Metal Gear Solid 3: EAT THE SNAKE! EAT IT!

A retrospective about Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater for PS2. Available now on the Playstation Network Store.


After my ear­li­er re­vis­it of one of my favourite games from the PS1 era, Metal Gear Solid, I felt a com­pul­sion to go back and play my favourite game in that se­ries, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Metal Gear Solid has a fan­tas­tic sto­ry, with twists and turns that still felt like a suck­er punch to the gut. As much as I loved it, though, it has aged very bad­ly. There was just a grain of dis­ap­point­ment when I fi­nal­ly put the con­troller down. Would the same be true when I went to re­vis­it the third in the se­ries? Let’s dive in…

2-MGS3-300x225Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
takes place in 1964, chrono­log­i­cal­ly the ear­li­est game in the se­ries. You play as Naked Snake, who would lat­er be­come the ne­far­i­ous Big Boss. Early in the game he is be­trayed and left for dead by his men­tor and moth­er fig­ure, The Boss. Later, you are re­de­ployed to re­cov­er a cache of nu­clear war­heads which were stolen and to ex­tract the sci­en­tist who is be­ing forced to de­vel­op a spir­i­tu­al for­bear­er of the tit­u­lar Metal Gear weapon, the Shagohod. Like the first in­stall­ment, it’s a fair­ly stan­dard plot with the real at­trac­tion be­ing the way the sto­ry is told and the char­ac­ters in­volved. Being set in the 60s, MGS3 is a lov­ing pas­tiche of cold-war era spy movies, com­plete with a James Bond-style in­tro­duc­tion. In my view, the song which ac­com­pa­nies this in­tro se­quence goes down as one of the best tracks that video games have to offer.

boss-metal-gear-solid-3-300x169The char­ac­ters are in­cred­i­ble this time around. The ar­ray of vil­lains are much more de­vel­oped than in the first game. After de­feat­ing each boss (with names like ‘The Pain’, ‘The Fury’, ‘The End’), I gen­uine­ly felt bad about killing them. Even though they don’t get much screen time, the char­ac­ters are so well writ­ten that it doesn’t mat­ter. The only ex­cep­tion to this is the char­ac­ter of Volgin — os­ten­si­bly the Dragon to The Boss’s mas­ter­mind — but he comes across as a bit 2‑dimensional com­pared to the oth­er in­cred­i­ble vil­lains. The char­ac­ter of Snake is as fan­tas­tic as ever. He’s much more anal­o­gous to Solid Snake than the mon­ster he would be­come. This makes per­fect sense since you find out ex­act­ly how Big Boss emerged from the man they call Naked Snake.

The two big draw­backs in my last re­view were the game­play and graph­ics. They felt dat­ed to a point where I couldn’t ful­ly en­joy the ex­pe­ri­ence. Metal Gear Solid 3 does not suf­fer from this in the slight­est. Even be­ing a low-poly-count game from the PS2 era doesn’t de­tract from the ti­tle for a sec­ond. It’s clear that even back in the day it was push­ing the con­sole for every­thing it had. The game­play is amaz­ing this time too. This game is how you do a third-person stealth ac­tion game right. Everything is spot on. The con­trols feel flu­id, the shoot­ing is nice­ly bal­anced, and it ac­tu­al­ly feels like your weapon has some weight to it. The cam­ou­flage sys­tem gives the stealth an ex­tra di­men­sion, mak­ing you think much more tac­ti­cal­ly about it than in the first game. The hunger sys­tem adds to this, mak­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence much more like sur­viv­ing in the wild than a sim­ple mat­ter of shoot­ing bad guys in the head. You’re not only fight­ing en­e­my sol­diers, you’re also fight­ing with every ounce of your­self to live in a harsh environment.

The_End_greeting_The_Boss-300x176There’s a sec­tion of the game I feel like I have to high­light. About halfway through the game you’ve beat­en two of The Boss’s unit, and you’re be­gin­ning to get a sense of just how deep the sto­ry goes when you go into the third boss bat­tle. Prior to re­vis­it­ing this game, the afore­men­tioned fight oc­cu­pied a love­ly place in my brain as one of the re­al­ly great mo­ments in video game his­to­ry. Upon this re­play, I can tell you, the boss fight with The End should go down as the great­est mo­ment in video gam­ing his­to­ry. The idea of the fight is to echo the bat­tle from MGS where you have a sniper bat­tle with an op­po­nent who is con­stant­ly mov­ing. In the first game, this took place on a snow­blown field with the en­e­my, Sniper Wolf, dodg­ing your shots un­til she set­tled down to take aim. The MGS3 in­car­na­tion is a very sim­i­lar sce­nario, where The End is roam­ing about the Jungle set­ting, wait­ing pa­tient­ly for you to en­ter his crosshairs. There are nu­mer­ous dif­fer­ent ar­eas you can en­ter, and it makes the ex­pe­ri­ence feel much more like a hunt. You have to use every tool at your dis­pos­al to de­feat this old bas­tard. You shoot, he moves. You track him, he shoots. You die. Repeat. It’s so well ex­e­cut­ed that I was on the edge of my seat through­out the en­tire se­quence. It’s noth­ing short of phenomenal.

This game. Just… wow. I am so glad I went back to play it. It’s rare that a game is ac­tu­al­ly bet­ter than you re­mem­ber it on a sec­ond playthrough. I was a lit­tle wor­ried that, af­ter my ex­pe­ri­ence with re­vis­it­ing the first in­stall­ment, I might find yet an­oth­er game that fell short of my fond mem­o­ries. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater blew them out of the wa­ter. With a self-contained sto­ry that is very well told, I rec­om­mend that every­one play this. Whether you’ve played this game or not, stop what­ev­er you’re do­ing now and im­merse your­self in it. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

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John is a tat­tooed as­tronomer. He hearts games, movies & beardy mu­sic. He also bakes a lot and looks through tele­scopes less of­ten than he’d like. Helps with GamerGiving char­i­ty stream­ing as well!

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