"Game Of The Year For 2004"

From the very beginning of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, there's something that will grab you and hold on tight until the end. Whether it's the fantastic story, the incredible game play, or the unique survival elements, Hideo Kojima's third Metal Gear Solid title(5th in the series overall) is a stunning and amazing game.

For the uninitiated, Metal Gear consists of you, the player, using mind over brute force. Instead of running in, guns blazing and mowing down enemies, you are told to slip by the enemy without being seen. The hype surrounding the game has been gigantic. One question still remains; does it live up to the hype? Absolutely.

Storyline-10/10

It is 1964, and America is on the brink of destruction at the hands of a devastating new nuclear device which has been stolen. A lone man is sent into the jungle, his code name is Naked Snake.

Before the release of Snake Eater, there were countless theories running rampant about who the playable character was. Many fans were left disappointed with Metal Gear Solid 2, as you were only able to play as the gritty Solid Snake for one hour, while the rest was played as the rookie Raiden. I won't spoil who the playable character is, but if you know your Metal Gear history, you can pretty much figure it out.

The story line itself is unbelievable, and is a prime way to write any kind of story. It focuses on love, honor, betrayal, peace and war, all the things that make up for a great story. Also, Snake Eater is incredibly emotional. Certain cut-scenes, including the ending, will have even the most macho jerks shedding a small tear. The ending, along with a lot of the other cut-scenes in the game, is powerful, and never fails to cause me to tear up just a bit.

And in true Hideo Kojima fashion, there's a huge plot twist thrown in at every corner. The ending is a bit on the confusing side, but if you really sit down and pay attention, it will make sense, trust me. There's no clear cut answers to any of the many, many questions that Metal Gear Solid 2 brought up, but there's at least some hints to what the future holds.

Graphics-10/10

I tell you, the PlayStation 2 never ceases to amaze me. With systems like the X-Box and the GameCube pounding out amazing looking titles, the PS2 always comes along and delivers something that is equally amazing looking. Snake Eater is it. It is flawless looking, with absolutely stunning lighting and particle effects. Brilliant animation, wonderful character design(thanks you, Yoji Shinkawa!) and stunning environments bring it to life.

The jungle is lush, and expansive, however, it does pose one very small problem. While the jungle is rather big, it is definitely not as big as Hideo Kojima once stated. There are a few multiple paths, but the jungle itself is rather linear. The loading screens from each area transition are lightning fast, so that at least makes up for it. Other than that, though, Snake Eater is a phenomenal looking game.

Sound-10/10

If the Snake Eater main theme, which is done to perfection in a James Bond-ish main title sequence by the way, could be any cooler, I'd like to know how. The main theme would absolutely get my vote for "theme of the year" if such a category existed. Ever since Metal Gear Solid was released back in 1998, it set a standard for voice acting that other games only hope to be as good as.

The voice acting is incredible, with David Hayter being one of the best in the game. Another fantastic one is Josh Keaton, who voices a young Revolver Ocelot. He perfectly combines a brash attitude with arrogance and a coolness factor that's off the charts. The score, once again composed by Harry-Gregson Williams, is great as well. Several moving pieces of music, all placed at the perfect times in the game. The ambiance of the jungle is great, and it will never cease to place you right in the action. The sound design is a great part of Snake Eater, and delivers greatly on the overall experience of the game.

Game Play-10/10

Now this is where it counts, which is why I saved it for last. It is a wonderful experience to be had playing Snake Eater. As I have said way back with Metal Gear Solid 1 on the original PlayStation, your first time through will always be the best. The amount of surprises and twists thrown your way will knock you for a loop. That first time feeling is priceless, and something I wish I could relive over and over again.

I envy people who get to experience it without any kind of idea of what's going to happen. The game play hasn't been that drastically changed, as it's still the basic formula, but there are a few changes worth mentioning. The new Close-Quarters-Combat system, or CQC for short, allows Snake to open up a variety of new moves.

Using CQC, Snake can grab an enemy. After this has been done, the poor soul is pretty much at your disposal. You can then proceed to interrogate him for information or game tips by pressing in on the left analog stick, or you can simply slice his throat with your survival knife, it's up to you. The CQC system is a wonder to use, and comes in handy for the final boss fight of the game. There's plenty of new weapons to use, such as the Single Action Army we see our good pal Revolver Ocelot use. The great thing about this new gun is the ability to twirl the gun in first-person. Using the right analog stick, Snake will twirl the gun around his finger. It isn't quite as elaborate as Ocelot's gun-twirling, but it's great nonetheless.

One of the big things about Snake Eater was the survival functions. And while they, similar to the gun twirling, aren't as elaborate as once told, they are quite innovative and unique. Snake now has a stamina gauge in addition to his normal life gauge. When this starts to drop, Snake will get hungry. His stomach will also growl, LOUDLY. Using your variety of weapons, you will be able to hunt for food to keep in your backpack to eat along the journey. The jungle is filled with animals to hunt, so you'll have a hard time running out. Snake is also now more prone to injuries than he used to be. If a bullet becomes lodged in Snake's body, he must dig it out with a knife and cure the wound. If a blood-sucking leech has attached himself to Snake, use a cigar to burn it off. There's tons more, but it's fun to experience these injuries yourself.

The basic Metal Gear gameplay does make its presence known, though, as you will eventually find yourself indoors. The game will then retreat to familiar Metal Gear stealth territory. Hiding behind boxes, peeking around walls, you know the deal. The gun play is great, should you ever get spotted by the enemy. There's a wide variety of weapons you can choose from, including pistols, assault rifles and a shotgun. If heavy firepower doesn't tickle your fancy, though, try being a real man and just using a survival knife.

There's so much more to Snake Eater, so much that I can't possible fit it all into this review. I urge to to pick up Snake Eater after you've finished reading my, or any of the other reviews. It is truly a masterpiece, and Hideo Kojima's finest work since Metal Gear Solid back in 98. It is also my pick for the best game of 2004.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 01/23/05


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