• Review: Metal Gear Solid 3

    Single Issue XIII (Written by IlluminatiRex)

    Life's end, isn't it beautiful?

    Metal Gear Solid 3 Snake Eater Reviewers Note: Played on the PlayStation 3 in the Metal Gear Solid Legacy Collection.

    After the crazy story and release of Metal Gear Solid 2, how as Hideo Kojima supposed to surpass it, and follow it up? The answer is surprisingly not by complicating the story further, but providing a very well done prequel to the entire series that expands on plot points made in the first two games.

    Naked Snake gets his first real look at the jungles of Russia

    Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is set in the jungles of the Soviet Union in 1964; John – referred to by his code-name Naked Snake is sent on a mission there to help bring a defecting Soviet scientist to the west. Of course, his mission is not as simple as it originally seemed when he encounters his former mentor, The Boss, who was the hero of World War Two. It turns out she was defecting to the Soviet Union, and to show her new allegiance brought along a portable nuclear device – of which the officer (Colonel Volgin) whom she defected to fired it at a Design Bearu of the Russian Government (and the one which that Soviet Scientest had just escaped).

    Naked Snake rescuing Sokolov

    That was the “Virtuous Mission”, which is best compared to the Tanker Mission of Metal Gear Solid 2. It is much shorter than the main mission, and is used to set up the rest of the game. Metal Gear Solid 3 however is also a giant love letter to James Bond. The story pacing, the classic Soviet setting, over the top villain, and even the intro theme all play into that.

    Speaking of the intro theme, this game has one of the most memorable one I’ve ever heard. Rightfully called “Snake Eater”, this tune is evocative of a James Bond opener. Not just the theme itself, but the video that goes along with it is exactly like a 007 intro, just with snakes instead of silhouetted women. This was something I especially loved as a James Bond fan, and after completing the Virtuous Mission this was a nice little surprise – because much like a 007 Movie the intro theme isn’t played until after the introductory scenes. The music selection is very good as well, from the bombastic opening theme, to various background songs during cutscenes and gameplay. Harry Gregson-Williams did an excellent job with the soundtrack.

    A scene from the intro cinematic

    Anyway, after the lovely intro cinematic and theme, the main portion of the game starts, it’s dubbed “Operation Snake Eater” and Snake is tasked with: killing his former mentor The Boss, rescuing Sokolov, destroying Sokolov’s invention “The Shagohod” (which was going to be used by Colonel Volgin), and to put a stop to Colonel Volgin (who had fired the nuclear device at the Jungle snake had initially infiltrated). Essentially, Snake has a large order to fill. He meets a wide cast of characters, from EVA (a double agent working for the CIA and the KGB), Major Ocelot (Ocelot far before his days in FOXHOUND), and the bosses like The Fury. This is how Naked Snake becomes Big Boss, how he starts on the path to becoming the major villain of the series.

    The major theme of Metal Gear Solid 3 is what is referred to as “Scene”. Your loyalties, missions, and goals all change with your scenery (the times basically). This is reflected in the struggle Snake goes through to come to terms with having to kill his former mentor, or even just the Boss’s defection in itself. It’s definitely simpler than Metal Gear Solid 2’s themes but the game is stronger for it as it takes a much tighter focus. It doesn't dawdle on small irrelevant things, or take something that's ultra complicated and confusing. It knows its own bounds in terms of storytelling, which is a great skill for game writers to have.

    Major Zero trying to understand why Naked Snake doesn't like James Bond

    Staples of the series such as the Codec return (but this time as a radio), and the conversations are hilarious and numerous as in the past games. For example, Para-Medic, who handles medical and saving loves talking about movies – in one instance she will ask Snake if he’s ever seen “From Russia With Love” (One of the early 007 films), and when Snake replies that he doesn’t really like James Bond his mission leader, Major Zero, butts into the conversation and talks about how much he loves James Bond and how Snake should act like Bond. It was a humorous and entertaining scene, and the game is filled with them.

    The cutscenes as well are as good as the ones in the previous games, if not less numerous. However, due to the relatively open nature of the gameplay this is a good thing due to not being taken out of the action every five seconds. There are still plenty of extended cutscenes, as that is a staple of the series, but they are not nearly as frequent as they were in MGS1 and MGS2.

    Ocelot gets a bit of a lesson on weaponry from Naked Snake

    While much of what I've talked about up to now is cutscenes and codec calls, there is a game to be found. In fact, this is one of the longest, and most replayable game in the MGS series. Much of it comes down to how many ways you can tackle each area. There are a couple non-lethal weapons, and of course lethal ways. CQC has been expanded to where you can hold up a guard and then take him by the throat and lead him away, knock him out, or even slit his throat. This was possible in the previous games, but the system was not nearly as intuitive and fluid. CQC is definitely much more important in MGS3 compared to the previous games, as being seen can easily be a death sentence in the jungle. There aren’t really any lockers to jump in while you’re in the middle of the field, you have to take it slow and steady – being careful of where you step.

    There are three walking modes, running by moving the analog stick fully in any direction, slower by only moving the analogue stick slightly, and then quietly by using the directional pad. In order to successfully sneak up on someone you have to use the directional pad, otherwise the guard will hear you, pick up his radio, and call in back up. Other than that, the Subsistence version onward of MGS3 features a third person camera control scheme where you can move the camera in any direction you want, for any angle. Unlike the previous two MGS games in which the camera was fixed in position. The jungle is not a good place for a fixed camera, so the change is a welcome one that helps make the game that much better.

    Naked Snake selecting a new set of camo to use

    The other major change to gameplay is the addition of food, curing, and camouflage. In order to successfully infiltrate the Jungle, and areas surrounding it, Snake must take advantage of different camouflages of which he has packed, and can find during his journey (with Face paint as well). Different camos work well for different areas, and can change depending on the terrain and features – this is represented by the camo index percentage. With only very specific camo setups in a very specific location can you achieve 100% camo, and as such there is always the chance for you to be spotted by a guard.

    Selecting a snake to eat

    The more active you are, and as time passes your stamina gauge depletes. Let it get too low and your stomach will grumble (and guards will hear that) so you must eat food. You can hunt for it (it is the jungle after all), and find it scattered about. Food items range from delicious snakes, to poisonous mushrooms. There is a lot of variety when it comes to Snake’s diet in the jungle, and it is best to make good use of that variety. As well, if you leave the game for a few days your food will actually spoil and snake will get sick if you eat it. You can use that to your advantage however and cause a guard to get sick by throwing the food where they will see it (guard duty in the Russian jungle is hard work, man has to eat whenever he can). In addition to killing animals for food, you can capture them live. Live animals such as venomous snakes are extremely useful if you throw them at a guard – they will get sick and die as a result.

    Treating a variety of injuries

    Another thing that you have to pay attention to are your injuries. Some will drain your stamina easily, others will cap your health. Over the course of the game you will get injured, so you want to go into the cure menu and take care of it. Different injuries require different supplies, so you want to make sure you are stocked up on everything you can find in case the unthinkable happens. These medical emergencies can range from fractured bones to food poisoning. In various places you can find munitions or food caches that the guards use, you can clear them out to refill your stock, and then blow it up with TNT to deplete the guards in the area and make them easier to tackle from there on. Overall, the gameplay is a major step up from the previous games.

    Of course, how can one discuss a Metal Gear game without discussing its bosses? Snake Eater has the best bosses in the entire series – The Cobra Unit. The Cobra Unit was The Boss’s unit during World War Two and had defected to the Soviet Union with her. It is made up of The Pain, The Fear, The End, The Fury, and The Joy (The Boss). There was one other member of Cobra Unit, but he had died only a couple years before the game’s start – and that was The Sorrow. Each of their names reflects the emotion that they carried with them into battle, which kept them alive and allowed them to fight. They are also extremely unique characters and in many ways supernatural – of course what Metal Gear boss isn’t extremely unique and supernatural?

    The End preparing for his final battle

    For example, The End. He is a 100 year old mostly wheelchair bound photosynthetic sniper with a pet parrot. He’s an off the wall crazy concept, yet it works within the context of the Metal Gear universe which just accepts these things as facts, and doesn’t even really have a fourth wall (“Snake! You’re being attack from off-screen!” or “Snake, press the action button to climb the ladder!”). As a result, each of those characters is memorable and fun to fight and you can come up with some awesome strategies. The Fear for example drains his stamina quickly by jumping from tree to tree, so you can make him sick with some rotten food! Or The End, you can kill him without even trying. Go to the start of his battle, save, and then come back a week later and he will have dropped dead of old age (in fact, if you do fight him he hints towards that ending). And even if you do opt to fight him, it’s a memorable battle since you have to locate him and chase him around, otherwise he will shoot tranquilizer darts at you. It’s hard to choose a member of the Cobra unit I enjoyed fighting the most, because they’re all so memorable and can be fought multiple ways.

    There is an exception to me not choosing a favorite, and that would be The Boss. Her fight is the last one of the game, presented with a heartbreaking and touching cutscene prior to it, Snake has come to the end of his mission. He has to kill the woman, who in his own words, he “lived and died with for 10 years”. For Snake, their relationship wasn’t one of lovers, or of a parental figure to a child – but something that went far, far deeper. And here he was, having to kill her. She said at one point in her pre-battle speech “I raised you, and loved you, I've given you weapons, taught you techniques, endowed you with knowledge. There's nothing more for me to give you. All that's left for you to take is my life”. That line sent chills down my spine. Hands down it is one of the best boss fights I have ever played, due to its setting and the emotion that all comes forth with it. It's my favorite in the whole game, although the others are still definitely very good.

    The Boss and Naked Snake prepare for thier fight

    The writing, while at still times hokey and campy, was effective and emotional when it needed to be - especially when relating to Snake and The Boss. I can’t recall many times where a game has caused me to tear up, but Metal Gear Solid 3’s ending has every time I’ve beaten it (and I have multiple times). It’s that good. The writing for the other portions is great as well, like the aforementioned codec call about James Bond. It still has the twists of the previous Metal Gear games, while being a much tighter, focused, and simple story.

    Naked Snake becomes Big Boss

    Simply put, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is an easy recommendation for me. Not just to fans of Metal Gear, but to anyone. While I’m an advocate of playing the series in release order, this is a game I don’t think anyone should ever miss. Whether you like action games, or stealth games, or just games, this is one of the best – if not the best game ever made and you’d be doing yourself a disservice to miss out on one of the best gaming experiences ever.

    Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is available on the Playstation 2 with the original and Subsistence versions; on Xbox 360 and PS3 in the HD Collection; PS3 in the Legacy Collection; and on the Nintendo 3DS in the 3D version.
    Comments 3 Comments
    1. TheDarkKnight's Avatar
      TheDarkKnight -
      You're making me want to download this onto my PS3 and start playing, Rex. I don't have time for this
    1. FUBAR-'s Avatar
      FUBAR- -
      Well, it's off to the corner-store to buy a PSN card.
    1. winxperror's Avatar
      winxperror -
      Foxhound rank