Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
Game Info
Platform(s)
Playstation 2
Publisher
Konami
Developer
KCEJ
Genre
Action
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Language, Sexual Themes
 
Grade
The Good

• Some of the best graphics available for the PS2
• Excellent story
• Solid gameplay elements
• Lengthy adventure

The Bad

• Camera is starting to show age

 
Grade
A

After the "controversy" that surrounded Metal Gear Solid 2, I had to wonder if Hideo Kojima and crew would be able to return as the premier developer for the PS2. This was not to say that MGS2 was a bad game, but the major plot twist and overuse of story sequences, especially towards the end of the game, managed to turn a number of people off of the series. More than a few complained about the game being way too much story and not enough gameplay. And with the arrival of the Splinter Cell series, Metal Gear Solid had a challenger to its throne.

The story behind MGS3 is, in fact, a prequel to all the other Metal Gear games. Set in the 1960s, MGS3 stars an operative who goes by the codename Naked Snake. Sent into the Soviet Union to retrieve a scientist by the name of Sokolov, Snake is betrayed by his mentor, The Boss, who has sided up with Volgin and her old allies, The Cobras. Because of this betrayal, Snake must return to the Soviet Union to once again try to save Sokolov, destroy the Metal Gear precursor, Shagohod, and eliminate his mentor. This brief overview of the plot is merely touching minor points in what is a dense story filled with excellent story sequences. But, for those who recall how MGS2 had way too much story, fear not as the balance between gameplay and story is far more even and there is a lot less "codec" sequences this time around. Once you get past the story-heavy beginning of the game, you'll find the pacing of the game works well.

The core gameplay in Snake Eater is relatively the same as before, but with some noticeable changes that really work in the game's favor. Players must use stealth to infiltrate their way along the game. Because this new game is set in an outdoors environment, Snake can do far more than just crouch behind logs or in the high grass. He can crawl into logs, climb trees, and even hide in water. Implemented for this game is a camouflage system that allows Snake to blend into his environment. Throughout the game, you'll find various facepaints and camos, including ones dropped by boss fights (but only if you tranquilize them). Mix and match these to hide just about anywhere in the game. The only drawback to this system is that you have to go into the menu to make changes and a lot of the time, it's just not worth the effort.

While Snake's health bar regenerates over time, players will have to pay attention to his Stamina bar, which depletes over time. In fact, the more strenuous activity Snake is involved in, the quicker it drains. To counter this, you will need to feed Snake. How do you do that? Well, the jungle is filled with animals you can kill and capture to feed Snake. Each animal has a varying degree of taste and replenishment. If you hold onto meat too long, it will go bad, making Snake sick to his stomach if he eats it.

One of the newer aspects is Snake's ability to heal his own wounds during the heat of battle. If Snake takes a gunshot wound, he may have to dig out the bullet and bandage the wound. The same goes for burns, broken limbs and an assortment of wounds that can affect him during the game. Without attention, these wounds can affect you, though most go away in their own time.

But, if stealth isn't your cup of tea, there are plenty of weapons at your disposal and in most locations, you can go in guns blazing. Because of the excellent enemy AI and the topnotch level designs, having gun fights is actually quite interesting and an enjoyable aspect unto itself. Of course, using stealth may make life easier on you, but it will take more time to properly execute stealth kills and such. One downside to playing the game Rambo-style is that there are more than a few traps laying about, so you can end up making life hard on yourself if you don't pay attention.

This time around, there are some revisions of the MGS standards. Gone is the radar, which has been replaced by a handful of more logical choices, including sonar and a motion detector. Because these use up battery power, you'll have to use them sparingly. The backpack has also been revised so that you can only quickly equip a small handful of items and weapons. If you want to swap out your quick-equipped items, you'll have to go into the menu and swap items about. Hand-to-hand combat has been improved with the inclusion of Close Quarters Combat (CQC) and a knife, both of which can be excellent when in close combat with enemies. CQC proves to be an excellent tool if you want to survive without drawing too much attention to yourself as it can be used for interrogations and for taking out enemies before they know you're there.

Probably the finest aspect of MGS3 is the boss battles, each of which feels planned out excellently to provide enough variety to keep the player going strong through the game. While some of the enemies lack the character depth found in the original Metal Gear Solid, their battles will still challenge you nonetheless. The sniper fight with The End proves to be one of the greatest moments in gaming history this generation.

Visually, MGS3 is an amazing masterpiece that really shows off some serious talent from the people at KCEJ. They've managed to pull off huge, extremely detailed locations that are just overflowing with details. Each location, be it in the jungle or in an interior, is just packed with places to hide. The enemy models all show a great level of detail and animation. Visual effects are wonderfully used to give everything a certain extra layer of gloss. There are certain areas that have a ridiculous amount of draw distance that is just impressive to behold. And this is all with very little in the way of loading or framerate issues. I would have to wonder what little magic box KCEJ is pulling this quality out of and why haven't they shared it with others.

As with previous installments, the audio portion of the newest Metal Gear Solid is topnotch. Everything sounds as it should and you'll feel drawn into the game by the ambiance of the game world and the gunfire and explosions. Audio commentary by the guards is once again varied enough to give you an idea of what's going on without being too obtuse. The voice acting from the cast is pretty solid, though you do get some over-the-top performances for the likes of the Cobras and Volgin. On the other hand, the voicework for The Boss, Sokolov and Ocelot are excellent. Musically, the game really plays up a retro-theme, even going so far as to mimic the James Bond style of music. This, in itself, is kind of cute, but gets to be annoying later on.

While there are some decisions I would question, like the implementation of the backpack or having to go into the menu to change camo, I really feel there is only one thing that MGS3 could use some work on: the in-game camera. While I understand the intention behind the limitation (and the fact that it's this way because of Kojima's motion-sickness), the camera and control interface feels like it hasn't changed AT ALL since the first Metal Gear Solid. This is only made worse by the fact that to really get good accuracy with the guns, you need to go into first person view, a mode where you can't actually move except to turn. If KCEJ would just allow for movement in first person mode, I could completely forgive the rest of the camera system.

If you're a fan of the series, you need to own this title. It takes the quality gameplay from the second game and vastly improves it, while taking the better story pacing from the first game in mind when providing the lengthy tale that really involves the gamer. By the time you get to the end (probably anywhere from 15 to 20 hours through), you'll find the resolution pleasantly satisfying.

- - Kinderfeld

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