Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes Game Poster Image

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

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.


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.


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. 


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


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.

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?


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
Available online?Not available online
Release date:March 19, 2014
Genre:Third-person shooter
ESRB rating:M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Violence, Strong Language

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

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What parents and kids say

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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.
Kid, 12 years old May 20, 2014

A dark and wonderful stealth experience.

Let's get this out of the way. This game is dark, with implications of rape, torture, and bombs inside private parts. But most of this IS fortunately implied only, such as the body-bomb and rape. And most of the violence is done in T games as well. Shoot things. Have them explode. This isn't strange to many gamers. And, if you play the game right, there won't be much violence. The best scores are from pacifists. But the gameplay, the core mechanics, are so well done that it's easy to just ignore the inappropiate content. If a child enjoys stealth games, does not flinch at blood, and is a mature human, this game is a good gift.`
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
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