Why is Metal Gear Solid V one of the most relevant games of the season? After all, new iterations of this franchise have been released for the past 25 years. Sure, Ground Zeroes boasts a new graphic engine and a vivid open-world structure. Enough to keep the tech savvy fan happy. But it’s Hideo Kojima’s authorial take that makes the difference.
Kojima’s strong hand is clear when you hear Baez and Morricone’s Ballad of Sacco and Vanzetti in the emotional opening sequence. Themes of freedom, detention, and torture are presented in a raw fashion and the game questions post-9/11 methods of security. All of this is juxtaposed against the exaggerated hyperbole of a Hollywood blockbuster. Kojima dances between popular culture and authorial ambitions: a tension embodied by the medium of digital games.
Critics have commented that the game is really short, but this is a misunderstanding. For all its cinematographic inspiration, MGS5 is not about the plot. This is a game of space: you are buying a Guantanamo-inspired military base populated with guards, traps, and secret passages. By the end of the experience you will be familiar with the space and left haunted by feelings of loss and powerlessness.