When writing about the original MGS, I said that it's my favorite in the series and in my top 3 games of all-time. But with that said, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is a very, very close second. The hype was a little bit subdued from the fiasco that was the MGS2 launch, but I was still on board from day one. I remember the game getting delayed over and over again. Every time I would mark a date down on my calendar, it would inevitably get changed.
Every screenshot that I saw reminded me of the Rambo films, which I'm also a huge fan of. I loved everything that I saw about the camouflage system, the bosses, the setting, and I loved that we were finally getting to play as Big Boss. If memory serves me correctly, I remember a trailer they played on the very first edition of Spike TV's Video Game Awards, and that was the one that completely blew it out of the water for me. There was no way this game was going to let me down like MGS2. Right?
Absolutely right! The game is just simply outstanding. Even things that a lot of people complained about like the camouflage and healing systems were some of the aspects about the game that I loved the most. Camouflage is the truest form of stealth, and I loved watching enemies walk right by me while standing in plain sight.
The setting for the game is one of my favorite in all of gaming. It was great to be playing an MGS game out in the wilderness rather than being confined to a nuclear weapons disposal facility and the Big Shell. As much as I love Shadow Moses, I think I enjoy the Russian wildlife more, and even though it wasn't technically open-world, it was open enough to feel enormous. It's a pretty linear game, but there's so much to do and see that you never feel confined. The setting also changes enough to always feel fresh. You spend a lot of time in the wilderness, but it's broken up by also allowing you to traverse caves, enemy bases, mountains, and more.
Then the game turns into Pulp Fiction.
Metal Gear Solid 2 felt like Kojima's way of trolling his fans, and luckily he got it all out of his system in that game, because MGS3 felt like a true sequel and a return to form for the series. The Boss' Cobra Unit is right up there with Foxhound in terms of enemies and bosses. The Cobra Unit is just as absurd as any other bosses from the series:
The Fear: wih abilities similar to a spider.
The Fury: a former cosmonaut who desires to see the world burn.
The Sorrow: appears in ghost form and makes for a very interesting "battle."
The End: an elderly sniper who refuses to die unless it's in battle.
The Pain: has...bee powers. Literally turns into a Simpsons joke in the second half of the fight.
Then, of course, we have The Boss, who is arguably the best character in the entire series.
There are so many tricks that can be used against enemies. For instance, you can lay out spoiled food for The Fear, which will then make him sick and cause him to become an easy target. Fighting The End was the first time that I felt like I was the one being hunted, and I remember the battle taking two-and-a-half hours the first time I played it. But what's great about that is the fact that you can actually kill him earlier in the game if you act fast enough and can avoid the battle altogether. Not to mention that you have the option of fast-forwarding the clock on your PS2 two weeks ahead when the battle starts, and when you return he's died of old age. And that's only scratching the surface on that one battle, there are several other options for how to tackle that particular encounter.
You can either kill wildlife and use it as food to keep up your stamina or capture it alive and use it to scare enemies. You can shoot enemy radios so they can't call for backup. You can even go as far as destroying their food supplies and causing them to become hungry and weak. It really does feel like Kojima left no possibility off the table when developing Snake Eater. It's that extreme attention to detail that makes the MGS games a cut above the rest for me.
They also change the way you have to play the game. During one part of the game you can take on the disguise of a scientist and "hide in plain sight," so to speak. If someone questions you, you can take actions to either convince them you're a legitimate scientist (apparently adjusting your eyeglasses is something only scientists can do) or take them out with a cigars that emit knockout gas. Later in the game you have to don the disguise of General Raikov, as well as taking on the role of a maintenance worker in order to sabotage the Shagohod, this game's version of Metal Gear.
The interrogation options have been much improved from Metal Gear Solid 2. Whereas originally you did interrogations mainly to acquire dog tags as a collectible bonus, this time you get items and special information from guards. Some will tell you where the armory is located, or what forces oppose you up ahead, and some even give you radio frequencies that you can then call for a little Easter egg.
I can't talk about the game without mentioning the final battle with The Boss. It's the perfect amalgamation of everything you learned during the game. It combines the camo system, stealth, and CQC all into one amazing sequence. Fighting in a field of flowers is both beautiful and oxymoronic. And what has to take place afterwards is bittersweet but at the same time the perfect way to end it.
When Konami released an updated version of the game (Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence), I again was there on day one. The free reign you had over the camera was something the game was begging for. It wasn't a problem in the previous games with their smaller areas, but in a game like this one, it desperately needed full 3D camera control, and it was a welcome update.
Snake Eater is probably the entry in the series I was most looking forward to replaying, I'm just hoping it holds up for me as well as it does in my mind.
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is up next, and it should be interesting, as this is the one MGS game I've never returned to after the initial playthrough. But I'll talk more about that in the next blog. The longplay and afterthoughts videos will be coming up shortly on the Error Machine YouTube channel, so be on the lookout for those, and you can subscribe to the channel so you can make sure you don't miss them.
Thanks for reading.