Review by Absolut Carnage

"Back for a second helping of Snake?"

When Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater was released in 2004, many fans began to contemplate a "Substance" version of the game, much like how Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance was released after Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. While it was not a direct sequel it featured many extras not included in the original game. This case holds true for Subsistence.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence (MGS3:S) is a two disc set, three if you get the Limited Edition, that contains all of the original content from Snake Eater plus a hefty amount of additional features.

Disc 1, titled Subsistence, contains the original Snake Eater game and a demo theatre mode.

The new features found in the Snake Eater game include the addition of a European Extreme difficulty level in which the game will end if you are spotted by an enemy and a fully movable 3rd person camera. The addition of the new camera is sure to please fans of the series as well as players who may have been turned off from the series before due to the fact of the fixed overhead view. It is very simple to switch back and forth between views, simply press R3, to play the game to your liking. When in 3rd person, you have complete control of the camera so you can move it and angle it to your liking. If you want to quickly return to a view behind Snake, all you have to do is press L1. When using the 3rd person view you may even feel like you're playing a new game or discovering things you may have missed before. Also found from the start of the game you will find some new previously unreleased camos and face paints in your backpack. While some of them are just a novelty and can be worn during cut scenes, some of them actually still help conceal you.

Demo Theatre mode is a mode in which you can view any of the Snake Eater cut scenes including the hidden ones. You also have the option before selecting a scene to choose what camo and face paint you would like to see Snake wearing.

Also on disc 1, you still have the option to download camouflage. It is a shame though that the ones currently available for download were not already included on the disc as they take up a good portion of memory card space. Some of these camos are again novelty while others can help you out when used appropriately.

Disc 2, titled Persistence, contains many entirely new modes and features not found in the North American release of Snake Eater.

Duel Mode is one feature that allows you to replay any of the boss fights in MGS3:SE while you try to attempt to get a top 3 high score. There are 2 different duel modes. The normal mode is more similar to the way you played the fights during Snake Eater. You have similar equipment and items that you would have during the time you face the bosses during the actual story mode. The special duel mode limits your equipment and items that you would have thus making it more of a challenge to bring to the bosses.

For those familiar with the original Snake Eater, Snake vs. Monkey is found on disc 2. There are now 2 more new maps that were not found during the original Snake vs. Monkey mode which makes a total of 7 maps altogether. In Snake vs. Monkey you play the role of Snake trying to capture Monkeys from the Ape Escape games. You are racing against the clock to capture all the monkeys and obtain a high score to make it in the top 3.

Secret theatre is a feature that some may be familiar with if you ever checked out the Japanese Snake Eater website. It includes parody videos from many different scenes from MGS3:SE. Even if you've seen the Secret Theatre movies on the web before, you will find 3 new ones on this disc. It is also nice that you can now watch these great parody movies full screen on your television. I don't want to go into any details on any of the movies so I don't ruin the surprise if you've never seen them before. But it's definitely something you don't want to miss.

A real treat for retro gaming fans or Metal Gear fans alike is the inclusion of the original MSX Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake games as by Hideo Kojima. Both of these games were never truly released in North America. While Metal Gear was released on the NES, there are several changes on the original MSX version that were different from the NES version. Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake was never released at all in North America. Both of these games are completely translated in English and can both be easily saved and loaded off of your memory card. Both of these games also now feature a easy difficulty level as well as a normal/original difficulty level.

Finally, perhaps the biggest and most anticipated addition on Persistence is online play. Online play is completely free in MGS3:S. Online play features 5 different game play modes and 12 different maps and supports a maximum of 8 players at once. You are also able to play as soldiers from different units that include, GRU, KGB, and Ocelot. If enabled, players can also play as special characters on each of these units that include, Raikov, Sokolov, and Ocelot himself.

The 5 game play modes are as follows:
Deathmatch: Every man for himself. The player with the highest score at the end of a certain time wins.

Team Deathmatch: Two teams wage war against each other and are both assigned a number of life tickets. The team who drains the other team of its life tickets first wins.

Capture mission: Two teams attempt to find the Kerotan frog and return it to their base. Once it is returned a timer counts down. The team who captured the Kerotan must protect it until the timer stops if they don't the other team can steal it back and take it to their base and protect it while a timer counts down. Whichever team keeps the frog protected in their base until the timer stops is the winner.

Rescue mission: The red team defends a Gako duck while the blue team attempts to steal it and return it to their base for the win. The red team can pick up the duck and keep it on them or drop it anywhere they want. In rescue mission though, if you die, you do not respawn. You come back as a ghost who can observe the action. This means if one team kills all of the players on another team, that team wins automatically.

Sneaking mission: One player is Snake while the others are all guards trying to kill Snake. As Snake you try to steal one of two microfilms on a map and attempt to return it to one of two points on the map. If you accomplish this, you win. If you don't, then the person who killed Snake plays as him the next round. It may seem unfair that it is seven against one but in fact Snake is much more powerful than the guards and is able to endure and deal a lot more damage than the guards. He is also equipped with stealth camouflage which will practically make him invisible to everyone else.

All 5 of the above game play modes can be played on any of the 12 maps with the exception of the sneaking mission which can only be played on a few of the maps.

Overall, online mode, while not completely perfect, works extremely well especially since this is the first time Metal Gear Solid is online. When you play online, you must play in 3rd person as there is not overhead view. You are able to basically do everything that you can do offline in MGS3:SE. The main exception being CQC moves, as the only CQC move that can be performed by anyone is a slam to the ground. Another well added online feature includes score boards and detailed statistics for yourself.

An option that I would have liked to see online for the host to select from would be to enable/disable automatic aiming. Online, automatic aiming is always enabled. The way auto aim works is when you are close to an opposing player, are facing them, and you see their user name above them, you are able to then press and hold down L1 to lock onto them and then proceed to fire. I don't mind this feature but it still would have been a nice addition to be able to have the host configure it to their liking.

There are some nice little touches added to online gameplay. Everyone is equipped with a cardboard box and can use them to their liking. You might be thinking the box trick might not work since everyone knows about it but this is not the case. On many of the maps boxes are randomly placed throughout the map and they all look identical to the same ones that everyone else uses. If you decide to go around and shoot at all the boxes you are likely to give away your location or get ambushed. Another touch is if you see someone who has either been knocked out or tranqed, you can kick them on the ground, like you may have seen during the actual Snake Eater game, to wake them up immediately. The magazine trick on the ground also works. If a player walks near a magazine they will get distracted automatically and will be unable to do anyting for several seconds, making for easy targets.

Online mode also allows use of the USB headset or a USB keyboard. You are able to tell who has a headset and who doesn't when you're online. If you do not have either one of these, you can still select from different 16 preset commands during gameplay. Each of these commands actually features a voice over for the character that you are using. You are also able to type using your controller and an on screen keyboard but that can take quite a while, especially during a hectic match.

I would have liked to see better support with the USB headset though. As there are no pregame or postgame lobbies to chat in and if other users aren't using a headset, then they can't hear what you are saying. Also, to use the headset during gameplay, you must push and hold the select button down to talk. It is awkward to try and play and talk while holding down the select button. When someone does speak, you are also unable to tell who is speaking at the time, whereas with the keyboard or a preset command you are able to tell who is saying what. It would have been nice to be able to just tap the select button and start talking to your team mates and once you finish talking the radio would cut off automatically. Being able to speak into the microphone at anytime without having to press anything would have been nice too, this way everyone, not just team mates, would be able to hear you talking. I'd assume with the current in game setup that the headset has is that they were trying to make it like the way Snake uses it in the main game. In the Metal Gear Solid games you use select to activate your radio/codec and whenever Snake is communicating on it, he is usually not engaged in the middle of a battle and is instead laying low hiding out. One good feature though about headsets or any preset communication is that if a chaff grenade is thrown or if your radio is shot out then you are unable to communicate at all which gives you the feeling of being in a Metal Gear Solid game.

There is much, much more to be said about online mode but I'd recommend you try it for yourself if you have a broadband internet connection.

Since not much has changed in terms of graphics, sound, and gameplay since the original Snake Eater, I will not go into much detail.

If you've seen or played the original Snake Eater then you know what to expect for both offline and online (exceptions being Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake). They still hold up quite well and look just as amazing as they did before especially when you consider the PS2 hardware has been out since 2000. You will even get to better experience some of the games visuals again with the 3rd person camera. There is still no 480p or 16:9 modes.

Again, the sounds are unchanged from the original. The musical score is just as powerful as it was before and the sound effects are done very well. I especially like how you are able to choose either no background music or some background music whenever you play online. You can choose music from the MSX versions of Metal Gear and also from any of the Metal Gear Solid games. The sound is still featured in Dolby Pro Logic II.

The main change in gameplay is the addition of the 3rd person camera. It works very well and is able to be manipulated quite easily. Since R3 changes camera views, you are no longer able to lock the overhead camera if you move it around. This isn't much of a big deal though because of all the control you have with the 3rd person view. L1 now places the 3rd person view directly behind the player at any time in both offline and online modes. If you want to reload online (there are no tactical reloads) you must press R3 or wait for your clip to run out and let the game change it automatically.

At a $30 price tag, Subsistence is a great bargain especially when you consider that the original was $50 without online play and all the extras. If you don't have broadband internet access or can't connect your PS2 online then you might only want to rent Subsistence first unless you are a big Metal Gear fan. If you do have access to go online and enjoyed Snake Eater or are a Metal Gear fan, then I think it is well worth the price of admission.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 03/20/06

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