Metal Gear Solid 5 Ground Zeroes and Phantom of Pain PREVIEW

The gradual reveal of Metal Gear Solid 5 has been a long-winded affair, with many teasers, trailers, rumour and more, all serving to keep us Metal Gear Solid fans uncertain about exactly where the series is heading. As we all know, Hideo Kojima loves plot twists and loves misdirecting his audience. Perhaps its no surprise, then, that the extensive promotion of Metal Gear Solid 5 has been so confusing. One things for certain, however. Having watched the demo for Metal Gear Solid 5, this is a new kind of MGS game.


Metal Gear Solid 5 presents a new kind of MGS game

Metal Gear SOlid 5 Ground Zeroes and Phantom of Pain show a new direction for Kojima

Hideo Kojima has always shown his love of a multitude of gaming styles and we’ve witnessed, over 15 years, the series turning from an 8-bit top-down action game to a grandiose piece of melodrama drowned in extensive cutscenes. One thing that’s always been at the very heart of Metal Gear Solid, however, is stealth. Not any more.

Metal Gear Solid 5 brings into the mix all kinds of western-influenced mechanics and cultural references. Perhaps the newly opened Los Angeles Kojima Productions studio is having its influence. The new team brings a lot of new material into the MGS mix. With this new Westernised take on gaming, Hideo Kojima hopes to put MGS right at the forefront of gaming, alongside GTS, Assassin’s Creed and the Elder Scrolls.

Metal Gear Solid 5 will be released in two parts. The first: Ground Zeroes, takes place one year after Peace Walker and nine years before The Phantom of Pain. It’s the Phantom of Pain that will constitute the larger part of the project. “Ground Zeroes serves as an introduction to the new MGS world,” says Hideo Kojima. “It’s a kind of tutorial with a small open world. It has a lot of traditional Metal Gear aspects.”

The open world of Ground Zeroes is 300 times smaller than that of Phantom of Pain – which surely means that either GZ will be tiny or PoP extremely large. Ground Zeroes takes place in a military base full of atmospheric lighting conditions. In Phantom of Pain, light is used as part of a dynamic weather system. The atmospheric lighting makes way for heavy use of lens flare that gives the game  Hollywood-esque feel.

In order to target a large audience, Kojima has hired some big names. Keifer Sutherland takes the lead role, struggling to fill in for David Hayter. He provide a different kind of character, one that should fit perfectly with the new audience Kojima hopes to attract. His performance sounds a little flat.

Back to the lighting. Light serves an important role in Metal Gear Solid 5: when light shines in your eyes it warns you that you’re in trouble. You’ll be able to avoid much of that trouble by tagging your enemies so you know where they are on the map. You’ve got your traditional radar too, though it’s now relegated to a PDA.

When you’re spotted by an enemy you enter a slow motion section that allows you to neutralise the enemy before they’re able to alert their comrades. Many fans have objected to this new mechanic, though it seems entirely too early to judge it harshly. We’ll have to see how it works in the final version before making comment.

Metal Gear Solid 5 has also opted for an easier difficulty setting. “It’s friendly to new players,” says Kojima. What else can we expect from the game? “Slow motion, the tagging system, a high speed camera. . . “ says Kojima.

Kojima himself wasn’t overly happy with a lot of the new gimmicks in Metal Gear Solid 5. “With the open world approach the game would be impossible to implement without these gimmicks,” says Kojima. “I also wanted the game to be a friendly experience.”


If some fans are left feeling weary of Metal Gear Solid 5, let’s at least give Kojima his due. A lot of work has been done to ensure that Metal Gear Solid 5 offers a new experience. Kojima is tackling the open world design with conviction. For that he should be applauded.

Paul Harrison

Paul M Harrison is an entertainment journalist, novelist, and blogger, and a specialist in the theory of storytelling. Paul Harrison can be contacted via his personal website or on Twitter or Facebook.

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