I may take some flack for this but the Metal Gear Solid series hasn’t appealed to me since Metal Gear Solid 2. I’m not really sure why, and there were certainly elements at the end of Sons of Liberty that were left hanging, but MGS3 just didn’t grab my interest and since then I’ve never managed to find a reason to get back into the series. I guess part of that comes down to not having a PS3 to play Metal Gear Solid 4, but even having owned one for a while now it doesn’t really hold any appeal.[videoyoutube]However, Ground Zeroes may change all that. I mean sure, I’ll probably be grabbing Metal Gear Rising at some point, but if we’re talking full on Metal Gear Solid, Ground Zeroes might be what brings me back to the series. I think it’s the game’s open world nature that’s drawn me in; it feels like it has the potential to freshen up the gameplay somewhat.
On top of that I’m just curious to see how that kind of mechanic is going to play out in a Metal Gear Solid title, and how much stealth gameplay it will allow the game to retain. Combining those two mechanics seems tricky at best, and it’ll be truly interesting to see just how Kojima manages to fit the two together.
Story wise, the game’s set after the events of Peace Walker and, according to Kojima, is going to serve as a prologue of sorts to Metal Gear Solid 5. From the first trailer, released as part of the Metal Gear anniversary celebrations, we know that Snake/Big Boss is going to be assaulting an enemy camp at the opening of the game, and that he’s going up against an organisation called XOF.
Other than that we don’t know a huge amount about the game’s story so far, so let’s switch to other elements. For example, it’s been confirmed that this will be the first game to feature the impressive looking Fox Engine. From what little we’ve seen of Ground Zeroes’ gameplay so far it’s looking great graphically, although we’ll need to see how it copes with a large, open environment.
However, it seems that Kojima is confident about the engine’s abilities, claiming that once you’re in one of game’s open areas there’ll be no load times. When you move from one open area to another there’ll be loading disguised by a helicopter journey between those areas, which will at least keep them in context, but once you get into one of those areas the game will be load free. With the graphics on display the lack of load screens could be an impressive technical feat, but it is fairly standard for modern open world titles.[drop]One of the other interesting elements of the game is the Mother Base, a home base that players can build up, as well as researching their own weapons and items. Whilst this doesn’t seem all the impressive for a game with customisation, you can manage your base and your research priorities from various smartphone apps, a concept that’s far more interesting. Assuming this works well it should be a great addition to the game and may help to get people more invested in that element of the game.
As for a release date, we don’t have anything even vaguely solid. However, Kojima has said that the game is targeted to current-gen systems, and with the next Sony and Microsoft consoles expected to launch in 2013, a 2013 release for Ground Zeroes looks like a distinct possibility. It should be pointed out, though, that he’s also said that the Fox Engine can work on next-gen consoles, so it shouldn’t be too difficult for the game to make that step up.
So will we see the game next year? Well we certainly hope so.