Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
The 1960s were a turbulent time for America. After the end of World War II a feeling of absolute paranoia ran rampant through society, teaching people to fear an onset of a nuclear holocaust. Worried suburbanites built reinforced bomb shelters in their backyards, and schoolchildren were taught to hide underneath their wooden desks if Americaís enemies decided to nuke their school. And all the while, everyone cast their suspicions on the USSR, America strongest rival on the other side of the planet. Throughout this era known as the Cold War, the free world was holding its collective breath in anticipation of who would emerge as the strongest country. With the advent of the Sputnik at the success of the USSRís space exploration program, all hope seemed lost for those who faithfully followed Americaís advances in science and technology. Dark times, indeed. And with potential secrets, rumors, lies, conspiracies abound, itís a real wonder how far either country would go to ensure that the homeland would attain victory. Such is the background for Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.
In most movies and games, doing spy work for any government is supposed to be glamorous job. The brave and handsome operative is usually handed a gun, a fancy car, and some quirky gadgets that will be used at the most opportune moment. Though the mission may be rough, the agent will always come out of it without a scratch, grinning his pearly whites as he goes down on some femme fatale and lives happily ever after. At least, thatís how itís supposed to be. While James Bond and the rest of the spy posers are living the good life, Snake is stuck in the middle of nowhere in the USSR, attempting to accomplish the mission that will define his career. His objective is to retrieve a missing scientist whose work is essential to Russiaís advancements in nuclear technologyÖor so he thinks. Though the game begins as a rescue operation, Snakeís goals will become more and more convoluted with each new person and plot twist that gets thrown in his general direction. Heíll have to live by his wits, skills and instincts if he ever hopes to make it back to America in one piece. Thus he begins is trek into the depths of the jungle, seemingly prepared to face whatever dangers may be awaiting him.
Unlike the spies and operatives portrayed to the public, Snake doesnít get any of the special treatment. No awesome cars, no cool gadgets, none of the perks you might expect. Instead, our hero is dropped off in the middle of the jungle with a knife and a radio to keep in touch with his superiors. Thatís right, he gets to fight for America armed with nothing more than a piece of metal to see him through the operation unscathed! Not quite so glamorous any more, is it? Since this is supposed to be a covert operation of absolute secrecy, Snake is ordered to seek out and find more weapons and supplies as he progresses on his mission. If this were a lesser spy, the mission would have probably been a bust within the first ten minutes.
Luckily, our hero is more than capable enough to handle the situation. Instead of marching into the heavily guarded military installation with guns blazing, heís able to use stealth to his advantage, allowing him to infiltrate the enemy compound unnoticed. He can keep his back pressed against walls, and look around corners, hide in lockers, crawl along the ground, and even lurk underneath a plain cardboard box. Youíll have to spend a fair amount of time surveying the areas and learning the paths of the dozens of guards roaming the area. Once youíve gotten everything figured out, you can attempt to get through level without being seen, carefully staying out of the guardsí paths, staying undercover and getting through the area. Or, you could charge into the open to try and take out all the guards, only to have them send in reinforcements and getting yourself shot to hell. The choice is yours, but stealth and non-confrontation are usually your best bet.
Such stealth has always been the most fundamental aspect of the Metal Gear Solid games. However, this latest addition to the series adds a few new features to the tried and true gameplay that people have learned to love. The stealth aspects of the game have been expanded and developed adding more depth to your strategies has you make your way deeper into enemy territory. Snake canít rely on just hiding behind or inside objects anymore. Throughout the game, youíll be able to pick up a wide variety of camouflaged outfits that can be used to your advantage. A man in dressed in basic army fatigues will stand out in the middle of the jungle, but a man dressed in leaf-style camouflage will be able to blend in nicely with his surroundings. This strategy of mixing and matching your camouflage will prove pretty handy against the guards shooting to kill anything that looks like a hostile enemy. By looking like his surroundings, Snake will have a far easier time getting through the mission undetected.
However, he still has his limitations. While Snake may be one of the greatest warriors to ever grace the covert battlefield, he is still a human being. He still has his emotions, wants, and needs. Accordingly, this guy needs to eat or rest to conserve his energy. Everything you do, from tiptoeing around a patrol unit to running away from some alerted security, will consume Snakeís stamina. As he continues to lose more energy, his eyesight and combat skills will start to be affected, leaving him exhausted and unfit for combat. If he lets his stamina drop low enough, heíll become easy prey for any guard whoís willing to get his gun off.
However, Snake isnít totally screwed. While heíll spend the majority of his time sneaking around the USSRís most dangerous military might, heíll have plenty an opportunity to keep his health up. When heís crawling through the tall grass in an attempt to get past a guard, he might come across reptiles, fish, and a wide assortment of other animals. Using his weapons, Snake can track and hunt down these beasts, giving him access to bountiful amounts of food. Sure, heíll have to eat it raw, but our hero doesnít really have much choice in the matter. He can carry the food in his backpack and save it for further use. However, he canít just leave it in their for the entire mission. After a while, the food he picks up will rot, forcing him to throw out the food he had so painstakingly collected. If he doesnít keep an eye on his meals, he might inadvertently eat some rotten food, get poisoned, and basically ruin any chances of him progressing through the mission. Luckily, heís got plenty of medical supplies on hand to keep himself in fighting shape. Not only can he heal food poisoning, but also treat burns, stitch up cuts, fix broken bones, and tons of other talents that will come in handy. Unlike the heroes of the previous Metal Gear Solid games, this Snake can get badly injured and die if not treated quickly. Thus, youíll have to pay close attention to his well being if you want to survive, let alone finish the mission.
This entire game is fraught with danger and suspense, befitting of a game that has to live up the standards of the critically acclaimed Metal Gear Solid series. And those standards are indeed hard to live up to. However, Metal Gear Solid 3 goes above and beyond expectations, treating fans and newcomers alike to one of the finest presentations to ever grace the PS2. Everything in this game reeks of quality. The characters seems so realistic with their movements and voices, allowing you to feel and experience the raw emotion behind the dialogue as it pushes the story into a final epic ending. The game is peppered with quite a few lengthy cutscenes, allowing you to sit back and take in the full story of Snakeís quest. Youíll meet sadistic bosses, crafty and intelligent foes, and amazing allies as you take in scene after scene.
However, itís not just the story that makes the game. The amount of details in this game is astounding. The grass, the trees, the water, everything in this game feels as if itís real. Snakeís blue eyes are vibrant and piercing, adding so much more intrigue to his character. When he bleeds, you can just see the tiny droplets of blood flowing from the wound. You can see the way that the grass blows in the breeze, or the way it shakes when thereís something crawling through it. If itís quiet, you can hear the water crashing and sloshing down the river. You can take some time to admire the wonderfully detailed weapons and vehicles that are depicted with remarkable quality. Even the animals come with their natural colors are sound effects. Also, the game comes with an excellent soundtrack, adding so much more to an already emotionally driven game. In truth, the presentation of Metal Gear Solid 3 achieves a sense of realism and atmosphere that so many games have failed to portray.
Itís an amazing game, easily one of the finest in the Metal Gear family. Even if this werenít a MGS game, it would still be one of the greatest currently out on any of the consoles. Of course, thatís probably just the fanboy in me talking. Being a fan of the series, Iím content with what Konami and Hideo Kojima have given to the gaming community. However, Metal Gear Solid 3 isnít just for the fans. Nor should it be. The unprecedented amount of emotion and atmosphere are enough to draw most gamers into the Metal Gear world of stealth, lies, betrayals, and adventure. Few games can boast the kind of allure and draw that this game wields. And such allure is wielded with skills nearly perfected. This game has everything it needs to appeal to Metal Gear veterans and new gamers alike. It has an intriguing story, remarkable hands-on gameplay, a brilliantly executed presentation, and one of the greatest video game heroes to ever set foot on a console. Itís a perfect combination of these elements that makes for a wonderfully balanced game, easily one of the definitive staples for any PS2 ownerís gaming library.
Nine out of ten