Review by AlCurtis
"Just stunning MGS3 sets the bar impossibly high"
Imagine if you will you are in a thick forest in Russia. Sunbeams are cascading through the canopy, the grass patch you are in waves around in the wind. You see small tasty looking animals milling about the undergrowth. Casually you spear a rabbit with your survival knife and eat it. Looking up from your meal you spot a guard about 2 meters away. The red light and black square on his chest show he is a radio man, a serious threat. Huh? He says half seeing you crouching in your grass patch. You lie perfectly still and draw your suppressed M191A1. You calmly aim your pistol at the still oblivious guard as if daring him to come closer: he does so. You fire hitting him in the arm as a warning. He screams clutching his bleeding appendage. Then, quickly he sprints behind a tree and turns on his radio HQ Respond! he yells desperately into it. This is HQ a voice says. The guard tries to speak but another bullet from you destroys his radio leaving him with no reinforcements. A third shot catches him in the head and he collapses noisily to the ground. With no remorse, you get up acutely aware of the approaching footsteps and covertly drag the fallen guard into a nearby patch of long grass, then hurriedly dive behind a nearby tree, as you hear six more guards arriving.
The guards fan out; you see then giving hand signals ordering each other. Some stay back to act as cover and the rest quietly close in searching for you. After watching for a while you single out a guard, you silently stand up and knock against your tree. What the? the guard exclaims and moves towards your hiding place you crawl away and circle around the guards flank. For once you decide to be merciful with this nugget. You stand up and stalk, a slow but totally silent walk right up to the guard's rear. Freeze! you command softly but forcibly, your pistol a few centimeters from his back. The guard knows he is caught and drops his AK-47. Keeping your gun trained on him you circle around to his front and aim at his head. The guard his eyes full of fear stammers No! Please, please don't shoot me! He then shakes around dropping some sniper rifle ammo. You decide to let him live and instead smash him with your pistol butt. He crashes down; you aim at him again as he is sprawled on the ground and before he can do anything. He knows he is beaten and lays face down with his hands behind his head. You have a prisoner. You take out your Mk22 traq gun and put a dart into his head, causing him to fall asleep.
What I have just described is one way to tackle a battle in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (Hereby referred to as SE). SE is a game filled with freedom and possibilities. You do everything your own way with consequences and virtues. Feel like going Rambo and being a mass murderer? Go ahead. It will be incredibly fun. Feel like sneaking past and solving problems with your Mk22? Go right ahead it will be incredibly fun. SE is war in its most pure uncensored form.
SE drips atmosphere. The graphics are the first reason for this. SE is utterly beautiful. Its vision of forest and urban combat and environments is amazingly realized. In forest areas you see grass waving around in wind, flattening when you walk over it, before slowly springing back up and wonderfully animated animals such as snakes, rabbits and frogs moving through the undergrowth, moving just like they would in real life. Trees look amazingly realistic and natural with twisting interlocking branches and lichens, mushrooms and mosses growing on them
You see realistic urban locations like army bases, enemy strong points and warehouses, each location has its own feel such as the warehouse having the unkempt, dark, badly maintained look you'd expect in contrast to the research facility being spotless and full of quality furniture, techy computers (for 1964) and classy fixtures.
Snake Eater's cinematography is also exemplary, with motion blur, lens flare, colored lighting and just about every visual trick you can imagine used to great effect.
People in Snake Eater are some of the best realized in any videogame ever. They are so fluidly, smoothly and realistically animated and bursting with personality. Snake is the standout. His face is so expressional. Lip syncing is absolutely spot on and you can really tell what he's thinking by how he looks, his eyes noticeably change when he smiles or when he's angry and he even has stubble. His clothing is just what you'd expect. He starts in Olive Drab or OD the standard fighting uniform of American GIs. During the game you will acquire different camouflage for every environment, such as Tiger Stripe camo that mimics a tiger's coat for forest areas, Black camo for night ops and Splitter camo that uses swirling stripe patterns to help break up the body's solid form during urban infiltrations. There is also face paint such as desert and snow. Blood also stays on Snake's as well as enemy clothes as a very noticeable red stain. This can also happen if you get the enemies blood on yourself from close range shootouts or knifing. It just looks cool to see Snake all bloodied up and still fighting, and shows he's been in the thick of things. Motion capture is totally top notch with every movement being very smoothly animated, and for some characters it shows almost inhuman dexterity. Every character in Snake Eater has huge amounts of personality to the point where you start identifying and really care what happens to each person. Boss fights are as always with Metal Gear Solid utterly unique, very cool and full of action, with it even possible to snipe a boss after a cutscene long before you're meant to fight him, resulting in not having to fight him later. This isn't a glitch because if you call your comrades they will comment on it. Rest assured the final boss battle is truly climactic.
Guards are incredibly well animated and are totally realistic in their actions. You will see guards acting as a team, using hand signals and trying to circle around your hiding place. If you are seen they will yell to the radio man to call for backup and tougher guards with bulletproof shields and accurate sub machine guns will arrive to take you out. When shot they ragdoll to the hit like real life. For instance when shot in the leg they may half fall over and grab their leg writhing in pain before hobbling to cover if they can. If capped in their gun arm they will grab that arm dropping their weapon and resorting to a sidearm. Shooting them in the chest will make them jerk like they received an electric shock. Death animations are fluid and natural. Shoot a guard in the guts and he will collapse slowly clutching his stomach, shoot him in the chest and he staggers reaching out with an arm before crashing down shoot him in the head and he will go down without delay. unlike some games that have long slow stupid death animations for headshots or virtually anything SE keeps it real. Meleeing guards is great too, a guard smacked in the head with a pistol will stagger and totter realistically before hitting the floor. Hammer them with a rifle butt and they will go flying. Taking out guards in SE is just so satisfying.
Snake eater also goes deeper with combat. Its possible to blow up the guards ammo or food stores. Blowing up their food shack makes them moan about how hungry they are and makes them far slower and weaker. Detonating their ammo stores makes them shoot less in combat to try and save it. You can also toss live animals you've captured at guards like, king cobras, to scare them.
As sated above you can hold up a guard with a gun but you can also use CQC(Close Quarters Combat) around which the game is based. You can just punch and kick a guard but you can also hold circle to grab a close guard. Once you have him in your grip he is helpless. You can press circle and the left analogue stick to smash him into the ground, or lightly hold circle and the analogue stick to drag him and use him as a human shield to stop enemies from firing for fear of shooting their comrade. You can press L3(the left analogue stick in) to threaten him with your knife to demand information. They will tell you anything from bosses weaknesses to game tips to secret routes. They may also say they are not talking or tell you to kill them. Pressing circle hard will slit their throat with your knife instantly killing them.
Weapons too look and sound fantastic. There is a huge array of them something like 25 with sniper rifles such as the SVD, handguns like the M1911A1, explosives such as fragmentation and white phosphorous grenades and stuff that's there to be cool like the classic Colt Single Action Army. Gun sound is spot on with each one sounding distinct and crisp with the very loud Colt, the evil sounding AK, the holy sound of the SVD, the terrifying ping sound of a grenade landing next to you and the pow pow of the pistol.
Sound is a massive part of Snake Eater. Snake's radio is home to some of the best characters and voice acting you'll ever see. During the mission you have a radio which you use to contact your support team you have your CO Major Zero, A movie loving female medic called Para-medic, a weapon specialist called Signt, and a few others that you have to see for yourself.
The conversations with these people are just so fun and interesting and well acted.
Major zero is the typical calm, straight laced army officer acted superbly with a voice that suits him.
Paramedic is my favorite. Every time you find a new animal she will try to tell you lots of interesting facts about it but is often interrupted by Snake asking how it tastes and when you save she tells you about all real movies she's watched and how they relate to the mission. Calling her out of the blue gets you stories, quotes, facts and just about everything else. A wonderful, endearing character.
Signt is a great character that tells you everything you could ever want to know about the weapon or item you have equipped and goes into huge amounts of details as well as telling you about pretty much everything in your environment. Call him while next to a vehicle and he'll tell you all about it, call him out of the blue and he talks about camo, weapon history, plot details and just about everything else. A brilliant and fascinating character.
Music is fabulous. Normal gameplay is often played against the backdrop of silence but when you are spotted a huge sweeping Hollywood style action beat starts, pumping you up and spurring you to action. Once you've stayed out of sight for long enough for evasion mode to kick in you get a reduced version of the music with tense softer beats. In caution mode you have a soft suspenseful beat that suits the hiding perfectly. If you get spotted again the music jumps seamlessly back to the high octane alert music. The main theme is the incredible Snake Eater sang by Cynthia Harrell with the ending credits being a finalizing song that works brilliantly after the intensely soul crushing ending. It is Way to Fall by Starsailor
There are also subtle references to the previous games, with Snake at one point having to dress up as a major called RAIDENivitch Raikov who looks a lot like the unpopular Raiden from sons of liberty. Zero remarks that you won't be more popular with that look.
You see posters from MGS2 as well. There is also a prototype sneaking suit like the one in MGS1 on Playstation if you can find it. There is some subtle loose end tying from the later games, as well as scads of easter eggs if you pay attention.
The plot is utterly amazing and shocking with the seriously unique bosses and larger than life characters that the series has been known for. I'm not going to tell you a single thing about it here. You need to discover this stuff for yourself.
I could go on for pages and pages about Snake Eater telling you the hundreds of cool details and amusing moments that this game has, but I think I've said enough. Snake Eater is a must have game for every single gamer there is. You simply must experience it.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 10/20/08
Game Release: Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (AU, 03/17/05)
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