|Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater|
|Genre||Cinematic Stealth Action|
|MtAMinutes to Action||32|
|Score||5 Gameplay: 3
Fun Factor: 5
|Buy from Amazon|
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is a third-person stealth action game for the PlayStation 2. Though it is the third game in the Solid series, Snake Eater serves as the prequel to the entire Metal Gear series. Released in 2004, the game drops the original Snake in the middle of a dense Soviet Union jungle during the height of the Cold War. Political tensions are high and the game holds nothing back in terms of cut scenes. Heck, the version I own includes a disc with over three hours of cut scenes edited together to make the Metal Gear Solid 3 movie. This is a common complaint thrown against the series, though many fans enjoy their dramatic and over-the-top directing. But how will they affect the game's first hour? Now that is a question we are about to answer.
I'll be playing the Subsistence version of the game, a re-released enhanced version of Snake Eater. The only difference that I know of that will affect this first hour is the much improved camera. Let's get to the first hour of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (Subsistence).
(minutes are in bold)
00 - I select New Game and the first hour of Metal Gear Solid 3 begins. The first thing I'm prompted with is what Metal Gear Solid game I like the most, or if this is my first time playing. Let's just play along and say this is my first time playing. Next is the difficult, Normal I guess. Haha, European Extreme is an option. Those crazy Europeans, they're so extreme. The screen fades to black.
01 - "After the end of World War II, the world was split into two -- East and West. This marked the beginning of the era called the Cold War." Thanks for the history lesson. A large plane is flying through the night sky. The voice actor's names are flashing on the screen. We get a couple of looks of the plane, early morning in 1964 over Pakistan. The pilots and commanders are planning a dropoff.
02 - A man with a cigar is shown, must be Snake. He takes a puff before he's told by an officer to put on his mask. "Does this pantywaist know what he's doing?" Ten minutes to drop off. Holy cow, this could be a long cutscene. He throws his cigar and it bounces away in slow motion.
03 - They open the rear hatch and the game's saturation is turned way up. Sunrise. Looks beautiful. Minus 46 degrees celsius outside and I'll be falling at 130 miles per hour. Fun. "The world's first HALO jump." HALO meaning High Altitude, Low Opening. Sounds dangerous, especially with just having finished off a cigar.
04 - Snake approaches the edge and jumps, well, falls over slowly. He performs a few fancy flips before pointing himself straight at the ground. "Directed by Hideo Kojima." It's like a movie. Game fades to a flashback, the commander of the FOX Unit is describing the Virtuous Mission to Snake, called Jack in this cutscene.
05 - Two years ago, a scientist wanted out of the Soviet Union. The game is mixing real footage with original art of the scientist, Sokolov. Sokolov developed the original Soviet Union rocket, but is ready to defect.
06 - They're showing footage of people escaping across the Berlin Wall, this might really be a good history lesson. Cutscene is still going, Sokolov made it to Berlin, but then the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred.
07 - Metal Gear Solid 3 rewrites history and explains that the Cuban Missile Crisis was solved by the United States by returning the defected Sokolov to the Soviet Union. The US removing IRBMs from Turkey was a ruse for the rest of the world to believe. This is getting interesting, and complicated.
09 - So Sokolov must have been working on something big... but what? All they know is it is a new nuclear device, but that's all the US intelligence knows.
10 - Sokolov is now being held in the Virgin Cliffs where they will be doing a field test of the weapon. The US considers this their last chance to rescue Sokolov for good. The jump cutscene continues, Snake is still falling. Cool! If I hold R1 I can get a Snake's eye view of the fall!
11 - Snake pulls his cord and his parachute deploys while the commander tells me about my escape plan using helium balloons and other insane things.
12 - FOX commander mentions a four hour time limit, can't imagine that's real. The commander then gives a knowing nod to one of his female assistants on the plane, very suspicious.
13 - All right, Snake is finally finished falling! But one of his packs gets stuck on the trees above me. Snake lands in a four point landing and takes about 20 seconds to get up all dramatically. He's looking over a huge forested valley as he removes his falling gear (slow motion again).
14 - Snake runs behind a tree and taps his ear. We're connected to frequency 140.85. The commander tells me I'll be known as Naked Snake. The Major will be called Major Tom. "This will be a sneaking mission."
15 - Snake has gone in completely naked, at least weapon and food wise. All I have is a knife and tranquilizer gun to hunt for food. Major Tom tells me to go get my stuck pack.
16 - I finally get control! Let me take a moment to describe the user interface. In the upper left is my health with another longer skinnier bar underneath... In the upper right is what camoflauge I'm wearing and what face paint I have applied. Also a percentage of how well I'm being hidden. Right now standing up, only 10%.
18 - I find the tree with my pack and grab it. Snake is so excited he gives Major Tom another call. The Major tells me how to get weapons out of my pack and then equip them. Snake repeats back what he said, haha.
20 - That little bar under my health is the stamina bar, which will affect my accuracy and injury recovery. Also my tranquilizer's suppressor will deterioate over time. Hardcore. Snake is violating tons of international laws by being in the Soviet Union, so that's why he wasn't sent in with anything, and the US government will deny any involvement if he's caught. I'm also provided with a fake death pill... wow.
22 - I think they're almost done talking. Major Tom introduces the team behind me. The medic/game saver is named Para-Medic... no real names on this mission I guess. She lightly flirts with Snake. Her frequency is 145.73 and the save frequency is 140.96, do I have to remember these?
23 - Major Tom talks about The Boss, my old mentor. She's going to be a mission advisor. She comes on over the comm, Snake is stunned and knows exactly how long it has been since he spoke with her, down to the hour.
25 - The Boss says she was on a top secret mission, which is why she disappeared from Snake's life. They talk about fighting technique and the spirit and body. Snake really thinks she abandoned him, sounds like a sad puppy.
26 - This is a pretty deep conversation so early in the game, they're talking about patriotism, a soldier's role, politics, conscience... and of course, the mission.
28 - "Do me one thing: call me Snake."
29 - Boss's frequency is 141.80. Major Tom repeats my mission to me, rescue Sokolov, stealthily. A new cutscene of Snake practicing CQC, Close Quarters Combat.
30 - FINALLY. I guide Snake into the Dremuchij Swampland. Though I'm in a pretty dense forest, it seems like it is pretty easy to navigate through. The path is there, hidden, but there.
31 - Woah, some alligators are in my way, and a swamp. Make that quicksand.
32 - Haha, I got mauled once by a gator. Moving on to Dremuchij North (the game also provides the location in Russian characters).
34 - Oh oh, Snake sees two soldiers in the distance. They're carrying AK-47s (of course). Oh man, Snake goes back to the comm with Major Tom. He says don't engage them in battle, boring. The Boss reiterates that, and then starts telling me about camoflauge.
36 - I guess I should mess with my camo a bit? Man, I could just shoot these guys so easily if I had a real gun.
37 - Crap! I was spotted! Stupid me. I dive into some bushes as my counter goes down... I put on some better camo and I'm up to 90%.
40 - They found me again, I had to knock them out with some kicks and punches.
41 - Around the corner is another guy who I also have to knock out. I'm still in caution mode, 50 seconds left of that. I'm hiding on my belly in some tall grass at the moment, I lost a lot of health but my stamina has helped me recover it pretty quickly.
43 - I play a game of cat and mouse around a tree with a bad guy before knocking him out too, another guard sees his limp body and approaches him, "what's wrong?" I run out of there.
45 - Checking my map... I seem to have missed my exit pretty badly, I'll have to backtrack.
48 - Wow, the intensity just won't stop, even though I moved on to the next area I'm still being attacked and actively searched for. I reach a rickety bridge straight out of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
49 - I control Snake and tell him to just make a dash for it, when I reach the next area a cutscene starts. Snake has found the building where Sokolov is being held. He contacts Major Tom.
50 - After the cutscene ends, I'm completely safe and not under distress. What an unrealistic relief. Time to infiltrate this dump of a building and get the scientist out.
53 - I decided to go in guns blazing... not really working, though Snake can take a ton of damage. Rolling at enemies seems like the best way to take guys out quickly. The tranquilizer doesn't immediately take out the bad guys either, it has to work its magic slowly.
56 - With barely any health left I think I finally found a spot to hang out and let myself recover. Though the bad guys are still out in force, there are four in front of me right at this moment. I have 90% camo... please don't see me.
59 - My cautionary period is finally over and I'm nearly up to max health. Time to move back in, stealthily this time I suppose. A ton of guys run by me returning to their original position, good thing I didn't pop out then.
60 - Ouch, 60 minutes in and I barely got started on my mission. Patience is a hard virtue to follow under my enforced time limit! That's the end of the first hour of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.
Time for some scores out of 10.
Minutes to Action: 32
When a game hits 30 minutes and you haven't done anything yet, you start to question whether you're actually playing a video game. Unfortunately, when things actually do get rolling in Metal Gear Solid 3, you begin to realize that every button does something very specific and you have no idea what. Does this one crouch, aim, select weapon, select item, go to first person mode, or is it the mysterious "action button"? The camera is easy to control though, thanks to the enhanced Subsistence, but Snake definitely isn't as easy to maneuver. When things started getting hairy, I often lost track of what direction I was facing and where any of the enemies were. Things got disorienting quickly. There is a map you can reference, but an onscreen mini-map would have been nice.
Fun Factor: 5
If you enjoy Cold War politics and stealth action, you will undoubtedly love the first hour of Snake Eater. I can't say I'm a huge fan of either, but the cut scenes were pretty exciting and it's amazing how much information they were able to pack into them. Things slowed down a little more than my liking when Snake communicated with his team over radio though. Also my complaints in the gameplay section regarding the control definitely affected how much fun I had. I was leaning against a wall and wanted to shoot some bad guys around the corner... I tried every button combination and eventually Snake just popped out and was spotted, thus starting another multi-minute run-and-hide event. And just think, we didn't even get into food gathering...
Graphics and Sound: 10
Absolutely stunning, Metal Gear Solid 3 sets the bar for PlayStation 2 games in my opinion. It's hard not to believe you're actually fording your way through a jungle. When you drop to the ground you can see the grass sway in your face and when you stand up you visibly flatten it. Enemies look realistic, buildings look realistic, the huge bridge looks realistic. This is more level design than anything, but it's amazing how it doesn't feel like the jungle has walls. I honestly don't remember running up to something and thinking, "crap, I thought I could get through here." Everything is so seamless. Additionally, Metal Gear Solid 3's first hour features an excellent soundtrack plus the single best voice acting in the business. And it had better be good because there is a lot of talking. A lot.
Snake Eater is very heavy and reliant on its story. I personally think Konami was trying to tell way too much too early on, but for what's there, it's excellent. I think the cut scenes were very good but they could have held back on the codec conversations. Maybe just play them while moving around the jungle, you're expected to move slowly so it wouldn't have been distracting to explain things then. Maybe unrealistic... but if you're expecting Metal Gear Solid to be down to earth, you've got another thing coming. What I found most interesting about the story is that there are a handful of characters introduced and the only one you interact with is Snake. Everyone else, from the Major to The Boss, are just shown during cut scenes and conversations. Definitely an interesting approach.
Excellent presentation does not a good first hour make. I purposefully put this in the middle of the road because I believe you will probably either love or hate this game. Love it if you can tolerate your games being movies sometimes, and hate it if you're an impatient, God of War andrenaline filled, action loving gamer (no disrespect for God of War fans, I enjoy the series). If you're looking to start the Metal Gear Solid series, this is also not a bad place to start, being the earliest game on the timeline. But be forewarned, the first hour will require you to set aside your temptations to grab the controller and mash on the Start button. Instead, sit back, and enjoy the show of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.