Review by coldpunk13

"Kojima does it again, 60s style!"

No game has screamed the words "Best Game Ever" louder than Hideo Kojima's Metal Gear Solid for the PSone. The game, although it was released almost seven years ago, still holds up with its amazing story, characters, and sound design. Obviously, the graphics and gameplay have aged a bit, but Metal Gear Solid was ahead of its time, and it defined the stealth genre. One thing is for sure, once you entered the world of "Tactical Espionage Action", you didn't want to leave.

Kojima struck again a few years later. He released Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty on the still relatively new Playstation 2. It was in, all aspects, a great improvement over Metal Gear Solid's gameplay. If there was one problem with MGS, it would have to have been its targeting. It was manageable and didn't ruin the game at all, but it was tough to aim in an overhead view. Sons of Liberty threw the old aiming system out the window, and allowed you to shoot every gun in a convenient and highly accurate first-person view. This made sniping and stealth kills much easier. But Kojima didn't stop there. You could now hold up guards, stuff them in lockers, shoot out those annoying cameras, hone disguises, there is too much to list. Let's not forget the amazing graphics. Sure, there have been better looking games released after Sons of Liberty, but it still holds up well today.

The game was amazing no doubt, but it had one very disappointing aspect, and that would be its story. The first MGS set the storytelling bar very, very high. I fear it is too high, because in many respects, Sons of Liberty's plot didn't live up to the first. Also, Kojima took a huge gamble by allowing you to only play as the legendary Solid Snake for a measley quarter of the adventure. Now, his original idea was to allow you to fight along side Snake and see him in the third-person. I am fine with that, and it was an intriguing idea. Unfortunately, the man that replaced Snake turned out to be one of the most disliked videogame characters in recent memory, Raiden. Although there is no doubt that he had skill, and you can't help but feel sorry for the guy at the end, but his whiny attitude and pretty boy looks were too much for most gamers to stomach. Raiden wasn't the problem though. The plot was too confusing and way too convoluted. By the end, I didn't really give a crap about what was going on, and the only one I had any interest in was Snake.

Well, throw out any doubts that Kojima has lost his touch with games, because with the release of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, he has once again proven why he is one of the most respected guys in the video game biz, and why Metal Gear Solid is the greatest series ever created.

**NOTE: This review may contain some slight spoilers. No major plot point will be mentioned, but I tend to let myself go when I write, so I figure I better warn you anyway.**

STORY: Still bitter about Sons of Liberty's disappointing plot? Wipe those tears, because Snake Eater's story is one of the best I've seen in the last few years. It's quite a change too. Instead of taking place in the 21st century, Snake Eater happens during the Cold War, in 1964. As Naked Snake, you must infiltrate a Soviet controlled jungle and rescue a Russian weapons scientist whom recently defected to the United States. Once you reach the man, named Sokolov, he explains the project that the Soviets forced him to build, codenamed "Shagohad". The Metal Gear-esque weapon has unlimited nuclear potential, and is fearsome in every way. Everything goes according to plan, until something goes horribly, horribly wrong while crossing the bridge.

I'm going to stop there, because the plot is way too good to spoil. Kojima has totally redeemed himself. The plot is much more too the point, and not nearly as convoluted as Sons of Liberty. Yet, it still manages to be complex and interesting, thanks to a great new character, The Boss. The Boss is Snake's mentor, and she (yes, she) has one of the most complex and compelling side storys I've seen. Simply put, the supporting characters really add a lot to this game's plot. Even better is the fact that this helps clear up some holes and confusions that came up in Sons of Liberty. Praise God!

I have already heard complaints about the plot on the message boards, however. The main complaint is that there are not enough twists and turns to the story. Well, yeah, that is true. There is only one big plot twist in the entire game. But, think about the last Metal Gear Solid game. MGS 2 had too many twists. In fact, there were so many of them and quite a few were completely useless, that by the end, you had one hell of a mess after the credits rolled. If you were like me, your jaw hit the floor, but not in a good way. A more straightforward plot is exactly what the series needed.

The second whine I like to hear is that The Cobras (which are basically Snake Eater's version of FOXHOUND and Dead Cell) don't give much information about themselves or their lives. This is also true, but I feel that they didn't need to. Sure, it's always interesting to learn more about your enemies, but, even in the first MGS, this caused the pacing to drag a bit, and it got old after a while. I'm glad Kojima made some of the bad guys shut up, personally.

Okay, that was long, but the the story is amazing and it gets a 10/10.

GRAPHICS: Although the basic design and engine is similar to that of Sons of Liberty, Snake Eater is still noticeably better looking than MGS 2. Instead of spending the whole time in a large building, most of the time your out in the jungle. A very good looking, gorgeous jungle. The foliage is amazing, the characters show great detail, and the animations are spot-on.

There are a few, minor problems. We all know that the PS2 is an aging machine, and it has its limits. In order to have the great looking jungle and all of the animals inside of it, the framerate takes a dip on occasion, usually when you throw a stun grenade. This doesn't really affect gameplay at all, but it's still noticeable. Secondly, the lip synching in the games cutscenes could use some work. The Metal Gear series is known to have the best cutscenes around, and Snake Eater has the best cinematics of the series, even without good lip synching. But hey, a flaw is a flaw. I give overall graphics 9/10.

SOUND: All the Metal Gear games, especially Sons of Liberty have had amazing voice acting and a moving score. Guess what? Snake Eater is no different. It still has grand sound design. The voices are expertly done, and it has one of the best theme songs I've ever heard. Once again, sound gets 10/10.

GAMEPLAY: The heart of the MGS games has always been the gameplay. For those of you that don't know, MGS is a stealth/action game. The goal is to not get spotted, and to avoid combat if at all possible. Granted, the Splinter Cell games have always encouraged stealth more so than MGS, but I like the fact that Snake Eater gives you choices. Hmmm, shall I sneak in undetected and not hurt a fly, or should I snipe everyone with my SVD? Choices, choices. Although the main gameplay mechanics are unchanged from Sons of Liberty, it is arguable that it didn't need too much improvement to begin with.

However, Kojima has decided to stick with the technology of the time, and removed the Soliton radar from the game. Don't fret, because this "tell-all" radar needed to be taken out if you ask me. It made the game too easy. You knew where every enemy was, how far he could see, and where he was going. Besides, Snake Eater gives you camo to help hide yourself. By using face paint and uniform combinations, you can blend in to your environment perfectly and stay hidden. You really feel like your on the hunt, and pouncing out at an enemy and sliting his throat is very satisfying.

The other new aspect is the Survival Viewer. In this menu, you put on your camo, cure your wounds, and eat food to keep your stamina up. The CURE part, where you heal serious injuries, is rather tedious, but it doesn't take anything away from the gameplay. The FOOD is loads of fun. Stamina is like a second life bar. High stamina means you'll move faster, shoot better, and get the job done easier. If you have low stamina, expect to be shakey when trying to aim a gun, and slow to the punch. Eating food that you've captured recovers stamina, and hunting for it is rather fun. I like the Survival Viewer, it adds some depth to the game.

The only complaint is that the melee combat is showing its age. I love being able to interagate and slit throats, but the CQC lacks smoothness. I normally just shoot anyway, but I feel Kojima needs to try to change melee a bit more.

Finally, to all of you that hate the camera, I say this to you. Take 30 seconds to look around with your scope, and for the love of all things holy, use your camo! Monitor your surrounds, and don't go it running around like an idiot. That wil be all. Gameplay gets 9/10.

So there you have it. Snake Eater is amazing, and my Game of the Year for 2004. If you love the Metal Gear games, you must own this. It's got style, a great story, great graphics, brilliant sound, and downloadable content. Also, in true Kojima style, there are hundreds of Easter Eggs to find, meaning you'll be playing this for a long time to come. Do yourself a favor, and get this game. Gamers need more games like this.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 01/18/05

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