I made a 28 minute review covering my thoughts on GZ two years ago:
The long short of it is that it’s a great mission and a shit product. One mission recycled seven times isn’t worth its current asking price, let alone the launch price it had to get shaved down on a week into launch. What would’ve made the game worth its asking price is if the missions weren’t all housed in Camp Omega. I don’t care how great a level is, the objective changing isn’t gonna mask the fact that each mission will feel and play very similarly in the moment-to-moment gameplay loop.
The game should’ve built towards Camp Omega. Having a series of smaller missions on other parts of the island all connecting to the larger story, and had at least one boss fight against the commander of the base that was open-ended like the rest of the game. With all of that, then I think the game would’ve been worth it.
I don’t mind repurposing the map multiple times, but that’s only if the base game has enough varied content in the onset, which it didn’t, since, again, it’s all just one really good mission repurposed multiple times with less intricacy in each reiteration.
That isn’t even getting into how much I utterly despised the writing in the game, but that’s something the review above covers.
I simultaneously agree and disagree at the same time.
What I agree with is that the open world is barren as sin, to the point of near-meaningless. I say “near” because for a few missions, the open world does add a great deal of guerilla tactics to complement the objectives. Missions where your target is on the move, for instance, like Occupation Forces, work great for open world missions because you have that entire stretch of the mountainside to lay out any number of different and creative ambushes for the convoy.
One could argue that you could just use a mission parameter area as a “mini-sandbox” for missions like that without creating an entire open world around it, and that’s fair, I think. But at the same time, it also didn’t bother me how barren the world was because the draw always felt like the missions and side missions. For me, I had a lot of fun just riding my horse and listening to some 80’s tunes after finishing a mission, then bumming some side ops in between before redoing another main op on land.
To me, it was a very strong core gameplay loop that kept me coming back consistently to the game in a way no other open world game ever has.
It’s like “shit open world but strong open world mission design,” since the missions are at least open structured as opposed to something like Assassin’s Creed or GTAV, where it’s “Do what we say or die.”
Where I disagree is on the actual level design. While the open world is barren, I maintain that the actual outposts of the game had just as strong a level design as Camp Omega. Both follow the same design philosophy:
- Heavily guarded enemy territory with tons of cover spots and dozens of ways from A to B
- Outposts designed to accommodate zero trace stealth or pointy-headed Rambo action
- Secret paths to objective area in any given outpost
- Outposts designed around open-ended missions that let you carry out the objective however you see fit
The only major differences between the two were that V’s outposts were mostly a lot smaller than Camp Omega, and that they were all attached to an open world. But I don’t necessarily agree that those make the missions or core gameplay in any way worse.
I think it all ultimately depends on what one’s personal preferences are and what sorta stealth action game they dig the most. If you prefer the ability to maintain control to adapt to full blown action and get by if situations spiral, or if you prefer screw-ups to be more punishing.