Thursday, March 3, 2016

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater - What a Thrill


I don’t like playing stealth games, I’ll just say it outright. I just don’t have the patience for it. I hate waiting for enemies to move slowly and dumbly while my bullets are strangely not in their heads yet. It feels like they don’t WANT to get shot in the head. This is why I haven’t played games like Splinter Cell or Hitman that much because if things go awry, you’ll be in a huge disadvantage because you’re outgunned, outmanned, and outmaneuvered. These games weren’t really meant to be played as third-person run-and-gun shooters after all.

That’s just me though. I’m not saying they’re bad or wrong. I don’t hate stealth games; I just don’t play them because I suck at them. I hate indie 8-bit platformers that are unfairly difficult just because they’re “retro”. There’s a huge difference. To each their own, I guess. But as someone who doesn’t like to play stealth games, I wanted to try Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater to see if I’m old enough to play it. Yes, that was my reasoning. When I was a dumb 8-year old kiddo and still lived in The Philippines, I remember watching an uncle play Metal Gear Solid on the original gray PlayStation and I couldn’t understand anything. All I saw was “guy in bandana is sneaking in an evil military base while big marshmallow enemies search for him.” Oddly enough, I remembered that memory 10 years later when I first bought Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.

I finished this game twice on the PS2 and the ending always makes me feel depressed as hell. I loved the whole game so much that I bought Metal Gear Solid HD Collection the day after I finished the game just so I can play it again on the PS3. The HD edition has, of course, upgraded graphics, trophy support, and ran at a smooth 60 frames per second, which was a huge bonus. Then Metal Gear Solid: The Legacy Collection was released on my birthday and I didn’t really love the series that much to buy the games a third time. Maybe in the future when the price goes down.

Full disclosure: this was my first Metal Gear Solid game and I played it with Action Replay codes because I didn’t know what to expect in a damn stealth game. So I was basically a Terminator who used stealth as a discarded suggestion, instead of a required skill. Of course, that’s not how the game was meant to be played but having the option to go guns blazing into a Russian base is a welcome and wonderful option. It doesn’t punish the player for deviating from the intention of the developer and it gives a fun, alternative way to play the game. I brought fear into the hearts of soldiers because their enemy was an unflinching soldier with a license to kill.

When I first played the game years ago, I didn’t expect to have to listen to a lot of dialogue. Not that it’s a bad thing since most of the lengthy dialogue sequences are really interesting to listen to. The codec conversations have always been a treat to listen to. I’ve spent hours listening to Sigint’s trivia about weaponry and Para-Medic’s trivia about the wildlife (followed by Snake asking “How does it taste?”). The codec calls actually give Snake’s intel team a lot of personality. Major Zero has a great voice to listen to while still having that stern presence, even if he’s just a voice.

You play as Naked Snake, talented spy who’s sent out by the CIA to rescue a weapons scientist in Russia. Easy enough for a super talented spy like Snake, of course, but he witnesses the USA’s greatest war hero - The Boss - defect to the Russians. Naked Snake gets his ass kicked by The Boss and witnesses a nuclear warhead being fired. Would’ve been a short game had Snake died but thankfully he doesn’t but he’s sent back after a while to assassinate The Boss. Might’ve been an easy task if The Boss wasn’t Naked Snake’s mentor and taught him everything he knows. Now it’s up Snake to decide whether he should follow government orders or go with his morals and go home, as The Boss says. The story is a bit straightforward if you ignore the exposition or don’t understand it at all. Basically, sneak past or kill everyone who stands in your way. Either way, your choice, super talented spy.

One new feature the game has is the dynamic camouflage system. Basically, if it reaches 100 percent, the enemy is less likely to see your stumbling ass in the jungle. It changes depending on the location so you can’t effectively use jungle camo inside a building nor can you use a tuxedo in the middle of the woods. You can find face paint and camouflage as you explore while progressing through the game. It gives you a bit more incentive to explore the otherwise linear maps. Not as linear as a damn hallway like Final Fantasy XIII but still a bit linear. At least there isn’t much required backtracking. But as someone who loves open world games to death, I can admit it’s wrong to consider a game’s linear map as a flaw if it gives you some sort of incentive for exploring such as extra camo or weapons.

Encounters with soldiers usually end up as a firefight if you fuck up and get spotted. And you will fuck up sooner or later unless you have a ton of patience and aren’t shit in stealth games like me. Once you get discovered, the iconic exclamation point appears and it’s now or never in a sense where you shoot now or you’ll never get your face back after a guard blew it off with a pump action shotgun. But what makes it great is that stealth isn’t actually required in this stealth game. That’s weird in theory but MGS3 actually makes firefights legitimately fun. Headshots are sweet as with any game. Disposing of bodies makes you feel like a teenage boy who was told by his mom to clean up his room every afternoon after school. It gets tedious after the first few times but it does give you the thought of where to creatively put these unconscious soldiers or corpses who thankfully have not shit themselves.

As with any Metal Gear Solid game, there are a few quirky bosses who’d want to tear your limbs from your bloody carcass when they catch their eyes on you. The big bad in this game is Volgin, a guy who can use electricity from his body to electrocute anyone who stands in his way. Even he doesn’t hold a candle to the badass Boss. With him is the Cobra Unit - a group of weird villains with different abilities that may or may not make sense. Remembering to beat these bosses non-lethally will get you some special camouflage you can’t find anywhere else in the game.

The biggest momentum killer of the game, however, is the new Cure system. If you get hit, you might suffer an injury which means you’ll have to pause the game, go to the cure menu, and heal your injuries with the medical supplies you find around the game. It gets tedious in every boss battle where Snake has to heal himself while the enemy just stands around letting it happen.

Is the game fun all in all? Definitely. Are the HD Collection and Legacy Collection worth buying? Well, only one of them are worth buying. If you’re only looking forward to playing Snake Eater, get the HD Collection. If you want to binge on the Metal Gear series, get the Legacy Collection. If you want to give your hand a lot of cramps, play the 3DS version. Yes, there’s a 3DS version and it’s a great port of the game.

Does it hold up on the PS2 though? Well, compared to the first Metal Gear Solid, it doesn’t show its age as much in terms of graphics. The graphics in the jungle are a bit murky, depending on the TV settings. Maybe that’s to emphasize on the “lost in the woods” feeling that Snake has. The cinematics are great to watch, even to this day. Some of the character models look odd. The Boss looks like someone smeared Vaseline on her entire face and Revolver Ocelot looks like a department store mannequin. But these are just minor gripes in an otherwise solid game (pun intended, HA HA!). Compared to Sons of Liberty, the story doesn’t go postmodern and insane. It’s a callback to 60’s spy films. Hell, the theme song, “Snake Eater” is a great homage to James Bond movies. So is it good? Definitely. The HD remasters of this game for the PS3, Xbox 360, and PS Vita are wonderful and make this game feel like it’s never forgotten. Even the 3DS port is fun to play even though it gives my wrist more cramps than a cement PSP on steroids. So yeah, buy this game if you can. With the amount of fun it provides and the amount of action in this game, it makes it a totally fun game through the ages.