Next Tuesday, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Kojima Productions’ swan song, hits both current and last gen systems. As of right now, you’ve got 4 more days to experience, or revisit, this prologue. And experience it you should too, because it will introduce players to the new direction that the series is going in, or at least would have gone in had not Konami axed Hideo Kojima.

Ground Zeroes marks the beginnings of Big Boss’s heel turn, and is a follow up to Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. Big Boss infiltrates a certain prison camp in South America in order to rescue Chico and Paz, who you’ll recognize from Peace Walker. There is a UN inspection that will happen at Mother Base, and Big Boss/Naked Snake/Whatever is hoping to rescue the two and head home before it happens. Needless to say, things don’t go as planned. Since the main game takes place 9 years later, there’s really not much more to say than that. On a side note, the game takes place in 1974. However, there is technology such as walkmans that shouldn’t exist at the time. Don’t even get me started on the iDroid. Suspension of disbelief, I know.

Ground Zeroes is the equivalent to Metal Gear Solid 2’s tanker mission, except now it’s a standalone game. It’s a prologue in every since of the word. It kicks off the game’s storyline, shows off Konami’s new Fox Engine, and it introduces players to the new style of gameplay that they will experience in MGSV. Whereas previous Metal Gear Solid games put players in a straightforward direction, Ground Zeroes gives players an open world where they are free to approach the mission anyway they see fit. Do you stick to the series’s classic stealth, go in guns blazing, or opt for a no-kill approach? It’s totally up to you. The game borrows some modern conventions from gaming. When shot, Snake can recover automatically by waiting a’la Call of Duty. Also, like Bioshock, you learn more about the game’s story from various audio logs, or in this case cassettes. Many are in your inventory, and many are scattered throughout the game. Be warned though, the story takes some dark turns. Many of the logs involve subjects such as rape, torture, and mutilation, and this is before you get to the game’s ending.

Speaking of the game’s ending, Ground Zeroes as you can imagine, is pretty short. The main plot can be completed in 2 hours. Of course you can replay it again to get a better rating or find the hidden stuff. There are several side operations that open up after you beat the game the first time, and these take place in the daytime. They range from assassination to VIP extraction, and Raiden even returns in one of the missions. So once you beat the game the first time, there is a small amount of stuff to keep you busy.

With Konami morphing into a shell of its former self, Metal Gear Solid V is shaping up to be the last we see of the series, as far as its representation of Hideo Kojima’s vision. While the Metal Gear series will no doubt continue on at Konami after Kojima’s departure, it will be a miracle if future games are as profound as The Phantom Pain. For now, check out Ground Zeroes, and get yourself ready for Kojima Productions’ masterpiece.