Metal Gear Solid: 3 Snake Eater on PS2, PS3, PSVita, Xbox 360

June 12, 2013
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Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is an exceptional stealth game developed by Konami/Kojima Productions and directed by Hideo Kojima. The story takes place in 1964, and begins with Virtuous Mission, a short prologue to the main game focusing on CIA agent "Naked Snake" as he infiltrates the jungles of Tselinoyarsk to rescue a defecting Soviet scientist named Sokolov. Sokolov is developing an advanced nuclear-equipped tank called the Shagohod, which has the potential to make Russia unstoppable in the Cold War. All appears to go smoothly, but Snake is betrayed, Sokolov captured, and the U.s. and Russia are put into a tense standoff. A week later, Operation Snake Eater commences, and Snake is sent back into Russia to prove America's innocence and stop the Shagohod from being constructed.

Metal Gear is a series infamous for long cutscenes, long conversations, and little gameplay. MGS3, however, I feel has the perfect balance of gameplay and story. The previous two games, while excellent in their own right, always felt like just when the game was heating up, it hit a cutscene and broke the flow of the stealthing. The stories were entertaining, but the series could feel like somewhat of a CG anime at points. MGS3 rectifies that beautifully, with some of the strongest stealth gameplay ever seen.

The game seems, on a shallow level, bland and repetitive. If you boil it down to the basic formula, most of the game is cutscene, walk from point A to point B, cutscene, with bosses interspersed, but the game conceals it beautifully. The cutscenes are beautifully animated, and tell an excellent story of love, betrayal, and loyalty. The codec is a beautiful concept, allowing for rich character development, hilarious moments, and additional knowledge about the story, without making cutscenes much longer and being completely optional. The voice acting can be inconsistent, but every part that matters is excellent.

The game falters a bit in the graphical side, sadly though. The camera in the original game is placed directly above Snake, much like in MGS1 & 2, but what works in rigid, geometric areas doesn't work nearly as well in open, sprawling, organic areas. I found myself constantly using first person mode, and the shifts always felt awkward and jarring. The game also suffers from a bad framerate, a sacrifice probably made because it does look very good for a PS2 game. These problems are fixed by the re-release Subsistence, and in the HD collection, so if you have the choice, go for those.

As the game tells you within the first codec call, MGS3 is a sneaking game, one where avoidance is always preferable to attack, where you die as fast as your enemies, where a single gunshot can be the difference between life and death. Running and gunning is akin to falling and dieing. Everything about this game feels perfect, from the satisfying Close Quarters Combat system that facilitates a wide variety of playstyles, to the weirdness of the "battlefield surgery" system, to changing camo and face paint in the various different environments in the game. Everything the player can do has purpose, and things that would, in other games, be exploits are readily facilitated and accounted for with clever humor and strategic advantages.

Suffice to say, I adore MGS3, and consider it the finest stealth game on the PS2, and perhaps in history. The gameplay is pitch-perfect, the story is wonderful, and the music is stellar. The few hits the game takes in the graphical department are readily fixable with the MGS HD collection. A solid 9.5 out of 10, for Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.

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YO BUDDY ZAK said...
Nov. 19, 2013 at 9:13 pm
Very well done mi amigo.  This is worthy of a smile from a snake.
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