In Case You Haven't Played It Yet
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
Game System: PS2
Distributed by: Konami
Reviewed by Frank L. Ocasio
Players walked away from Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty confused. Now, they were pleased by the game overall, although secure in the fact they completely hated unnecessary and interminable Codec conversations. However, there was one huge complication that stopped fans from really enjoying Sons of Liberty.
And his name was Raiden.
When we first saw him, we didn't know what to think--I for one thought we were getting some incredibly mirroring back story where we played Frank Jaeger, the infamous Cyber Ninja from MGS1. I also thought that ol' Franky looked way lamer as a young chap. After a while though, it came for all of us--the glee-killing grim reaper called "awareness." No, you were not playing Frank Jaeger and yes, you would be playing this Raiden kid for the rest of the game. And no, there would be no more Snake-on-World action, although so many of us held onto the ghost of that possibility until the credit roll.
After that, I vowed not to bother with another Metal Gear Solid game unless the main character was Solid Snake. I imagine a lot of other players made this same vow, even if they did so silently. Or they just stopped caring. Either way, the trailers for Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater eventually won me over anyway because I thought the gameplay looked absolutely amazing, no matter that once again, you weren't playing Solid Snake.
But in the advent of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, I have to think that some of you never went back on your vow but are now looking back at Snake Eater and wondering what it is you missed, or if Snake Eater would even be worth the buy now.
And so, in case you haven't played it yet, I bring you a fond and loving review of the masterpiece that is Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. The game that, for this stubborn old bastard, finally dethroned Final Fantasy VII as the best game of all time.
What makes a great game? Is it the graphics? The music? The ability for players to put a gharial head helmet on, swim beneath a pier undetected, and unload a clip from a silenced handgun to take out the enemy soldiers above? Of course it's answer C. Metal Gear Solid 3 has A, B, and C though. And the rest of the English alphabet. Actually, no, the Spanish alphabet, with "rr," "ll," and all of those other letters you never imagined were possible.
To start off with, the plot balances action, intrigue, and drama better than any action game plot ever has. As Naked Snake, an American agent in the special FOX unit, you're dispatched to rescue a researcher from the depths of a Russian jungle during the Cold War. Along the way, you're helped by three spotters: the British commander of FOX, your war hardened mentor, and a medic called... Medic. Anyway, smooth sailing, right? Sure. Until, when the mission seems like a success, you find that someone in your unit has defected.
And it's your mentor and friend of many years--the woman who trained you. The woman you call the Boss. With a stolen US A-bomb as the currency, you watch her pay her way into the ranks of the physically dominating, Russian, soon-to-be dictator, Colonel Volgin. This is after the Boss kicks your ass.
This is also only five minutes into the game.
Believe me when I say it--when you beat this game hours later, a part of you will be shaken and changed forever.
The graphics are as amazing as you're going to get them on the PS2; no matter where you look, you won't find a pixel that looks underdeveloped. In the massive Russian jungle Konami has chosen as Colonel Volgin's secret base, a jungle where you can enter First Person View Mode to ogle pretty much anything up close, it becomes very obvious very soon that someone put work into every blade of grass, flower, woodland creature, and gun-toting Communist that fill in every last nook and cranny of your monitor.
The gameplay is just as keenly developed. Unlike other games that propose to (previous Metal Gears included), Snake Eater actually does give you countless ways to solve any one confrontation. The basics? Sneak around a guard or run in blasting (the difficulty is well-balanced enough to make both possible and feasible). Less basic? Throw a snake at that guard. Or sneak up on him, shoot out his radio and duke it out. Or sneak up on him and tackle him/wrestle him to the floor/hold him up/leave him poisonous or rotten food to eat if he's hungry/hide in the patch of grass next to him with your grassland camo so he won't see you. Seriously, I could go on all day and forget to mention that you can even change your gaming experience by killing one of the bosses hours ahead of time by sniping him. Come on.
But you're probably still wondering what that whole "throw a snake at him" business was about. Well, MGS fans who don't know and noobs alike, you can catch animals in this game. Eat them to regain stamina (because you get weak and tired if you don't eat) or (in the case of snakes or anything poisonous) find a way to use them on your enemies.
Another new gameplay element? Different camo for different settings. Laying in moss? Use moss camo. In water? There's a camo for that too. And depending on your actions and positions, you're level of concealment increases or plummets.
Yet another gameplay element? When you get injured, you won't properly heal unless you treat your injuries. Got shot? Go all John Rambo on that bullet and nudge it out with your combat knife. Then put some styptic on the wound to stop the bleeding and bandage yourself up. Leeches? They're not too bad. Just burn them off with the lit end of your cigar.
And I don't feel like I've even scratched the surface. The cut scenes are all real time with great voice acting. The bosses are original at the worst and awesome at the best. The boss battles are largely unlike anything you've ever experienced (especially your tense sniper battle with The End and your insane battle with The Fury who weilds a flame thrower). The story is easily more incredible and dramatic than any other story for any other game. The game's time setting in the 60's actually makes you feel like more of a warrior than Solid Snake's stealth camo, high-tech radar system, and nanomachines ever did. And--after all of this--there are so many easter eggs and added bonuses to gameplay that I still haven't discovered them all. There are so many that it's hard to tell which are true and which aren't.
Look, if you're not convinced yet, I don't know what else I can say. I will say this though; you just don't know awesome games if you haven't played Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater yet.
One Last Thing Before I Quit: Do yourself a good turn and pick up Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence when you're shopping for your MGS3. It's brimming with extra content, from extra, short movies (Metal Gear Raiden: Snake Killer alone is worth the price of admission) to even more camo. Your burly, inner special agent will thank you. Well, at least he will when he takes that gharial helmet off.
Grading: On a Scale From 1-10, 10 Being the Best
Overall Gameplay: 10