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Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes Review


Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes Review

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes Review

Price: £29.99
Developer: Kojima Productions
Publisher: Konami
Platforms: X360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4
Version Reviewed: Xbox 360

Whatever you may think of Kojima Production’s decision to split off Ground Zeroes from the rest of Metal Gear Solid V and release it as a full game, there’s no denying that it is a remarkable creation. In terms of its politics, its technology, its systems, and its artistic direction, Ground Zeroes is absolutely fascinating. It departs radically from many of the conventions the series has established over the years, while at the same time it is truer to the motto of “Tactical Espionage” than any of its predecessors.

Ground Zeroes is set in 1975 – a year after the events witnessed in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, and casts you as Big Boss on a mission to infiltrate a heavily guarded detention camp in order to rescue two prisoners. Prior to the game’s start, there’s a brief summary of events leading to the Ground Zeroes mission, and a short cut-scene that introduces “Skull Face”, the leader of the mysterious XOF organisation which opposes Big Boss’ FOX unit.

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes Review
It’s a refreshingly terse opening to a Metal Gear Solid game, and makes it immediately apparent that Ground Zeroes strives to be different. Kojima’s writing has grown increasingly indulgent since the release of the first MGS, his games burdened by exhaustive cut-scenes and rambling dialogues. Ground Zeroes, on the other hand, is nearly all about play, only removing you from control during a couple of key moments while you’re on mission.

In fact, Ground Zeroes is a very restrained game in general. Aside from the much-discussed running time, the weirder elements of the Metal Gear Solid universe have been dialled back, with only the appearance of Skull Face acting as a nod to the series’ penchant for science fiction and the supernatural. Similarly, Ground Zeroes’ approach to stealth is very straightforward – stay low, stay shadowed, stay quiet. The most advanced gadgets in Big Boss’ arsenal are an “iDroid” that gives a real-time updated map of the detention centre, and a pair of binoculars that can mark guard positions on a map.

What most definitely isn’t dialled back, is the technology that powers the game. Ground Zeroes looks, sounds, and feels superb. Even on the Xbox 360, visually it’s a cut above most other games. This is because the FOX engine’s approach to graphical fortitude has nothing to do with resolutions or anti-aliasing or post-processing effects or any other technical gimmickry. Rather, it’s about attention to detail. FOX’s physically-based rendering techniques are based on vast amounts of research into how different types of light react with different types of surfaces in different conditions, and replicating the results in a virtual environment.

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes Review
It’s tempting to say the results are spectacular, but that would be to miss the point. FOX isn’t about spectacle, it’s about creating a convincing environment, and Ground Zeroes’ Camp Omega is very convincing indeed.

The reason we bring this up is because Ground Zeroes’ pinpoint production values feed into the design intent for the rest of the game. Ground Zeroes is entirely about attention to detail. Navigating your way through the maze of tents and fences and rocky coastline without being spotted by a patrol or a searchlight requires careful planning and speedy execution.

Deciphering the story behind Camp Omega involves searching every corner of the Black Site to collect audio logs, listening into guard conversations, and interrogating them for information. There’s a particularly brilliant section where you have to find a specific location within the camp by figuring out the route taken there from the ambient sounds on an audio cassette. It’s all geared toward making you feel like a spy, the way you collect snippets of information and piece them together to form a plan.

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The Web out-Picassos itself: Welcome, sticky tape selfies

Gorgeous.


(Credit:
News.com.au/Twitter)

Your 3-year-old nephew loves to pull faces, doesn’t he?

And he loves it when you pull faces too? In fact, you can spend whole hours just pulling faces at each other and laughing.

You’re familiar, by now, with the fact that the Web is largely populated by 3-year-olds. It was only a matter of time and brain-sparking, therefore, before pulling faces captured the virtual world.

New, bright, spark-filled hashtags such as #sellotapeselfie or simply #sellotape don’t merely contain faces pulled by natural means. No, they involve wrapping sticky tape around your head and seeing just how close to a Picasso you look.

The #sellofie (yes, another hashtag for the craze) is rooted in the sticky tape brand name Sellotape, which is familiar in many parts of the world.

It’s also rooted in that particular part of the brain which houses tears of wonderment.

There’s something so very uplifting about people going through such pain in order to make others feel, well, something.

Personally, I am unspeakably bathed in admiration. These are, at heart, the most selfless selfies ever taken.

For once, people somewhere out there in Webworld are going through personal and physical pain, just to tell everyone else: “I did this just for you.”

Now that is art of the most exalted kind.

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Low Latency No. 91: Hurricane Morpheus heads to your living room

Jeff has been at CNET for more than five years covering games, tech, and pop culture. When he’s not playing ice hockey or pinball, you can catch him live every day as the host of CNET’s infamous daily show, The 404 Show and every Friday in CNET’s first-ever tech comic, Low Latency.

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Flame-breathing RC dragon flies for only $60,000

If drones are the future, then this is the past that’s coming to a future near you.


(Credit:
Hammacher Schlemmer)

Lately, with the number of us who are obsessed with “Game of Thrones” and Dragon Age: Inquisition, I can comfortably say that dragons are once again “on fire” without having to worry that I’ll be fired for making such a geektastic pun. I think it’s safe to say that even Madonna would approve.

So it makes sense, then, that this would a good moment in history for Hammacher Schlemmer to begin a selling an actual flying, propane-flame-breathing, remote-controlled dragon for a mere $60,000 per beast.

The good news, of course, is that once you put out all that coin on your own dragon, he can help you steal and hoard gold from those less worthy. So, really, think of your dragon as an investment in a reserve currency that has stood the test of time going to back the days of, well, of dragons.

This particular RC dragon model is the design of Richard Hamel, who has been making the rounds with his creation and winning awards at RC shows in recent years.

The consumer (read: elite consumer) model offered through Hammacher Schlemmer claims to be capable of flying at up to 70 mph. It’s propane-fueled breath only works when it’s on the ground, so you can use it to scare the neighbor kids out of your driveway, but not burn down their parents’ house. That’s probably a good thing, as the literature teaches us that actual flying and fire-breathing dragons are generally a bad thing for society.

According to its specs, the flying dragon has a 9-foot wingspan and weighs 40 pounds. That’s big enough to strike a little fear in the hearts of peasants, but small enough to be manageable.

See more with Hamel and his creation in this video, and let us know in the comments if you plan to start saving up your gold doubloons for one.

(Via Gizmodo)

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Tour the Milky Way in 20 billion pixels

Milky Way
(Credit:
(Screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia))

Most of us will never leave the Earth — but that doesn’t stop us dreaming of the stars. There are a few tools that let you explore, though — and NASA has just launched a killer.

Created from the Galactic Legacy Mid-Plane Survey Extraordinaire (Glimpse) project, it’s the most comprehensive visual map of the Milky Way Galaxy released to date — and yet it only shows just over half of the galaxy’s stars. Stitched together from more than 2 million images taken by the Spitzer Space Telescope over the course of a decade, the zoomable, 360-degree image comes in at 20 gigapixels. Since its launch in 2003, Spitzer has spent a total of 4,142 hours taking pictures of the Milky Way in infrared light.

“If we actually printed this out, we’d need a billboard as big as the Rose Bowl Stadium to display it,” Spitzer Space Science Center imaging specialist Robert Hurt said in a statement. “Instead we’ve created a digital viewer that anyone, even astronomers, can use.”

When viewed in the visual spectrum, sections of the Milky Way — a flat spiral disc — are occluded by dust. By taking images in the infrared spectrum, through which stars can be seen through the dust, Spitzer allows us a more complete picture of our galaxy so that astronomers can map the spiral arms and determine the galaxy’s edges.

With Glimpse data, astronomers have been able to create the most accurate map of our galaxy’s center to date, and see star formation and faint stars in the outer, darker regions that, prior to Spitzer, were unexplored territory.

“There are a whole lot more lower-mass stars seen now with Spitzer on a large scale, allowing for a grand study,” said Barbara Whitney of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, co-leader of the Glimpse team. “Spitzer is sensitive enough to pick these up and light up the entire ‘countryside’ with star formation.”

There are two ways to view the mosaic: using Microsoft’s WorldWide Telescope platform, which includes context and cross-fade to visual light; and CDA Aladin Lite, which doesn’t show the entire mosaic, but instead offers shortcuts to regions of interest, such as nebulae, and image exports.

The Glimpse data is also being used as part of a NASA citizen scientist project. People can visit the Milky Way Project Web site and help NASA catalogue areas of interest, such as bubbles, clusters, and galaxies.

You can visit the interactive image here, and download it in full resolution here.

(Source: Crave Australia via NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

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Crave Ep. 152: App lets you make music with a full symphony

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How fast can you solve a Rubik’s cube? Probably not as fast as the CubeStormer 3 Lego robot, which just set a new world record. We jam with Cadenza, an app out of Harvard that lets you play along with a full orchestra, and we get Superman’s POV using a drone, a green screen, and some really creative video. All that and more on this week’s Crave show.

Crave stories:

- Lego robot sets new Rubik’s Cube world record

- Cubli cube robot demonstrates incredible balance

- Tidy Dog: Smart toy bin trains pups to pick up

- Prepare Barbie for battle with 3D-printed armor

- Instrument reads tattoos as sheet music

- Cadenza: You play, and a full orchestra plays with you

- Superman + drone + GoPro = awesome POV footage

Social networking:

- Stephen on Twitter

- Stephen on Google+

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Restaurant uses parachutes, PayPal to deliver sandwiches

Jaffles

A woman removes the parachute from her just-landed “jaffle,” a toasted sandwich popular in Australia.


(Credit:
Video screenshot by Michael Franco/CNET)

Waiters are so last century. These days, sushi is flown to your table via a quadcopter and beer is dropped out of the sky from an octocopter. Now, a new pop-up restaurant in Melbourne, Australia, has added another, albeit less high-tech, method of food delivery: sandwiches that parachute several stories down to customers waiting on the street.

The novel nosh drop is the brainchild of David McDonald and Adam Grant, who make the toasted sandwiches, called “jaffles,” after people order and pay for them via PayPal on their Web site. The customers then stand on an “X” on the sidewalk and wait for their meal to drop down like mana from heaven. The locations change, and customers are kept up to date via Facebook. The company is fittingly called Jafflechutes.

The sandwiches are pretty basic — either cheese and ham for $6 AUD ($5.45) or cheese and tomato for $5 AUD — but this restaurant definitely seems to be more about style than substance.

Interestingly, parachute-delivered food could have a real benefit for would-be restauranteurs, as pointed out by Pop-Up City. Storefronts on busy city streets can demand super-steep rents. If chefs can prepare food from lesser-priced spaces higher up in buildings and then just throw it out the window to their customers, they could test out culinary concepts in a much less-expensive way. Plus, there are no pesky waiters to pay or tables to clean up.

At the moment, “Melbourne’s first float-down eatery,” as Jafflechutes terms itself, is taking a break to prepare for a roadshow to New York. So if you happen to be in the Big Apple over the next few months, be sure to keep your eyes on the sky. You just might see a sandwich floating your way. And if you’re in Melbourne, you can help the Jafflechuters create 1,000 new parachutes at its workshop on March 29, where they promise: “There’ll be beer nearby, some tunes, and a full afternoon’s worth of jafflechuting anecdotes (and other tall stories). We’re even working on a way to allow you to be recognised for every parachute that you make!”

(Via Pop-Up City)

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Billy Joel, Jimmy Fallon sing with an iPad app (No, it’s really good)

And there they go.


(Credit:
The Tonight Show/YouTube; screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET)

Billy Joel didn’t seem too sure at first.

One imagines he’s a man of the old school: the dusty piano stool, the fool sitting in the corner talking into his beer.

He may be slightly less of a man for gizmos and apps.

Somehow, Jimmy Fallon, ever the boyish enthusiast, talked him into singing along with an
iPad app called Loopy. This allows you to layer one track over another, so that you, too, can make like “Bohemian Rhapsody” (say).

Instead of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Fallon chose the “Boeem-a-weh” song. Yes, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”

It might have all come crashing down. Somehow, it’s curiously satisfying.

As they loop their loops, they manage a more than passable doo-wop impersonation.

True, Joel is a far better singer than Fallon. As, perhaps, are you. But he’s generous enough to allow Fallon his moments without grimacing.

I fancy that, this weekend, the Loopy app will suddenly become very popular, just as many people will become unpopular with their neighbors.

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Google: No, no. You’ve got Glass all wrong

It’s nothing, really. Just a nice idea.


(Credit:
Google/YouTube Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET)

Something I’ve learned over the last few years is that Google is always right.

It criticizes the NSA for snooping, when it quite happily crawls all over your e-mails. But it’s right, because it’s for your own good.

It pumps ads at you even when you’re writing e-mails, but it’s right to do so. Because these ads are far better than all the other ads you’ll see on the Web.

And then there’s
Google Glass, which Google insists isn’t a creepy, awkward intrusion into public and private life. So Google must be right.

Well, except that those who have so far resisted a Google chip being implanted into their brains still feel that Glass might be for the self-righteous, rather than the normal human being.

Of late, Google seems to have adopted a crouching posture, as the criticisms and humor have rained its way.

First, it issued a Do’s and Don’ts post — in which it asked its Glass Explorers not to behave like Glassholes. Yes, they needed to be told.

Now the company has published a lengthy post on Google+ titled “The Top 10 Google Glass Myths.

It’s a riotous little read that comes across as a miffed and haughty self-justification, masked as mealy mouthed modesty.

In essence, dear downtrodden Earthling, you’ve got Google Glass all wrong.

Sample 1: You think Glass is on all the time? Of course it isn’t. Its default is off, just like your phone. It only gives you stuff when you need it. “It’s designed to get you a bit of what you need just when you need it and then get you back to the people and things in life you care about.”

And, as you’re doing that, please try to forget that you’re wearing a ridiculous Borgiastic pair of glasses that make the people you care about suspect you need sedation.

Sample 2: Glass Explorers aren’t technology-worshipping geeks. Apparently, they’re normal people like firefighters and, um, reporters who just like to play technology-worshipping geeks when they’re out in public.

Google’s version of this: “The one thing they have in common is that they see the potential for people to use technology in a way that helps them engage more with the world around them, rather than distract them from it.”

It’s hard to write when I’m slapping my forehead very hard, but isn’t the way to engage more with the world around you, to not keep looking up at the right-hand corner of your Borgiastic glasses?

Other areas in which Google would like to disabuse you include: Google Glass is a finished product (no, no); Google Glass does facial recognition (No, no. Well, not yet); Google Glass is the perfect surveillance device. (Gosh, no. There are far better ones. They’re just not made by Google.)

This allegedly myth-busting post ends where you really want it to: in a discussion about whether Glass marks the end of privacy.

Don’t be ridiculous, says Google. There’s simply a trend toward more and more cameras. That’s the way the world is going.

“In ten years there will be even more cameras, with or without Glass. 150+ years of cameras and eight years of YouTube are a good indicator of the kinds of photos and videos people capture — from our favorite cat videos to dramatic, perspective-changing looks at environmental destruction, government crackdowns, and everyday human miracles,” says the post.

Yes, humans are such positive, optimistic, freedom-fighting, cat-loving sorts. They never snoop on anyone. They never Scroogle or Microsnoop. They never pry and spy and plot and envy and loathe.

Well, at least not on the West Coast they don’t.

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Salvador Dali’s elephants get the steampunk Lego treatment

Jin Keis elephant Lego creation

It’s a Lego elephant on stilts.


(Credit:
Jin Kei)

Korean Lego artist Jin Kei looked at Salvador Dali’s surrealist masterpiece “The Elephants” and imagined it in plastic brick form. Then, he went even further, and translated it through the lens of steampunk. The result is an embodiment of the toothpick-legged elephant from the painting, except it is full of complex gears and mechanical joints that capture both aesthetics perfectly.

The most prominent feature of Dali’s work is the elephants’ impossibly tiny legs that look more like an insect’s than a pachyderm’s. The Lego version re-creates these, but with what look like hydraulic joints. The fun really starts when you dive into the details of the build, from the hatch wheel on the elephant’s side to the oil-derrick-like top piece.

If you look closely, there’s even a puff of Lego smoke coming out near the back. This creature would fit right in with the steam-powered machines of “Wild Wild West.” All of the gears and mechanical bits make it look considerably more plausible than the near-alien creations Dali imagined.

Kei’s creation stands an impressive 32 inches tall. There are two of the elephants in the painting, so you’ll have to use your imagination to double up the Lego versions. This isn’t Kei’s first foray into steampunk Lego builds. He previously tackled a steampunk version of Batman’s movie motorcycle. The elephant, however, is a true stunner as both an homage to Dali and a master class in imaginative Lego construction.

Dali elephant in Lego

Jin Kei’s surreal elephant runs on steam.


(Credit:
Jin Kei)

(Via The Brothers Brick)

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