So there has been a bit of a controversy surrounding the release of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. According to Kojima and Konami in general, the game takes about as long as a normal game to play… if you are the type of gamer that likes to explore. If you are not that type of gamer, the game is far, far shorter. We have seen runs of the game coming in at under 10 minutes, and these runs aren’t even optimized. They do involve skipping cutscenes, but in terms of actual gameplay, there isn’t a whole lot to do in Ground Zeroes before hitting the end.
This hasn’t sat well with many gamers. Some are calling Ground Zeroes nothing more than an overpriced game demo. Others are saying that the game is taking advantage of gamer’s natural tendency to waste time while playing. Still others, however, are defending the game to the death, saying that it’s just as awesome as any other Metal Gear game. However, the most common sentiment seems to be a combination of the two opinions. Nearly everyone admits that the gameplay, story, graphics, and presentation of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes are amazing, but regardless it’s still not worth buying if only due to its length.
This begs the question, how much game is there really in Ground Zeroes? If you go by the current speed running records, you would probably say less than 10 minutes. If you go by the same runs without skipping cutscenes, you might say 30. If you go by average play time, you probably would say something like 2 hours, and if you “did everything” there was to do, then you’d say 12 hours. But then, there’re a whole lot of other factors. Being bad at the game will increase your play time. Playing the game multiple times will also squeeze more hours out of it. In theory, you could run in a circle on the first screen and the game would, literally, have infinite playtime.
That’s what’s problematic about Konami’s claim that Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes can be completed in an “average gameplay time” if you wander around and partake in all the side content. They are claiming an average gameplay time based on a very specific pattern of behavior. But that’s not actually what we are thinking about when we think of game length. Most reviews will read something like “you can beat this game in X hours which grows to Y hours if you partake in all the content.” When we read that statement, X hours is the “actual play time” we tend to look at, while Y hours is the time that you’ll spend if you decide to use a walkthrough to do a perfect playthrough or otherwise attempt a perfect run. There is an assumption in play here. That assumption is that X hours applies to every gamer in existence, while Y hours applies to a very specific type of gamer: the perfectionist.
But we aren’t all perfectionists and we aren’t all going to play for as long as Konami or Kojima assumes we will. A good portion of us will just mainline the game until the end, thus getting a far reduced gameplay time. So if we decompress what Konami is ACTUALLY saying, they are saying “a perfect run of our game takes about as long as a normal run of any other game.” It all points to one thing: Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is inordinately short.
So let’s answer the question. About how long is Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, no speedrunning, no perfectionism? The honest truth, is an hour or two. So purchase the game knowing that the average player will beat it in a rather brief time.
Senior Contributing Writer