Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater - Review
It's not very often that I am lost for words when writing a review, however as I sit here with a can of Bundy and Coke that's exactly the predicament I find myself in with Konami's Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. There's a couple of reasons for this. Firstly how do I tell you the story without giving away the many, many dramatic twists - it's simply impossible so I'll leave that for a bit. Also the game is just so brilliant on so many levels. It's hard to describe the sheer exhilaration while playing the game. The action segments are terrific but it's the amount of detail and the suspense during the stealthy parts that make it so exciting. Developed by Konami Computer Entertainment Japan the game has been under the close supervision of Hideo Kojima who returns yet again as the games producer. So what's the storyline? Well, here is the (pretty much) spoiler free version...
|Just hanging around.|
Set during the 1960's when the world was struggling to achieve peace due to nations (such as America and Russia) striving to maintain world dominance. Rival governments are secretly developing weapons technology that could threaten the future existence of life. Destined to be the first, a race ensues to become the ultimate nation. A special elite tactical soldier is summoned to penetrate deep in the heart of enemy territory and obtain intel about "Metal Gear," a prototype weapon with nuclear capabilities. This is your mission and you, as Snake, must infiltrate alone. It's not much to go on but were I to give you much more you'll probably come hunting for me for divulging more of the intriguing storyline which is told at a much better pacing then the previous game.
|80% hidden among the grass!|
As with previous titles Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater takes place from a third person perspective, almost top-down. This limits the view of surroundings however it is also possible to switch to a first person view which is essential to aim weapons at enemies. It must be said however that there doesn't seem to be much of a change to the series with this game. Besides now being located in the jungles, for the most part anyway, the gameplay remains largely unchanged besides three semi-major things. The first is that Snake must now kill animals (such as snakes) to eat for food. Interestingly while some animals will provide much nourishment others may not taste nice, or provide negative effects on the hero.
|Up high on a bridge.|
The second change is the camouflage which Snake will have to use during the game. Depending on his surroundings will determine the best camouflage which can be used. The game provides paint jobs for Snakes face as well as uniforms to wear. A meter in the top right of screen displays the percentage oh invisibility for Snake to his enemies.
Finally the radar has been removed for Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. It's an interesting omission as it make the game much slower paced. You can no longer run through a level picking the safest path as you go. What it does do, however, is force you to switch to the first person view regularly to spot enemies.
|Using the heat vision.|
Speaking of enemies Hideo Kojima promised, and delivered, much more intelligent enemies this time around. Enemies now respond to any noises or visual sighting of snake and escaping from their view once spotted is a pretty tough task. They also show some degree of life preservation as they call for backup and take cover when under fire. My only niggle is that there should be a little more variety in the average foot soldier that you encounter as they are all too similar.
As well as the main game, Konami have included a wonderful bonus mode called Snake Vs Monkey. In this series of events snake must concuss and then capture several monkey's taken straight from Sony's Ape Escape titles. It's a wonderful light- hearted diversion that actually started to chew up a lot more time then I thought it would.
|That should sort him out!|
Those of you who are online will also be pleased to hear that you can now download new camouflage for Snake to use during the game. It's not much, and certainly not online gameplay as everyone would kill for, but it's a nice bonus. Speaking of bonuses PAL gamers get some extras not found in the Japanese or American games - as a thanks for making us wait so long to play the game. One feature is the Duel Mode which allows you to fight the bosses independently from the main game - great to show off to your mates. The second bonus is a Demo Theatre which allows you to watch the games cut scenes while an Extreme Difficulty level has also been added - you'd better be sharp for this one. Finally PAL gamers get some new face paints not seen in the NTSC games - most are European flag designs.
I guess I could sum up the problems with this game by saying that if you didn't like the previous games for one reason it probably remains here. The biggest, yet again, are the codec conversations. Sure there are much fewer then in Metal Gear Solid: Sons of Liberty but there are still enough to keep your controller sitting idle for lengthy periods of time.
|Watch out for the chopper!|
Hideo Kojima stated when he was developing this game that he wanted the jungles to look realistic, and that it had never been done before in a video game. While the latter claim may be disputed by other developers there is no doubt that the jungles in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater looks stunning. From the grass to the biggest tree everything looks not only lifelike, but also alive. Object move as animals move through them while the terrain changes rapidly (also forcing you to select the correct camouflage on a regular occasion). Overall the in-game graphics are superb, but even more electrifying are the cut scenes which tell the story with much detail and bravado. In my review of Metal Gear Solid: Sons of Liberty I stated that it had the best graphics engine on the PS2, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater surpasses it in almost every regard. Unfortunately the removal of the radar has had a nasty side effect in that you can't see far enough into the distance to see the enemies without switching to first person mode, which is what you'll be doing extremely frequently as a result.
Finally we come to the audio and you know what, it's pathetic. Hehe, just kidding. Thought I'd wake you up from the mediocrity of continual brilliance, but to be honest, once again this is another aspect of the game that is second to none. Harry Gregson-Williams (who has provided music for movies such as Armageddon, Shrek, The Rock and Chicken Run) has created a score which captures the feel of the game perfectly with music changing tempo to suit the on-screen action. The speech is also top quality with not only some wonderful lines (as well as some rather corny ones) but its the delivery of these lines that impresses. Finally the sound effects - effective, but not earth shattering.
|Taking a hostage.|
Having almost completed two Bundy and Coke's since starting my review I have come to two very solid conclusions. 1) I'm going to need a third can soon and 2) I'm going to play some more Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater as soon as I upload this review. Sure it has some minor niggles much like the previous titles, but the game is just so damn addictive, and so damn perfect that it truly is an essential purchase. Now if you excuse me my can is empty, and I have some monkey's to catch...
Review By: Dave Warner
Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version) or Amazon (NTSC version)
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|GRAPHICS||Stunning cut scenes and levels let down (slightly) by tricky cameras.||93%|
|SOUND||Superb voice acting, excellent sound effects and great music.||95%|
|GAMEPLAY||Less codecs are nice but and the camouflage adds a nice twist.||90%|
|VALUE||Not the longest title ever, but the mini-games will keep you returning.||93%|
|OVERALL||Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is an essential purchase for almost every single PS2 owner. This is probably the pinnacle of what the PS2 can achieve and with the next game not due for three years or so you can bet that will be on the next generation. ||94% |