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  • Anti-Climax Boss:
    • The End and The Fear can fought very easily by just equipping thermal goggles and looking around. In addition, throwing rotten food at The Fear makes the fight against him ridiculously easy to win non-lethally. The End can be sniped early or can die of old age if left long enough (though this comes at the cost of not getting his Mosin-Nagant and camo for both methods, and also having to face the Ocelot Unit again for the former method).
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    • A common complaint leveled at the Shagohod, due to the sheer excitement generated both by Sokolov's championing of the weapon's power and the high-energy chase scene that happens before the player gets to face it head on. It's possible to immobilize it by shooting out the augers (which the player's support team will tell them to do if they happen to call them during the fight), which makes it very easy to simply snipe Volgin. Of course, the Shagohod has already been damaged from the explosion on the bridge:
    "I can't move! What have you done? Gah, the treads!"
    • The ability to instantly reload your weapons by un- and re-equipping them was removed in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots primarily because of how much of a role it played in making the Shagohod a complete joke. However, it's still present in the 3DS version of MGS3, nullifying the point.
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    • The Sorrow, if you avoided killing. The ghosts of the Cobra Unit are easy to avoid and don't do much damage, and depending on how good you were at stealth (or how much you abused the tranquilizer gun) you won't face much other opposition. Even if you did kill a lot, there's an Easy Level Trick that lets you skip the fight. note 
  • Author's Saving Throw: The game seems almost like an apology for the controversial aspects of its predecessor, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty: You play as Solid Snake's [identical] father for the entire story, Raiden and his expy are lampooned repeatedly in the game and supplemental materials, and the story is, while still hardly simplistic, very tightly-constructed and straightforward, with little in the way of lengthy, superfluous plot tangents or metafictional Mind Screws.
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  • Anvilicious: Any conflict that bases itself around the idea of an eternal, absolute enemy is utterly pointless.
  • Awesome Bosses: Though the members of the Cobra Unit don't add much to the story, the actual boss fights more than make up for it. The boss fights with The End, The Sorrow, and The Boss are considered to be some of the best in the series. The latter in particular really emphasizes the Central Theme of the game, and puts the finishing touches on the close mother/son relationship between The Boss and Snake, making it one of the most emotional boss fights ever created.
  • Awesome Music: The titular song is the best Bond theme never to be in an actual Bond movie. Its presence is almost wholly responsible for the prestige of what is considered to be the greatest ladder-climbing sequence in any video game.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The Fury dies. Then he turns into a huge flaming skull which chases Snake around and explodes.
  • Cargo Ship: Snake and his custom 1911 and the cardboard box.
  • Complete Monster: Yevgeny Borisovitch Volgin is a Psycho Electro Soviet colonel whose history is replete with awful violence. Within minutes of appearing, Volgin fires a Davy Crockett nuke at his countrymen just to give it "a test drive", knowing full well that he won't be blamed for it. A cruel sadist who gets off on the pain of others, Volgin abuses his "lover" Tatyana—actually EVA in disguise; arbitrarily suspecting one of his own men might be a spy, tortures him by beating him within a drum can, eventually killing him; and subjects Naked Snake to a vicious round of torture that ends with Naked Snake less one eye, intending to visit further cruelties on him later. Volgin, with the Philosopher's Legacy, intends to overthrow Khrushchev, take over Russia, and throw the entire world into a storm of violent uprisings and war with his mass-produced weapon, the Shagohod.
  • Even Better Sequel: Metal Gear Solid 2 showed a lot of potential that was only fully realized in this game. Add in a simpler, but still complex, and powerful character-driven story, and even those who didn't like MGS2, were won over by Metal Gear Solid 3.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Snake gets paired up with EVA or Para-Medic in fanworks.
  • Foe Yay: Ocelot and Snake, though it's a little one sided.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • In one of the videos for Secret Theater, Para-Medic and Snake argue over whether Snake should kill and eat The Boss's horse, with The Boss becoming incensed enough to run off in a cartoonish fashion and presumably send some GRU soldiers to kill them in retribution. This funny video becomes a lot less funny when Peace Walker has Big Boss being forced to shoot The Boss's horse to put it out of its misery after it ended up severely injured from attempting to scale and falling off the mountainous Nicaraguan/Costa Rican border in pursuit of Peace Walker.
    • EVA states that the only time she gets off of her bike is when she falls in love or falls over dead. Come Metal Gear Solid 4...
    • A mixture of this and Harsher in Hindsight, depending on how you view the mask's appearance: Because Big Boss lost the use of his right eye, and thus has to wear an eyepatch afterwards, any attempts at having him wear the Raikov Mask will show the mask constantly having its right "eye" permanently closed. Let's just say that Raiden will end up having a similar experience to both Big Boss and Solidus Snake where he ends up having his left eye removed thanks to a fight with Sam and using a bandana as a makeshift eyepatch in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.
    • Sigint's nightmare may seem crass and funny at first until you notice that said walking turd monster is a huge tank with legs launching missiles at everything. What else is a walking tank on two legs that can launch missiles at everything? Metal Gear. Sigint, who later in his life becomes the DARPA Chief, would go on to assist in the development of Metal Gear REX, ironically letting his nightmare come true.
  • Game-Breaker:
    • The game gives you a silenced handgun almost right off the bat. The tranquilizer gun is significantly harder to use this time around, due to no Laser Sight and the ridiculous size of its silencer, but the M1911A1 is practically a buffed SOCOM, since the gun now takes up less of the screen, making it easier to use in first-person. Again, ridiculous accuracy, making it capable of across-the-map headshots, common ammo, and on top of that it's CQC compatible. Abusing it means you should never be in Alert mode. Almost seems to be lampshaded with Snake's infamous Description Porn when EVA first gives it to him, and who goes on to give a three minute lecture to Sigint about how great a gun it is.
    • The shotgun in a straight fight. A single shell can and will knock over several mooks and it can even take The Boss off her feet. Many multiplayer servers actually banned it for this reason.
    • The Photo Camo feature in the Nintendo 3DS version, which generates in-game camouflages from photos taken with the 3DS' cameras, can make camouflages that make the Camo Index 100%, normally only available with the Stealth Camouflage item or the Moss Camo (obtained by holding up The End, and you get a 100% camo rating only in the area where you fight him, which has no enemies, and which you leave immediately after the battle). And it's available at the very start of the game.
  • Good Bad Bugs:
    • If you heal your crossbow wounds during the fight with The Fear but neglect to remove the bolts themselves, eventually your health will regenerate to full anyway. By that point, you will no longer be able to remove the bolts, and you spend the rest of the game running around as a human pincushion.
    • The Infinite Puke Glitch.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight: At the end of "Snake Eraser", Rose says that maybe there will be an MGS5 for Raiden to be the main character of. While Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker ended up being the next Metal Gear game with Raiden taking no part in it, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a direct sequel to Metal Gear Solid 4, and not only is he the main character, he's a merciless badass of a main character.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • In the Japanese version, Naked Snake is voiced by Akio Ohtsuka, who also provided the voice of Solid and Solidus Snake, while Zero is voiced by Banjo Ginga, who previously voiced Solid Snake's nemesis, Liquid Snake. While Snake and Zero were friends, their relationship began to resembled that of Solid and Liquid's to say the least, as we find out in Metal Gear Solid 4.
    • The Boss and Ocelot don't get along very much, which is hilarious because she is his mother, though neither of them are aware of this. It gets even more hilarious when you realize that both deeply admire and respect Naked Snake.
    • Naked Snake having nightmares relating to vampires gets hysterical after Hideo Kojima, the series creator, ends up involved in the creation of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow.
    • The radio conversation with Para-Medic where she speculates that attack dogs might be replaced with robotic duplicates becomes even more hysterical with the advent of BigDog a year later. Then Raiden got a robot attack dog in Metal Gear Rising.
    • The pre-fight images for Boss Rush in Subsistence gets even funnier once Solid Snake is included in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, which possesses a similar pre-fight screen.
    • Mixed in with What Could Have Been: At one point, the developers considered making phase 2 of the Shagohod be a fusion between it and a WIG aircraft, with it then transforming and launching the gun, and assuming that Volgin joyriding it was still present, it would have likely resulted in Snake and Volgin fighting it out on the WIG. Apparently, Volgin had taken some notes from Johann Schmidt, and these notes would eventually be reviewed by Albert Wesker.
    • Raiden being mistaken for Raikov by Volgin when the former ends up inadvertently trapping himself in a jail cell in a failed attempt to kill Naked Snake in the Secret Theatre film "Metal Gear Raiden: Snake Eraser" becomes a bit more amusing when Portable Ops reveals that Raikov does end up in a jail cell, although at a completely different place, and was intended to be in there. Also, at the end of the clip, Raiden and Rosemary speculated that he'll be the star of Metal Gear Solid 5. He isn't that far off the mark, actually. He actually does appear in a bonus mission in Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, and, like the video, travels back in time. To help Big Boss, though, not kill him.
    • The Snake Eraser video is amusing when you consider that Quinton Flynn became the official voice actor of Kid from the Future Silver the Hedgehog following Sonic Generations.
    • The Updated Re-release added a trophy for interrogating soldiers called "Tell Me Where the Bomb Is". Now consider who Big Boss' voice actor is in Metal Gear Solid V...
    • One of the segments of the Snake vs. Monkey minigame is called "Dawn of the Apes". Nearly a decade later...
  • It Was His Sled: Naked Snake is Big Boss. Knowing this twist beforehand isn't detrimental to the experience, as it makes the game's role as a prequel more explicit.
  • Memetic Badass:
    • The Ladder.
    • The shotgun. Not even The Boss can stand up to its mighty blast.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "You've created a time paradox! You can't go changing the future like that!" Thanks to the Updated Re-release, we also have "Problem Solved, Series Over".
    • Dubbing the "Snake Eater" theme song over sequences of game characters climbing really long ladders, or really just any long, tedious sequence from any of the Metal Gear games.
    • Young Ocelot spawned a few as well, such as "You're pretty good" and the cowboy hand gesture, the latter of which being so memetic that even the characters in the game poke fun at it.
    • "MROW!"
    • Continuing the trend, a major antagonist uses the legendary phrase "it's not over yet!"
    • "I'M COVERED IN BEES!"
  • Moral Event Horizon: Volgin crosses this right after he's introduced, launching a portable nuclear warhead at a rival research facility just to "give it a test drive." The whole time, Ocelot is clinging to his arm, begging him not to. When one of the greatest Magnificent Bastards in history disapproves of you betraying your countrymen like that, you know you've crossed the line big time.
  • Narm: See here.
  • Narm Charm: In the ending, after Snake shoots The Boss, her scar proceeds to turn into an actual snake and crawl away. Even more inexplicably, the white grass lilies covering the area all turn red.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Granin, Raikov, Johnny, and all the Cobras (except The Boss and The Sorrow) since they don't get much screentime outside their boss battles.
  • Pacifist Run: The player is required to kill only one person: The Boss. If the player does this, the fight with The Sorrow will be much shorter, although the bosses will still explode when they are defeated non-lethally. However, if the player kills people indirectly by drowning them or throwing them off cliffs, they won't get a kill penalty. You can also "kill", i.e. drain their health bar to zero, bosses who won't/can't actually die in-story, such as Ocelot and Volgin and it will still count as this.
  • Player Punch: The death of The Boss is generally considered one of the biggest, if not the biggest, player punch in the entire series. Only made worse by the fact that the player has to pull the trigger.
  • Polished Port: The HD Edition runs at 60fps (twice the original PlayStation 2 framerate), and in 720p HD. The only problem is that the controls are changed on Xbox 360, due to the controller not having analog buttons; as well as the cuts of the Snake vs. Monkey mode (for copyright reasons), the multiplayer mode (due to servers having long since been shut down), and the Secret Theater (for unknown reasons). Also of note is that it makes The End much easier to see, though whether this is good or bad depends on whether or not you enjoyed the fight.
  • Recycled Script:
    • The basic plot premise of the game, and a love interest who abandons Snake in Alaska, is a rehash of Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake.
    • The love interest turning out to be a spy but still loved the main character was already in Metal Gear Solid 2.
  • Sacred Cow: You do not speak negatively about this game among Metal Gear fans. Even speaking negatively about it among non-fans is generally considered trolling by its very nature. In fact, one of the big reasons for the outrage over Konami's Metal Gear pachislot machine was that it wasn't just any Metal Gear pachislot machine, but a Metal Gear Solid 3 pachislot machine.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • It can get a little irritating having to pause the game and flick through the various menus every time Snake is injured, particularly with bosses like Volgin who injure you almost every time they hit you. Ditto for the camouflage system, which is a pretty cool idea, it's just time-consuming to constantly readjust your uniform. This is probably why the camouflage system in Metal Gear Solid 4 was changed to an automatic system and why health restoration went back to the old "eat ration, gain back life" mechanic. Supposedly justified by the game taking place during the Cold War, so advanced methods of camouflage and healing (the latter due to nanomachines) hadn't been invented yet.
    • The bag is very annoying. Snake can only a carry a limited amount of objects to change freely. Whenever you need something else you need pause the menu.
    • The CQC. Try not killing a soldier accidentally during an interrogation. The difference between holding a man in your grasp and slitting his throat is simply a few ounces of pressure on the circle button.
    • A holdover from Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. When getting up from prone, Snake will get on his knees. In order to stand up, the player must press X again. Many a time, simply trying to walk too soon will result in Snake going back into the prone position again. This is why later games lets you crouch-walk and the 3DS version gives this feature.
  • Signature Scene: The long ladder sequence is remember for being an extra strange, yet also weirdly mundane scene in a game already having its fair share of strange scene.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: "There is no such thing as an enemy in absolute terms." The entire game is built around that message, and reminds you of it every chance it gets. Its relevance to The Boss' life is what gives it such a huge emotional weight.
  • Squick:
    • Knocking out EVA near the end of the game will cause her to moan in her sleep. Each of the three moans is "Mmm...Oh, (someone), that feels so good." The first is Snake, the second is The Boss, and the third is "Fido."Explanation 
    • If you read EVA's medical history, you will learn that she has Proctitis.note 
    • Raikov's underwear. In case anyone really doesn't know, he's wearing a thong.
    • The way that The End bulges out his eyeballs. He does that trick in all but one cutscene he is in.
  • Take That, Scrappy!: Not only is the Raiden substitute portrayed as an absolutely terrible human being and the sadomasochistic colonel Volgin's homosexual love interest (even his name is a Japanese double entendre: 'Raidenovitch' can be read in Japanese as 'Raiden no bitch', which itself translates to 'Thunderbolt's bitch', hinting at his and Volgin's relationship), the mission demands he be at very least beaten up and hidden in a locker in only his embarrassing underwear. Subsistence's "Secret Theater" deals this to the real Raiden as well.
  • That One Level: Escorting a wounded EVA through the woods can be hair-pullingly excruciating. She loses stamina fast and constantly has to eat to keep it up. Knocking her out or tranquilizing her doesn't help either because she moans in her sleep, alerting enemy soldiers who might be nearby.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: When Konami announced on June 1, 2016 that a pachislot adaptation of Metal Gear Solid 3 was in development, so much so that the official trailers for the game have a lot more dislikes than likes. Not helping matters is that many fans have noted that the graphics and cutscenes featured in the trailers are gorgeous.
  • Uncanny Valley:
    • The Cobra Unit minus The Boss.
    • Granin has a very detailed face that's stuck in one expression, in contrast to the game's otherwise excellent facial animations.
  • What an Idiot!: Volgin. The guy reveals secret information when he is supposed be interrogating Naked Snake... Twice! The worst thing is that in the second one he knew that the base was going to explode and he just stays there with the enemy.
  • Win Back the Crowd: Metal Gear Solid 2 had very much divided the fanbase as to its virtues, with many disliking the postmodernist plot and large amounts of backtracking (as well as Raiden). 3 has a much more straightforward plot, minimal backtracking, you play as Solid Snake's father, and was duly greeted with cries that all was forgiven. As such, this is easily one of the most beloved games in the series.
  • The Woobie: Quite a few characters, actually:
    • Naked Snake reluctantly participates in a mission that he knows full well will result in his mentor's death since it was either that or be falsely branded an accomplice to his mentor's supposed treason and then executed, and his woobieness increases after he learns that The Boss never even committed treason at all, that it was a Fake Defection gone wrong.
    • The Boss qualifies, as she had almost everything taken away from her, including her father,note  her son,note  any chances of her having another child,note  her lover,note  and eventually even her own life,note  and legacy.note 
    • Raikov, retroactively, seemed to be of a Jerkass Woobie: His later appearance in Portable Ops did not highlight his abusive nature outside the reference to his past abuse when recruiting him, and he was also shown to hide in a bathroom when his men are confronting an enemy in Metal Gear Solid 3. These facts as well as some evidence from Portable Ops seemed to imply that his abuse of the soldiers isn't simply due to sadism for sadism's sake, but because he thinks that's how he should gain Volgin's favor.
    • Sokolov. All the man wanted to do was make rockets for space exploration. Then he gets roped into developing weapons for the Soviets. He escapes over the Berlin Wall in an operation that saw him traveling 600 miles to be reunited with his wife and daughter, at the end of which he was so exhausted he had to go to the hospital. He leaves the hospital only to find he's going back to end the Cuban Missile Crisis and is dragged off begging for help. When the next rescue attempt ends in him getting abducted again, he finds himself working for Volgin on a weapon of mass destruction. The events of the game see him being humiliated by Ocelot, manipulated by EVA and shot in the knees, tortured and (it's heavily implied) murdered by Volgin. He shows up alive in Portable Ops, but the canon status of that entry is disputed.

Snake! You can't do that! The future will be changed! You'll create a time paradox!
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