I Killed A Man In Ground Zeroes Just To Watch Him Die

I Killed A Man In Ground Zeroes Just To Watch Him Die

I very recently played through Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes and I killed a man. It took him a long time to die.

It was an accident. It was a mistake.

In the beginning I tried to play Ground Zeroes like I play most Metal Gears: stealthily, with CQC, sneaking, crawling every goddamn inch of the map. But then there was this guard. It wasn’t his fault he spotted me, it was mine. Unfortunately for him he now had to die.

So I shot him. I shot him with a silenced assault rifle and after a few frenzied bullets to the gut he crumpled to the ground. A noble video game death, or so I thought.

It was only as I inched closer, wary of being spotted by other guards, that I heard the groans. Guttural, stifled grunts of pain, occasional squeals.

In video game terms, this soldier was out of commission. His alert (‘!’) didn’t go off as I stood over him. He wasn’t going anywhere. His moans weren’t loud enough to alert other guards in the vicinity, but I could hear them. I watched him writhe in pain; what a strange sensation to be feeling in a video game…


Death in video games is like death in any other entertainment medium. Quick, relatively painless. A Wilhelm Scream and the immediate cool embrace of a transient death. A lifeless, inconsequential character model fades to dust. Victory achieved. At this precise moment, standing over my still alive victim I was being shown the direct consequences of my actions. I fucked up a stealth mission and this young man, clearly in an incredible amount of pain, was a direct victim of my incompetence. This was my fault. I fucked up. This man was inching closer to death on my account. He didn’t have to die. Now he was going to die.

“Put him out of his misery.” My internal monologue started chattering. What was the right thing to do in these circumstances? The damage was clearly done. This soldier was about to die. This time I had no choice.

I aimed directly at his head and I pulled the trigger.


  • Great, now you’ve made me feel bad when I inevitably screw up a stealth run and go on a rampage before reloading 🙁

  • This is why I always go the no-kill route. What about the virtual family? Their virtual lives have been ruined.

    • Post credits Easter egg involves a guilt ridden Snake moving in with the guard’s family and taking up the role of father figure.

    • Wasn’t there a Peter Molyduex (the fake twitter account piss taking the real Peter M who made Fable) tweet about a game where everytime you kill a guard, you get an unskippable cutscene of his funeral?

      If not, someone needs to make it.

      • Yeah – a mate and I seriously tried to design a game where there was a single NPC you could potentially kill. If you did choose to kill him, you had to go to the guys funeral. Really struggled to explain that narratively though.

        • Ooooooh that would be brilliant.
          I’m grimacing thinking about that. Hope you overcome the narrative barrier.

        • I think something like this works for a spy/hitman type game. Perhaps your job in the agency is to take care of assets that know too much or have outlived their usefulness or a double agent working for a less than honorable counter agency.

          This way you can build relations within the agency. The person you have to kill might be the person who invited you to his BBQ the weekend before, where you met his wife and newborn son.
          Perhaps the next target is a close friend who happened to stumble on records that link you and the agency to some kind of terrible event.
          Worse still that to keep up appearences you have to attend his funeral and give your condolences to his family while knowing you were the one who put the bullet between his eyes.
          It would require both a strong non combat, interactive aspect (David Cage?…you want to help out here?) As well as good combat levels which is very much in the ball park of say Hitman. The variation between both mundane instanes and combat would need to be carefully constructed though, it’s one thing to send you to Moscow to eliminate your poker buddy, but those everyday interactive instances would need some very strong writing.

          I think the trick is removing the grey area where many games give you something to feel better for a hard decision.
          Some people would miss the point entirely I am sure, but most would prob find themselves with very strong conflicting moral issues as they are constantly reminded that there is really no excuse for what they are doing.

          • Yeah – I feel like there’s an awesome game in what your describing. The Hitman that operates by blending in with the targets life. Could be really depressing.

  • When I do stealth runs, and I try to in most games, I tend to go the ninja assasin route.
    Totally invisible, totally lethal. Where possible I clean out the entire stage, but usually with one-hit kills.

  • I haven’t been comfortable killing video game characters since watching TRON in 1982.

  • Had a similar situation in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance recently, even if they weren’t going for the same emotional impact. Some random button mashing in blade mode (or whatever it’s called) left one of the guards without any arms or legs.

    Death to the guard, or so I thought, but no, he continued to flop around after me leaving a trail of blood. Maybe for a good couple of minutes as I kept backing away and this pathetic limbless figure kept coming for me. It ended when I decided to put him out of misery.

  • This article would have been cooler if you’d done it in the style of “I Seen a Man Die” by Scarface (not entirely joking). Regardless, everything I hear about Ground Zeroes makes me want it NOW. I want to pre-order 2 copies (one for my friend’s birthday) but I’m quite poor at the moment. Decisions decisions..

  • You need to watch more Schwarzenegger films, Mark – you’ve gone soft. Commando run, all the way.

    • For that you need a machine gun that never runs out of bullets and is capable of hitting enemies you arent even aiming at.

      Oh, and Bennett hovering dangerously close to an exposed steam pipe

      • When you fired off the heavy machine gun in MGS3 and kept the button down Snake/Boss let out a blood thirsty ‘AAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!’ reminiscent of a Stallone/Schwarzenegger bullet fest.

  • Were you certain the gut shots were lethal hits? Stomach wounds aren’t invariably fatal. If the alert wasn’t coming up, it sounds like the game was classing him as a non-combatant, so you probably executed him. If you’re going to kill someone, put a short, sharp burst in their chest and move on.

    If Article 12 of the Geneva Convention starts covering games, you may be in trouble.

    • I wouldn’t worry, no body follows it in real life, just point it out when others don’t

  • I’d be interested to know if you could inflict non-critical wounds and, when they try to recover, render them unconscious – would it count as a no-kill?
    This would be a great intermediate step between “ghost” and “oh glob he saw me now I have an army coming at me!” – make a mistake but have a small chance to correct it without unnecessary casualties.

  • That title is quiet dark. Shot placement is quiet important. People who go out hunting, wish to hunt humanely. They go for either a head shot, spine shot or heart shot to minimize the amount the animals suffers.
    The same could apply to GZ (the spine shot might not be in there though).

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