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Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What 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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
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.
Talk to your kids 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?