Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

metal-gear-solid-snake-eater

When the Metal Gear series was established, Big Boss could be considered the franchise’s key villain.  It was alarming to know that the main character of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater was not going to be Solid Snake but rather the legendary Big Boss.  How could a game portray a future villain in a sympathetic manner by being the main protagonist? Not only did Snake Eater succeed in forming an emotional connection to Big Boss, it is arguably the finest installment in the Metal Gear series.

Set as a prequel to the series, Snake Eater takes place at the height of the Cold War.  Big Boss, known during this time as Naked Snake, is tasked with a mission to rescue a defecting Soviet scientist who is developing a secret tank capable of launching a nuclear warhead called, the “Shagohod”.  Ultimately Snake is betrayed by his dearest mentor, The Boss, when she defects to the Soviet Union and her assistance with launching a miniature nuclear warhead by an extremist GRU leader, Colonel Volgin, on Soviet territory. With the overwhelming threat of a nuclear war and the Soviet Union’s blame on the United States, Snake is then given a daunting mission to destroy the Shagohad, stop Colon Volgin, and assassinate The Boss to prove the United States’ innocence in the manner.  As anyone who has played a Metal Gear Solid game would know, the plot is much more complex than described, and would take much longer to explain. Part of the charm to this game is the heavy influence of the James Bond movies. The entire game is set up like a James Bond film from the ‘60s, from the prologue followed by the psychedelic opening credits, to the espionage and colorful villains.

Like traditional Metal Gear games, the gameplay revolves around stealth as opposed to direct confrontation.  Although you are fully capable of entering areas guns ablaze, the game will be significantly more difficult than taking the intended stealth approach. Since much of the game takes place in a jungle, new mechanics were developed to facilitate one of the games main gameplay themes, survival. Snake is equipped with various camouflage uniforms to blend into the environment.  A meter appears at the top of the screen called the “camo index” that measures the percentage of your visibility to the enemy.  The higher the percentage, the more invisible you are to the enemy.  In addition to camouflage for survival, Snake is required to hunt wildlife for food to restore his stamina meter that controls many elements such as health recovery, aim, and maximum health.  When injured, Snake must also mend broken bones and heal gunshot wounds with supplies gathered in the field.  All of these concepts were innovative and respectable additions that I am glad are in the game, but they become very tedious after some time.

MGS3

A major change to gameplay compared to other Metal Gear games is the radar map.  In every previous installment to the franchise, the game used a detailed map at the top of the screen that displayed enemy movement and field of vision.  It became a crutch for the player by having your eyes constantly glued to the tiny radar, instead of focusing on the environment around you.  Snake Eater addresses this by replacing the old radar with vaguely detailed sonar radar. The map change makes sense since this game takes place in the ‘60s.  From a lore standpoint, the technology did not exist during this time period to display a more advanced form of radar.  The downgrade forces the player to pay attention to his/her surroundings more than any Metal Gear Solid game in the series. It really encourages you to be creative and cautious with your stealth advancements.

Although often complex and lengthy, MGS3’s story is action packed and filled with twists and turns along the way.  Filled with memorable characters and mesmerizing dialogue, MGS3 doesn’t fail to immerse you in the story.  By the end of the game it’s entirely possible you will get a little teary-eyed when it’s all done.

GRAPHICS

At the time of this games release on the PS2, MGS3 was one of the more graphically stunning games on any system. Sure they don’t meet today’s standards, but MGS3 has been remastered into HD for the PS3 and Xbox 360. The upgrade provides a well deserved enhancement to the gaming experience.

SOUND

A fantastic musical score with the memorable “Snake Eater” theme song that really brings this game to life.

FINAL THOUGHTS

There’s so much MGS3 has to offer.  In this review, I have only scratched the surface of the game, and couldn’t possibly do it justice.  In the past I’ve had a hard time picking my favorite game in the Metal Gear Solid series, but I must conclude that MGS3 is my favorite.  Few stories in video games have impacted me as much as Snake Eater.  After completing the game, I couldn’t decide who I liked more: Solid Snake or Big Boss.  The slower pace of stealth combat and long narrative is not for everyone, but those looking for a change of pace will not be disappointed.

Pros

  • Compelling story
  • Memorable characters
  • Great execution of stealth gameplay

Cons

  • Controls aren’t the most fluid
  • Tedious hunting and healing mechanics

 

Style – Action

Publisher – Konami

Developer – KCEJ (Original), Kojima Productions (Subsistence), Bluepoint Games (HD Edition)

Release – November 2004

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