Bang for your Buck

image By: John

Playing – LEGO Marvel Superheroes     Reading – Quantum Man by Lawrence Krauss       Watching – The Americans


This last weekend I finally had a chance to play through Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes. I’ve played all of the previous MGS games and for the most part enjoyed them all, but I was really starting to lose interest in them. The convoluted plots and far fetched characters were wearing thin on me. So I was quite surprised when I finished Ground Zeroes to find that not only did I really enjoy it, it also got me excited for the upcoming Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain. Ground Zeroes exceeded my expectations and was worth every dollar that I spent to play it. That amount being $1.

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I reactivated my Gamefly account for one month at the cost of $1 just so that I could play this game without having to purchase it. There has been a little bit of controversy surrounding the latest release from Konami when it was revealed that the main story mode in the game could be completed in less than 2 hours. The price for the game was $39.99 for PS4 and XB1 and $29.99 for PS3 and XB360 (they later lowered the next gen price to that of the current gen versions). Now I know that Ground Zeroes has extra bonus missions that you can play that take place in the same map to try and get some extra replay out of the game, but I didn’t find them interesting at all and it seems obvious that it was an attempt to re-use existing game assets to squeeze some extra hours out of the game. I don’t normally worry too much about game length as I think I’d rather pay for a great 5-8 hour game than a 15-20 hour game that drags on longer than it needs to. But when you get down to the 1- 2 hour range I think it’s right to start asking if you’re really getting your moneys worth.

On my playthrough of Ground Zeroes I completed the game in 77 minutes. I probably could have shaved several minutes off of that time too if I didn’t suck so bad at stealth games. Now if my memory is correct I seem to recall the demo for the original Metal Gear Solid on PS1 being a very similar length. And that was free.

When Journey came out I gladly paid $20 for that game knowing full well that I would beat it in a single sitting. And I definitely feel like that game was worth paying that much for. But with Ground Zeroes it seems a little less honest, a little more sketchy. First is the fact that this game is very much a prologue to a game coming out in the future. It is in no way self contained and feels like a chapter plucked out of a different game and packaged alone. I have to wonder if the plan was to offset some of the high development costs of The Phantom Pain by releasing Ground Zeroes as a stand alone title. Prologues have been sold seperate before, I recall Dead Rising 2 released one on Xbox Live but that was priced at $5. A much easier pill to swallow.

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Second is the fact that they don’t seem to be very upfront about what this game is. I know one friend who purchased the game not knowing it wasn’t a full game and upon finishing it the first night returned it to the store angry. I have to believe that others had this happen as well. In the past if you purchased a game with the Metal Gear Solid title you knew you were getting a lengthy epic. If this game would have been titled MGS: Phantom Pain Prologue or something similar it would have been more clear what players were in store for. I have to wonder if they’ve tarnished the Metal Gear Solid reputation just a bit by being so unclear.

In the end I feel a bit torn on my opinion of the game. On the one hand this is a beautiful looking and fun to play prequel to The Phantom Pain that I had a blast playing and I’m excited to see where the story goes. And on the other hand I feel I can’t really recommend spending $30 on what is essentially a demo. Unless you are the kind of person who will replay those bonus missions over and over. I have to imagine that when the full game is released down the road that they will include this in the package, or at least as part of a special edition of the game. It’s definitely a game I would recommend people play, just as a rental or borrowing from a friend.

I really hope that Konami shows a bit more respect for gamers in the future because the future of Metal Gear Solid is definitely looking good.

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