Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence
Dealing with a special edition of a game is tricky business. Chances are, you’ve got the original version, played through it a fair share of times, and thought it was the best damn thing since sliced bread. But when that newer version comes out, you’re left with a choice: buying it because you enjoyed the original so much, or ignore it because of the gaming company’s blatant attempt to get more cash out of your wallet. Either choice poses a risk; should you shell out the extra money, you may find that the special edition doesn’t have much more than what the original offered. If you don’t get it, you could be missing out on something truly awesome. But when it comes to Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence, there should be no doubts whatsoever; this second version of famed PS2 game is well worth the risk.
Welcome to 1964. John F. Kennedy is dead, the Cold War is in full swing, and young CIA operative codenamed Naked Snake is stuck in the middle of a Russian jungle, about to attempt the mission that will define his career. His objective is to rescue a kidnapped rocket scientist and bring back to America alive…or so he thinks. Though the game begins as an infiltration and rescue mission, Snake’s goals will become increasingly convoluted with each new person and plot twist that appears before him. He’ll have to live by his wits, skills, and instincts if he hopes to make it out of the Soviet Union alive. That won’t be easy, considering that he’s armed with nothing but a newfangled walkie-talkie and a combat knife. Since this mission is supposed to be a covert operation undertaken with absolute secrecy, Snake must seek out more weapons and supplies as he delves deeper into the wild. With innumerable odds stacked against him, this lone hero has no choice but to survive.
However, Naked Snake is no ordinary man. Instead of marching up to the nearest enemy compound with guns blazing, he uses stealth tactics to outwit his foes. Upon approaching an enemy, he can change his uniform and face paint with camouflage, allowing him to blend in with his surroundings. A man dressed in a regular army fatigues would stand out in the jungle, but a man wearing some leaf-styled camouflage would be able to pass by virtually unnoticed. If he’s indoors, he can press up against walls, peek around corners, hide in lockers, crawl on the floor, and even lurk in a plain cardboard box with ease. He’ll have to, too; the majority of the areas in Subsistence are infested with guards that will likely shoot you, radio for backup, or sound the alarm for every enemy to come running. You’ll have to spend some time surveying the area, staying out of the guards’ paths, and keeping out of sight. Or you could arm yourself with a semiautomatic, casually stroll up to the nearest enemy, and let yourself get shot to hell.
Regardless of how you approach the enemy, you’ll have to remember that Snake still has his limitations. He may be one of the greatest covert operatives ever conceived, but he’s till human. Everything he does, from the tiptoeing past guards to wading through chest-high lagoons will deplete his stamina. If it gets too low, Snake’s combat abilities will falter; his vision will slowly fade to black, his movements will be slower, and he’ll be easy prey for the most inept of guards. To remedy the problem, you’ll have to hunt for food during the mission. You’ll find plenty of birds, fish, rats, and yes, even snakes for our hero to munch on throughout the trip. You can’t carry food indefinitely, though; after a while, the food will go rotten and give Snake food poisoning if eaten. To counter this, you’ll have to get acquainted with the game’s fairly extensive healing system. Throughout the mission, you’ll have to give Snake antidotes, treat his burns with cream, fix fractured bones, and even dig out bullets with his combat knife to keep him from keeling over. Whoever said being a spy was glamorous?
At least the game makes it look good. Everything in this game is depicted with an astounding amount of detail and realism. You can see the blades of grass shifting as a snake slides through it, water sloshing down the rapids a few paces away, and Snake’s battle-hardened face and piercing blue eyes. If he gets shot, you can see the blood slowly seep through his uniform. When you shoot the radios on the enemy guards, they’ll let off a few sparks before shorting out completely. The game is filled to the brim with cutscenes, from Snake’s first arrival to an epic showdown with a mechanical monster that will leave seasoned gamers in a state of pure awe. You’ll meet sadistic bosses, crafty foes, and some memorable characters in between. The story is supplemented with a wonderful soundtrack, some emotionally driven dialogue and superb voice acting. In short, Subsistence achieves a sense of realism and atmosphere that so many games have failed to portray.
If you’ve already played Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, all of this stuff should sound familiar. However, Subsistence throws in a few twists to make the whole ordeal seem new. Veterans of the first version will immediately notice the new camera angle system, which grants you the ability to fully rotate the camera to see above, below, and even behind Snake as he goes through the mission. This is huge change over the nearly fixed camera from previous installment, allowing you to observe Snake’s surroundings with far more depth and precision than ever before. If things get too disorienting, don’t worry; you can toggle back to original camera controls whenever you want. There are a few more difficulty options, such as the European Extreme Mode that definitely lives up to its name. The Demo Theater allows you to relive the game’s various cutscenes. There are also a few new camouflage options as well; though it offers no tactical advantage, there’s nothing more badass than painting the American flag on your face and go on a rampage with the Patriot gun.
I know what you’re thinking. Better camera angles and some new face paint? What kind of crappy special edition is this?! Indeed, it doesn’t look like Subsistence has much in the way of bonus content… until you notice that it comes with Persistence, that is. Should you pop in this second disc, you’ll find that it’s packed with a myriad of extras for you to chew on. If you have a Network Adapter for your PS2, you can play an awesome online multiplayer where you can create teams based on the Ocelot Unit, the KGB, or the GRU attack squads that Snake meets in the main game. If you’re the highest-ranked user on the team, you’ll be able to play as Snake, Raikov, and yes, even Ocelot. You’ll get to participate in stealth missions, capture the flag, and death matches. If there was any reason to get Subsistence, this multiplayer is it.
For all the gamers who can’t get their PS2s to work online, don’t worry; there are plenty of other extras to enjoy. There’s a Duel Mode that pits you against The Cobras, Ocelot, the Shagohod, and other enemies on timed missions. There are also updated levels for the Snake VS Monkey mini-game, as well as a Secret Theater mode features some awesome short movies, like Snake and The Boss playing an epic match of Rock –Paper-Scissors and a hilarious romp with MGS2’s Raiden traveling through time to assassinate Big Boss. If all else fails, the disc also includes ports of Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, which ought to be more than enough to send waves of nostalgias coursing through your gaming veins. Needless to say, this isn’t the Snake Eater you used to know.
Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence is an improvement of an already sensational game. It’s got the stellar gameplay that made the previous title shine, as well as tossing in some great camera control and a few other modifications. It’s got all the characters, the dialogues, and the epic story to draw gamers into a world of stealth, lies, betrayal, and love. On top of all that, this special edition packs a great online multiplayer, a few awesome mini-games, several hilarious bonus movies, and two of the most memorable 2D stealth games ever conceived. If you’re a fan of the Metal Gear series, you’re not going to pass this up. If you enjoyed the first version, you’ll likely enjoy the heaps of extras piled onto the original game. And if you’re content with what Snake Eater offered you, be prepared to miss out on one of the best additions to not only the series, but the PS2 gaming library as well.
Ten out of ten