Review by thesickness03

Reviewed: 03/14/05

My Vote for Best Game of 2004

Metal Gear Solid 3 was one of those games that I was anticipating, but not quite to the extent of some of the other games this year like Half-Life 2, Halo 2, and San Andreas to name a few. However, it turned out to be the game that was the best of them all. This game was hard to put down, and I found myself watching certain cut scenes several times. Quite simply, it was an amazing game and a worthy addition to the Metal Gear universe.

In MGS3, you play as a man named Snake, but he's not the same Snake you know and love who starred in every Metal Gear game prior to Snake Eater. The time is now the 1960s and the Cold War is at its height. You must guide Snake through the jungles, swamplands, mountains and more of a fictional part of Russia in order to stop a crazed general from using the Shagohad, a precursor of sorts(you'll understand the of sorts if you play through the game) to the Metal Gear.

The game has some pretty intense moments and some damn good battles that you'll likely want to play through again. There are some changes to the tried and true Metal Gear Solid formula as well, some for the better and some for the worse. Regardless, this is a game worth playing if for nothing else than simply for the story and cutscenes, both of which are amazing.

Gameplay (7/10)
This gameplay in Snake Eater was definitely the low point of the game. That's not to say that it is bad, because it really isn't. It's just not all that great and the controls are starting to show their age.

Moving Snake around is as fluid as it was in Metal Gear Solid 2, which is the best part of the control system. However, Konami has opted to remove the radar(since it wouldn't have been invented yet at the time). While this is suitable in terms of story, the fixed(kind of) camera angles that have dominated the series now become a problem. Before, you had a radar to tell you if enemies were near, which made up for the fact that you couldn't see things through Snake's eyes. Now, though, you have nothing aside from a few pretty worthless devices that I only ever used once or twice in the game. I kept having to revert to first person few every few seconds to make sure I wouldn't walk right into an enemy guard. This definitely posed a problem. I think that it's definitely time for the Metal Gear series to adopt a new camera perspective, preferably a third person over-the-shoulder one similar to the one that works so well in the Splinter Cell series.

Aside from the above problem, the game plays well. The guns this time around are all high-quality and there is a moderate selection. You open up a few new weapons upon completion of the game as well, which is always a good thing. All of the weapons handle well and they all have their uses. The silenced weapons this time must be used with restraint, since the silencer will cease to function after so many shots are fired. This adds to the urgency of the game, as you must decide when it is necessary to waste one of your shots.

The boss battles in the game are, for the most part, incredible. The first two are nothing special, with the Ocelot battle being little more than a rehash of the fight with Olga that opened up MGS2. After the initial battles, however, Konami kicks it up a notch and you get some great and memorable battles. The fights with The End and The Boss are the two that really stuck out for me. The End's sniper battle was hectic and I found myself jumping more than once when the bastard snuck up behind me and shot me close range.

Health works differently now that you have a stamina meter. You automatically restore your own health, and eating rations(and the many other food items that you can find/hunt) raises your stamina meter. The more stamina you have, the faster you regain your health. Which brings me to the new hunting system. If you see an animal in the game, you can shoot it and use it for food. Some of the animals you can tranq and take alive(up to three at any given time), while others are too big and can only be taken after they are killed. Dead animals will rot after a given amount of time and then eating them can make you sick.

The survival system is also a cool improvement that doesn't detract from the game at all. At points in the game you will find yourself hurt. You can break bones, get shot, get burnt, or even get bitten by a poisonous snake. When this happens, you must open a new screen and treat your injuries. You only have a certain amount of supplies with which to cure yourself, although you can find more in enemy camps. This mode really adds to the feeling of being alone in the jungle and also helps the urge to keep yourself alive.

Overall, the new jungle setting works for the series and moves it in a new direction at the same time. The new gameplay additions are welcome but the removal of the radar hurts the game due to the poor camera angles.

Story (10/10)
This is what the Metal Gear games have always been about, and Snake Eater does not disappoint. The story is one of almost epic proportions and, while it lacks the complexity of Sons of Liberty, the story is well-told, well-acted, and well-written.

You should know before buying Snake Eater that there are dozens of cut scenes, some of them fairly long, in addition to the radio scenes, which can run long as well. Some of the scenes are boring and probably could have been edited, but, overall, they work well and some of the more action-packed scenes are simply amazing. Kojima knows how to direct a video game, as he proves time and time again.

The story follows Snake(who as many have speculated is the very same Snake that Solid Snake received his codename from) as he takes a mission in the jungles of Russia. During the course of the mission, the seeds are planted that will lead to Snake becoming the man that he is when you face him in Metal Gear. The story is touching and you really feel for him when he is betrayed by everyone.

The main problem with the story is that most of the boss characters were not really all that fleshed out. Only a few, such as Ocelot, Volgin, and The Boss, received enough attention for them to seem important. This game also lacks the long speeches made by most of the bosses when they are killed, which is a change in pace for the series and may or may not be a good thing for you, depending on how you liked them in the first two Solid games.

Overall, the story is breathtaking and most of the characters are well-defined. The ending is also one of the best and most heartfelt endings ever seen in a video game.

Graphics (9/10)
The first two Metal Gear Solid games were acclaimed for setting new standards in graphics, and the third entry is no different. While not the most beautiful game on the market, Snake Eater looks good. Particularly, the character models are terrific. While not quite as good as those featured in Half-Life 2, they definitely take a close second.

The new jungle environment really let Konami go all out with the level design. Everything is lush and filled with life. The lighting is also great and adds to the feel of the game's varied environments. You will go from green jungles to ugly swamps to an arid mountain and you will love every minute of it.

Overall, the graphics are not necessarily best, but they do their job well and the game looks awesome.

Sound (9/10)
Yet another area that the Metal Gear Solid series is known for, Snake Eater is similar to its predecessors. David Hayter is back in his role as Snake and his voice work is once again adequate. He is perfect for the role.

In addition, you get a great ensemble cast with a few standout performances(The Boss and Ocelot stand out in my mind). A few of the actors aren't as great as they could have been, with Volgin being a prime example, but none of the actors really suck so things are kept entertaining throughout.

The guns are all well done, but are also nothing special. The ambient sounds in the environment, however, really add to the experience and make you feel as if you are really in a jungle. Finally, the music is brilliant, as is to be expected in this series by now.

Overall, the game has great music and, for the most part, great voice acting and the rest of the sounds are at least above average.

Replayability (8/10)
I know that I found myself coming back for more after I finished Snake Eater, but I can't be sure that everyone will feel the same way. The game is definitely fun and there are plenty of extras to unlock, so you're definitely encouraged to go at it a second or third time. There is also a nice Ape Escape parody mode that has Solid Snake hunting monkeys in the jungle. The game is nothing special, but it has some great dialogue and is at the very least entertaining and worth checking out.

There is also a frog statue in each area of the main game that can be found and shot, with secrets awaiting anyone persistent enough to find them all.

Overall, the game will probably warrant at least a second play-through. Particularly, you may find yourself coming back to certain portions of the game.

Overall (10/10)
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater will own you. If you're anything like me, you'll pick it up and never put it down until the end credits are through. Konami has definitely made another great addition to the series and Snake Eater is my pick for the best game of 2004.

It's a stunning experience that definitely warrants a purchase.

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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