Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
Review by SSJAniFan
"Hideo Kojima was right. He really should have retired after Metal Gear Solid 2."
A three. I still cannot believe it. Here I am, sitting here at my computer and looking at the score I have just typed in for my review of a game that I thought would be one of the best titles of 2004.. strike that, of the millennium. I've tried to think of reasons, but none can come to mind that can excuse this hack job of a mess that with a little more effort could easily and unquestionably have been Game of the Year material. However, I cannot make up excuses for what is unfortunately clear as crystal: Metal Gear Solid 3 is quite possibly the worst sequel to a video game, as well as one of the biggest disappointments I have ever had in my life.
I initially have to wonder where on Earth things could have gone so horribly wrong. After all, things start off strong, very strong indeed. Case in point: MGS3's graphics. I cannot lie here: not matter how much I dislike MGS3 overall, I have to say that it has some of the best graphics I have ever seen for a video game. Everything just looks.. well, excellent. So much detail has gone into the game that it is absolutely breathtaking to look at. The deep, vast jungles, packed with wildlife. The treacherous waters filled with crocodiles that threaten to devour anyone or anything that attempt to cross their path. The deep, murky, caves, filled with hundreds of bats hanging from the ceiling. To be perfectly honest, I would be forced to often stop what I was doing and go into the first-person mode just to get a better glimpse of the sharp, detailed graphics. And I must say, with the detail as good as what was found in MGS3, I must say that it was worth doing so each and every time.
By now the review seems to be quite positive so far, But then I remember that I attempted to actually play the game, and thus I finally remember just why I had to give this a negative score in the first place. You see, while the graphics may shine and are some of the best on the gaming market even a full year later with even more advancements going on, the gameplay on the other hand, is where things noticeably fall apart... and painfully, I might add.
I know you're going to ask: Just what is wrong with the gameplay? Well, to answer that I'm going to say all the new additions that were hyped for MGS3 in the entire game is pretty much useless. Take the stealth for example, the key aspect of the MG/S franchise. Throughout the series. Since the 2nd Metal Gear title, guards have been avoided. This time around, there is no radar. I'm perfectly fine though. Snake Tales, a special sub-game featured in the special edition of MGS2 called Substance, had no radar either, and I had no problem. But still, no radar does mean it's going to be easier for guards to spot Snake without a hiding place. This is where the camouflage system is supposed to come in. Using key camouflage patterns, you supposedly can blend in with your surroundings and sneak by the guards patrolling the area. A small meter in the corner of a screen lists how well Snake blends in with his surroundings. It sounds great, but there's one key problem: The camouflage system is completely useless and you will always be spotted by guards. You read that right. You can have your camouflage meter up to something as high as 95%, and they will still notice you, no matter how well you stand still and no matter how well you blend in with the scenery. With the camouflage system now more like an easier way to get spotted by guards then anything else, the best bet is to just whip out your tranquilizer gun and knock them all out one by one from far away, which means that for starters, you're in deep trouble anytime you don't have a tranquilizer gun with you. It also becomes far less fun, as instead of sneaking by guards you have to instead take them out. So much for the traditional stealth gameplay.
Speaking of those enemy guards, like I've said, their AI is shockingly incredibly hard when they're patrolling, as they WILL spot Snake no matter how well he tries to sneak by them. When they go into combat mode and actually start pursuing Snake, something odd happens. Their AI suddenly goes from super intelligent beings to dim-witted morons who can't even fire a gun right. The guards will literally stand still and just try to take shots. This makes it ridiculously easy to just run up to each of them and fire enough bullets to finish them off. You know something's not right when you can literally whip out just your knife, run toward each and every guard patrolling the area, and stab them to death with barely any problems. Once again, it seems like it's actually easier to forget stealth and just slaughter guards left and right to proceed, as they seem to be nearly helpless to prevent it.
Another supposedly key aspect is the survival. Snake will trek through the jungles, and must keep his stamina up by eating various wildlife. The thing is, Snake's stamina always decreases very slowly, and eating even the weakest object will increase his stamina quite well. Thus, you can often go without eating anything. Speaking of catching food, this also lies in a major beef I have with the game. Most of the food is plentiful, so you can often catch a full amount about five minutes. The only thing is, most of the time your food will probably be killed animals. Konami apparently decided that you should continue catching food. Now, whenever you save and end your current game, unless you play again in about 10 minutes so, from now own any of your food that isn't kept fresh, such as a pack of noodles, will be rotten and spoiled, and Snake will now get sick . That is a low down dirty trick, Konami.
You know, I'm getting really depressed here thinking of how bad MGS3's gameplay is. I think I may try for at least something a bit more positive to try and lighten myself up. Time we discuss the plot.
On the bright side once again, the story is at least decent. MGS2's story... how should I say this? Well, it wound up becoming so complex that even the most "out there" individual would be left scratching their heads saying "What was I just playing these past ten hours?!" With the sequel, or should I say prequel, Mr. Kojima has thankfully opted for a more character driven plot focusing on main hero Naked Snake. It chronicles his struggle as he rushes to stop a group of terrorists in Russia during 1964, all the while dealing with such issues and personal demons such as betrayal, love, honor, pride, etc. Thankfully most of this pans out and keeps from being too cheesy, and as a result we actually wind up caring for Snake, and we actually wonder what will happen to him. But that is not to say it's all good. Many of the so-called plot twists are easily seen coming about an hour or two away from the actual moment, and many of the characters in the game wind up falling short in the character development area with some notable exceptions.
Back to the pure negatives. The audio is yet another vast disappointment, a problem I also had with Gamecube's Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes. Shockingly, the usually grade A voice acting is below par. Most of the characters wind up sounding like they come from a badly dubbed anime show from the 1970's. One of the most notable offenders for this is the Boss. In this, her tone of voice sounds incredibly off, and sounds dull and tired throughout the entire game. The villains are also quite poor. They wind up coming off extremely goofy, not menacing like they should sound like. Not even David Hayter sounds like his usual self, for some reason sounding like he has something caught in his throat. I must say, when the audio becomes so poor that you find yourself either A, wishing that an extra language option would have been added just so you could switch to the original Japanese voices, or B, hitting the mute button on your television and leaving it muted the entire time, that is clearly not a good sign. As for the music, Harry Gregson-Williams returns from MGS2 to score Snake Eater. The good news is the music isn't as bad to listen as the voices. The bad news is that the themes just aren't as memorable as the ones found in Sons of Liberty. Most of the tunes are just quite forgettable in the end. However, there is one thing positive; the opening theme Snake Eater, which is a song that sounds like it was taken right from a James Bond movie. Amazingly enough, it's actually even pleasant to listen to.
Still, despite the fantastic graphics and the okay story, I cannot get the weak audio and the horrid gameplay out of my mind. The bad just far outweighs the good, and as a result I don't think I'll ever be able to look at the MGS series in the same light again. Thank you, Mr. Kojima, for ruining this once great series. I would say that I'm now looking forward to Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, but after the way this game turned out, I honestly have to say I'd be lying.
Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 12/06/05
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