Playing Metal Gear Solid 3 For The First Time
Playing Metal Gear Solid 3 For The First Time
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater first released in 2004 in North America and 2005 in Europe and like previous titles in the series received widespread acclaim. Playing it on Xbox 360 a decade later I can see why. Snake Eater was the first title in the series to move away from the adventures of Solid Snake and let us play as Big Boss or Naked Snake as he is known at this early stage of the Metal Gear timeline.
The Name’s Boss…Big Boss
Hideo Kojima, a large part of the creative force of Metal Gear Solid has often cited James Bond as an influence on the series. This has never been more apparent than in Snake Eater which includes a grand opening title song, spies operating in the Cold War and a covert mission to rescue a scientist. Snake Eater returns the series to a new kind of stealth in a different environment. New features such as different camouflage options, the dense jungle environment and more intelligent enemies create a new challenge for players even if you mastered previous entries in the series. There are plenty of traps in the jungle too from swinging spike traps to Claymores to guard dogs. More than any other title, Snake Eater offered players many a tense moment laying prone in the jungle praying you aren’t spotted by a patrol.
There’s no doubt Snake Eater is a challenging game and things don’t become any easier with the boss battles. The game sees you taking on former members of the original Boss’s team from WWII. These bosses have abstract names like The Fear and The End and each battle tests your skills in different ways. For example, The End battle is a prolonged sniper battle while the battle with The Fear prompts you to keep on the move and stay vigilant as he cloaks himself in the trees. While there is definitely a sense of accomplishment when defeating these enemies I found some of them unnecessarily hard such as The End who was not only difficult to detect and find but moved to different areas of the map frequently. I found this particular battle so difficult I ended up ‘cheating’ and winding my Xbox’s clock forward a year or two allowing The End to die from old age (an amusing feature that I am not surprised at from Metal Gear). It also implies they knew this particular battle wouldn’t be fun for a lot of people.
The Boss, EVA and Shagohod
The story of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater might be my favourite. It features all the trademark elements of Metal Gear such as espionage, betrayal, patriotism and sacrifice but wrapped in a package of Cold War paranoia and Bond-esque super spy work. After a prelude with far-reaching consequences, Snake is tasked with defeating Colonel Volgin and his allies, destroying the Shagohod (a pre-Metal Gear nuclear tank) and killing The Boss. Like previous games, the story’s premise is simple but the execution of it is rarely so. Snake is aided by EVA, a spy for the U.S. and at times by Ocelot who seems to view Snake as somewhat of a role model. Each of these characters has ulterior motives and once more it is Snake who is at the mercy of his commander Major Zero and the complex web of events. However, where Solid Snake was always gruff and unapologetic, Naked Snake is somewhat of a patriot and clearly admires The Boss which is why he needs an answer to why she defected. Consequently, the Soviet enemies are a sideshow. Volgin is vicious and tenacious but he’s playing played by everyone.
The biggest story moment that made me think this game was truly special was EVA’s betrayal and her explanation of The Boss’s actions and her own. Coupled with the final dramatic boss battle, you come to realise as the player you have had very little notion of the true consequences of the mission. The Boss was a patriot after all, planting the seed for Big Boss to go and try to fulfill her wish. Others would go on to attempt this too including Major Zero, Coldman and Dr. Strangelove in Peace Walker and the Patriots in Metal Gear Solid 4. It becomes clear why Snake Eater is the game that takes us the furthest back in time, because so much of the later games is based on The Boss’s will.
Looking back on the game it is filled with memorable moments in its gameplay and cut scenes from sneaking through the jungle, feeling my way through a dark cave and eliminating bosses or realizing The Boss’s reason for defection. The final battle against Volgin and the Shagohod would fit neatly into an exploit with 007 as would much of the game and the game’s music, in particular its main theme which was extraordinary. Your reward for the challenging areas and boss fights is the story which is my favourite in the series so far and the incredible ending may be the best in any video game. Despite playing the series in the order of their release, it would be interesting to go back and play them chronologically. The story would probably be easier to follow and the words of characters such as Major Zero, Sigint and Para-Medic would have more weight knowing their future actions. Snake Eater is a game that shows high production values and a decade later is as good as ever.
What do you think of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater? Where does it land on your list in the Metal Gear series?
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