Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
MARCH 07, 2006
The Must Play Game for Action Adventure Fans.
-- By Des Manttari, Editor-in-Chief,
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (MGS3), Hideo Kojima's third installment in the Metal Gear Solid series, is truly his masterpiece and a shining example for Konami and the PlayStation 2 entertainment system. This tactical espionage action game combines a rich and intriguing storyline involving deep philosophical issues among memorable, complex and tragic characters. Challenging and realistic gameplay is interwoven with state-of-the art jaw dropping cinematic cutscenes and a music score by Harry Gregson-Williams, which rivals any Hollywood epic film.
MGS3 is a prequel to the two previous games, set in 1964 Cold War Russia in which Naked Snake, the main character, is sent on a stealth mission behind enemy lines to rescue a brilliant Russian weapons scientist before he can finish a military project which will place the entire world in peril. Snake's mission, however, takes many twists and turns as he slowly learns the truth among the lies delivered by the very government who ultimately betrays him. The player learns that there is neither good or evil, right or wrong, hero or enemy. The theme of the story is best summed up in the dialogue of Eva:
Unfortunately, it is not the lies which ultimately turn Snake to the dark side, but the tragic, bitter truth of not only his true mission, but of the loss of not one, but two women during the course of the game. Snake's backstory involves his ten-year relationship with a woman known simply as "The Boss." The climax of the game involves a final showdown to the death between the two lovers now turned bitter rivals. But when Snake finally defeats her, instead of the usual sense of victory, there is complete and utter grief, an indescribable loss. However, there is more. The player is fooled into thinking that Snake can start a new life with Eva, a Soviet spy who accompanies him throughout the game as both potential love interest and strategic ally.
However, in the bitter end, not only does she betray and abandon him, but she is the messenger of the unbearable truth of the real identity and role of The Boss, a truth which drives Snake to become the Big Boss, the character known as the most dreaded villain in the previous two Metal Gear Solid games. The Boss gives a message to Eva to deliver to Snake: "I've never seen someone with such clear eyes." But during the course of the game, Snake is permanently blinded in one eye. This was a fitting representation of the truth that blinded Snake during his mission to destroy the woman he loved and to somehow lose his moral clarity and vision.
MGS3 does not stray much from the gameplay of its predecessors. The level design is straightforward with both exterior
and interior environments such as jungles, forests, mountains and a Russian high security military base. There is an
abundance of places for Snake to hide and a very intricate camouflage system of both clothing and face paint to conceal
him from the enemy. Fans of the series will dive right in with the usual arsenal of James Bond type accessories and
weapons such as thermal goggles, binoculars, motion sensors, radio support, survival items, grenades, sniper rifles,
medical supplies, and rocket launchers. The interface is easy to use and well organized with varying difficulty levels
for players to select.
This is truly a player's game, not a designer's game, as the player has a wealth of options for successfully getting through a level, from an all-out gunfight with the enemy to utilization of Close-Quarters-Combat (CQC) stealth moves to effectively immobilize the enemy. The player can complete the game without killing a single enemy, including bosses, which can be merely tranquilized. In fact, there is a playable level in the River of Sorrow where Snake will have to fend off the ghosts of those he killed in the game. The more enemies and animals killed, the longer it takes to get through the level, hitting the player with the morality of his actions in battle.
Gameplay takes place in both third and first person view, which is more of a necessity than a luxury as both are essential to survival. There are interesting places to explore, objectives to accomplish on each level (setting off explosives, disguising oneself as a Russian military commander, strategic boss fights, hunting for food), and plot to unfold. The one downfall of the game, in my opinion, is that the main interaction between characters is violent confrontation (immobilizing or killing the enemy) and that most of the dialogue occurs in cinematic cutscenes and radio conversations. Although Snake can interrogate his enemy at knifepoint, the soldiers often lie, which provides no meaningful information to him. It would have been nice to have some RPG-type conversations with non-playable characters in which information to completing the level objectives would be delivered.
Also, one other minor complaint is that the player is pretty much locked into each level and is not able to go back and freely explore previous levels, making the game more linear and less open-ended. The possibility of multiple endings and playing through the game as The Boss to see her point of view would have made nice touches. Overall, this is one game that, one started, cannot be put down until completed and satisfies even with its relatively short 28-hour gameplay length.
Final Game Rating: 9 out of 10.