Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater Review (PS2)

Metal Gear Solid 3 is the latest incarnation in the award-winning Metal Gear Solid series. The powerfully cinematic epic takes you into the heart of Russia in the 1960s at the height of the Cold War. The game doesn't stray far from the formula, and suceeds at delivering an exciting, highly cinematic adventure that begins as soon as you flip the power switch on, and doesn't end till you complete it.

Every Metal Gear Solid needs a Metal Gear, and this one is no different. They call it the Shagohad, but fans know it's just another Metal Gear to take down.

And of course, the Solid man himself. Or is it ? Speculation prior to the game release suggested the main character may in fact be Big Boss , Snake's father.

If you’re one of the three people on Earth who don’t know what Metal Gear Solid is, here’s a quick rundown. The year is 1987, and the game Metal Gear is released on the MSX. It shocks gamers everywhere with its revolutionary stealth-based gameplay. The game is later ported to the NES, and is followed by a multitude of sequels. The series is first seen in 3D on the Playstation, and undergoes a minor name change to Metal Gear Solid. What happens next stuns gamers everywhere; Metal Gear Solid: Sons of Liberty is released on the Playstation 2. The game features beautiful graphics, impressive cutscenes, an epic plot, and spectacular gameplay. However, the game is criticized by fans for its change of the main character from the lovable Snake to the feminine Raiden, the somewhat reduced difficulty level, and the heavily convoluted plot.

However, the third game in the “Solid” series is truly Hideo Kojima’s magnum opus. Unlike the previous games that were set in the not too distant future, this game takes the setting all the way back to the 1960’s. This time frame is excellent for Metal Gear Solid. After all, Metal Gear has always been about nuclear tension, and when has nuclear tension ever been greater than during the Cold War? The game starts shortly after the Cuban Missile Crisis, and it launches itself from there. When I say “launches”, I really mean it. Not unlike the previous games, this game is very plot heavy. After the first two and a half hours, you are in control for literally 20 minutes. Fortunately, the cutscenes in the game are very, very well staged. You will be in awe as you bear witness to some of them. For example, the first cutscene in the game has Snake doing a HALO (High Altitude Low Opening) jump, which simply looks marvelous - the lighting, the camera angles, everything. You have to see it to believe it. As the game progresses, the frequency of these cutscenes decreases, and you get more involved in the gameplay.

The graphics in the game are amazing, and they serve to draw you into the entire experience. The predominantly jungle environment in the heart of Russia is spectacularly rendered, and is undoubtedly some of the finest that the Playstation 2 has to offer. My only complaint with the graphics is that they overuse the “light bloom” effect. If you look at the screenshots, it’s basically like soft light cast over the entire screen. I never knew Russian forests are so bright! It just saddens me to see a wonderful game like this overusing such an amateur effect to a somewhat annoying degree.

The cutscenes are incredibly well staged. They're also often interactive, allowing you to press R1 in order to look through Snake's eyes, which is a fun little bonus.

Revolver Ocelot makes an appearance that serves quite a bit more than a cameo. It's easy to see why he dislikes Snake in 40 years!

The audio in the game is also well done. Everything from the sound effects, to the voice acting, to even the theme song is spectacular. This game goes the extra mile with presentation, and it shows. At one point in the game, you will be tasked with climbing an extremely long ladder, one that takes two to three minutes to climb. As you start your climb, the theme song of the game, “Snake Eater”, slowly starts chiming in. It is a very memorable moment and is just beautifully conceived. The voice acting is well done, but my minor problem with it was that the actors tend to “overact”. The game houses some eccentric personalities, which are admittedly hard to voice, but some of the voices just sound ridiculous. Also, at one point in the game, a character comments to Snake that his Russian is superb. They were both talking English the entire time. Discrepancies like this just serve to take you out of the experience.

As far as the story goes in Metal Gear Solid 3, it’s pretty standard fare for the Metal Gear series. The story is very exciting, and it’s filled with political intrigue, nuclear tension, world domination, and everything else we have come to expect from the Metal Gear series. Metal Gear Solid 3 does not disappoint, the story is full of interesting plot twists, and ends with a satisfying “bang”. The story also sees the return of some old favorites, namely Revolver Ocelot. The game also pokes more than a little fun at Raiden, the star of Metal Gear Solid 2.

The gameplay is a little different this time around. You’re still charged with being stealthy, but now survival is a vital part of your mission. You now have a “survival viewer”; the three main functions of which are “Camouflage”, “Food”, and “Cure.” Camouflage is the most vital part pertaining to stealth. You can now choose to dress up snake in camouflage which consists of two parts, face paint and a uniform. This is vital to sneaking past your enemies, as you no longer have radar that indicates the position of them. If you use your camouflage properly, you can lay prone inches from a guard without them spotting you, even if they are looking right at you. However, it’s kind of a throwaway mechanic, as it’s perfectly possible to go through most of the game in Woodland Camouflage (a jungle-themed camouflage). The new CQC (Close Quarters Combat) system lets you take out enemies quickly and silenty by doing chokeholds, slitting their throats, etc. The AI in the game is pretty good, but it’s not spectacular. They still walk in predictable patterns, and they do stupid things from time to time. I once slashed a guard’s feet (while prone in camouflage of course), and he heard me, but gave up his search a few seconds later.

Although the game largely takes place in a jungle, there are various types of terrain for you to traverse.

This is Snake's mentor, The Boss. You'll meet her early in the game, but she stays a mysterious character for a while...

This game, unlike its predecessors, has no health packs. You naturally regain health as long as you have stamina. The stamina bar is replenished by eating food. Where do you get food you ask? This is where the “food” part of the survival viewer comes into play. Every animal you kill can be collected as a food pickup and later eaten. It never becomes really tedious to collect animals as they’re easy to kill, there are plenty of them, and you can store a bunch in your survival viewer. When you go into your survival viewer, you can eat the animals to replenish stamina. There is a vast amount of animals, and each of them is different as to their effects on your stamina. Some may also be rotten and give you food poisoning. This brings me to the “cure” system. Every time you sustain a serious injury, a part of your health bar will turn red, and you have to go into the survival viewer to cure yourself of the injury. These injuries range from burns to cuts to broken bones to poisoning. You have a certain amount of medical supplies to treat these injuries: splints, suture kits, disinfectants, serums, bandages, etc.

Other than that, the gameplay is virtually the same as it has been since Metal Gear Solid. You try to sneak past enemies without being detected, you fight epic boss battles, and you have a variety of real-world weapons such as pistols, rifles, grenades, etc. The game controls great, but unfortunately it wouldn’t hurt to give you a little more control over the camera, or perhaps movement in first person perspective. You can sort of move the camera around you with the right analog stick, but it’s completely ineffective at checking your surroundings 90% of the time. So, you’ll be mostly walking a little in third person, pressing R1 to see in first person, rinse and repeat. It’s quite a bother.

This menu will save your life, literally! A new addition to the Metal Gear Solid series, useful if not somewhat monotonous addition to the series.

The codec screen. You'll get used to seeing quite a bit of this screen, especially if you want to get vital information to defeat your enemies...

Top game moment: An hour long battle with an incredibly old sniper that requires you use all of the tools at your at your disposal to defeat.  

All things considered, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is a wonderful game, and should be played by all. The minor problems it has can be overlooked in favor of the exhilarating experience that lies in wait for you if you play this game. The game should keep you on the edge of your seat for the 16 hours or so that it will take you to complete it. You’ll probably want to replay it though, to get all the secret camouflages that are well hidden in the jungle environments and to relive the spectacular story.

Game advertisements by <a href="" target="_blank">Game Advertising Online</a> require iframes.