Review by Computerbug8

"Great story, great gameplay, great graphics, great music and decent length...could you ask for more?"

I'll start by saying I'm not the biggest fan of shooting games, especially ones that involve stealth. But despite that, I played Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater on a friend's recommendation, and let me just say that I didn't even come close to being disappointed. Yes, it involves the two previously mentioned gameplay aspects that I'm not crazy over, and yet I still was able to play through MGS3 with only minor complaints. How? Read on. (Just one more thing: this was my first MGS game, so if any part of this review doesn't make sense when taking the previous games into account, that might be why)

STORY

MGS3's story takes place during the Cold War era, and agent "Naked Snake" has just been sent on a mission. His assignment: sneak into Soviet territory and retrieve a scientist named Sokolov who helped to develop a monstrous weapon called the Shagohod that is capable of provoking an all-out nuclear war between the United States and USSR. Snake's job is simple: rescue Sokolov, destroy the weapon that he created, and take down any enemy that gets in his way, especially a trusted friend who has defected to the side of the Soviets.

As anyone familiar with the MGS series knows (and even as people like me who aren't familiar with the series are aware) the storyline is a major part of the game, so I won't go any further with explaining it. But don't worry- you won't be disappointed by this game's plot. It's complex, but easy enough to understand if you pay attention. What's even greater is how it's so blatantly obvious that the whole story is fictional, but it's believable enough and it feels like the whole world could legitimately be at stake.

Something to make the plot even more enjoyable is the cast of characters. Snake's got his aids who he communicates with via radio, like Major Zero and Para Medic. He also has a fair share of enemies, like the overly-confident Ocelot and the ruthless Soviet Commander, Volgin. There are also a band of fierce warriors known as The Cobras who will stop at nothing to prevent Snake from accomplishing his mission.

Again, MGS3's story is superb in every aspect. Even as someone who's never played a MGS game before and has almost no background knowledge on it, I was able to understand everything going on perfectly. (I probably missed a few references, but big whoop) The only problem I had was how some characters-namely The Cobras- were underdeveloped and were there just to make for a battle. Still, that was the only thing that I really had any problem with.

GAMEPLAY

There are several aspects to MGS3's gameplay, but I'll start off with the basic aspect of it: the fighting. Along the way, you're bound to run into numerous enemies who aren't afraid to fire at you and alert others of your presence, so what do you do? Well, it's up to you. You could simply charge in and massacre any guard that gets in your way, or if you want to (or have to) be stealthy, you can try to creep in from behind and pop a tranquilizer dart or a silenced bullet into your adversary.

You have other means to help you sneak by guards. By opening up the main menu, you can change Snake's clothes and facepaint to help him blend into the environment better. The more you blend in and the quieter you are (meaning, the more you avoid stepping on anything that'll make noise, starting birds, etc.), the easier it'll be to sneak passed anyone in your way.

But watch out. If a guard sees you, he'll quickly alert everyone else and sound the alarm, meaning swarms of guards will instantly descend upon you. The easiest thing to do here would be to simply eliminate all the guards in your way and try your best next time to not be noticed.

However, if you get hit by an enemy soldier, don't think you'll just recover by finding a medkit or anything like that. In MGS3, if you get shot at, you'll end up with a bullet wound. From there, you have to enter your inventory and do things to heal yourself. You'll have to do things like dig bullets out of your body with a knife, splint any broken bones, and disinfect any massive cuts. It may seem a little complicated at first, but it's easy to get the hang of. And if you forget how to heal and wounds Snake has suffered, Para Medic is only a call away. But no matter what you do, you'll want to heal Snake quickly, otherwise his wounds will affect his stamina.

Yes, in addition to worrying about Snake's regular health, you also have to pay attention to his stamina bar. When the bar gets lower, Snake will have shakier aim and it'll take him a longer time to recover after getting hurt. To replenish Snake's stamina, all you have to do is open up the menu and have him eat any food you've acquired. But if you run out of regular food, you can always resort to hunting and eating any wildlife for energy. Your options here are limitless, ranging from rabbits, to crocodiles, to snakes, to spiders. Snake won't necessarily like everything you have him eat, and some foods won't replenish as much stamina as others. And if you let food sit around for too long, it'll rot and Snake will end up with an upset stomach. (Which is another condition you'll need to heal)

That being said, the gameplay here doesn't really have any flaws. The ability (or sometimes requirement) to blend in and catch the enemy by surprise or just completely sneak passed them adds an extra bit of stealth to the game, and most of the boss battles are fun and exciting.

There are only a few minor complaints I have. First of all, the controls took some getting used to. You'll eventually get the hang of it, but some of it seemed inverted. For instance, the circle button was to enter a command and the "X" button is to cancel; for me, it's always been the other way around. To add on to that, sometimes when Snake ran up to a rock or tree, he would automatically put his back to it even though I didn't want him to. The only other problem I had was that the camera angles seemed a little awkward at times.

But those are only small problems and they didn't really take away anything from the game. I just thought I should mention them. The entire game plays well in general and there are no glaring faults with it.

GRAPHICS

What's there to say? The graphics in MGS3 are superb as well. All of the characters are all modeled and detailed very well. And the best part is that the great graphics don't even stop at the characters. The environments around Snake, whether it be a jungle, mountains, an enemy base, a sewer, or anything else, all look great. Not only do they look well rendered, but the attention to detail in everything is amazing. I really can't think of much else to say.

SOUND

Like the graphics, the sound is pretty much spot-on. The sound effects don't get too annoying and all sound realistic enough to be believable. But that's just the surface of it. To add on to that, the background music is also very impressive. While some of the tunes get drowned out by gunfire or people screaming at times, most of them usually fit the mood very well, and there wasn't one tune that I ever grew tired of. Just about every single one is perfect, from the tense, fast paced music that plays when an enemy sounds the alarm on you, to the music played during the game's boss battles, and even the game over music sounds great as well. And while I'm at it, I should mention that MGS3 sports a James Bond-esque theme song early on in the game that sounds great and even sums up bits of the game very well.

The sound is topped off with some of the best voice acting that I have ever heard in a video game. Most of the conversations between the characters sound natural and not forced at all. There were a few misses along the way during certain parts, but those were easy to ignore and forget after a while.

LENGTH

MGS3's length seemed pretty flexible. Depending on how you play and what mode you play on, this game could take you anywhere from fifteen to thirty hours to complete. So it could basically either be a short of brief experience, or it could end up being one that lasts a fair amount of time. You could just blow through it in a quick time if you want, but if choose to enjoy it and actually challenge yourself, you'll be able to prolong it.

REPLAYABILITY

If you want a game that you could go back and play through again, MGS3 would definitely be a possible choice. For starters, there are four difficult levels, so if you started on one of the easier levels, it's not hard to imagine wanting to go back and play through it again for an added challenge. (and yes, how tough you make it at the beginning will definitely impact how long your playthrough will last) And even though the story is easy enough to understand, you might still be confused at certain parts, so playing through it again for clarification isn't out of the question, either. Sure, it doesn't have a lot of replay value, but there's definitely enough to make you consider a second playthrough after finishing.

PROS

+ Very well done story
+ Great cast of characters
+ Superb graphics
+ Fitting and enjoyable music
+ Voice acting sounds natural most of the time
+ Four modes of difficulty
+ Flexible length
+ Decent replay value

CONS

- Some awkward camera angles
- Controls take a little getting used to
- Some characters (namely The Cobras) are under-developed

CLOSING NOTES

You know, it's pretty rare that I find a game that I think hits the major points as well as MGS3 does. Not only does it have the more important aspects knocked (story and gameplay) but it also doesn't disappoint when it comes to the fluff, like graphics and sound. Add those four things on to a game with decent length and replay value, and you've got something that's bound to keep you entertained and to meet and, likely, exceed your expectations.

So, why didn't I give this game a 10? Well, like I said, I'm not the biggest shooter fan you'll find, and there were a few small problems that I had. But even though I didn't give it a 10, MGS3 is still a great game that impressed me. It made me want to save the world (Heh. Wonder why?) and I actually cared for the main characters by the end of it. In fact, I really disliked the final enemy of the game until the ending and everything was brought to light, which soon made me feel more sympathetic than anything.

But I'm going off topic. To sum it up, people generally disagree on what separates a good game from a great one. Some think a game needs to have a great and enticing story with memorable characters, and some don't think a game can be stellar unless the graphics and music are top notch. Some just want a game that's just fun to play and the story, graphics and music don't matter. Bottom line: no matter what your recipe for a great and enjoyable game is, MGS3 will almost certainly fit what you're looking for.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 07/03/08

Game Release: Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (US, 11/17/04)


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