Well, I haven’t used this form of title in a long while. In fact, I believe I’ve only used it once before, and for good reason. Usually I just sort of presume every game has some kind of merit to a specific audience, which means it gets a “Should You Buy” article.
That might be the case here. Certainly the Metal Gear Solid series has its audience of devoted fans, but I sincerely implore them to approach this game with caution. I won’t deny that it has appeal and character. But it’s a prelude to a (presumably) larger game. I want to see that game, not this one.
For myself, I’ve never been able to get into Metal Gear, in much the same way that I’ve never been able to get into Tolkien or General Hospital, though I acknowledge the influence and appeal. The series is like a 30-pound sugarless doughnut: Big, dense, and rather flavorless, just in my opinion.
The game is a sequel to Peace Walker, which I’ve never played. It concerns Big Boss, the former Naked Snake, rescuing some young compatriots from an American prison camp in Cuba. This is more or less all there is to the story. I’m fairly certain I would have had to play Peace Walker to understand the significance of the two kids in the grand scheme of things, but they are just a goal here.
When all is said and done, this game is the length of a demo and costs around $30, and I bought it after Konami dropped the price. For what it offers, which is a bare preview of a presumably deep and involving sandbox stealth game involving a single mission and a few side challenges, that seems steep.
Let me be clear: My franchise-based misgivings notwithstanding, I’m looking forward to The Phantom Pain. Ground Zeroes has done its job in that regard. The stealth is interesting to play. I gave the upper difficulties a try and it was quite the challenge.
Think about how easy this was for Kojima and Konami. They could have offered this game for around $10 US, if not for free. Imagine how different it would have been had they done so: Fans would have had their first entry in the Solid series in four years (or six, depending on how you feel about Peace Walker). Non-fans would have said, “Oh, I recognize that series’ name, and it’s cheap. Might as well give it a try.” The game publisher could have made their money back easily and we could have had a tantalizing glimpse of a juicier game.
I've got my fingers crossed for Phantom Pain. Please don’t mess this one up.