Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater PlayStation 2
Developed by Konami Computer Entertainment Japan
Release Date: Out Now
Metal Gear Solid 3, an introduction.
Technically this is the introduction but if you need an introduction to the Metal Gear Solid series you must have just arrived from another planet. Few titles can attract such attention and high praise than the Metal Gear Solid series has over the years. Although it's roots pre-date the arrival of the Sony PlayStation, the real explosion in popularity came with Metal Gear Solid that arrived on Sony's little grey box. The game attracted gamers like few games had before. It was a mix of stealth and a great story that felt like an interactive movie. The sequel arrived on the PlayStation 2 and was again very impressive although most felt it wasn't as good as the original game. After a conversion of Metal Gear Solid for the GameCube it's time for the latest title in the series on the PlayStation 2, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.
What's the game about?
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is set during the Cold War crisis, or rather the aftermath of it. In the game the reason hostilities subsided was because the US handed back Nikolai Stepanovich Sokolov, a scientist who had defected from the Soviet Union to the US. However the US were unaware that the Soviet Union wanted Sokolov back because he was the brains behind an awful weapon and without him the weapon could not be completed. Almost too late the US realises the grave error that has been made and in a bid to prevent disaster the CIA order the FOX unit to make an attempt to rescue Sokolov. Of course the man they send in to make the rescue is the one and only Snake. As far as game stories go the one in MGS 3 is a very good one and will surprise you with its twists. Snake will encounter enemies such as Ocelot, Volgin and many more plus one particular character who he always looked up to but has now betrayed him and the US.
What's good about the game?
After having to play through most of Metal Gear Solid 2 as Raiden and not Snake it's a big relief to just control Snake this time. The story is a lot more interesting this time around too, although it wasn't bad in MGS 2. There's quite a few new features here as well. Snake will have to find his own food to recover his stamina and there's a variety of wildlife that he can kill and eat to sustain himself. You'll have to be fully aware of how visible Snake is at all times and to this end a percentage indicator will show you how visible he is (the closer to 100% Snake is the less chance there is of enemies seeing him). Snake can paint his face in a variety of styles and change his clothes in order to increase his camouflage rating (it can also enable Snake to wear disguises too) and it adds a nice level of strategy to the game. Snake can also heal himself by performing on the spot surgery. It's not just a case of using a health pack either as Snake has access to bandages, suture kits, ointments and splints amongst other things. You'll get to view Snake's skeleton to see the damage he's picked up and you'll also have access to his medical records that develop during the course of the game. Snake can also use close quarters combat meaning that he can hold both a knife and a gun but as fans of the series will know it's always preferable to use stealth over full on combat. There's also a Snake vs. Monkey mode where you'll have to capture the monkeys from Ape Escape. It's actually quite a fun mode and will keep you busy for a while.
What's not so good about the game?
One of the big complaints with Metal Gear Solid 2 was that there was too much dialogue and too many moments where you simply watched what was going on instead of being involved in what was going on. Metal Gear Solid 3 isn't quite as bad in this respect but for the first part of the game at least, you will spend a lot of the time watching cutscenes and you don't get to control Snake half as much as you'd like to. Thankfully though the story is more interesting than in MGS 2 and being able to interact with some of the cutscenes, albeit in a very minor way, does improve the situation. You still can't play in first person mode which is disappointing. Yes fans of the series will be used to how the game plays and yes you can go into first person mode to aim but compared to games such as Splinter Cell, the third person mode in Metal Gear Solid 3 is not the most intuitive and certainly doesn't do much for newcomers to the series. If you've seen the game in the shops you may have noticed the 'With Net Features' banner on the front of the case. Sadly all this means is that you can download new camouflage items, which is disappointing.
How does it look?
Metal Gear Solid 3 differs from the previous two Metal Gear Solid games in that a lot of the game is played in an open air jungle environment, whereas in the first two games you were mostly indoors. Konami have done a great job with the environments in the game and they all look quite realistic. Cutscenes have always played a large part in the Metal Gear Solid series and this time you can interact with them in a minor way. In some cutscenes you'll see an R1 icon appear on the screen and if you press the R1 button you'll see the action through Snake's eyes. This makes the cutscenes feel more immersive and should Snake be looking through a pair of binoculars you'll be able to see what he sees. It also allows for a few saucy moments such as when Snake is talking to Eva. Pressing the R1 button will allow you to admire her cleavage or peek at her leather panties. Of course this isn't of the utmost importance but it does add a sense of humour and gives you limited interactivity during some of the cutscenes.
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
Thankfully, and like the previous games in the series, MGS 3 is subtitled. Whilst this is great, I do wish they had colour-coded the subtitles, at least for those cutscenes when it's not obvious who is talking. The game could really do with visual clues for important environmental sounds especially as there are plenty of threats from not just human enemies but also hidden wild creatures such as crocodiles, which can really hurt Snake. There are some control tutorial video clips that don't have any speech but do have a text description of the controls, which of course is fine for deaf gamers. When Snake eats an item he'll comment on how good or bad the food is, amongst other things and these comments are not subtitled, although there is text to tell you if the food is rotten for example.
The third game in the Metal Gear Solid series doesn't disappoint and the millions of fans this series has will certainly be happy with the game. It still has that cinematic feel to it and you'll want to play through the game just to see the story unravel. Whilst many see the series as the first real stealth series it does feel dated when compared to the Splinter Cell games. For the most part this is because you can't play the game in the first person mode which means being truly stealthy is still more awkward than it should be. However you can't argue that it's an excellent game in more ways than one and it's definitely a game you'll go back to when you're finished.
Overall Game Rating: 9.0/10
Deaf Gamers Classification:
(Click the letter or here for details)
As far as the subtitling is concerned I have no complaints with MGS 3 but there are a lot of environmental sounds that have no captions and this can make the game more tricky than it should be at times.