In 2004 there were two games in particular the gaming world was focusing on. Halo 2 and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. There was one game, however, that went by almost seemingly unnoticed. Hideo Kojima's Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. While Halo 2 and Grand Theft Auto sold better, gamers who went with Metal Gear Solid 3 were immersed in a fantastic story that was well crafted.
Metal Gear Solid 3 serves as a prequel and the beginning of the main canon. Players assume the role of Naked Snake in 1964. Naked Snake who would later come to be known as Big Boss. In the prologue, the Virtuous Mission, Snake must infiltrate the jungles of Russia and save a man named Sokolov who has developed a new type of weapon. The technology of which would later be used to craft the Metal Gears that would dominate the series. The Virtuous Mission starts out well. Snake is commanded by Major Zero and is also given help by the world's greatest warrior only known as The Boss. The mission takes a downturn, however, when The Boss betrays the unit and operation and sends Snake on the brink of death, the United States is now faced with her betrayal and as a result, the world is on the brink of Nuclear War. This causes Major Zero to start another operation called Snake Eater. In which Snake is sent in to stop Colonial Volgin, the Cobra Unit (the Boss's elite Unit) and The Boss herself. What unfolds is one of the series best lived storylines.
The story of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, like the two games that precede it, is told through many of the games cinematics. And much like the other Metal Gear games, you'll find yourself watching quite a bit as some of the games sequences are long and drawn out. But they're very absorbing, some humorous and some incredibly emotionally built. Of the entire series, Metal Gear Solid 3 presents some of the series best lived moments through an incredible soundtrack and through some of the best voice acting in the series. The dialog at times can be a little shoddy and while some cutscenes are a little long, there aren't so many that feel like you're sitting through a college lecture at times. Metal Gear Solid 3 is well paced. And while the cutscenes are long, they don't even begin to approach the length of Metal Gear Solid 2.
You'd be crazy to think that the cutscenes take away from Metal Gear Solid 3's gameplay. They don't. However, of the entire series, Metal Gear Solid 3 forces the player to spend the most amount of time in the menu. Without a Soliton Radar stealth involves a different approach. Metal Gear Solid 3 introduces a camouflage. Depending on your environment you'll have to change camo. How invisible you are to the enemy is represented by a percentage. It's a neat system, but you'll find yourself having to switch camo a lot during the game. This means you'll have to keep going into the menu. It's a good system, but eventually begins to grate on the nerves because of the unusual amount of time you'll spend switching camos. The effectiveness of the camo is also dependant on whether you're standing, crouching or on your stomach. The lower you are, the more concealed you are. The game pretty much begs you to crawl virtually everywhere. Some do, however, have a unique effect, and you may want those considering how much smarter your adversaries have gotten since Metal Gear Solid 2.
When it comes to sneaking, Metal Gear Solid 3 is by no means a hard game. The guards work the same way they do in MGS2 but they're far more sensitive as they'll pick up on the slightest noise or footsteps close to them. This makes doing certain things such as holding up guards a little tougher for those who became accustomed to running everywhere. However, it does put an emphasis on Metal Gear Solid 3's new combat system: CQC. CQC is much more complex than just the standard punches and kick. With CQC Snake is able to better use guards as a human shield, hold up enemies at knife point and even slam them to the ground. At knife point he can even interrogate guards to get information. It's much deeper than the basic punch kick combo found in the two games before it. Just the same, it gives the player more means to go through the game none lethally.
Another thing players must keep in mind is their stamina. As you progress, Snake will often get hungry. If his Stamina falls too low he'll find it hard to aim a weapon and his stomach will even rumble and alert the guards. The only way to replenish it is to eat wildlife that you'll hunt throughout the various areas of the game. The Stamina gauge doesn't just work as a means to keep Snake focused, it also helps to replenish the life gauge at an accelerated rate. The less stamina you have, the slower your life gauge refills. As appropriate as it is for MGS3, it's another way that you'll find yourself going to the menu several times.
Despite all these complexities, though, Metal Gear Solid 3 never really amounts to being a hard game. There are five different difficulty levels but even on the harder difficulties, you'll find the enemies don't really deal much damage. And while there's no radar to help you out, the camo system is almost too effective in hiding you. Enemies can be right in front of you but won't even flinch if you're using the right camo at the right time.
Graphically, Metal Gear Solid 3 exceeds the competition and still ranks as one of the best looking Playstation 2 games ever made. Since much of the game takes place outside, it's amazing how much detail is put into each and every environment. The fact that they're populated by so many different animals is also amazing. The only downside to the graphics is that there's so much on screen that at times the frame rate dips. It sounds really good though. Hands down some of the best music in the series, particularly the James Bond sounding Snake Eater theme. The voice acting is top notch, but the music during the cinematics is probably the best part of the games production values. Metal Gear Solid 3 shows just how much the series has come along in its years.
Overall Metal Gear Solid 3 is every bit as good as the games which precede and proceed it. It may not be very challenging, but with so many different ways to tackle it, not to mention a plethora of secrets to uncover, Metal Gear Solid 3 demands replay and you'll get it. There's so much to uncover. It's not a very long game. The first time through will probably only take you fifteen hours (that includes cutscenes) but on other playthroughs the game can be finished in less than five hours. But with the amount of replay and number of things to do, you'll definitely get your money's worth.
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