Review by danieltepeskrau
Snake Eater made me lose my apetite
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. You all knew this was coming. After all, Metal Gear Solid was without a doubt one of the greatest PS1 games ever made (Many argue it was THE greatest), and despite Sons of Liberty's... foibles, it was still a very successful game. It was only a matter of time before they cranked out another sequel.
"I knew it" I said to myself as I stared at it through Walmart's glass force-field which separated me from a nerd's ransom of PS2 games. "Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater". What can you say about a title like that? I remember telling my friend that the title was Konami's way of implying that Raiden wasn't the playable character in this game and both of us laughing. We eventually concluded that "Snake Eater" was a shortened version, and the unabridged title read "Metal Gear Solid 3: You actually play as SNAKE this time, so EAT mE, Raiden". (Look at only the capitals, lol).
But enough. Before you think that I'm just joking around and not doing a serious review, let's get down to business. Was this going to be awesome, good, at least better than Sons of Liberty, or just plain bad? The fact that it had been marked down from $50 to $15 should have been a dead giveaway, but I figured it couldn't possibly be as bad as Sons of Liberty.
Boy was I mistaken.
I'm following the same format as my Sons of Liberty review, for those of you who read it. Like it, I'm going to concentrate on the flaws of this game since there's about 1000 reviews that gave this game a 10/10 and concentrate only on it's good points.
Is there an 11/10 option for graphics? I'm serious. They are amazing. So much lush greenery and trees and detail, it certainly beats Sons of Liberty (Which is a HUGE accomplishment considering how awesome it's graphics were).
Music and Sound: 8/10
Doesn't get much better than this game's music. They've added much nicer music and replaced the techno music themes from the previous game. This time each boss gets his or her own personal theme, which is a very nice touch. It lost some major points for lousy voice acting. It's on par with Resident Evil 1 on PS1, and I'm not kidding at all. The voices on this game sound like the campy villains from 1970s children's cartoons like He-Man. There's no personality or seriousness, and they are far too over-dramatic. I don't want to give away any of the story so I'm not going to give an example. Oh, I can't hold it in. Just one: "Come into my web! It is time for you to feel the FEAR!!!" Ugh.
Uh-oh, we're starting to slip. Unlike Sons of Liberty which simply expanded on the already perfect control scheme, Snake Eater decided to change it up a little bit. They replaced the simple throw and grab with a complicated CQC system which I never managed to decipher. Apparently you can grab guards, interrogate them, break their necks, choke them, slit their throats, and all sorts of neat stuff. Too bad all I could ever pull off was the throw to ground move. I get the feeling that they were trying to emulate some Splinter Cell here. However, instead of having simple commands, you need to wrench the analog stick all over the place while holding/tapping/pressing the circle button, only to either just throw the guard or have him hear you and pump you full of lead. Another quirk is the pressure sensitive aiming controls. You hold Square lightly to aim, press harder to fire. But you REALLY need to press to fire. Often your gun just goes down and you don't shoot, leaving you WIDE OPEN as you fumble to bring it back out.
Aw, man. Well, at least it's better than Sons of Liberty. But that isn't saying much. At least they got away from all the conspiracies and lame twists and made a more straight-forward storyline that doesn't take Spencer Reid to figure it out. It takes place in the '60s, and you play as a man who looks, walks, talks, acts, and is even called Snake. For all practical purposes he IS Snake, and for anyone who thinks that's just Konami trying to pimp a popular character, there is actually a very good reason for the similarity. Heck, you've probably already figured it out anyways.
And before I go any further, you play as Snake for the whole game. I promise.
This time around, the storyline is pretty good. Like I said above, it's more designed for the casual gamer and easier to follow. A few good twists take place which are far more appropriate than before, and fit the storyline nicer. It being a prequel, they threw in some very good references to later games and characters. The only exception to this, is the painful reference to Raiden that it makes later on. Didn't we get enough of that jerk last time? Also, the cutscenes are a lot more merciful. The only ones which are painfully long are the opening sequences and the ending, which are the only cutscenes which SHOULD be long.
Also, they got rid of that nagging hag Rose. Like MGS, you're back to a more acceptable Mei-Ling-ish character named Para-Medic. This time around, she tells you about old movies. Granted, she tends to yap a bit too much, but the information is actually interesting. I actually found myself a a few of the old movies she mentioned and liking them, and also, often she points out the moral of the movie which is relevant to the game. That's a stone's throw better than getting browbeaten for forgetting whatever the heck April 30 was.
So what's wrong with the storyline? It sounds pretty good so far!
I'll tell you. The villains. It's that simple. The villains of the game are a group called The Cobras. And no, they're not a motorcycle gang from a 1950s film, they're a unit of over-the-top mercenaries who belong in a cartoon rather than a Metal Gear game. Following the Sons of Liberty trend, the developers threw all rhyme and reason to the wind and threw in a bunch of crazy magic powers for the enemies to use, rather than keeping it simple. Seriously, Konami? With the uncountable volume of weapons and fighting techniques found world-wide, you had to do the magic powers thing AGAIN?
Let's take roll of the Cobras. You've got Mushizo from Ninja Scroll, Orochimaru from Naruto, Mother Nature's grandpa, some jerk in a spacesuit, a ghost (I'm serious), and of course, the big bad leader himself: Electro's beefy dad. Seriously?! Could these villains be anymore stock? There's no imagination or personality in these characters. Remember the previous games where you got a feel for the villain's personalities? They had backgrounds, histories, and actually did stuff that supported the storyline itself? Not this time. They are faceless cardboard cut-outs which only show up moments before fighting Snake and never show up again. You don't even have time to decide whether or not you like them or not. But then again, considering just how ridiculous the boss characters were, this might actually be a good thing...
Like with Sons of Liberty, how is it possible that there is such a huge rift between controls and gameplay?! Also, how on earth do you mess up the gameplay on Metal Gear?! It's simple. They changed it. In the good old days you had radars, viewpoints, and the like. The game was more simplistic. Just stay out of the enemy's view and you're laughing. Throw in some boss battles and unavoidable alerts and you've got a recipe for a fun, very playable game.
Not this time.
Again, it's very evident that Snake Eater's gameplay was based on Splinter Cell. Rather than hiding behind obstacles and staying out of view, you need to reduce your visibility by blending in to your surroundings. The guards see like eagles and hear like rabbits this time around, so staying out of view is not an option. Also, you're generally traipsing around in sparse open spaces with little cover, so if your visibility is high you are going to be seen. Period. The game measures how visible you are with a "camo index" in the corner of the screen. The higher the number displayed (It's a percent), the less visible you are. Theoretically, that means 100% is invisible and 0% is completely visible, but no. During the entire game, I never got it higher than about 90%, so if a guard comes close, he still sees you. Running away will only make you more visible, so unless you manage to shoot him in time, you're seen. Also, the number can drop below 0. I had it at -55% once. Is that necessary?! If you're completely visible at 0%, why can the number still drop?! Does Snake start glowing?!
Alright, so we've established the new way of avoiding alerts. How do you keep your camo index high? Sadly, there is only one way to reduce visibility. Get on your belly and crawl. That's what you do for the entire game: crawling around at a snail's pace on Snake's belly. Sound like fun? It's not. Also, so much as moving drops your camo index by about 10%, unless you only gently move the analog stick forward to make Snake move EVEN SLOWER!!! Moving slower than a slug is bad enough, but the areas are much larger than the rooms found in the previous games. It can take more than a half-hour to ooze your way across one screen. I actually found myself holding the controller with one hand and edging along, while surfing the web on a laptop or reading a book to keep myself occupied. What's the point of even playing?
But guess what else? It's not quite that simple. Snake also carries about a million sets of camouflage and face-paints, all which increase or decrease your camo index based on your surroundings. It's pretty standard to figure out: Use green for green backgrounds, brown for brown backgrounds, you get the picture. This may seem like a simple idea, maybe even a cool idea, but leave it to them to mess it up. You are constantly changing camouflage patterns, often a dozen times on one screen, and doing so takes forever. They just couldn't condense the camouflages to the item window or something, so you have to pause the game, wait for it to load, go to the camouflage menu, scroll down and find it, equip it, then exit out of all the menus. It's ridiculous. Let me suggest a simpler idea RIGHT NOW: Hold the L button to display both the item and camo menus. Press up and down to scroll items, and left or right to scroll camos. Wouldn't that be a lot more convenient?
"But wait! This is too different! Can't I just avoid enemies with the radar?"
You could, if there WAS a radar. But this is the sixties! They didn't have stuff like that, only magic-wielding super soldiers. Well, to be fair, there IS a radar system, three in fact, but they aren't always on. You need to equip them like items and they each work very shoddily. Number one is the motion detector. It detects any moving life-form, human or otherwise, and has a typical rotating display. Too bad, however, that this thing is useless with all the animals running around. Also, it doesn't detect stationary life-forms such as the numerous guards throughout the game that stand still. The second is the active sonar. It uses a sound wave to detect life-forms and must be manually used by pressing L3 to send a sound wave. It sees stationary life-forms as well, but still detects all the thousands of animals and is equally useless. The third is the Anti Person Sensor. It's basically the RF Sensor from Sons of Liberty, and it makes the controller vibrate when life-forms come near. Again, it detects EVERYTHING and is as useless as it was in the previous game. Guess what else? They also drain batteries. Seriously. You can run out of battery power and no longer be able to use them. While the battery does recharge in time, it takes forever. Considering how useless the radars are, this shouldn't be a big deal, but since almost all of your other items all share the same battery, the radars are essentially unuseable.
So you've been seen, and you've been shot. Why is part of your lifebar red?
It's simple. Snake has a bullet stuck in him and you have to remove it. Seriously? They go for a realism angle NOW, instead of when they were dolling out the Sith powers to the boss characters? Just shoot me right now. Snake gets injured CONSTANTLY, especially during boss fights, and you need to pause and go to the CURE menu to fix him up. Each injury is fixed differently, but none are difficult to do. Just apply bandage, sew it up, blah blah blah. Don't get me wrong, I thought this was pretty cool the first time around, but it starts to become a pain in the neck when it happens all the time. Especially during boss fights when you need to continually pause the game to do this. I often found myself just not worrying about injuries because they eventually heal on their own anyways. The only drawback to doing this is that Snake's maximum health is limited until it heals.
So we've figured that out. What is that little meter beneath Snake's life?
Unlike the previous games, Snake apparently suffers from Graves Disease this time around. If that was inapropriate, I'm sorry. I'm only referring to Snake's voracious appetite. He has a stamina bar below his lifebar which quickly depletes as he does anything, and you need to find food to replenish it. As the meter gets lower, Snake becomes weaker and moves more slowly. His stomach also starts growling, which may or may not alert guards (Knowing this game it probably does). Also, his health replenishes more slowly. In this game, health recovers on it's own and rations are food items instead. If the meter empties, he'll pass out. This could have been an interesting innovation to a game, but they messed it up really bad. To find food, you need to capture animals. You can catch them with the tranq gun and keep them alive, or just kill them and carry them dead. Food spoils over time unless it is alive, but you can only carry 3 living animals at a time. I think you can carry 10 dead, but I'm really not sure. There is one other way to replenish stamina, and that is by sleeping. To make Snake sleep, simply save and turn off the console. It measures how long the console is off before being turned on again, and that is how long Snake sleeps. Sleeping recovers stamina, restores health, and even heals injuries. But if that's all it did, it would be too convenient. Any time you turn off the console for more than about 15 minutes, all of Snakes food items spoil and he's buggered. I ironically found this out when I went to eat dinner (The game doesn't warn you, oh no). I came back with a full belly and had Snake eat, only to make him sick! I was mad. Making the character eat and sleep? Are you serious?! This game's turned into a virtual pet with guns.
Speaking of guns...
Lets talk about the weapons. The only useful weapon in the entire game is the tranq gun. With a weapon like that, why even add the others? Why on earth would you try to shoot a guard with a gun when you could just put him to sleep with one shot and slip past? Especially when you get better rankings at the end for NOT killing guards? I only used two weapons in the entire game. The tranquilizer and the rocket launcher. That's it. There's about 30 other useless weapons in this game, none of which I even bothered to try let alone use. But maybe the tranq gun is good enough? After all, it's compact, it's silent, it-- what? It's NOT silent?! Are you SERIOUS?! Well, it does have a silencer, but the thing RUNS OUT! That's right! They have one useful weapon, and it's silencer eventually runs out and renders it useless unless you want to trigger an alert! What a rotten trick! You can find more, but they're few and far between. So make sure you plan ahead, tranq some guards and shake them down for more, because we all know that grabbing is impossible in this game.
It had the cold war, it had the Soviets, it had Snake, it had nukes. How did they mess it up this badly? Two is all I'm going to give this game. Granted it has great graphics and sound, but that's not enough to wash over it's glaring defects and general unplayability. It's like putting a brand new shiny body and paint job on a beater car. It looks great and seems like a nice car, until you turn the key and get only squeeling and a few backfires. That's what Snake Eater is: a beater car of a game with lots of bondo and a nice paint job. Now, I'm seeing a pattern here. The games keep getting worse. Will Metal Gear Solid 4 even be worth buying? Even worth TRYING? I don't know, but Snake Eater definately is not. To be fair, let's hope that Snake Eater is the obligatory crappy sequel in the otherwise good series. They tried something knew, completely "F-ed" it up, and maybe they'll learn their lesson. Just skip this game altogether and grab one of the many copies of Splinter Cell to feed your stealth need until Metal Gear 4 comes out.
Rating: 1.0 - Terrible
Product Release: Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (US, 11/17/04)
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