Review by AegisKnight2000

"With the Subsistence Revisions, MGS3 is the Best Metal Gear to Date."

Pros: Cinematic sequences and production values that rival movie quality. Takes the strengths of game-play from past Metal Gear installations and improves upon it in every way, along with adding a few nice concepts. The Subsistence implementation of a free and rotatable camera is a long overdue addition to the series, giving the gamer a whole new perspective. Added replayability is also included in the form of multiplayer, a comprehensive movie theater section, and the inclusion of the two old school titles.

Cons: First Aid and hunting food to re-generate stamina are good concepts, but still too invasive and cumbersome in execution. Also, for such a realistically-based game, the suspension of disbelief is excessively emphasized and puts a strain on the gamer's imagination.

Simply put, with the ‘Subsistence' additions, Metal Gear Solid 3 not only makes a serious bid to be considered the greatest MGS of all-time, it makes a bid to be considered greatest game on Ps2, and seals its place as one of the most memorable games of all-time…Here's my breakdown of the game, in no particular order of importance:

***Aspect Summary***

Simply put, this was probably the best graphical experience I've ever had with a game. Short of CG movie inclusion that Square-Enix has become so well known for putting in games, MGS3 is the cream of the crop graphically, and the graphical quality is of a much more persistent and engrossing variety than some 1-5 minute movie clip. Character models are amazingly realistic and consistent with what one might expect. Backgrounds and environments are lush and extremely convincing. From textures, contours, and running water to facial features and distinct character expressions, everything is done well and in a convincing fashion.

The quality here nearly rivals that of the graphical quality. Voice-acting is delivered in a convincing fashion. The voice acting cast for this one is, from my experience, the best in any game I've ever played. The music of Harry Gregson-Williams is admirably performed. I found a couple of questionable themes here and there that I might have replaced, but ultimately, it was a very impressive score that was suitable to the climate of the action.

Unlike MGS2, MGS3 features nice, clear tie-ins with previous installments, while presenting itself in a manageable manner. That's not to say it is so straight-forward such as to be boring, it's actually quite well-contrived, especially with some of the MGS lore and back-story they manage to incorporate. Character interaction within the story is effective and motivating to follow, particularly the circle of relationships around The Boss. My only issue with the story is some of the “X-men” overtones I get from it, what with the bosses having “super powers” and such. I'm all about the suspension of disbelief, but it seems like MGS3 generally strives to keep its plot within the realm of believability, as compared with historical context. That full-length conversation early on between Nixon and Brezhnev(if I recall the two political figures correctly) comes to mind. However, it throws in some wholly unbelievable concepts(read: most of the Cobras) that really ruin that façade of credibility that gets built up. That being said, these issues are easy enough to overlook and MGS3 features a high-quality, motivating story.

Game-play was probably my biggest issue with the original Snake Eater game. With Subsistence, the new camera rotation, the addition of multi-play(which admittedly, I have yet to try) and 2 retro games, and a bevy of other minor features(like the movie theater) go a long way in both increasing the playability of the main game and adding replayability after it is all finished. Still, I would have liked to have seen a couple of other tweaks to improve and upgrade game-play from Snake Eater.

Camouflage, First Aid, and hunting for food to maintain stamina were all excellent concept additions to game-play, but they fail to execute properly. Having to pause the action to go into the menu to cure wounds, or switch my face camo, or to throw out food that had rotted, was just a drag to the game-play experience, yet none of these issues were addressed. These flaws were especially notable during fast-paced boss battles or intense stealthing sequences. I would have liked to have seen an “on-the-fly” quick menu option, something like what they had used in Vagrant Story, to expedite these processes and make them less cumbersome.

That being said, MGS3 does an otherwise excellent job of maintaining a high standard of game-play that I cannot begin to tackle in the course of a few paragraphs. The AI is intelligent enough with European Extreme mode being downright nasty(in a fair and challenging way), weapons execute and control much as you'd imagine them to, and there are always a number of methods for clearing obstacles, be they sneaking obstacles or major battles. Also, there is simply a great amount of sneaking to be done over the course of 25-30 hours of game-play, which I very much appreciated, and was a mild complaint I always had about the very first Metal Gear Solid. I always felt that MGS1 was too short, and particularly that there were never enough challenging sneaking opportunities versus time you spent involved in cutscenes, dialogue, and fighting bosses. In that sense, the series has come a long way.

At first, I was a little nonplussed to hear that the action was going to be moved away from the future of the Metal Gear Solid universe and into the past. However, this switch opened up an amazing amount of opportunity for the series to move forward. The atmospheric choices in this game really made the difference to me. Music and in-game sounds were consistent with what you'd hope for from a stealth-action-espionage game. The voice actors delivered convincing dialogue allowing for the gamer to really engross themselves into the events of the game. Graphical renderings of everything, from run-down soviet buildings to dense jungles, were consistent with everything I'd imagine from the setting and era. The concept of hunting your own food and maintaining your stamina in the wilderness, while requiring better implementation, still went a long way in convincing the gamer about their sense of being isolated on a mission. Camouflage and weaponry had a very realistic look and feel to them. Aside from the occasional severe strain on suspension of disbelief, I feel MGS3 Subsistence does a perfect job of conveying the proper atmosphere, and now includes the perfect camera option to fully enjoy it. It truly felt like I was playing in a movie, rather than a video-game, which is what I believe Kojima was aiming for.

*Extra Thought*
With all the excellence present here, who's ready for Metal Gear Solid 4? I know I am!

***End Summary***

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 09/12/06

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