It's been a while since we've seen anything new from the Metal Gear Solid franchise, despite bits and pieces of the latest chapter, Metal Gear Solid 5. Series creator Hideo Kojima said it will be divided into two releases. The first, Ground Zeroes, is set to make an impact next month.
The game features the return of Big Boss, a notable character in the franchise and star of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. He's called upon to rescue a former ally, Paz, from Camp Omega, a highly guarded maximum security base. He'll need combat and stealth skills to get through the mission in one piece.
Unlike other entries in the series, Ground Zeroes works with an open world structure. Players will maneuver around Camp Omega in order to find missions, and there are a number of ways to get in, depending what style of play you prefer.
If you're the stealth type, you can sneak in under trucks or through a different entrance into the camp, avoiding detection. On the other hand, if you prefer combat, Ground Zeroes will provide this option as well, though things could get a little rough with the number of soldiers occupying the base. Players can complete these objectives any way they see fit, a huge change of pace from previous Metal Gear Solid games.
If you prefer to be stealthy, you'll find that Big Boss is more than up for the job in Ground Zeroes. Along with being able to use the darkness to his advantage – it's best to tackle missions at night, when you are less likely to be seen – Big Boss can crawl on the ground. This is good for not only hiding under objects, but also being unnoticeable in grass when enemy patrols are moving about. You don't want to move too quickly, however – this may give away your position.
Like classic games in the series, an indication system will appear when a guard is suspicious of Big Boss' activities in the area. It's up to you to either stay out of sight until they eventually lose interest, or take them out before they can fight back. In addition, you'll want to keep bodies hidden in order to avoid alerting other guards, and also keep a close ear on radio chatter so you can be notified of any concerns with patrols and possible openings into the base.
There are several ways to take out guards. When it comes to shooting, you can use a number of firearms to bring them down. The thing you have to keep in mind is trajectory, as Ground Zeroes features a new system where bullets can lose some of their velocity over distance. Thankfully, there's a distance notch system on the reticule, so you can adjust aiming accordingly. Fans of sniper-style play will certainly appreciate this.
In addition, Big Boss can grab a guard and drag him out of sight with a chokehold. From there, players have different options available – interrogate for additional information, knock him out or snap his neck. It all depends on how you want to approach the situation.
Vehicles play a role in Ground Zeroes, as you can steal an enemy vehicle and use it to get away from a base or closer to another mission. You don't want to crash it, though, as you're likely to attract attention from enemy sentries – unless you run them down first, of course.
Along with that, Big Boss has a couple of aids he can call upon. Instead of an on-screen mini-map from prior games, he now uses an iDroid, allowing him to see objectives on a quick pull-up map. Be careful, though – the game doesn't pause while you do this.
If the situation calls for it, you can also call upon a helicopter at any time using a flare. It'll appear playing the music of your choice, but you don't want to have something too loud or guards will shoot it down. Proceed with caution.
Even though some elements have changed with Ground Zeroes – day or night play, new action tactics, secondary tools – it should remain a quintessential Metal Gear Solid experience when it arrives in stores and digitally on March 18th, for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.