Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is the third
film game designed, produced, written and directed by Hideo Kojima in the Metal Gear Solid line of releases. In my opinion, it’s the best of the lot. I’d go so far to say it’s my favourite game release of all time, that being said, it’s not perfect.
Right, lets start this love letter then.
MGS3, like its predecessors is a third person stealth/action game, this edition has Snake (you, the player) sneaking around a 1960’s soviet union rainforest, avoiding guards, collecting weapons and items and occasionally battling super-powered soldiers named after emotions, all in the hope of stopping those pesky soviets from blowing up ‘Murica. It’s a wild ride.
The stealth itself is very good. At the beginning of the game you’re given a sonar, tranquilliser gun and motion detector which actively encourages the stealth route. Climbing trees, hiding in grass, altering the clothes you wear and using face paint to better blend into your surroundings is key, you can also utilise the tried and tested Snake method of hiding in a cardboard box. This doesn’t work so well in the forest, but indoors, guards wont bat an eyelid at the man sized box that occasionally appears when they’re looking for a man sized intruder.
On the whole, enemies will investigate noises you make, they’ll call for backup if they find you or anything that you’ve left behind. They’re a little more persistent than in previous Metal Gear titles, however given enough time passes, or you move into a separate game area, they forget you were ever there.
The action is solid, the guns and items are all incredibly easy to use and access from the HUD and easy to manage within the menus, MGS3 brings a way of healing yourself when you get shot/blown up via the use of bandages and splints in the menu screen, you’re required to manually ‘repair’ yourself if you take big damage, which is a little more immersive than the typical ‘don’t get shot for a minute and you’ll be fine’ system that most action games today have adopted.
The three main things you have to worry about are, health, stamina and camouflage rating which are all well explained and fairly easy to manage as long as you don’t skip your way through the early game cut-scenes and radio chatter.
The only gripe I have with the action is the option to switch to a first person view when aiming a gun. The jump from a static camera angle to a first person one is jarring at best, and downright infuriating at worst, especially when you’re in the middle of a boss fight and need to hit the weak points without taking several rounds to the chest. The mechanics of having to hold down two separate buttons and keep them held down to even enter this first person mode is already enough to make me hate it.
The HD re-release on the PS3 takes the edge off of this by having a ‘true’ over the shoulder third person camera view so its not a dramatic a change of view when you do decide to aim in with the first person camera.
Right, here we are. Throughout your sneaking and occasionally shooting, you’ll encounter super powered soldiers out to murder you to death, some (near the start of the game) are your average shoot, find cover, shoot again affair. However the bosses mid to late game make you think outside the box, this is where MGS3 excels.
Ocelot – The first ‘boss’, not really a huge challenge. Just shoot, don’t get shot. Next.
The Pain – You fight this guy in a flooded cave, he shoots bees at you, sometimes uses said bees as a suit of armour. Have fun.
The Fear – Really creepy bloke. He’s almost invisible and zips around in the trees. Oh, and he fires poison darts at you that’ll drain your stamina until you pass out. You have the necessary items to beat him, but he’s pretty difficult to deal with… unless you take a fake death pill to get him to come out of his tree and gloat about how you’re dead, then when he’s not looking, you get up and spam stun grenades at him until he dies. But you’ve got way more honour than that. Right?
The End – THE BEST boss battle of all time. This is the hill I will die on. This battle takes place across three different areas, with you trying to out snipe the best sniper that ever lived, he’s got a bird that spots for him, the sun literally regenerates his health and he’s over 100 years old. This battle takes patience, skill and sheer determination, if you want to do it the right way. If not, just change the date on your console to 2 weeks in the future, load up your save, and The End literally dies of old age. I wish I was joking.
The Fury – Angry man with an even angrier flamethrower that tries to kill you in a dark tunnel system, this one is pretty fun given the circumstances.
The Sorrow – Classic dream sequence where you’re haunted by all the people you’ve killed so far, provides some pretty interesting story elements for some characters.
Volgin – Free for all kind of thing, nothing particularly special about how you do this, just avoid the man throwing lightning at you.
The Shagohod – It’s a nuclear missile launching tank on wheels (kinda). You’re on a motorbike with a rocket launcher. It’s great fun, less thinking outside the box, more shooting rockets at the bad man.
The Boss – Another free for all type battle, you have to be careful but it’s quite a lot of fun and really ties the story together with a nice bow. Also yes, the final boss of the game is called The Boss, take it up with Kojima.
Amazing. It’s so good I’ll forgive Kojima for making me watch 17 minutes of cutscenes before I even experienced any sort of gameplay. The cutscenes and conversations in game with various characters are crucial in understanding the why here. In theory you could play without it, but you’d be doing yourself a disservice.
The game opens with Snake parachuting into cold war era soviet union territory in the hopes of extracting a scientist working on a top-secret weapons project. It’s not the most original of plots, but it serves the purpose of putting all the characters where they need to be.
Assuming you’ve played previous entries in the series, you’ll have an interest in who some of the characters are here, and the game does an excellent job of showing how they began their journey. As well as introducing new ones, and it makes you really care about them (apart from that one guy, you’ll know who I mean).
It’s a Metal Gear game, they’ll be twists and betrayals and really really cheesy fourth wall breaking dialogue at times, but it never feels truly out of place. All of it comes together to deliver a truly epic story.
Metal Gear Solid 3 is great gameplay wrapped in an amazing story. Hideo Kojima has crafted what I believe to be his greatest work. It scratches an itch I didn’t know I had, and I believe it stands the test of time.
Pros: Great story, great boss battles.
Cons: Horrific first person camera controls, can feel a little too easy between bosses.
Back in the Day:
IGN gave MGS3 a 9.6/10, along with their ‘Best Story’ award that year. It would score similarly with other major reviewers.