It's a pleasure being lost in the universe of Metal Gear. With every game, and with every return of director Hideo Kojima, the fascinating stealth series redraws the boundaries of its dense military fiction, pushing them back to include more and more characters and conspiracies. We feel like time-travelers in Metal Gear's byzantine blend of fact and fiction, leaping back and forth between the future and past of a legendary soldier named Snake. Now we enter 1975 in Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes, and bless its prequel heart – there's a spot in the statistics screen reserved for time paradoxes.
Kojima's fiction may be impenetrable to the newcomer, but one man's convoluted is another man's complex, and it's your job to infiltrate the latter. Ground Zeroes effectively acts as the cold open for the upcoming and separately released Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, sending Snake through a massive rain-drenched encampment in Cuba. It's not quite the glorified demo your cynical self might suggest, but this tantalizing playground does show how Metal Gear Solid will change its crouching silhouette yet again.
The mission to rescue Chico and the duplicitous Paz, two important figures from Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, is just the first step in a new, freely explorable environment. It feels daunting at first, but clear goals keep you pointed in the right direction. Ground Zeroes is a confident game for the confident player – the one who sees the playground hiding beneath Metal Gear's tankers and army bases. This one's just a whole lot bigger.
Sony PlayStation 4
Microsoft Xbox 360
Microsoft Xbox One