It wasn’t meant to be like this. It was supposed to be routine—sneak into the Camp Omega detention centre, locate the prisoners, extract them, and bail. Simple. “This is an infiltration mission,” Miller told me rather condescendingly over the walkie before I set off. “You’ve got to stay out of sight.”
Easy for him to say, sitting in his cosy Militaires Sans Frontières operations centre goodness knows how many miles away from the frontline. Me, I’m out in the field, holed up behind this conveniently placed stack of plywood in the pissing rain after mistakenly shooting a soldier in the arse with a real bullet instead of a tranquilliser dart.
As I peer through the chain link fence ahead, guards pace frantically in all directions. It’s gonna take more than a cardboard box to save my backside this time, I think to myself.
It’s at this point that Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes—like every other Metal Gear game before it—encourages you to lay low. However, I have Pao’s FPS Mod. As the name suggests, it swaps Snake’s default third-person view for a first-person gun-in-hand perspective. Standard stealth is still possible, but Ground Zeroes’ confined and contained grid-styled map, with its multitude of narrow indoor and outdoor corridors, sporadic watchtowers, and occasional plazas, makes for the perfect FPS battleground, one which confidently stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the war-torn annually-updated blockbusters of the day.
And so I break cover. With my assault rifle raised, I zigzag between jail cells, supply tents and parked four-by-fours, popping shots at oncoming soldiers and dropping sharpshooters from their nests above. I take out several sentries with a well-placed grenade, vault over a fence and catch another off-guard with a fatal blow to the back of the head. I sprint into the camp’s central thoroughfare and leverage the bullet-time Reflex Mode upon detection with a succession of well-placed knee and skull shots to the steady beat of the Bloodstained Anthem—the omnipresent soundtrack to my remorseless slaughter.
This all-chaos approach is of course possible within Ground Zeroes’ non-modded state. But Pao’s first person perspective creates a much tighter field of view with less spacial awareness—which in turn not only makes twitch shooting almost essential at times, but also a lot more fun. This is especially true when Snake enters the game’s boiler room area and CQC makes way for point-blank shotgunning. And there’s something to be said about watching your foes crumble right before your eyes.
Enemies fall. I save Chico. I save Paz. I leave countless lifeless bodies in my wake and get the hell out of there. Not quite what Miller had in mind, but job done all the same.
Add all of that to the series’ cultured alternate timeline and future-dystopic slant on society, war and the world, its mechanical quirks, wonderful visuals and array of deadly weapons and intricate tech, and I’d argue Ground Zeroes viewed through Snake’s eyes is one of this generation’s preeminent first-person shooters. Tactical espionage operations it ain’t, but there’s much fun to be had in making Snake a ruthless cold-blooded killer.