Reviews: Metal Gear Solid 3 Snake Eater


Recipe for Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater:

  • 12 oz. Tactical Espionage Action™
  • One tablespoon of James Bond sensibility
  • Half a can of Technology Porn
  • 99.1% chemically pure KOJIMADNESS
  • A jigger of vintage Tear Jerker

Mix them all together in a well-seasoned military-grade saucepan, heat over fire w/ copies of MGS2 for kindling, and you have... This. Plain and simple. This is the kind of stuff that makes a guy proud to call himself a gamer... that invokes pity, rather than anger, for people who put down this unique medium. People who would deprive themselves of such a superb entertainment experience... oh, I do pity them. Their fucking loss.

For a shining moment in time, Hideo Kojima shakes off whatever neurotic bullshit he was going through during the making of MGS2 and gets back to doing what he does best. MGS3 exemplifies everything that makes Metal Gear Solid so unique. Spine-tingling stealth action, crackling dialogue, awesome boss battles... the latter category of which includes some of the best examples in video game history. But most of all... it handles Kojima's usual balancing act between drama and levity with inimitable grace, though his over-the-top comic book sensibility is thankfully retained.

It's as if Kojima realized, for a moment or two, that his greatest strength lies in writing strong, likeable, deep... intrinsically human characters, rather than heavy-handed political and social commentary. This might cause some who liked MGS2 (they exist, apparently) for these reasons to view it as a step backwards for Kojima, and for that... I can't really blame them. But this is the perfect antidote for those in which MGS2 left a bad taste in their mouths, myself included. In the end, the characters feel, and indeed are, more important than the larger story arc and its implications on the series' timeline. This is part of what makes the narrative of Snake Eater one of the most emotionally resonant ones in the entire medium.

This is Metal Gear condensed to its most base, and indeed, enjoyable strengths. And even better, being the series' chronological starting point, it's probably the best way of letting the divine SUNLIGHT of Metal Gear Solid into your life. Go on... you deserve it.

The definitive video game

The Metal Gear series may not be quite as iconic as something like Mario or Pokemon, but titles like this show that it has every right to be and then some. MGS3, quite simply, is everything a video game should be and has nothing that a video game should not have.

It draws you in immediately. Fans and newcomers alike can connect to the story with no prior knowledge of the series because it uses a famous historical conflict as the backdrop. Though the cutscenes in the beginning are a little long, they manage to set up a complex plot without using any of the jargon or pseudoscience of the later games. The tutorial part of the game does a fine job in setting up the plot in an exciting and cinematic fashion and getting the player used to the controls in a somewhat more controlled environment while at the same time being completely unintrusive to series veterans.

Its gameplay is sublime. You have an absurd amount of options to approaching almost any given situation, more than almost any game I've ever seen, and all of them work beautifully. Do you want to simply sneak past the guards? No? How about throwing an empty magazine to upset their patrols, taking one hostage to make sure his friends don't shoot you? Does that not suit you? Then how about throwing live snakes at them or blowing up their food supplies and giving them poison mushrooms? Still no? Then why don't you send some fucking bees after them or scare them off by wearing a crocodile head-shaped hat and peeking around a corner, making them think you're a crocodile-man? Boss fights have fewer options (though still quite a number for some), but make up for it in spectacle.

Its atmosphere has to be experienced to be believed. The game has all the charm of the spy films it emulates, but keeps its central characters human enough to make all the tension the story builds work. Every part of the soundtrack has its place, whether it be low key jungle noises for sneaking or sweeping orchestral themes for climactic battles.

While I'm almost certainly overselling it here, I don't believe I am by that much. I do see flaws within MGS3, but they are so miniscule compared to what it does right that the game might as well be perfect. No game I've played has ever done so well in every single regard, and I doubt I'll ever play another game that comes as close to perfection again.