Review: Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
Platform: Playstation 3
Release: 2011 (HD Collection)
In a time full of espionage and threats of nuclear war, Naked Snake has to sneak his way into the USSR and rescue a defected scientist.
Placed 40 years before the first game in 1964, Snake Eater is a stark contrast to the two previously released games in the series ‘Metal Gear Solid’ and its sequel ‘Sons of Liberty’. Earlier games focused on gritty dark environments, whereas in this one the setting is the jungles of Tselinoyarsk. I found this to be very refreshing, even calming. There is less of a focus on large amounts of enemies and more of an aspect of survival. Some sections reminded me of Resident Evil 4, another action game which featured moments of isolation and tranquility amongst chaos.
Since the first Metal Gear Solid, game director Hideo Kojima has expanded and refined the core mechanics. In Snake Eater hunger is one of the most notable additions. By capturing and eating wild animals Naked Snake can replenish his stamina gauge, thus increasing his ability to regain health. An empty stamina gauge causes the player to be unable to keep a steady aim while firing along with other detrimental effects. There are tonnes of different wild animals to eat, and each will fill up the stamina gauge with varying levels. Certain types of food even become rotten after a duration of time, poisoning Snake. This gives the player the need to micromanage food sources by always make sure food is fresh.
Medicine and surgery allows the player to heal up during the game after being wounded in battle or from encountering one of the many hazards in the game. By bringing up the ‘Cure’ menu, bullet wounds can be disinfected and wounded up or leeches can burned off with a cigar. There are many types of surgeries that will need to be carried out and I personally really enjoyed this part of the game, it’s rare that you see such a gameplay mechanic.
The main gameplay stays familiar to other Metal Gear Solid games, stealth is highly encouraged and it’s often advisable just to tranquillise the enemy rather than killing them. The camera stays in the 3rd person during movement and goes into 1st person while shooting. Originally the game featured a static camera (causing problems with seeing enemies), as seen in the games before it, but this was changed in the re-release called ‘Subsistence’. This is the version featured in the HD collection.
As the game is set in the 60’s much of the technology present in games further down the timeline isn’t present. The most notable omission being the solition radar, this provided players with a clear view of where enemies where and what their field of vision was. The exclusion of this in Snake Eater forces players to be much more aware of their surroundings and increases the need to use their binoculars to access enemy locations and their movements.
Snake can also change his camouflage to reflect the environment he is in. From grass to snow, the player can blend in with the surroundings to avoid enemy detection. Additional camouflage can be found hidden throughout the game, with some proving more useful than others. There are two types available to customise, face and uniform. The camouflage index at the top right of the screen shows in a percentage how well Snake is hidden, getting as close to a 100% index is essential to not being spotted.
Akin to previous entries in the series, Snake Eater features a heavy use of cutscenes to advance the story. While many may complain that this reduces the total amount of actual gameplay, I found myself looking forward to the next one just to see what would happen next. The story is more bond-esque, right down to the opening song. The characters were believable in their portrayal of emotions, and especially so in the dramatic finale. You will find the story sticking with you long after finishing the game, a feat rarely achieved in this medium.
Re-released in 2011 as part of the HD Collection for 360, PS3 and Vita platforms, there is no better time to dive in and play this gem. Visuals have been cleaned up and everything plays at a great frame-rate with only minor drops.
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is a fantastic game that has hardly aged since its 2004 release and is a must play for anyone that is a fan of the stealth genre.