Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

 
(i)

 

Exceptionally dark and violent war game is joyless, brief.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

As with all the games in the Metal Gear series, this one wants to make players consider the meaning of war, the roles of soldiers, the motives and methods of governments, and the driving forces behind private military companies. But, although it provides plenty to think about, the message ends up a confusing mess -- especially given that players take on the role of a soldier with murky motives and end up doing a lot of vicious killing.   

Positive role models

The game's protagonist, Big Boss, is a complex villain in the Metal Gear series. His reasons for doing terrible things sometimes make a twisted sort of sense. In this game he kills American soldiers -- sometimes needlessly -- to accomplish his objectives, but his objectives are to save a pair of prisoners suffering terrible torture. Regardless, he's clearly not a good model for kids.

Ease of play

Instructions are provided throughout the game, but most players will end up figuring things out through trial and error. The button layout is a bit unintuitive, so it may take some time to master the controls. A "hard" mode exists for players looking for more of a challenge than what's offered in the default "normal" mode.

Violence

Players use rifles, pistols, rocket launchers, and positioned weapons to kill U.S. marines guarding an island prison. Blood sprays from victims' bodies with each hit, accompanied by cries of pain. Players also can choke enemies to unconsciousness and use a knife to execute the soldiers they capture. One particularly gruesome scene involves an impromptu surgery to remove a bomb from a woman's stomach, and it shows in gory detail the incision as well as the medic's hands rooting around her intestines to find the device. Evidence of torture is apparent in many of the camp's prisoners, whose clothes are stained with blood. One has had bolts driven into his ankles to keep him from walking. Lengthy cassette recordings provide an audio account of whipping and torture, including what sounds like a sexual assault on a woman.

Sex

There is no nudity, but a woman's rape is implied via an audio recording that includes the sound of whip lashes, moans, crying, and clothing being ripped. 

Language

Infrequent use of words including "f--k," "bitch," and "s--t."

Consumerism

This game is part of Konami's Metal Gear Solid series, which is decades old and an entrenched part of video-game culture.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Big Boss smokes a cigar in a video that runs on the game's home screen.

Privacy & safety

No privacy and safety concerns. Online leaderboards exist but show only player handles.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is absolutely not intended for kids. In addition to its gritty military action, which includes gun battles and intense close-quarters knife combat against American soldiers, the story also includes what sounds like a vicious sexual assault, with whipping, crying, and moaning, heard via an audio recording. What's more, players encounter prisoners who have been brutally tortured, and there's a graphic and gory surgery performed on a conscious woman to remove a large bomb from her abdomen. The motivations of the game's protagonist -- the leader of a private army and an outright villain in other entries in the series -- are murky and never fully revealed, making it difficult to determine whether one ought to support his actions. This game contains explicit and mature themes clearly intended for an adult audience.

What's it about?

METAL GEAR SOLID V: GROUND ZEROES is a precursor to the next big game in the series, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. It focuses on a character named Big Boss who, disillusioned and at odds with the American government, raids a secret U.S. prison camp guarded by Marines in an effort to recover a pair of tortured comrades. He must use stealth to find them, listening to and occasionally torturing them for information. Players have the option of engaging in full-fledged gunfights as they carry out their mission or operating in complete silence, avoiding guards and cameras and shimmying through bushes and gutters. The game is composed of only a single, hour-long mission, though players can unlock an additional five bonus missions set on the same map with new objectives.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

There's not much to recommend the curious and ultimately failed experiment that is Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. At just more than an hour long (plus bonus missions), it feels like little more than an expensive, hyped-up demo for a much, much bigger game yet to come. It provides just enough time to become acquainted with its quirky controls and surprisingly combat-oriented action -- it's pretty easy to run up a body count of a dozen or more guards, which seems directly at odds with the game's stealthy premise -- before wrapping things up.

Perhaps worse, its narrative grapples with some deep, dark issues that the writers don't seem to have the chops to properly tackle. Clumsy and disturbing attempts to establish character motives -- including what sounds like an horrific torture rape in an audio log -- don't come with the backstory or resolution necessary to validate their presence. This is a game that clearly isn't meant for kids, but it's hard to imagine that many mature players will have much fun with it, either.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the impact of violence in media. This is a rare game in which the player's mission involves killing U.S. soldiers performing their duty. How does this make you feel as a player? Does the narrative support the action?

  • Families also can discuss storytelling in games. Games relate narrative much differently from other media, making players active participants in situations rather than simply observers of them. What impact does this have on those who play? 

Game details

Platforms:PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Price:$29.99
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Konami
Release date:March 19, 2014
Genre:Third-person shooter
ESRB rating:M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Violence, Strong Language (PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)

This review of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Terrific narrative game tackles tough teen identity issues.
  • Majestic platformer with colorful, vibrant landscapes.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 14 years old Written byNitro_Python March 23, 2014
 

Common Sense's most ridiculous review yet

The game is just as violent as any other Metal Gear Game except for the fact that it's not. The only scene which parents should be concerned about is the scene where the bomb is being removed from the girls stomach.That is it. Apart from that, all the rubbish about holding up enemies isn't that bad. Yes, there is evidence of torture when you first meet the girl (Paz). The story is dark. Violence would be better at three. Sexual content five?! Are you joking!? If this guy thinks that one audio tape like that is deserving of a five for sexual content, he should not be rating anything, it might be slightly disturbing to some and is violent but a five? Hahah. NO. More like a three. As for language his description is accurate but a five is not deserved again, a three. The common snese review is overall bad and makes the game seem like a horrible wretched game. It is pretty dark but there is no way it deserved the perceptions that this game has been given by this reviewer.
Teen, 16 years old Written byalexman774 March 24, 2014
 

A downright brutal political commentary

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is the newest entry in the beloved MGS series. However GZ is the darkest one to date. It features several audio tapes where players will have to endure listening to brutal acts of violence including rape. We also see a young boy with nails through his feet to prevent him from walking. The conclusion just might be the most disturbing and cruel endings to any video game ever made. Hiding beneath the Brutal violence lies a brilliant commentary about political inactivity, Specifically guantanamo bay. While this game is brief clocking in at around 2-3 hours it is definitely worth it if you can handle the violence because it offers one of the finest narratives ever to be in a video game.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 17 years old Written byEziotheAssassin April 9, 2014
 

The most violent game that makes Spec Ops The Line make like My Little Pony.

Alright, first thing first. Rape. There is literally a REWARD for completing the game that is a tape that you can listen to that contains a two characters of young age being forced to engage in sexual activities. This game is incredibly, incredibly dark, twisted, and violent. It is very heavy on torture and rape to portray the villain's sick and twisted mind. There is one scene where the woman you need to rescue reveals that she has a bomb stuck inside her stomach, so there is an incredibly graphic scene in where they frantically cut her open WITHOUT ANY ANESTHETIC. She is completely awake as they are digging through her intestines and she is screaming in agony as they pull the bomb out. After they throw the bomb out of the helicopter, she again reveals that *SPOILERS* She has a bomb inside her-*boom* It is heavily implied that the second bomb is inside her nether-regions. In short - the violence of the Metal Gear Solid games of some blood spraying and going on the floor or wall has been amped up to eleven and the game does not have the campy, bananas story focuses like the others. (Unmanned tanks that can fly, a floating psychic that makes pictures move) This game is incredibly dark and is definitely not for kids at ALL.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass