GAME NAME: Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater
DEVELOPER(S): Kojima Productions
PLATFORM(S): PS2, PS3, X360, PSV, 3DS
GENRE(S): Stealth Action
RELEASE DATE(S): 4th March 2005
Metal Gear Solid 3 could easily be a Bond movie from the 60s with Snake as the lead character instead of 007. The whole thing is set up like a 60s spy thriller: Cold War setting, Russian jungles, nuclear tanks and to top it off, a distinctly Shirley Bassey flavoured theme song. It all comes together to create one of the most thrilling spy tales of the modern generation. In fact, it’s so popular, it’s getting re-released on four different consoles next year. So now you have no excuse not to have played it!
The story in MGS3 is definitely more simple than that of its predecessors. This means you’re more likely to come out at the end feeling great about the game you’ve just played, rather than puzzled at what the hell just happened (Yes MGS2, I mean you). The story begins feeling like your pretty generic Cold War story: You, Naked Snake, must sneak into the jungles of Russia to rescue a defecting scientist who is being forced to develop a tank that can fire long distance nuclear missiles.
Of course, things don’t go smoothly, and your former boss (appropriately named ‘The Boss’) shows up and switches sides, helping bad guy Volgin to fire a miniature nuclear shell to cover everything up. You’re quickly pulled out of the jungle, and briefing begins on the game proper.
The storyline in MGS3, unlike some other games in the series, is totally self contained, meaning you don’t have to play every other game to know what’s going on. There are references to the other games of course, and characters that appear in the other games, but essentially you don’t lose anything by beginning this game not knowing a thing about the Metal Gear franchise. It helps that the story is so damn good to begin with too. Without spoiling anything I’d also like to add that this game has one of the most satisfying endings of any game I’ve played. There will be man tears.
One of the major advantages of having a more understandable story is the fact that while your overlong cutscenes are still there, they’re more ‘action cutscenes’ instead of ‘philosophical explanation cutsenes’. Moreover this time around the cutscenes are much more balanced with the gameplay. People who have played MGS2 will remember it being more like a really long movie, long cutscenes being triggered every time you walk through a door you’ve never been through before. In MGS3 the emphasis is more on playing the damn game.
Which is good, because the gameplay is thankfully the best we’ve seen yet in the whole franchise. Remember the Radar? That cool little box that showed you where every enemy was and their field of vision? Yeah, well it’s 1964 and that hasn’t been invented yet, so this time you get to actually use your brain to find out where your targets are. You’re armed this time with three separate tools. The Active Sonar gives you a quick idea of every living thing in the vicinity. This means enemy soldiers AND harmless animals. Set it off too near your enemies and the ‘Ping!’ will alert them to your presence. The Motion Detector shows you everything that happens to be moving. Again, good for some situations, not for others. Finally, the AP sensor lets you know when you’re getting close to an enemy, but doesn’t give you a visual representation. All of these are run by batteries which only charge when you’re not using them, so for the most part your most trusted companions are your eyes and ears. This puts a lot of depth into the gameplay aspect, as you’re now looking out for people instead of red dots.
The camouflage system is one of the other major changes to the gameplay. Change your uniform and face paint to match your surroundings well, and you can crawl close enough to your enemy that you can smell his socks without him having a clue that you’re there. Of course, things won’t go so well if you try hiding in the grass whilst equipping the ‘Snow’ camouflage and a Soviet Union flag painted on your face. Yes, that combination is possible. It’s an effective way to sneak right past your foes in most situations. It does have its flaws though; there is a camouflage designed for the interior of buildings that is a totally different colour to the walls of every building you enter, and I can’t think of a single situation where I would need to use the aforementioned ‘Snow’ camouflage.
The final major changes are the Food and Cure systems. Your health bar will increase on its own as long as Snake’s stamina is high. Stamina also effects things such as the steadiness of your hand or how long you can hold your breath underwater. To increase stamina, animals and plants must be killed, captured and eaten. There are hundreds of different things to eat and each one of them will taste different to Snake and restore a different amount of stamina. Instant Noodles tastes great and restore absolutely loads of stamina. But eat the wrong kind of frog and you might just make Snake sick. The Cure system is similar. When Snake is wounded (say, by a burn or a poisoned crossbow bolt) his health will never reach the maximum, even at full stamina. The Cure system allows you to collect medicines and surgical tools, then use them to free Snake of his injuries, allowing him to recover fully.
This plethora of new features allows one to feel like they are actually part of the game. There’s a certain amount of realism to these things, but not enough to distract you from the fact that you’re still actually playing a game. All the old MGS gameplay staples are still here too, you can run in there with your rifle blazing if you so wish, or go for the ‘No Kill’ challenge where you have to complete the entire game without taking a single life, which its totally possible with a bit of creative thinking.The music is just as awesome as the story and gameplay aspects. Aside from the 60s Bond-esque theme song (which is very cool by the way), we have a 60s spy thriller inspired soundtrack too. The Main Theme is probably the most awesome version of the Main Theme we’ve had yet. We have some brilliant incidental music too; the battle with Ocelot is made complete by that guitar riff. The music during the ending helps to bring more than one tear to the eye and there’s some well-chosen songs in the credits too. Also look out for the smooth jazzy guitar version of the Metal Gear theme which plays during one cutscene.Graphics are similarly effective. The same graphics that are used in the gameplay are used in the cutscenes, which means you get a consistently high quality throughout. No more characters looking completely different in cutscenes than they do when you’re playing as them. The jungles are particularly well realised, with every blade of grass looking damn fine.
Games that I consider to be perfect don’t come along very often. I’ve played this game through more times than I care to remember, if not to try out different strategies and beat the different difficulty levels then just to experience this twist-filled espionage story again and again. With the upcoming HD Collection re-release on PS3, Xbox and PSVita, alongside a 3D edition for 3DS, this PS2 classic is about to have new life breathed into it. Feburary 2012 is the release date ladies and gentlemen, get your pre-orders in now.