Review by HYD

"Snake Eater is one of the greatest games ever, and it ends off year 2004 with style."

Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater - Snake Eater is one of the greatest games ever, and it ends off year 2004 with style.

The latest installment in Konami's mastermind Hideo Kojima stealth action game spans off as an adventure you do not want to miss. Snake Eater is just screaming to be talked about. Along with Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Snake Eater is easily the other most anticipated game of the year. After all, the success of the Metal Gear Solid series since the PSX version has already caused this game to have a string of fans chasing after it. Despite the fact that the story of the game is rather complicating, the richly cinematic scenes, revolutionary gameplay and top-notch graphical and audio capabilities of the game prove to allow the gamer to have yet another satisfying adventure. In short, Hideo Kojima has done it again. He has succeeded in showing his impressive style in this industry, and Snake Eater has definitely not failed its predecessors.

As usual, you will play as the one and only Snake. Unlike the previous two games available on the Playstations that has been set in an urban setting, Snake Eater presents an extremely detailed 1960s jungle situated in the Soviet region of the world. The story ties up loosely with the previous series, but players who had went through the first and second game would notice a sense of closure. Ultimately, the story gets you guessing. And you probably won't stop anytime soon. Unfortunately, the game starts off in a painfully slow manner for those who are eager to jump directly into the bandwagon. You will probably have to endure through lengthy scenes after lengthy scenes - maybe move a few screens or so midways - before you can thoroughly enjoy this game.

Undoubtedly, Snake Eater revolves around a serious story. Make no mistakes about that. Snake Eater consists of graphical violence - whilst not entirely gory but still be considered as 'violent' - and sexual references to a few characters during the frequent cutscenes you would be experiencing. You would also be introduced to the villain who spearheads his malicious activities, Volgin, fairly early. Together with a bunch of genetically mutated, very weird-looking bad guys group known as the Cobras; you can bet that you would be in a tough ride throughout your adventure.

Much of the conspiracy about this game revolves around the complex and mysterious relationship between Snake and a woman whom is only known as The Boss. Apparently, she was the one who trained Snake to become the elite warrior he is today. The Boss gets into several hand-to-hand combats throughout the game, all in which she easily dispatches off her opponents. Another familiar figure would be Ocelot, one of the bosses you would meet if you played through the original Metal Gear Solid. Ocelot hasn't changed one bit, and he is still the arrogant marksman that you know of in the original game. He still keeps his special tactic of ricocheting bullets off obstacles, so take note of that.

And of course, Snake Eater brings back the famous communicating system it uses. While you're not capable of using the nanotech Codec you had before in previous games, Snake uses the radio this time. It functions exactly the same as it does previously, and the only noticeable difference would be that Snake does not have his own personal portrait this time. Not that it is a major flaw, anyway. The characters you communicate through in radio will help you throughout your adventure and they provide some essential tips that you could use of should you get stuck, so don't neglect them.

The story kicks off in post Cuban missile crisis era. Snake has been caught up in affairs he doesn't want to, and this time he is assigned a simple task - to rescue a brilliant Russian weapons designer, that is the key to the weapon that would spark off a full-scale nuclear war if it does gets completed. Snake's obstruction would be Volgin and the Cobras, but like all previous Metal Gear Solid games, you would have the chance to dispatch off them one by one and proceeding till you hit the last boss. In any case, Snake would have to journey through the dense forest. And that means, transverse across hills, swamps, and heavily guarded military complexes. While all these are fine and cool, Hideo Kojima did add in some new elements of gameplay to his latest installment.

The most anticipated and known element would be to the fundamental way of surviving - that is, to eat. While it is the most interesting gameplay of all, it is also the one that is the most subtle. You'll come across many different species of flora and fauna in the urban areas and the jungle. All of which, do not pose any danger to your life. (With the exception of some animals you aren't supposed to capture in the first place, of course.) You can very easily get rid of them with a swipe of your knife or a shot with your tranquilizer gun. Then, they would magically be packed into any ordinary item you can snag and keep in your bag. From there, you can simply eat them from the game's menu and replenish your stamina. While all these sound great, they aren't exactly of any utmost importance considering the fact that your stamina does not deplete at an alarming rate and most of the food you can scavenge out there do replenish a good deal of your stamina. But of course, it would be favorable to keep it as high as possible.

The other new element of gameplay would be the camouflaging system. Of all the newest elements available, this is the one that would save your life. It works in a very easy way. In the top right hand corner of your screen, you would see a percentage index. That is your camo index. Basically, the higher it is, the more well-blended you are with the surroundings, and the less chance an enemy would be able to spot you, and vice versa. Of course, this doesn't work all that way. Even with a high camo index, you will still be spotted if you run around like a lunatic and create noises like there's no tomorrow. Conversely, should you lay hidden in an under bush and stay absolutely still and are pretty well blended with the surroundings, you won't be caught that easily. You won't have to change camos in the fly, however. Most camos are suited for specific condition, but the ones you start off with are more than capable of blending you with the game's many surroundings. Just maintain your cool, and you should do fine.

Should you get caught however, don't really sweat it. Snake is the master of CQC, something known as 'close-quarters combat'. Basically, it's a fancy name for the addition of combos you get in this game. Snake stresses on the point that he wields a handgun with a knife at the same time to enhance his battling condition multiple times throughout the game, but it doesn't really have as much usage as he so speaks. For one thing, it's ridiculously easy to take down guards with your tranquilizer gun or .45 if you have silenced it. For the former, you would have to drag them back and make short work of them with your knife. For the more adventurous, you could try sneaking behind them and perform the CQC moves you have learnt. There are the simple toss and turns that render the guards unconscious, but the most interesting one would be the pushing L3 to interrogate the guard. It's amazing how many things you can learn this way. Sadly, it is also quite dangerous as they might wiggle out and trigger the alert phase.

Speaking of the alert phase, it is easily as good as restart in the first few missions where you only have your tranquilizer gun. The enemies start pouring in and shoot you on sight. While it is easy to simply roll out of the way and hide in an area if there's one till you reach the Caution status, most of the time there wouldn't be a suitable place to take cover in and the enemies would seriously wound you. Later in the game however, you can make short work of them with well-aimed potshots to their head, but it is better to remain stealthy. Besides, that's what the game was designed to be.

You will get yourself hurt throughout the game. And these wounds would require you to treat them. Some of the more common ones would be a gunshot wound, for example. The game makes it look all fancy by instructing you to disinfect it, and then applying styptic to stop the bleeding, maybe even using the knife to dig out the bullets before finally covering it up with a bandage. In reality, it's basically choosing and selecting with the 'O' button. While this feature is realistic and neat, the process through it does pose some sort of annoyance.

Like its predecessors, Metal Gear Solid 3 exhibits a great deal of detail in all of its maps, especially in the jungles out there. While all these are purely additional stuffs to make Snake Eater look even better, we should really be thankful we don't see the same damn trees every single time. There are a lot of things you can do in Snake Eater that you can't in previous games. For example, you can throw a giant anaconda towards a guard, which would result in him being caught in a messy situation. Also, shooting down a hornet nest towards a group of guards would prove to turn the tides to your favor as well. All the previous stunts possible such as holding a guard up are still kept within this game.

The boss battles available in Metal Gear Solid 3 are also worth a mention, simply because it is a one-of-a-kind situation, something that you would not experience anywhere else in the game. For example, in one boss battle, you would have to spend tons of time scouting down your quarry. Doing that without your equipment would be virtually impossible. Some things to use would be the thermal goggles, that would indicate the location of the boss, but even that doesn't really pose much of assistance. If you do get stuck however, Major Zero is always there to help, so don't sweat it.

Snake Eater plays in the same way as its predecessors. This means that you would be controlling Snake in an overhead view most of the time. The only problem with the view is that you don't have the ability to rotate the camera. As such, you would be running backwards most of the time and you can't really see what's in front of you without stopping a few steps at each time to go into the first-person perspective to note any signs of danger and then carrying on your movements. Another noticeable aspect of Metal Gear Solid's controls would be the heavy usage of the pressure buttons fitted into the Playstation 2's controllers. For example, pressing the Triangle button with a much harder force while viewing in a Scope would cause it to zoom in at a much faster rate. Similarly, holding the Square button harder and releasing it would fire a gun. But, holding it with a much smaller force would simply draw it, allowing you to aim before firing. All these are really subtle moves that you should get used to before embarking on any shootouts.

Snake Eater would take roughly 15 or so hours to complete in your first playthrough. It is always not a bad move to replay it once again, as like previous Metal Gear Solid games, you would gain control of several unlockables that would allow you to cruise your way through the second playthrough without as much difficulty as you had during the first. In any case, Snake Eater presents an ever-changing encounter no matter how many times you play. Each place would demand of you to exploit tactical advantages to move on, and this is what makes Snake Eater such an impressive game.

Along with all that, Snake Eater exhibits a brilliant visual design of the game environments. Each environment is highly detailed that makes it a cutting edge over other video games. Impressive little details really start to show in situations such as brushing your way through an under bush and notice that it gets pushed down. It is also very enticing to note how the magpies fly with the wind when a gunshot is fired, and also how the leaves fall to the soil below. While all these are fine and dandy stuffs, it is also worth noticing that blood might be stained on your camo, and that would hinder your camouflage index.

Metal Gear Solid 3 really feels like an interactive movie during its richly developed cinematic scenes. They all feature professional work in the position of the camera, the lightings and the way the things are planned. The movie also makes you part of the scene, by interacting to you in several ways. Occasionally, you are able to enter the first-person perspective during a cutscene that would allow you to see things you could have never seen before in third-person view. Also, the vibration feature of the controller keeps you informed of any key movements that you should notice about. All in all, the cutscenes in Snake Eater are although lengthy, it doesn't leave you alone.

Snake Eater also displays an impressive array of audio presentation. Following up from Metal Gear Solid 2, Harry Gregson-Williams is back again with Snake Eater, and with him comes an impressive musical score for this game. It perfectly captures the mood and ambience for Snake Eater, and successfully conveys the atmosphere it was supposed to bring about. The voice acting of Snake Eater is on par with its predecessors, and its nice to see people like David Hayter bringing out the gruff, grumpy voice Snake has. In short, Snake Eater presents a favorable musical ambience to its game and without a doubt, enhances the gamer's enjoyment.

Metal Gear Solid has always been looked up upon as the stealth action game to follow with. In this series, Hideo Kojima has further established the foundation of this game and allows it to continue being the aspiration for all other games. This latest installment has brought up the plot-twisting effect most games strive to get, and yet still embodies the revolutionary gameplay and seemingly perfect visual and audio aspects of the game. All these continue to be the expectations of further Metal Gear Solid games, and we hope that the team behind it do strive for more. Nevertheless, it has been a great job done by the team behind it all, and it ends the year 2004 with style.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 11/30/04

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