Metal Gear?! On Steam?! Yes, that’s right. Following the mind-blowingly awesome release of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance on Steam last year, you’re now able to play Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes on PC. Sure, a few of the previous titles in the main series were on PC, but you’d have to shell out an arm and a leg to get your hands on them now. Much easier to just drop a few bucks on one of the many collections available. Now you can just grab the new hotness on Steam for $20. And that’s pretty cool. Sort of.
Here’s the elephant in the room with regards to Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes: it’s short. Very, very, very short. If you take your time, watch the cutscenes and play cautiously you might get two hours out of this one. I’d like to say that I don’t criticize games for their length, but that’d be a lie; with what we’re asked to pay for these things, we should expect a solid, full experience, and Ground Zeroes doesn’t really deliver on that front. This is what your purchasing decision is inevitably going to be based on because it’s going to be a dealbreaker for most people. This game has been speedrun in five minutes. Think about that before you reach for your credit card.
It’s sad, too, because it’s actually a pretty fun five-minutes-to-two-hours. One reason is that this game finally updates a few of the creakier aspects of the Metal Gear series’ gameplay. Things like a dedicated button for diving and going prone, no longer being forced to a separate screen for radio calls and a drastically more pleasant shooting interface are all much appreciated. Other nice touches include the game notifying you when you’re seen, even if you aren’t necessarily looking at the guy who did it. Everything just feels a lot more organic and in line with modern gaming paradigms.
Ground Zeroes’ graphics are without question the highest point of the incredibly brief experience. Everything looks amazing, particularly with the impressive fluid physics on display thanks to the ever-present rain. Less impressive is the loss of David Hayter as the voice of Snake, which is a significant omission that veteran actor Kiefer Sutherland can’t really make up for. I tried to make up for this by imagining it was yet another clone of Snake. It actually kind of worked, to be honest. Aside from this quibble, the presentation is top notch and there’s very few complaints here. A wide selection of graphical options allow those of you with terrifying murder-PCs to make this game look damn nice.
The fact of the matter, though, is that despite the gorgeous graphics and updated gameplay, this remains little more than a demo you’re being asked to pay for. Yes, thanks to Early Access and Kickstarter you’ve already been paying to do developers’ beta testing work for them, now you’re paying for tech demos. Welcome to the future. Pity the folks who went in on the initial cashgrab on PS4 and Xbox One, paying $40 for a “game” that lasts about an hour and a half, and even $20 for the Steam version is a little iffy. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes tells us two important things: that the full release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is going to kick ass, and that the games industry isn’t done screwing consumers by a long shot – in fact, it’s really just started.