sunnuntai 22. elokuuta 2010

REVIEW - Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (2004)

Genre(s): Action
Released: 2004
Available on: PS2
Developer(s): Konami, Kojima Productions
Publisher(s): Konami
Players: 1

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater changed the basic Metal Gear formula radically. Hideo Kojima was planning to leave the franchise, and wanted future generations of Metal Gear designers to have something to remember the values and qualities of the series’ concept by. In an effort to further emphasize the importance of stealth and natural instinct, he began work on a game in which he removed all the gadgets and therefore made the main character more vulnerable to the environment. What about the storyline? Instead of picking up from the cliffhanger ending of Metal Gear Solid 2, Kojima took a turn to telling the story of Big Boss and how he ended up the way he was, and revealing the origins of Metal Gear. All of this which could’ve resulted in a devastating rally of fans lamenting over the total absence of Solid Snake, turned out to be a massive success story which brought some completely fresh, new feel to the series.

Daddy’s back, you bitches

David Hayter : Naked Snake
Suzetta Minet : EVA
Jim Piddock : Major Zero
Heather Halley : Para-Medic
James Mathis : Sigint
Lori Alan : The Boss
Neil Ross : Col. Yevgeny Volgin
Josh Keaton : Maj. Ocelot
Gregg Berger : The Pain
Michael Bell : The Fear

In 1964, during the Cold War, a Soviet scientist by the name of Nikolai Sokolov defects to the United States but is sent back to the Soviet Union as a part of a deal within the Cuban Missile Crisis. He’s working on the development of Shagohod, a carrier device able to launch a nuclear missile from any type of terrain. If Sokolov’s plans would fall into the wrong hands, the result could be world wide war at worst. Naked Snake, an operative for an unofficial and experimental government military unit known as FOX, is sent into Soviet territory to rescue Sokolov from the several factions that want him and his knowledge.

Snake’s mission fails; he’s double-crossed and severely injured by his former mentor and the greatest soldier alive, The Boss, who unexpectedly defects to the Soviet Union to offer her services to a renegade Soviet colonel named Volgin. After Volgin destroys a Soviet research facility using a portable nuclear warhead and makes The Boss the scapegoat to ensure her loyalty, Snake must travel back to the Soviet jungle to assassinate the most important person in his life and in this way, save his country from Soviet wrath.

Read this one carefully: PS2 graphics simply can’t get much better. There’s absolutely a huge amount of detail, and lots of different environments to scan and admire. The effects look amazing, from the sun to the water. Just remember that you’re playing the game, not just looking at it. The team of composers, led by Harry Gregson-Williams, whips out some wonderful music and there’s a certain 60’s vibe to it. British pop/rock act Star Sailor contributes with one quite damn good closing track. The title track – “Snake Eater” – as well as the graphical intro to the game capitalize on the already obvious James Bond influence. On the first playthrough, the intro doesn’t show until the end of the first mission, also just like in the Bond movies.

Those into David Hayter’s voiceover work in the previous games are glad to know he’s back, as daddy himself. He is joined by a cavalcade of less known TV actors, who handle themselves like 30-year veterans. Needless to say, the voice cast is once again in a totally different league from about 85%-90% of their colleagues, their effort is amazing. There’s perhaps more humour than ever – again, a common feature between the game and Bond flicks – but at the same time, it’s perhaps the most dramatic and violent Metal Gear Solid game thus far. I like the new – or old? – characters and their fine development throughout the game.

Brick, brick, brick, head, brick, brick, brick...
Virtually every good quality from the previous games is back more or less refined. We still have tons of new features to explore. Just trust me: even if you are a seasoned veteran of the first two games, you’re going to have your hands full the first time you play. Despite some tedious technicalities, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is a comfortable, and realistic tactical espionage experience like no other. Remember, the game’s events take place in 1964, over 40 years before the invention of the Soliton Radar system. You can still use some now obsolete, but then state-of-the-art technology to detect movement, such as a directional microphone, an active sonar and an anti-personnel sensor. None of them will do you much good when attempting to detect enemies except on special occasions, so I recommend you take your time and use your own senses instead. The radio works the same way as the Codec and won’t cause an alert even though it’s a standard portable radio and not a nano model.

Still, you’ll have to be extremely careful in this game. It’s literally a jungle out there. It seems that Genome soldiers, as genetically advanced as they are, have nothing on these old school Russian soldiers. They have no strict field of vision, they can spot you from half a mile away if you’re not properly camouflaged or are using the wrong methods to get around. Camouflage is an extremely important factor in your success. You have plenty of face paint and clothing to choose from to blend in nicely in the type of terrain you’re on. The better the camouflage, the harder it is for enemies to spot you. They will most likely spot you if they come too close even on a high camo index, but just don’t let them do that. You can find new camouflage just about everywhere as you make progress, even from bosses if you know the tricks to it. Those lucky enough to have a broadband connection to use with their PS2’s can also download new camo from the Internet.

Another one of the most important new features alongside camouflage is food. Not just those stupifyingly terrible rations this time. You are free to consume animals, plants, mushrooms, fastfood found in storage rooms, and any other more or less edible stuff found in the jungle. Eating is extremely important. You’re practically helpless if your stamina runs out in the middle of the mission. Your health gradually gets better as long as there’s no intense action taking place. The better your stamina, the better your health gets. Again, if you run out of either one, you’re a goner. Also, there’s an in-game clock, which is relatively realistic. Whenever you’re not playing, Snake is sleeping. The more he sleeps, the more he regenerates, and also, the more his food supply starts to rot. In addition to using animals as food, you can also hurl them at enemies, assuming they’re poisonous and/or intimidating by nature. Cool, or what? Plants and mushrooms are used as curative items.

The physical ailments you suffer have taken a huge leap forward, so far that you actually have to cure yourself by medicine or minor surgery, depending on the nature of the ailment. Your maximum health will be decreased up until you stitch yourself up, and both your stamina and health will drop if you get a stomach ache, food poisoning or anything of the kind. This might sound pretty annoying, but actually there are only two annoying new features in my opinion. The first one’s the backpack, kind of pointless. You can carry a certain amount of items and weapons at a time – the rest, you need to store in the backpack for later use. It’s pointless because you can load and unload the backpack at any time, but of course, it’s there so you can avoid cluttering up your L2 and R2 menus. The second thing is, that the constantly changing environment results in a LOT of menu toggling – you have to change your camo set all the time if you want to remain unseen, eat and perform first aid constantly.

The boss fights in the game are nothing short of epic. The most infamous boss fight in the history of the Metal Gear franchise – perhaps even the history of video gaming – is fought against a 105-year old sniper by the name of The End. Fans love and hate this one, even simultaneously, like me. The idea is to somehow get past the surprisingly sharp and observant pensioner, track him down and sneak up on him in a forest that spans over three different, huge areas. If you’re lucky, he won’t notice you and you can get one cheap shot on him, but that’s it as he stuns you and runs away to find another vantage point. If you don’t know the tricks to this one or the alternate ways to dispose of The End, this is going to take you long. Expect something along the lines of THREE HOURS. They really went the distance with these boss fights. A couple of my truly favourite duels in the franchise are in this game, including the final showdown. It’s epic, literally beautiful.

The most basic method of offense in the game is CQC – Close Quarters Combat – which is a quite universal combat style that allows you to perform different melee combos, even with some choice weapons. Guns and knives are always clearly marked with a CQC tag if a weapon-specific attack is available. You can use CQC for several purposes, such as knock the brains out of an enemy with an assault rifle or gather information with the effective way of teasing them with a Glasgow smile, or even use the enemy as a human shield against his comrades’ attacks.

EVA is the hottest woman ever to created for
a video game. Our guy just doesn't get it.
The bottom line is that the game allows you more liberties to be more creative than ever before! You’re saying you can’t do shit to your enemies? Tranquilize them. Put them out of their misery with a real gun. Throw a snake at ‘em and watch the slithering abomination do your wetwork. Use the environment. Be creative! You’re given so much choices in the game you wouldn’t believe it, so why not use them? Whatever you say about the game’s plot and setting, tactical espionage has never been as fun as it is in this particular game.

The game sure gives out a fair share of rewards. Yes, before you start pondering, Stealth is an unlockable item even if the time setting’s different – it’s actually used by a boss – but there is so much more! There are a few different modes in the game, most famous of which is Snake vs. Monkey, a very weird, humorous crossover between Metal Gear and Ape Escape. Personally, I think the coolest mode is Demo Theater, which is a collection of cutscenes from the game. The library will grow throughout the game and it’ll unlock after you complete the game once. The gaps in the library mean that there are many extra cutscenes you might have missed on the first run, and to see them all, you need to do all different kinds of special stuff on your next few playthroughs. It’s cooler than it might sound like. Of course, going on a pilgrimage for all the different sets of camouflage in the game is fun, as is finding all the different ways to beat this fabulous creation.

I wouldn’t necessarily call the game difficult if you’re on a standard run through it, although The End might have you tightening the noose. He’s HARD – but, you have alternate ways to get rid of him at your disposal – Kojima would have pretty much butchered his chances with fans and critics if he hadn’t given out some easter eggs related to the subject. Like in Metal Gear Solid 2, the real challenge is based on replays and the accomplishment of different feats, such as beating the game without triggering a single alert, OR shooting all the Kerotan frogs in the game to get the Stealth item. Dude... what can I say? Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is still, in my opinion, the most realistic, entertaining and action-packed game in the Metal Gear series, and quite simply one of my favourite video games of all time.

Graphics : 9.8
Sound : 9.6
Playability : 9.6
Challenge : 9.2
Overall : 9.7


GameRankings: 91.86%

The game was re-released as Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence, with new features, in 2005.

Hideo Kojima originally planned to pass on his job as a director to someone on his staff, but none of his employees wanted to take his place.

The date of the Virtuous Mission is set to be August 24th, 1964. On that day in real life, Hideo Kojima turned 1. He originally wanted the date to be his exact birthday, but he also wanted to mention President Kennedy’s assassination, which didn’t take place until November, 1963.

Hideo Kojima found the band Star Sailor by pure accident while searching for potential bands to contribute to the soundtrack. He was originally meant to look into Stellastarr*’s material.

Naked Snake is modelled after Sean Connery, just like the previous facial portrayals of him in Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake and Metal Gear Solid.

The character of The End is based on Old Boy, a character originally created for Metal Gear Solid 2.

The character of Ivan Raikov is an obvious parody of Raiden.

Snake’s first line after the opening cutscene is “Major Tom, can you hear me?”. This is an indirect, but obvious lyrical reference to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”.

The “Metal Gear Solid Theme” plays on the radio in Granin’s office. There are miniatures of Metal Gear REX, Metal Gear RAY and Jehuty from Zone of the Enders on the shelf, as well as a photo of Granin and his American friend, who is apparently Otacon’s grandfather.

Johnny’s (the diarrhea-ridden soldier in the previous games) grandfather makes an appearance in the game.

The Kerotans are actual toy frogs sold in Japan.

Colonel Roy Campbell makes a cameo appearance in the Snake vs. Monkey mode, and the protagonist in this mode is apparently Solid Snake instead of Naked Snake.

In the intro of Snake vs. Monkey, Snake asks Campbell to bring in Gabe or Sam to take care of the rampant monkeys instead of him. “Gabe” and “Sam” are Gabriel Logan and Sam Fisher, from the stealth action franchises Syphon Filter and Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell, respectively.

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