A First Hand, Live Demo Look at ‘Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes’

Photo credit: M.Concepcion –  (from left) Hideo Kojima, Stefanie Joosten and Yoji Shinkawa

As new content rollouts go, Konami’s newest reveal for ’Metal Gear Solid V’ continues the “I.V. drop method” that many game publishers have employed with their big titles in recent years. This latest media event wasn’t an especially large content reveal, but it was the first live demo of ’Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes’.

The presentation began with the same opening in Camp Omega from last year, the one with the imprisoned child and the Walkman. That also included a scene with a handful of FOX patches being tossed to the wind and rain. This slightly altered version of the intro called attention to a red patch, emblematic of the the red logo of the new Kojima Productions Los Angeles office, which incidentally, was where we watched this presentation. As a tweak to Snake’s actual rescue mission to Camp Omega, this altered version of the mission was simpler task: find the red patch somewhere on the base.

Very unusual by Kojima project standards, it’s commonly known that ’Metal Gear Solid V’ isn’t only a multiplatform release, but also a multigenerational one, due out for PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. This particular demo ran as “current gen equivalent” on PC, running at 30 frames per second. While understandably still rough visually, the game hinted more of its final graphic potential as you couldn’t miss the lighting and weather effects. Speaking of rain, it was a nice touch to hear the pitter-patter rain sound change when the camera view changed from the traditional third person view to the first person view.

The stealth exploration through Camp Omega had many of the hallmarks of a ’Metal Gear’ sneaking mission, from hiding in cover to staying out of the spotlight. In addition, we also got to see takedown options: interrogate, kill or knock out. We also saw an evolved form of CQC, the ability to take an enemy’s weapon and hold him up with it. This also looks to be one of the more accessible ’Metal Gears’ with features such as enemy marking (by way of binoculars), waypoint indicators, and one-button lockpicking. And like many prior games in the series, ’Ground Zeroes’ doesn’t seem short on the little touches, like pointing a guard tower spotlight to annoy and drive away a couple soldiers, thereby opening a path for you. Of course, the soldiers assume you’re just the guard in the tower, but you dispatched that watchman a few moments earlier.

As the Konami representative controlling Big Boss wasn’t the person originally scheduled for the event, things didn’t go as planned. While he was successful in his first few takedowns, too much time out in the open sent the entire base on full alert status. This led to some awkward shootouts and some indecisiveness as the rep tried to find some cover to recuperate. The point was to get the heck out of there. Conveniently, there was a jeep nearby. As clumsy as it looked, at least this mishap assured us that this demonstration really was playing out in real time.

As a short demo set on a base, we couldn’t get a grasp of the game’s open world freedom. The focus on reaching the red patch was indicative of many short term missions in prior ’Metal Gear Solid’ games, not that was a bad thing. Seeing Big Boss hop in a jeep and drive freely is a welcome and overdue change from the on-rails vehicle sections of ’MGS’ and ’MGS 3′. This dovetails into multiple escape options. Using Big Boss’ mobile communications interface, the player is able to select one of multiple extraction point options, summoning a helicopter within seconds. The game seamlessly transitioned Big Boss into a chopper gunnery position, picking off soldiers on the base. With the red patch in hand, the demo ended, signaling our formal welcome to the facility, seen here.

It was then that Hideo Kojima, Yoji Shinkawa, and actress Stefanie Joosten (who plays Quiet in ’MGSV’) sat in front of the screen for a Q&A. Some of the topics they went over included:

-Clarification about Kojima’s ’erotic’ comment about female characterization in ’MGSV’, that he actually meant ’sexy’
-Hinting at the significance of ’The Phantom Pain’s’ 1984 setting with George Orwell’s ’1984’
-Relying more on the player perspective to move along the story of ’MGSV’ as opposed to relying solely on cutscenes.
-Since so much time and energy is focused on ’MGSV’ and with this being the first FOX engine project, plans to license out the engine to other developers and even schools is something Kojima Productions is holding off for a later time.
-Kojima’s motivation to form a studio in LA isn’t only because of the filmmaking resources that Hollywood can provide, but also his lifelong fondness for the city.
-The TGS presentation of the same section will be performing under new gen specs. The improvements will be visual, as there won’t be any additions to gameplay.