Review of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (PS2)
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UK Boxshot of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (PS2)
US Boxshot of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (PS2)
PS2
 
UK RELEASE: 04-Mar-2005 (Released)  | NORDIC RELEASE: 03-Mar-2005 (Released) |  US RELEASE: 17-Nov-2004 (Released)
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  Review of: Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater | By: Justin Fenico
19 Nov-2004
 

With so many titles coming out this holiday season (like every holiday season) thereís bound to be a few sequels involved. This year, itís even more noticeable with titles like Halo 2, GTA: San Andreas, Ratchet and Clank, Jak 3, Half Life 2Öjust look at the slew of non-original titles. Now when I say non-original, it doesnít mean that these titles arenít any good, but just the opposite. It seems as if these titles are getting bigger and better with every new continuation.
  GENERAL
 

In pops Metal Gear Solid 3 Snake Eater, though another installment and perhaps upgrade to the series, actually is the one that started it all. So even though MGS 3 (or should I say 1?) might be a prequel in all senses, technologically speaking, itís by far an advancement in the series. For those who arenít familiar with the series or even the one that started it all, MGS first started during the Cold War Era. Before the Metal Gear was even developed there were already fears of a Nuclear Arms race. This race included a man named Sokolov, a Russian scientist whose main expertise was in rockets. Forcing him to work on a prototype tank thatís capable of carrying a nuclear device, Snake is sent in to rescue Sokolov and destroy the prototype. As usual, expect every type of twist and turn during your mission and get ready for cut scenes galore. This is, after all, a Hideo Kojima game.

  GAMEPLAY

Metal Gear Solid 3, like the previous titles, is both a stealth and action title. Though stealth is primarily the way to go, itís inevitable that youíll have to go through a few gun battles throughout the game. Those who played MGS on Nintendo will remember that it was set in the jungle. Unlike the other two titles, Snake Eater is probably the most in-depth Metal Gear yet. Fighting in the jungle, having to hunt for food, no real radar (remember technology wasnít that advanced in the 60ís), everything seems a little more difficult than before.

The first thing youíll notice in Snake Eater, much like in Sons of Liberty, is that Hideo Kojima loves a good story. This is ever so apparent when youíre treated to about a 20 minute introduction cut scene and at least 3 hours of cut scenes and dialog over the span of the entire game which almost peaks at 20 hours. Though there are some times where you would just like the characters to get to the point, MGS 3 is a perfect example of how directors and producers influence the title. This game has the look and feel of Hideo Kojima as itís a story of peace, love, war, and betrayal. So while you might be itching at times just to get on with the game, the cut scenes can be very rewarding and entertaining. If anything, think of it as a movie youíre playing through, not just a game.



When you finally do get into the game youíll notice a slew of new features and combat moves at Snakeís disposal. For starters, players will have to worry about Snakeís stamina. As Snake runs, swims, crawls, and fights, heíll lose stamina. The lower it is the slower he will regain health and the harder it is for him to aim and hang onto ledgers. In order to keep his stamina up heíll have to become a connoisseur for all types of food in the jungle. Youíll be hunting everything from snakes, rats, bats, rabbits, vultures, frogs, to mushrooms and alligators. After you capture the animal you can simply go to the food menu and eat it. Depending on the type of food will determine how much stamina he regains. Foods that Snake likes will obviously gain more stamina than foods that he hates.

Another new feature of the game is the Cure menu. Anytime Snake gets cut, shot, poisoned, gets a cold, or breaks a bone; youíll have to heal it with the proper medical procedures. For gunshots youíll need to take the bullet out with a knife, stop the bleeding, and bandage the wound. For burns (from grenade explosions) youíll have to treat the burn with ointment and bandage it up. Unfortunately, the games doesnít get graphic and show you exactly what heís doing, but the idea of plucking out an arrow with a knife just makes my spine tingle. If left untreated, the wounds will slow down Snakeís regeneration of life and will lower his stamina. So donít think you can just ignore them.

Being in the jungle youíll have to learn how to blend in with the atmosphere. MGS 3 comes with a new camouflage meter that tells you how well you blend with the jungle (or other environments). At first, Snake will only have a few different outfits to choose from, but rest assured thereís more to find and download online for those with a PS2 broadband connection. Changing into a different outfit is easy and takes two seconds. Simply go into the menu and select camouflage. I must say, itís a particularly satisfying experience to crawl up to an enemy without him knowing youíre two steps away.

Finally, one of the most thrilling experiences of combat is Snakeís new CQC or close quarter combat. Certain weapons (knife, gun and knife combo) carried by Snake allow him to grab, flip, and hold his enemies hostage. Though some of this may seem familiar from the past MGS titles, they never had the look or feel as it does now. The added ability to interrogate enemies for clues or slice their throat gives Snake that ďRamboĒ feeling. Of course the classics like snapping an enemyís neck and using them as a human shield are back and are just as useful. The one qualm I have about CQC and with MGS in general is that the controls are pretty tough to master. Iíve never played a game thatís as much pressure sensitive as this one. Slightly press square to point your weapon; push down firmly to fireÖthe differences of slightly pressing a button and pushing it down firmly are pretty tough to feel. Donít be surprised if it takes awhile to fully understand how the game mechanics work. Once you do however, it makes the entire game much more rewarding.



As I said before, this is a Hideo Kojima game at heart. Donít expect any revolutionary changes with the title. The additions I added make the game even better, but if you didnít like the series 2 years ago, I donít think youíll be a fan now. Also mentioned, the game is a bit harder (even on normal setting). Thereís no permanent radar, and when spotted, it can take a few minutes to hide from the enemy as the Caution Alarm takes 100 seconds to tick down. Thankfully though, through interrogation methods, you can find radio frequencies to cancel the alarm.

  GRAPHICS

Probably the most detailed and lush environments in a MGS title, MGS 3 proves that the PS2 is still capable of pushing out some beautiful landscapes. Lush jungles, beautiful water effects, smooth takedown animations, and even Snake himself look excellent. Though some people might actually get lost in these jungles, they are deeply detailed. Whether itís the flora growing in every direction or a snake slithering through the grass or hanging off a tree, the outside environments of MGS 3 are captivating and full of life. Though I have to say, MGS 3 doesnít offer the same type of interaction as MGS 2 did (there will be no splitting apart water melons this time around), it does offer a nice amount of exterior eye candy.

Since MGS 3 is focused on the outside and not so much inside, Iím not surprised with some of the lackluster looks for some of the interior locations. Comparing to the jungle, there just wasnít much to look at. And that goes the same for weather effects, though it does rain at times during cut scenes, we really arenít treated to any snow (in the mountains) or heavy downpours, especially in jungles that usually have plenty. It seems that MGS 3 is purely detailed on the jungle and its immediate surroundings. Everything else seems to come in second, which is ok since youíll be spending most of the time in the jungle half the time anyway.



The character models look a lot like what was featured in MGS 2 and what stands out this time around are the CQC animations. Watching Snake slice, flip, throw, and drag bodies around looks as good as ever and really makes you want to do it over and over again. Though some slow down is noticeable with big explosions and too many people on the screen, MGS 3 offers a great atmosphere to play this movie until the end.

  SOUND

For those wondering, David Hayter is back as the voice for Snake, which is a good thing. I couldnít imagine anyone else playing the part this as itís been instilled in my head for many years. Though at times, the dialogue seems to go on forever and it does have a slight feeling of being over-the-top. Itís as if the MGS series ran into some weird anime cartoon. When you get characters with names like, The Pain, The Fury, and The Sorrow, you know this isnít just any regular espionage game.

Also returning and lending his talents as composer is Harry Gregson-Williams. Expect some of the same good old adrenaline rushing music. Not to mention a musical score that is fit for a movieÖactually what am I saying, MGS3 is as close to a movie as you get. This time around youíll hear music with a strong Asian influence; wind chimes and flutes. And letís not forget the MGS 2 theme. Who canít love that?

What really caught my ear are the ambient sounds of the jungle. Snake hisses, birds chirping, little critters scurrying though the bushes, and the simple sound of water flowing in the background all come together to make the jungle come to life. Making my point even more evident, MGS 3 is focused primarily on creating that jungle/survival experience. Think of movies like Platoon and youíll get the picture

  INTERFACE / CONTROLS

Staying with what works, MGS 3 keeps the function of the L2 and R2 buttons the same as item and weapon switching. The only real difference this time around is the addition of a stamina meter right under Snakeís health. Broken into four blocks, the stamina meter will slowly decrease throughout the game. It also acts as your oxygen and grip gauge. Doing boss battles youíll see another life gauge under Snakeís that represents the boss.

On the top right portion of the screen youíll see the camouflage index. The higher the number the less noticeable youíll be towards your enemies. The index will also tell you what type of camouflage youíre currently wearing. As I mentioned before, there is no static map like in MGS 1 and 2 so youíll need to use active sonar or motion detectors if you want any type of map. When using these items, a circular radar will be shown under your camouflage index. Be careful though, these items take up batteries and canít be used forever. Your battery gauge, located on the bottom left hand corner will show how much battery power is left. Fortunately though, the batteries recharge after awhile. Though the controls might be tough to master, the interface is sleek and a breeze to move through.

  SUMMARY    

Metal Gear Solid 3 is an evolutionary step in the series, not a revolutionary step. With the talent of Hideo Kojima backing the project you realize exactly what your getting just by looking at the past two titles. Yes, some of the ideas and characters can seem a little weird. And yes, some of the story makes you go ďHow could that happen?Ē But letís remember something, MGS isnít supposed to be a realistic game. It merely tries to blend the realism of our history (in this case the Cold War Era), with fictional characters.

Personally, I eat up stuff like this. I canít get enough of sneaking around and eating snakes for breakfast. I love watching five minute cut scenes full of story and action. The new features definitely breath some new life into the series and just as before, a sense of comedy is displayed for those who look carefully. With another MGS in the works, itíll be interesting to see where the title goes from here. For now however, I think this one deserves plenty of our time.

 
  SCREENSHOTS
Click to enlarge this screenshot of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (PS2)
Click to enlarge this screenshot of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (PS2)
Click to enlarge this screenshot of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (PS2)
Click to enlarge this screenshot of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (PS2)
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