"Kojima-san has yet to disappoint me."

There are many words to describe a game such as Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, such awesome, cool, or beautiful. But the one word that fits this game the best is, without a doubt, WOW. I knew long before I was able to put the final version of this game into my disc tray that I was going to love it. I kind of felt the same way with previous installments of the series. I guess Kojima-san just doesn't know how to disappoint the fans, not that that's a bad thing. When I first saw footage of this game, my jaw dropped to the floor and stayed there for quite a while.

Gameplay
New to the 3rd installment in the series is the ability to use camouflage to work your way around in the game. This is cool, because now you have a new way of sneaking past enemies without them spotting you. When you go to a certain area, you need to check your surroundings and equip the camo best suited for that area. For example, when you're crawling in the tall grass, you're going to want to change to a camo like Leaf camo. Or change to the Choco Chip camo in the mountain area. This will keep you well-hidden while sneaking through the grass. You will also want to keep an eye on your camouflage index, as you won't be too successful sneaking around an enemy that can turn around and see you if you have a low index. In order to ensure that won't be seen, you're going to want to apply certain face paints. This will add to the index and decrease your chances of being seen. To me, this aspect of the game was executed perfectly.

The combat system is completely different this time around. In this game, instead of just punches & kicks, you have what is called Close Quarters Combat, or, CQC. CQC is a technique that gives gives Snake the ability to take the enemy down faster and easier. By doing this you can use CQC to hold up an enemy to interrogate him, cut his throat, break his neck, drag him around, use him as an enemy shield, or throw him to the ground. These tactics will need to be utilized correctly in order to survive. And it's not that easy to sneak up an enemy. At least it's not when you are pressing the analog stick. You have to use the Directional-Pad. This will bring you into stalking mode. This is a very good example of why you should always look in the instruction booklet. I've learned my lesson.

Also new to the series is the theme of survival. You are in a jungle this time, so you're going to have to deal with whatever it is that the jungle throws at you. You'll have to feed Snake, as he'll get hungry over time. Neglecting his need to eat will result in stamina loss, and, eventually, health loss.Throughout the game, you'll have to eat snakes, birds, frogs, and rabbit to keep his stamina up. Some food will taste good to snake, while others will taste flat-out awful. There are some foods that snake will have to eat multiple times throughout the game in order to acquire a taste for them. Other foods are so bad that, well, they give you food poisoning. These foods are easy to point out, like tarantulas & scorpions. Whenever you kill food, you will want to eat it soon after. Otherwise it will rot. This is another source of food-poisoning.

The game also has a injury-treating system that allows you to cure snake whenever he gets hurt in any way. You'll come across broken bones, gunshot wounds, burns, snake bites & cuts. You'll have to treat these by going into the menu and using certain medical items to treat an injury. Like using a serum to cure poison, and ointments to cure burns. You'll need to keep these injuries at a minimum in order to prevent stamina & health loss. Also, you will come across traps that hurt you, or just plain kill you. For example, you will come across wires that you can trip to cause an explosions, and well, die.

The one thing that frustrates me the most about this game is the camera. While it's not a bad one, sometimes you'll be running in certain directions, which is usually towards the screen, and you can't see what is ahead of you, leaving you open for a possible attack from an enemy sentry. While it's not all that bad, a few mistakes because of a not-so-great camera angle can really drive you up the wall.

Story
Metal Gear Solid 3 is set in the 60's, with the main character, Naked Snake, or Jack, performing a HALO (High Altitude, Low Opening) jump in order to stealthily infiltrate the jungle. Snake's mission is to save Nikolai Stepanovich Sokolov, who is a Soviet Scientist, to help him defect to the west. Soon, the story becomes more than some rescue mission, as things don't go Snake's way. He has to fight someone he once trusted, and do whatever it is he can to stop the enemy from reaching their goal. One negative thing about the story is that the members of Cobra Unit, such as The Pain or The Fear, don't have any story behind them, as to why they do the things they do. The only thing they do is follow The Boss, doing whatever it is she wants them to do. One of the best parts of this story is the fact that Ocelot is in here! If you played the previous games in the series, you'd know that this guy is just plain cool. In fact, he's miles better in this game than in others. He is a character that will get you more interested in the game as you progress.

Graphics/Sound
Let me start off by saying this one of the most beautiful game I have seen in my life. The characters are so rich in detail, the bosses in the game are so creative and cool in design that you wonder how anyone could have come up with something as great as the Cobra Unit. The entire game is filled with little details that make you feel like the game is alive. Things like how the grass moves, how the snakes move around just right. Vultures will come over to dead enemy soldiers peck at them. The water effects are amazing, as shooting bullets into the drink will make awesome splashing sounds. Moving through the jungle, you will hear sounds in the distance, such as birds high in the trees, snakes hissing around you. All of the weapons sound like they actually do in the real world. The M37 Shotgun is true to its real life counterpart, as is the AK-47. The suppressor on your weapons will also lose it's effectiveness after a certain number of shots. So it's cool that you have to watch when the suppressor becomes worthless, or else you'll make more noise than necessary.

Replay Value
This game has a long lasting appeal, and that's just with the regular game itself. The game is very challenging, so the different difficulty levels will definitely keep you busy. Within the game, there are countless little secrets, easter eggs, and other little things you never noticed the first time through. Like being to go through the game and shooting these little frogs called Kerotans. This is a great bit of replay value that will make the game fun to try and find them. Also, you have a mini-game called Snake vs. Ape, which has you going around different areas from the main game catching monkeys. These are the same monkeys from the game Ape Escape 2. It's really fun, as you get to see the monkeys go around and mind their own business. If you get too close to them, they run around in a panic with a "!" over their head. If you manage to catch one, you will hear Snake say "gotcha!" It's quite funny. You also have other things to mess around with, such as being able download camouflage with a network adaptor onto your memory card. You never know what kind of camo will be on there.

Final Thoughts
In the end, is Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater a game worth putting $50 down on? In a word: YES!! It's full of the best action and cut-scenes you'll ever see. It's quite easily one of the most gorgeous game on earth. There's an awful lot of fun to be had in this title, as you won't want to play just once. Hideo Kojima is the best in the industry, simply because of the magic he worked into this game, as well as others. Not only is this one of the greatest games of the year, but it's easily one of the best of all time. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater has more than lived up to it's hype for me, and I think that it will for you as well.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 03/07/05


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