Review by B.lu4R

"The Art of Snake Eating"

Although Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is the third installment of the series, it is actually a prequel to the previous two Metal Gear Solid games. You take control of Snake as he tries to prevent another nuclear war from erupting, but you'll find out as you progress in the game which Snake you really are. And if you're wondering why it's called Snake Eater, assume it is because you get to eat Snakes; no spoilers included.

Story

Your mission takes place in the 60's. You've been assigned to help the US government retrieve a scientist (Sokolov) that was turned over to the Soviets in exchange for an agreement in which the URSS accepted to withdraw all of their nuclear missiles from Cuba (also known as the Cuban Missile Crisis). Sokolov is working on a top secret project for the Soviets, and that project needs to be stopped, and hence, recovering Sokolov is your top priority.

The game starts with Snake in an airplane, flying over a jungle and, most important of all, violating Soviet air space. After that, Snake is dropped off in a parachute, and you crash-land in the middle of the jungle. If you get caught, an international incident could occur between the Soviet and the US, so that's where the “Tactical Espionage Action” of the game comes in. As you are later told, the creation of the special Fox Hound unit depends on the complete success of your mission. Virtuous Mission has begun.

Gameplay

If you're new to the MGS games, the controls might seem a bit confusing. After all, a same button can perform different actions depending on how hard/light you press it or change in each situation. This may seem complex, but the game gradually teaches you how to master each technique during the first mission. As a result, the first few levels are quite simple, and are basically intended for you to practice all the abilities that can be performed. Another point in favor of the controls is that a great variety of actions can be done, letting you control Snake quite freely: go through logs, climb trees, hang of ledges are some of the actions that can be achieved.

Snake Eater boasts a new feature that is essential to master: camouflage. Through the main menu you'll be able to change the clothes that Snake is wearing, as well as decide how his face should be painted. At first it can be annoying to be changing your camouflage as the environment changes, but once you get used to it (and you do get used to it, trust me), you'll realize that this just adds more to the espionage suspense, as well as making the game more realistic.

Eating is also essential (Snake Eater should ring a bell). You'll find plenty of animals and plants that you can eat, such as wild mushrooms and snakes (obviously). Just be aware that, as it happens in real life, you must carefully choose what you eat to avoid getting poisoned or eating something spoiled. Eating constantly helps you maintain a high stamina level which, in turn, lets Snake perform better: his arm will not move when targeting, and he will gradually heal himself, just to mention some things that are influenced by Snake's stamina level.

A big variety of weapons and gadgets is also available, but there's a catch: you'll learn that each weapon is best used in a certain situation. There'll be times when you'll realize that a silenced pistol is best, while at others you'll want to fight off a group of enemies with an automatic gun.

Graphics/Sound

Two of the most important elements in any Metal Gear Solid game are the graphics and the sounds. When you play Snake Eater for the first time, you'll be greeted by a splendid intro-movie with excellent graphics. You are also able to interact during these movies, being able to control some of Snakes movements (For example, you can change to First Person View and move the view of Snake). Once you take control of snake, you'll see that the jungle is perfectly done. You can look at each leaf in a tree, and you'll see that the grass on which you have stepped on gradually starts to grow again. Depending on what you step on, your foot prints may also be visible. To make it simple, a lot of work was put into the graphics of this game.

If you've played any of the games in the series before, you'll know that a lot of conversations take place between Snake and the members of the mission assigned to help him. As a result, Konami did well in making sure that every dialogue is perfectly spoken. Additionally, you can choose to add subtitles to enhance this. Ambient sounds haven't been overlooked, either. When Snake is inside the jungle, you'll fell as if you were actually in the jungle: You can hear the birds whistling, the grass brushing your body… and your footsteps (which unfortunately your enemies are also able to hear). Yes, for every action there is a reaction or, in this case, a sound.

Playtime/Replayability

Although each area in the game isn't that big (the game consists mostly of small areas), the game does last a very long time, especially because each conversation lasts a couple of minutes. Even saving takes a lot of time, since Para Medic will most likely start a conversation with you each time you do it.

In regards to replayability, new “features” are unlocked once you finish the game, encouraging you to play it one more time using the newly unlocked thing. Certain actions you do also unlock new features, so if you miss doing them the first time you play the game, you'll most likely want to play it again to finally unlock them.

Difficulty

There's no much to say about the difficulty of the game. Once you start a new file, you are asked to choose the difficulty setting. At first you will get to choose from four different difficulty settings (The usual ones: very easy, easy, normal, and hard). If you start playing the game and discover that it is too easy/hard for you, the best thing you can do is start over again, changing the difficulty setting to a level that is adequate.

You'll find yourself having to replay some parts a couple of times, since there are situations in which you will only find how the enemy reacts by throwing yourself at them. At other times, doing a certain action (or not doing it) may cause an undesirable result that will make the end-screen pop up. Don't worry; this is all part of the Snake Eater experience.

Final Recommendation

If you are looking for a game that combines action with strategy, Snake Eater is the game for you. You'll have to plan figure out how to fool the enemy and decide the best action to take for the benefit of the mission. The game has an intense storyline which slowly unveils as you progress through the game. This keeps you hooked up to the game, wanting to finish it just to discover how the mission concludes. There's no need to worry if you haven't played any of the series' games before, since either way you'll love this game. My score: 10/10.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 11/27/04


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