For as long as I can remember I have always loved the Metal Gear Solid franchise. The game has graced all kinds of consoles from the original NES and Gameboy to the Xbox and PS3. The Metal Gear Solid HD collection is just barely out of the rearview mirror and Konami has released Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D on the 3DS.
I must preface and warn some gamers that Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater is an old game. Take that as you will, because judging the game by today’s standards is a little bit unfair. The game was originally designed for a home console in mind, so taking the game on the road is a bit of a hit and miss affair. The Metal Gear games are very time consuming with tons of dialogue and detail. Playing the game in short spurts really gets you nowhere. Some dialogue moments are 10 minutes long alone and Snake Eater has its fair share of them, so be prepared to miss a few things along the way. I suggest finding a corner or couch and game the day away, as this is the only way to truly feel, hear, and see the beauty of the game
The game is a remastered version of the PS2 classic that follows Naked Snake on a mission through a Russian infested jungle. The graphics are superb on the 3DS, really showing off the systems capabilities, and is about on par with the HD remake released a few months back. Most of you will know the game is a traditional third person shooter that emphasizes the use of camouflage and cover. If you don’t know, now you do. The story is definitely the most unique out of the whole series, taking you back to the 1960’s and placing you in a jungle for the majority of the game.
Controls for this port are pretty well done considering the 3DS lay out. At first the game feels clunky and overwhelming, but some practice takes care of that. I really had a tough time with the camera angles and aiming. The aiming mechanism feels very fluid, almost too fluid. I often found myself aiming past the target and constantly readjusting; however, using the brilliant circle pad pro is an option that I whole-heartily recommend. The addition of the 2nd circle pad adds an almost viscous layer which dampens the overly smooth action of aiming, making the game much more enjoyable. Aiming and shooting are moved to the shoulder buttons allowing Snake and the camera to be easily controlled with the thumb pads. Again with a bit of practice the set-up is by far the best way to play
Unfortunately the game suffers some technical issues (e.g. nasty frame rate drops), which hinders the gameplay at times. The slow-mo effect is quite prevalent in later levels; Snake seems truly stuck in quicksand. It can have some adverse effects on your game, but everything else slows down as well, so you should make it out of hairy situations unscathed.
The combat system is quite in-depth for an older title, and provides a hearty challenge for those for those who expect to just rush in and shoot. Stealth and camouflage are absolutely vital to survival, and all these years later it is still brilliantly implemented. The enemy AI is well developed, although it can still quite dumb at times. Their alert system is directly associated with your camouflage choices and techniques. It can provide an atmosphere that demands patience and holding your breath (virtually speaking of course) so as to not alert them. Quite honestly there are areas in the game where you will find yourself not breathing on purpose.
Of course you can go in gung-ho and combat your enemies via hand-to-hand melee’s, slow-acting tranquilizers, or a variety of guns and grenades. I have always loved the angry hornets’ nest; it is always fun for a laugh or two. This method will only get you so far, and really kills the idea behind the stealthy roots of the Metal Gear franchise. Who wouldn’t love to be able to stranglehold someone at knifepoint, interrogate them, knock them out and drag the body into the grass so other enemies will not find them. Oh, of course there is looting ammo or grenades and taking your fallen enemies dog tag. These are the elaborate little things that actually serve as important gameplay elements, and they are what make this game shine. Snake Eater is full them, along with tons of conversational codec’s with all kinds of characters. What surprises me is how much this game plays like the original PS2 game; the 3DS is certainly flexing its muscles. I also like the Yoshi dolls hidden throughout the game; it is a nice touch giving the game a Nintendo branding. Overall the only real drawback is the games complexity, which could scare the casual gamer away.
New to the 3DS version is that Snake can actually walk while he is crouched. This is a feature that was not available in the original game. Snake Eater also supports the 3DS’s Gyroscope, which sometimes assists in helping Snake balance such as walking over narrow obstacles. I found the option a bit tough and it feels a little tacked on. The dexterity is just not there, but after practicing you should find the sweet spot, even though it still feels a bit strange. The 3DS’s touchscreen also makes swapping between weapons or navigating through your items a much more streamlined experience. Another gimmick, if you will, on the 3DS version is that the camera can be used to take photos and then you can create your own custom camouflage suits for Snake. It’s a neat feature but ultimately doesn’t really enhance the overall gameplay; cool yes although not very practical.
The fact that this Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D title still holds up amongst other 3DS titles speaks to its pedigree though. Visually the game is fantastic to look at, and it keeps up with most new 3DS titles. The 3D effect is by far some of the best I have seen yet on the 3DS; it is also quite easy on the eyes. Some 3DS games seem to require a sweet spot in order to get the full 3D environment, which makes it tough to watch after long game play sessions. Even after playing Snake Eater for two full hour, my eyes felt great. Solid Snake 3D also does an excellent job of creating an immersive gaming environment that you would expect most 2D games to have.
This latest Metal Gear is as pretty as it’s ever been, remade from the ground up specifically for the 3DS. The jungle environment comes to life around you, adding depth to every single piece of grass. When hornets fly around a bridge, and when flower petals or leaves fall from trees, it pops out at you and makes everything seem much more alive. The game’s cut-scenes (there are plenty of them) are also fantastic. Although things are fairly solid in the gameplay department there are a few problems with the game, one primarily being the older codec. Some textures and environments can get a bit muddy at times, and throw in some of the framerate issues and you get some ugly patches now and then. Regardless, the game is good enough to look past them, and overall most will be impressed by the graphic splendor. The addition of the second screen also keeps the game’s HUD out of the action, resulting in a mostly crisp and clear presentation
As with all Metal Gear games the audio styling is equally as good as the graphics. The engaging musical score is present, along with the professional voice acting; it engages gamers like no other game. The dialogue is lengthy in places but can be skipped, but it is necessary for the complex story. The sound effects are also fine, especially through your headphones. That being said, they can be a bit on the tinny side, but that is to be expected considering the age of the original game.
Newcomers to Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D, and the series as a whole, may be a little put off by the title’s relatively dated design. The conversations can go on too long, and the controls need a little getting used to, unless you have the circle pad pro. At its core, though this Metal Gear title for the 3DS is still a very good game if you’re up for some espionage action and a dramatic plot. Fans of the series looking for an excuse to play some Metal Gear Solid again will be satisfied here, and newbie’s should also love it. If you can get past some of the games quirks, there is a ton of content to enjoy here.