to carefully observe your surroundings and enemy placement using smarts, rather than simply guiding a dot between clearly-mapped cones of vision. That whole dynamic of skirting around foes and smothering them quietly has changed, bolstered with a simply incredible light system that profoundly impacts gameplay.

Enemy soldiers will swivel glaring spotlights from high in their watchtowers, causing streams of light to dance and warp across the environment without a clear field of vision from the operator. It’s up to the player to decide if they can pass undetected or to be patient and seek our an alternative route. Hostiles can also be tagged using Snake’s binoculars, which renders them permanently highlighted on the screen, through walls and on the in-game iDroid map device. It’s very similar to Far Cry 3′s tag mechanic.

This helps cool the game’s high difficulty some-what, while other, more aggressive players will find solace in simply gunning down everyone with silenced tranquillizer rounds or suppressed rifle bursts. Those players will reach the end credits much faster than I did, but I don’t play stealth games that way. Our methods and experiences will have differed; perhaps even drastically, and you also have to factor in secrets and other curios littered around the sandbox map.


”This is one of the best-looking games I’ve ever played, with some of the most impressive lighting effects to date and a slick 60FPS veneer that never let-up once on PS4.”

For argument’s sake, you could probably dash across the whole base in about five minutes if there were no enemies stalking the grounds, but if you want the satisfaction of a high rank you’ll play this slow and methodical, while interrogating guards to reveal what they know.

Doing this drops map markers into iDroid that reveal ammo caches, collectible ‘XOF’ patches and cassette tape logs. There are also a handful of POWs to be extracted by chopper, who are then added to Mother Base in Phantom Pain via save transfer.

Once you complete the Ground Zeroes mission you’ll unlock five Side-Ops that change several parameters such as time of day, weather and guard placement. These range from providing air support to a fleeing escapee, destroying anti-air cannons and assassinating two rogue agents. There’s also the Raiden and Deja Vu bonus missions for Xbox One and PS4 respectively, although they aren’t unlocked off the bat.

There’s clearly a lot of content in here, with incentives to achieve greater ranks, play around with stealth tactics and test your ever-expanding gun collection, but why don’t I feel Ground Zeroes is worth £30?

It’s still not long or big enough to warrant the cost.

This is one of the best-looking games I’ve ever played, with some of the most impressive lighting effects to date and a slick 60FPS veneer that never let-up once on PS4. Yet when I think of the other games you could buy for that asking price I start to scratch my head a little. I’d argue that the £20 price-tag on PS3 and Xbox 360 is in the right ballpark, but to charge £10 more for what are – admittedly – superb visuals doesn’t really fly, not when I personally place appearance low down my list of priorities.

Though the sandbox could theoretically be played repeatedly for any length of time, your patience could wear thin quite quickly given how small it really is. At first glance it appears massive, thanks to your rain-swept low visibility, but play a day mission and it’s clear that Kojima’s stealth toybox isn’t all that vast. Some people don’t have a problem with replaying content – see Dead Rising – but grinding the same things over and over isn’t my idea of a fun time.

You may feel differently of course, and that’s fine; no one’s judging anyone else here. If I had bought this game at £30 I’d feel disappointed by the lack of content, but just as I did upon completing the main mission, I came away impressed by the gameplay, new mechanics and reeling at the dark ending. It has absolutely succeeded in hyping me for The Phantom Pain, seeing as it’s essentially the same format but across a massive region, rather than one small base. That potential scope blows my mind.

Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes is perhaps the most-expensive elevator pitch I’ve ever sat through, but while I’m sold on the premise, I’d feel a little short-changed by the price of admission.

Disclosure: to assist in writing this piece, Konami sent Dave a PS4 copy of Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes.



  1. Mike

    Hmmmm. Don’t know that to do. :’(

    #1 9 months ago
  2. Jet Black

    £30? Make sure to shop around, I paid £23 for my copy from Shopto, seems worth it to me…

    #2 9 months ago
  3. Dragon

    @Jet Black,

    Value of price is an entirely subjective matter, as said above.

    #3 9 months ago
  4. mistermogul

    Dave is it worth £20 in your opinion? That’s the lowest I’ve seen it and I’m tempted…

    #4 9 months ago
  5. The_Red

    The worrying thing isn’t the game itself. While I don’t think it is worth £30, let’s just say it is for argument’s sake.

    When a lot of consumers buy this, they have unwillingly shown support for a pricing model that could really REALLY hurt games because it means more and more publishers will try to experiment with it. As we know, not all of them will be stunning looking games that run at 60fps and offer a semi-open world / area. Soon we will get 2 hour, linear campaigns that are priced at 30 bucks.

    Now couple this with the 60 bucks for a multiplayer only game with less than 20 maps. You see the pattern? Publishers could soon end up charging more and more for pieces of a normal $60 game. They make a multiplyer + singleplayer game like previous gen but don’t still it all for 60. Instead:
    - Cut the first few campaign missions and sell them on a disk for $30.
    - Cut late campaign missions (But not the ending) and sell them for $20.
    - Cut the actual ending from late game and sell it as a DLC for $15.
    - Cut the multiplayer modes and sell them at $40 bucks.
    - Cut half the maps from above and sell each of them for $5.
    - Sell $20 season passes for a combination of some of those cuts.
    - Finally, release a full package that has all of them for $60.

    Welcome to the next gen!

    #5 9 months ago
  6. Erthazus

    “See, Hideo Kojima has never lied about the fact that Ground Zeroes is a prologue to The Phantom Pain, so it’s puzzled me that many gamers out there seemed to be expecting some kind of 10-15 hour epic.”

    But t the same time he tried to prove to the audience and journalists that it is a full game and it is worth it’s money.

    It’s a cash grab with potential in mind. It’s a demo that should have been in Castlevania:LOS2 that is a poor hack and slash title. That would help boost it’s sales and eventually would increase the value.

    #6 9 months ago
  7. Dimaco

    Way I see it, it’s totally worth it! If you find an online deal, even more so… PS4 version, that is!

    #7 9 months ago
  8. Michael Ireland

    Value is obviously a subjective thing, so everyone is going to have to make that judgement call for themselves.

    Myself personally? I think it’s robbery. One location, a bunch of hidden items and a few bonus missions. That’s a lack of *variety*, which I think is the optimal word here.

    If the main game can be finished in an under an hour, I’m simply not going to bother. The whole point of side missions is that they’re supposed to be an optional experience. They shouldn’t feel a necessity that you have to do to get your money’s worth.

    So it boils down to this. Is 1 or 2 hours worth £30 to me? No it isn’t. I can’t justify to myself paying anything more than a fiver for what basically amounts to the Tanker mission.

    Your personal mileage may vary. This is mine. Just remember that supporting something like this will only encourage more of it in the future.

    #8 9 months ago
  9. Legendaryboss

    @Erthazus The solution is to bundle a game in a popular franchise with a poorly acclaimed entry to another franchise. You can add gold to a turd but you still have the turd, the point? A turd is turd.

    No. Price is the issue.

    Topic: £30? I know this is retail price but rarely do games cost their full retail price especially online unless you shop at the rip-off GAME. You can always find games cheaper if you shop around. Just wait for a bundle or heavy price drop.

    #9 9 months ago
  10. Eregol

    I bought my copy for less than £20 from Gameseek.
    Well worth that in my opinion.

    #10 9 months ago
  11. Hcw87

    It’s barely worth half that price, which is a shame since it is a great game both gameplay and graphics wise.

    It’s just way way too short, i’ve played demo’s with more gameplay. So they did shoot themselved in the foot there, and the time would have been better spent including it in the main game instead (or a free demo, which would have recieved massive praise). Now all they get is backlash because of the price, so i don’t understand why they would do that to themselves.

    #11 9 months ago
  12. zoopdeloop

    they should have it free of charge, which they will eventually a month or two prior to main game’s release

    #12 9 months ago
  13. YoungZer0


    “It’s a cash grab with potential in mind. It’s a demo that should have been in Castlevania:LOS2 that is a poor hack and slash title. That would help boost it’s sales and eventually would increase the value.”

    Well I’ll be damned, Erthazus said something I can agree with.

    #13 9 months ago
  14. Panthro


    After playing it I agree as well, I was extremely underwhelmed by the length of the game….

    Even though I did enjoy what I played I don’t believe it’s worth £30. Maybe £11.99 at a stretch, but even then I think it should have been included as a demo within another game.

    #14 9 months ago
  15. rafaelbtst

    Here in Brazil the price is R$120,00,almost U$60,00…for a demo!!!!! #*%# this country,and the price of a Ps4 is R$4.000,00 or U$2.000,00!!!what do you think?

    #15 9 months ago
  16. Dragon

    That is thanks to your government, which probably views games as luxury items that needs to be heavily taxed (well, in a way are, aren’t they?)

    I share your pain though. PS4 is 1000 bucks here.

    #16 9 months ago
  17. TheWulf

    I tend to view things like continuous fun, quality, enjoyment, and so on as a metric of worth. So, the original portal was just three hours, but would I have paid thirty quid for that? Yes, I probably would have. But only because every chamber was completely unique and the writing was superlative, my enjoyment of that was from beginning to end, with a grin on my face the entire time.

    I feel similarly about the LEGO games. They really don’t have to be long, and the way they artificially elongate them is hugely to their detriment. LEGO games are much, much more fun if you use a hacked save so you can just do free play on all of the levels. It’s just a better experience — shorter, yes, but to me repeating the same content over and over again isn’t fun. I don’t factor in replayability or length very highly. If it’s memorable, I don’t need to replay it until it sticks in my mind. The same was true of titles like To the Moon.

    What’s interesting is whether the people who’d defend this would still hate Gone Home. Gone Home is a slightly longer game for half the price. So I’d love to hear the justifications as to why this would be worth it and Gone Home wouldn’t. I really think that if a game is enjoyable, it can be short. The problem is is that most games aren’t very fun, so they try to use length in the place of fun. That trick never really worked on me.

    If Skyrim isn’t fun within the first hour, it’s not going to be fun for any hour after, so I’m not going to stick around. I enter every game with that attitude. A good game can have you completely engaged within the first hour and then provide you with a complete experience with no padding, grinding, or repeated content. It’s just a fun experience. I think that a game, like a movie, can be short and merit a high price. But only if the enjoyment is there.

    And it’s down to each person to decide how much they’ll enjoy something.

    Personally, since this has moved so, so far away from the Metal Gear that I knew, becoming more of a boring, mainstream, watercooler-topic game, I’m not interested. Revengeance, on the other hand, was hilariously silly, ridiculous, and just fun. I would have paid a good amount of money even for just the Blade Wolf DLC alone, but the game as well? And very rarely did they actually put you through content where you just felt like you were going through the motions.

    Yeah, Revengeance was a short game. But it was a short damned fun game. I’m okay with that.

    The thing is is that if you don’t have fun with Zeroes, you’re not going to have fun in the many hours epic that Kojima has planned down the road. So if you feel ripped off by this, you’re going to feel ripped off by the end result, too, simply because the quality of the experience, the passion and soul of it, are just completely missing and void.

    This is why in my perfect world, the Metal Gear license would just be handed over to Platinum. Kojima just doesn’t know how to make a Metal Gear game any more. It’s way too generic and dull, with just shock value to try and elicit some kind of response. That kind of tat could get away with any mainstream title and still sell, but it’s not Metal Gear. So for me, it isn’t even worth a pound, let alone thirty of them.

    #17 9 months ago

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