Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater Review PlayStation 2

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater Review PlayStation 2

It has been a while since a MGS game hit the shelves for the PlayStation 2. Now the long wait is over, fans of the series will undoubtedly be down at the shops first thing on the day of release. This time around you are going to be in for a feast of great production, rich cinematic scenes and a twisting storyline that will keep you guessing all the way to the end. Of course the Snake Eater is full of stealthy and tactical game play like its predecessors.

When you first start the game you will be subjected to a huge amount of FMV and dialogue over the radio. Basically the game sets the scene for what is a great story that is set amid the Cuban Missile Crisis. After the first hour on the game you will have done very little in terms of gameplay as you are given the background on your mission and filled in on all the political to-wing and fro-wing between the US and Russia. The story itself is definitely the best one yet and you will be pleased to know that by the end of the game most things that have been left untouched in previous stories will be tied up. The problem is the story is painfully slow to start with, and together with the 1 hour or so of

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater Review PlayStation 2
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater Review PlayStation 2

waiting before any game play some people will be put off and not pick up the controller again. If you are one of these people I urge you to stick with it for the first couple of hours as the story will pick up as will the game play.

The great thing about the Snake Eater story are the characters, on the whole they are very well developed and best of which is a character known as Boss. Boss is a woman who apparently trained Snake to become the Elite soldier which he is today. As you go through the game Boss will become even more involved and the story will revolve around her just as much as Snake. Another prominent character in Snake Eater is Ocelot the torturous Russian gunslinger. Obviously Ocelot is many years younger here. Most of the other major characters are based offsite and you will communicate with them via the radio. The most notable of these characters is Snake's commander Major Tom who has a stereotypical British accent.

As mentioned story is set amidst the Cuban Missile Crisis, from the outset Snake has to rescue a brilliant Russian scientist who is in the midst of creating the mother or all weapons. The mission, although not quite as straight forward as you would expect, is set in dense jungle which encourages tactics and stealth rather than brute force. Things are made easier for you thanks to a few new additions to the series such as camouflage.

At any point during the game you can change your camouflage and face piant to suit your surroundings. When you are in the camouflage selection screen you are given some assistance as each camouflage is scored for stealthy-ness based on the terrain you are actually standing on. When in the game you will see a meter which will fluctuate depending on your surroundings. On the camouflage meter 100 is the best, if you use the wrong camouflage for the surroundings you could get a minus score which means you will stand out like a sore thumb. However, even if you have a high scoring camouflage for your surroundings you must still take precautions when moving about, if you go running into battle thinking you are invisible you would be wrong. So, slow gentle movements are still needed. Everything is made even more difficult as you don't have any kind of radar device in Snake Eater, so you will have to look and listen to find out how close the guards and centurions are.

Should you alert any of the enemy guards it's not a total disaster. This time around Snake can hold both a gun and a knife at the same time which is known as CQC, close quarter combat. So this lets you take a hostage, use him/her as a human shield and return fire all at the same time. Other moves can also be pulled of with the CQC system, such as holding a knife to a guard's neck and breaking guards necks among other things. If the worst comes to the worst you can always blast and fight your way out of a conflict as the enemy guns don't do as much damage as you would expect, Snake can take numerous shots before actually dieing. So you are not penalised by way or death for breaking cover you are generally inconvenienced as to take cover and hide will usually mean you have to go back to where you have come from or hide on a roof of some building or in a building which are usually heavily guarded. You will always get the best results from taking time and sneaking your way through the enemy defences.

After you have been in some sort of hostile action you will un-doubt ably get injured in some way; Snake Eater has a different life system to the previous MGS games. You won't find loads of rations scattered around the levels, this time you will recover most of your energy through natural healing. However the effectiveness of this natural healing all depends on your stamina. If you stamina is also low you will have problems recovering, so it is recommended that you keep you stamina maxed out as much as possible. Should you receive a serious injury like a fracture, deep cut or bad burn which causes you life meter to get a red bar, you will have to use your medical kit. In your medical kit you will find bandages and antiseptics.

When it comes to recovering your stamina you will need to eat, although eating doesn't sound like a new feature this time around you will have to kill to get food. The jungle environment in which you are surrounded is teaming with various wildlife and undesirables such as rats and snakes. So if you are feeling a bit peckish or your stamina is down a bit get out your gun or tranquiliser gun and go shooting. My first kill was a tasty crow. Of course you can choose to kill various wild inhabitants and save them in your backpack for later, which seems to be bottomless. Although the food element isn't such a big deal, it is quite entertaining at times to hear Snakes various responses to the food you serve him.

The boss battles are back and they are just as good as they ever were. To defeat the boss's of Snake Eater you will need to use all the weapons and gadgets that are available to you. When you face off against a small (in physical size) boss you will need all the help you can locating him or her as you no longer have radar. What you can do is use your equipment to your best ability. From the beginning of the game you have a microwave directional microphone which can always come in handy when you are effectively working blind. You also get thermal goggles which are great for seeing is badly lit areas. Obviously you will need a big gun too, but you will have to wait a little while to acquire something meaty. If you do ever get stuck and cant see a way to beat a boss there is always Major Tom available on the radio to help assist and suggest areas of weakness.

The one main let down in Snake Eater is the old camera. Unlike the previous games that have been set inside buildings and in urban areas Snake Eater is set in the jungle with lots of open space. The camera system always did its job very well in tight confines, but now you are outside in large open areas the camera needed to change to adapt to these large areas, but it hasn't. The result is something that feels like it have come from the Stone Age. The main problem is that you can't see enough of your surrounding and trying to look in a specify area without moving Snake can be awkward if not impossible because of the restrictive camera. The only solution to this is to select first person mode and move around that way, which I think is a little un-thoughtful of the developers.

Snake Eater features a comedy addition which comes in the form of the monkey mode. The object of the game is to hunt down monkey's using cunning and stealth and then shoot the hell out of them. Once shot you must run up to the monkey and Snake will shout Gotcha. It's a nice addition and it works very well as a shooting range for practice. There are several levels in the monkey mode which get progressively harder with the monkey's hiding in even more bizarre areas.

Graphically Snake Eater is a very good looking game, the jungle looks lush and the broken down building look suitably stressed. Snake moves very fluidly and his attacks and grapples are very believable due to the smoothness of his actions. The guards don't seem to move quite as well as Snake but they are certainly more fluid than they were in the second game. Snake Eater features a large amount of video sequences and on the whole they are very good with great production and camera work. Unfortunately the lip sync is a let down, but aren't all Japanese games? The cut scenes in Snake Eater have a trick up their sleeve this time around, when watching the films you can interact with it at the same time by zooming on the current action or look through some binoculars. On the whole Snake Eater 3 isn't just a game it appears and feels more like a movie that has elements of gaming within.

The sound is probably even more impressive then the visuals. The sound track makes you feel like Snake Eater is a big production Hollywood movie, at no point does the music ever grate or irritate, it just feels right. The sound effects also live up to the very high level of this game, if you play with surround sound you will be in for a treat, especially when the bullets go flying. The voice acting is good but certainly not as strong as the musical score and sound effects, but on the whole it is believable and everything flows pretty nicely.

Metal Gear Solid series has been one of the wonders of computer gaming history, on every release Konami have pushed the envelope in game play and now they have made something that is in a lot of terms movie quality. The production and camera work is better than anything that has been before and the musical score is superb. While the game has improved in so many areas it is a shame to say they decided to leave the old fashioned camera, maybe its just there for nostalgia value. Some gamers won't be patient enough for all the story and the huge interdiction at the beginning of the game, fans of the series will be loving this game, as will anyone else that gives it a little time.

9 out of 10


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