Review by PrimeZero
"Game of the Year 2004"
There have been few times in my life in which I have been rendered speechless by a game. When I have, the game that has done so immediately is on my top 10 list. While this game is not number 1 or 2, it settles in at number 3, behind two of the greatest and most revolutionary games of all time, Final Fantasy VII and Metal Gear Solid. But I digress, and I will begin my review of the game that should have been game of the year, but magazines are fond of corporate bribes, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.
While some people may be upset that this game was not a chronological sequel to Metal Gear Solid 2, they will be glad they did it this way when 4 comes out. This game catapults the player back into the heart of the Cold War in the 1960s, which is a perfect political setting for a Metal Gear game. The game was designed to provide the back story to the Metal Gear saga in great detail while also giving the player an entirely new style of play to experience. This was a risky move for the developers, but Hideo Kojima knows how to shake things up in a game and make it work. Kudos to him for successfully energizing one of gaming's most beloved with new, fresh ideas and material.
I didn't think it could be done. I didn't think Play Station 2's hardware could handle such detailed and deep graphics. Well, I'm happy to say I was wrong. Not only is this one of the best looking games to come out for the PS2, its one of the best looking games to come out period. X-Box owners can whine about potential all they want, but I don't see many developers pushing Microsoft to the limit to ensure premium quality. Konami wanted this game to be the best it could be, and they pushed the PS2 to the brink of collapse with this game. The heart put into a game that looks a little worse more often than not makes that game better than a better looking game that developers were apathetic about. Now, when I say detailed, I don't just mean the things on screen look good. The sheer amount of minute and intricate details make this game a cut above anything the other consoles have to offer. Everything from tiny insects and other bugs to leeches, fish, birds, you name it is in the environment. This game does to a gaming experience what The Lord of the Rings did for movies: made you feel like you are actually there. The lighting and shadowing effects are amazing, and the environment feels like an actual jungle or desert or river or grassland, it doesn't matter what landscape it is, you feel like its you there right behind Snake, that's how detailed the game is. It is a triumph for games as a whole, and a testament to what you can accomplish if you put enough effort into making something, no matter what console you are on.
I would expect nothing less from a Metal Gear game. While I think the opening theme from Metal Gear Solid 2 was the best original opening theme since Soul Blade, Metal Gear Solid 3's opening theme reflects the changes from 2 to 3. With a smooth jazz theme that is slightly reminiscent of a James Bond movie, it captures the essence of Snake Eater perfectly. The orchestral score is perfectly attuned to what happens in the game, from the normal BGM th the majority of the game tho the seamless transitions between alert modes, it is utter musical perfection. Not only the music, but the sound effects are incredible as well. Everything from the voices to the natural sound effects to the weapons are recorded and implemented in the best possible way. Metal Gear has always prided itself on having some of the best sound quality in video games, and no game this year can even come close with the possible exception of Knights of the Old Republic II, but even that isn't close enough to challenge it. Metal Gear is what a games could be if they could all be so polished and made with so much heart you can hear it in every aspect of the sound.
The game mechanics are the best of any Metal Gear to date. It takes everything that is tried and true and makes it bigger and deeper. The CQC (close quarters combat)
system takes a little getting used to, but once you're used to it, you will thank the gaming gods that it is there. Unlike previous installments in which your options for melee combat were extremely limited (choking, punching kicking, and the sword at the very end of 2), you have many options including interrogation, an easier way to KO enemies, disarming, and a knife (this isn't Solid Snake, blades are fair game), and at least a few situations in the game require the use of them all. The stealth isn't just hiding in corners or under boxes now. You must find ways to conceal yourself in brightly lit open fields with the right combination of camouflage, including disguises. Enemies are smarter this time around, and have more backup and weapons than before, including multiple helicopters at once. Thankfully, however, the game gives you the tools to be cunning enough to fool them and make those ? marks appear over their heads as you creep by them under their noses. The most noticeable change other than the environmentally derived ones is the logical absence of the radar, the tool that made Metal Gear Solid 1 and 2 cake for experienced players. Now a battery powered sonar and your own senses are all that stand between you and detection, which increases the difficulty by a large degree. Not only that, but now it is not just eating rations and recovering health. The game features a new survival system that revolves around the concept of hunger, fatigue, and lingering injuries. Fatigue is like nonlethal health, so to speak. You will not die from it, nor will you take more damage because of it, but you will move more slowly, your vision will be blurred, and your aim will be like that of a drunkard. Eating food is therefore a necessity, and it can be found in the form of rations and wildlife. Wounds are not just fleeting anymore, as cuts, gunshot wounds and falls can leave nasty effects. These wounds require step by step healing through application of proper first aid. The process is taken care of in the menu, though the occasional animation does accompany it. The bosses in the game are as unique as all the others, but many of them (The Pain, The End, The Fear, The Fury), are only developed as much as Fat Man was in 2. The others, such as Col. Volgin, The Boss, and The Sorrow have all the depth of the series best villains. Not only that, but Ocelot, one of the best villains ever, gets even better. The Bosses are just as complex and/or overpowering as you'd expect, and The End puts Sniper Wolf to shame easily, though his character will never match hers. All in all, the game stands proudly alongside the others in the series as ingenious and unforgettable.
Yes, 11. The story is that good. It has the shock value of the first, global domination oriented megalomaniacs, girls that get you and themselves into heaps of trouble, insane action, great cinematic sequences, heart wrenching drama, betrayal, deception, giant robots, and hanging over it all is the prospect of nuclear holocaust unlike any in the previous games. I will say nothing more about it because I refuse to give away any details, lest it detract from your experience.
Replay Value: 9
This is the only thing that Metal Gear games lack as a whole, and that is because of its heavy emphasis on story. The gameplay and extras may keep you coming back for months to come, but it will never be as good as the first time. All the shock, the anger, the suspense, and the tears will be something that will make the first time playing this game special. It will have the awesome factor every time, but awesome factor only means so much. The game does have the secret features and extras of the previous ones, including new guns, for one. The game also features mini games such as Snake vs. Monkey, a game in which you must capture the monkeys from Ape Escape. This is only entertaining for a little while, but it is extremely funny.
This game is everything that has come to define a good action game, and more. It was passed over for many awards undeservedly, and for this I am furious, because Hideo Kojima and Konami have been overshadowed yet again by the hype and deep pockets of Microsoft, when this game is better than anything Microsoft has and will ever put out. Knights of the Old Republic and Halo 1 come close, but ultimately lack the heart and soul of Metal Gear. Money and hype will only get you so far. Heart will get you games that will leave the greatest legacies.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 10/17/05
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