Top positive review
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Survival of the fitest.
on 18 April 2005
Even as the worlds biggest Metal Gear fan, i still found myself approaching the release of Snake Eater with some skpetisism. After all, this was the first MGS game since the 'critaccly acclaimed', (and regularly abused) 'Sons Of Liberty', and again creator Hideo Kojima was introducing more radical ideas; 60's prequel setting, playing again as someone other than snake, and eating, yes eating animals in a jungle environment. People can be forgiving for the doubt that filled their minds.
Before i begin, i will firstly state that i am very fair-minded and honest when reviewing games. I am indeed a huge fan of Kojima and the MGS series but i am by no means a puppet to help their sales. This review is honest. If its bad, i'll say so and vice versa.
What the original had that everyone fell in love with (even if they cant quite put their finger on it) was an unrivalled atmosphere and emotional envolvement. This was as close to 'being there' as could ever be. MGS2 missed the mark slightly. The tanker environment was as engaging as MGS' Shadow Moses Island but as the story progressed, players found themselves distant from the game as they quite simply couldn't understand the too complex story line. Thankfully Snake Eater is a return to that atmosphere. It gives you goosebumps to simply look around in First-person View. From the opening cut scene, you know things are getting better. Superbly directed and Voice acted, the cut-scene haters are hard pushed to find fault here. In regards to the Radio, t'self-obsessed- drawn out codec calls DO return, but they are substantially less often and less lengthy.
The gameplay is staggeringly dtailed if not all the time necessary. The survival element of the game includes a 'Camo Index', 'Food Gathering and eating' and a 'Cure' system. The camo index works superbly making way for a setting where you can remain hidden even if the terrorist soldiers are looking your way. A percenatge lets you know how well your doing and there is no greater satisfaction than watching a guard walk blindly by, as your hidden against a tree with suitable camo and face paint on and slip gently back into the undergroth and proceed. The food gathering is well handled too. The forest is literally teeming with wildlife, flowers fruit etc (snake eater really has raised the bar for jungle settings) A 'stamina' meter now acompanies Snakes Life Bar, and it gradually decreases (faster if exerting yourself, slower if your are slower and well paced) To regenerate this you need to find food, hunt it and eat it. Of course, snake likes and dislikes food, some are poisonous, some can be used as weapons on guards (spiders and snakes) Some make snake sick if they go rotten and some even help you cure injuries....
This is the cure system. When snake is injured; bullet wounds, broken bones, leeches, cuts etc, the Survival Viewer ( a place where all food, camo and cure is done) lets you x-ray snake and cure his afflictions. The problem: Probably too many healing items to begin with means its not quite as daunting to risk getting injured as it probably should be. Also, whilst these are refreshing and sublime bouts of gameplay, it wouldn't be unreasonable for people to be slightly disheartened to have to leave gameplay and enter the 'Survival-Viewer' screen everytime they want to do something. Also, there is no skill to curing yourself. You are told how to heal a wound so you just use the requested items. It can sometimes make the process monotonous. It was a late addition in Snake Eaters development and you feel it needed a bit more work on it. A place it does come into its own though is the Boss fights. Boss fights are Ingenious with one sniper fight in particular capturing the essence of a tense duel to the death perfectly!! Everything you do effects the fight so the 'tactical' in 'Tactical Espionage Action' truly come sto light in Snake Eater.
The depth of gameplay is astounding and an innovative use of the 'PS2 clock' allows for complete strategy. If you save a game and turn of the PS2, snakes body will heal over time, as will his stamina as he's resting. This can help no end with boss fights and tricky situations and in some instances, trigger slightly different outcomes in sub-plots. Dont leave for too long though as food can go rotten!!!!
Its that 4th wall barrier broken again just like in MGS1 with the controll pad moving and searching for frequencies in the games packaging. Things you do outside of the game effect the inside of the game. Every action has a reaction. Blowing up enemy supplies makes them hungry and run out of ammo. Chuck them some rotten food, watch them eat it and run off sick...Excellent!! Theres too much interactivity to go into but a wealth of weapons, and stealth-helping low tech gadgets along with Superbly intellegent A.I make for an undeniably engrossing and engaging ride.
The story is subtle and sublime sitting perfectly next to hollywood music guru Harry Gregson-Williams's score and the best graphics to come from a PS2. Im not going to go into it as im obviously not trying to spoil the experience for anyone but its a major improvement over Sons Of Liberty. Theres still ahost of nutjob characters but the relationships between characters are handled beautifuly, reminiscent of the original. Just dont expect too many of those nagging questions left at the end of Sons of Liberty answered any time soon.
To sum up, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater really is one of the best games ever made and its mainly for that reason. Its a game! Hidden extras, boss fights, fantasy characters and unprecedented involvement. This will eat away at your life and quite rightly so. Its gameplay is honed to near perfection and its story as engrossing as any film your likely to see. Denying yourself this would be to deny yourself the greatest satisfaction you could get from your Playstation 2!
ENJOY YOUR MEAL