Consoul's Blog Consoul Games: Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is one of the most anticipated titles on PS2. It's not out in Japan until December 12 and won't be out in Australia for at least 4 months. However, the US version is out and I got my copy yesterday. Does it live it up to expectations? From my early impressions, the answer is a resounding yes.

MGS3 is set in the early 1960's, in a political climate framed by Yuri Gagarin's orbit in the Vostok 1 and the Cuban missile crisis. Snake's espionage exploits are ideally suited to the era of the cold war; indeed MGS3 is a return to the Metal Gear series' roots. The player does not control the same Snake featured in MGS 1 & 2, but rather the original Snake, also known as Big Boss, from whom the later Snakes were cloned.

The game drops you (via the world's first Halo jump) into the jungle in Russia. This is a stark contrast to the military-industrial complexes of the previous two games. It's hard to believe this game is running on a Playstation 2. The level of detail is staggering. Modern console hardware excels at rendering flat surfaces and geometric objects. Complex organic modelling on the other hand is quite a challenge, but MGS3 tackles it with style. You can distinguish each leaf on the trees and the way each blade of grass deforms as you move through it is very impressive. The way the light filters through the canopy and plays off every surface, coupled with the Dolby Pro Logic II surround sound, really immerses the player in the jungle atmosphere. I spent the first few minutes in the jungle just soaking up the surroundings. Konami have really pushed the PS2 another step beyond the graphical heights they reached in Silent Hill 4.

The jungle is alive with a wide variety of flora and fauna, and as the Snake Eater name suggests, you can eat all of it. Reticulated python is tasty - Siberian ink cap mushrooms and tree frogs are not. Hearing David Hayter's ultimate tough-guy voice exclaiming "Sick!" when you eat something particularly gross is well worth it. I haven't managed to poison myself yet, but I'm sure its just a matter of time. Camoflage is essential to success and choosing the right outfit and facepaint for the area is crucial. Your level of camoflage at any moment is indicated as a percentage in the corner of the screen. Crawling through dense ferns on the edge of a swamp and bumping straight into a perfectly concealed alligator makes you start to appreciate the camoflage of some of the wildlife too.

Hideo Kojima's sense of humour is alive and well - the codec dialogues between Snake and his Para-medic aid are made bearable by witty banter, and the mischeivous look in Snake's eye as he spies an enemy soldier patrolling directly underneath a buzzing hornet's nest is beautifully presented. Kojima can laugh at himself too - if you make the right choice at the very outset of the game, you can experience a great gag that pokes fun at the worldwide slagging Kojima faced after making players play as Raiden rather than Snake for the majority of MGS2.

Snake Eater retains all the game-mechanics of MGS2 and introduces much more. Aside from the camoflage system already mentioned, there is a whole new system involving food, stamina and health, and a backpack menu system which allows management of a much greater number of items. A new Close Quarters Combat (CQC) system has been developed to allow a broader range of options for handling the enemy when combined with various weapons. The camera system has been improved too. You can now move the camera view when in third-person mode and lock it into place, as well as being able to enter first-person view whenever you like (including during many cut-scenes).

The story seems far less convoluted and more coherent than that of MGS2, but this a Metal Gear game and things are sure to get complicated as the plot develops. Composer Harry Gregson-Williams returns and provides a suitably cinematic soundtrack with sixties overtones. This seems to be one of those rare games that gets all the elements right. The setting is good, the game system has improved and the graphics and surround sound are phenomenal. I haven't played more than a few hours into it, but I think I can safely say this is the best Metal Gear game yet.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having played MGS 3:SE several times now, I can safely say this IS the best MGS yet!

The gameplay and cut scenes come together to create a brilliant gaming experience.

What Kojima took away (ie Solitar radar system), he gave back with camoflauge and it works so well when Snake is in the jungle. You tend to struggle a little bit though in urban environments however.

A must have title to put in a games collection.

7:59 am  

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