Posted by GrantHeaslip (1573 posts) -

I played Metal Gear Solid 2 last year, and my feelings on Metal Gear Solid 3 are pretty similar, for better and for worse. I think it’s a superior — or at least more endearing — game in a lot of ways, but it’s also pretty rough from a gameplay perspective. I wouldn’t have enjoyed this game without the Hideo Kojima factor, but man do I really love the Hideo Kojima factor.

I played the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection (PS3) edition of the game, which is based on the Subsistence update. I’m not very clear on what this version changed, but I do know it added a proper third-person camera, and I can’t imagine playing the game without it. It’s dramatically more playable (and perhaps too easy as a result) when you can actually see what’s ahead of you without constantly swapping into first-person mode. I didn’t have a huge problem with the overhead camera in the first two Metal Gear Solid games because the Soliton Radar offered you a large degree of situational awareness. Spending half of your time in a game staring at a minimap was its own kind of problem, but it did at least feel fair. Removing the radar while retaining a camera angle that restricts your forward visibility to a few metres just doesn’t make sense.

That’s not to say the camera is perfect. Because of its fixed-camera-angle roots, Subsistence still isn’t a proper third-person shooter in the contemporary sense. Regardless of the camera’s direction, first-person mode still points the camera where Snake is looking. This mismatch between how the game works and how I expect a third-person game to work led to a lot of really awkward situations in which I would attempt to shoot an enemy I was looking directly at only to end up aiming 90 degrees away. While either stick can be used for first-person aiming, the SSA revolver (which at one point is your only weapon) performs a superfluous spinning animation when you move the right stick, which ruined an otherwise-dramatic sequence for me. When you’re crawling through grass, the camera insists on going into first-person mode, and while I get why that’s the case, it was never what I wanted.

The camera compounds some already-awkward combat mechanics to make any moderately demanding sequence way more frustrating than it needs to be. The controls feel overloaded — buttons are mapped to too many actions, and some of the maneuvers (like sidling and leaning) are super awkward and unintuitive to pull off under duress. I largely enjoyed sneaking around and taking out guards on my terms, but any sequence in which I was forced to fight enemies in direct combat would inevitably devolve into a fumbling, frustrating clusterfuck. I’d be trying to maneuver the ponderous first-person camera toward enemies I had been looking directly at, holding down the shoot button while trying to get Snake pointed at enemies, accidentally entering crawl mode, and generally not having a whole lot of fun. The boss battles (particularly the Boss battle) are more ambitious than they were fun. The camouflage, food, and medicine mechanics are tedious distractions. I like to think that I’m pretty good at calibrating my expectations for older games, but in the case of Metal Gear Solid 3, I’m not convinced the mechanics were substantially more acceptable in 2004. This game is a contemporary of Resident Evil 4 and Gears of War — there’s no excuse for how lame the action sequences are. I didn’t hate playing Metal Gear Solid 3, but I certainly didn’t enjoy the gameplay in and of itself.

Gameplay complaints aside, I think Metal Gear Solid 3 has a lot going for it. The production values are superb, and assuming the HD remake didn’t fundamentally overhaul very much, it holds up remarkably well today. The art direction, and even the technical implementation, can more-or-less stand up to games released a decade later, and in a lot of ways still exceeds them. The smooth framerate, which as I understand it is a massive step up from the often-chuggy PS2 original, helps a lot in that respect. As with the previous games, the sound design is amazing — this series has some of the best noises in the game, and the mix comes together in a really cohesive way. The score is great and appropriately evocative of the setting, though in a more cinematic way that doesn’t hold up as much for independent listening. There’s some great adaptive sneaking music, which sort of comes across here but isn’t very well-represented in the official soundtrack. There’s also some memorable boss themes (The Fury, Volgin, Shagohod), and, of course, the Snake Eater theme, which is in varying forms used to great effect at several points in the game:

In general, I think Snake Eater has a certain artistic flair to it that was lacking in Sons of Liberty, and its (relative) grounding in geography and history makes it a lot more memorable.

I was trying to explain to someone why I enjoy the narrative so much, and I realized it’s hard to justify in words. The story is kind of a mess, and only really makes sense if you suspend all disbelief and just let it wash over you on its own terms. If you want Metal Gear Solid to be serious, logical, or even reasonably coherent, you’re going to be disappointed, because that’s not what it is (nor, speaking as someone who played the original Metal Gear Solid pretty recently, has it ever been). If you go in expecting it to be ridiculous, cheeky, self-referential, and utterly uninhibited, you’ll find one of the most downright fun video game stories out there.

Why is everything Ocelot does (and every gesture he makes) utterly baffling until the revelation that he was secretly triple-crossing everyone on behalf of the CIA? Metal Gear! Why is building a giant walking tank in 1964 the only way to get an ICBM from Russia to the United States? Metal Gear! Why does Eva leave her jumpsuit unzipped to her pelvis at all times? Metal Gear! Who the hell are the Cobras, why do they have supernatural powers, and why does nobody seem to acknowledge this? Metal Gear! Why is the entire final sequence predicated on the idea that the idea that Ocelot’s added weight is enough to prevent a ground effect vehicle from flying? Metal Gear!

I don’t mean any of this in a condescending or ironic “it’s so bad it’s good!” way. I was on board with every ridiculous action scene, every overwritten line, every obvious pop culture reference, every ogling camera angle, every melodramatic monologue, every “what the fuck?” moment, and every Hideo Kojima indulgence. There’s an earnestness to practically every aspect of the Metal Gear Solid games that I find uniquely endearing.

Despite all of my problems with Metal Gear Solid 3, I gladly blew through it over the course of a few days in a very uncharacteristic way, and can’t wait to dive into Metal Gear Solid 4.

#3 Edited by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

Really? I remember loving the stealth in the game. Yea, the action sequences are clunky, but I feel like that's kind of the point: that you're not supposed to fight your way through things. (Although perhaps nerfing a gameplay system to achieve that mindset isn't the most tactful strategy.)

If anything, my issues were more with the narrative than anything. Kojima's busy being Kojima, which I only sort of have a problem with, but then you have Ocelot. Eugh. I feel his presence alone noticeably degrades the female characters. (Not sexually; I'm just saying they're worse because he's there.)

You can read more of my opinion in my review of the game, because I am a dirty advertising whore.

Fuck Guile's Theme; Snake Eater goes with anything.

#4 Edited by GrantHeaslip (1573 posts) -

Really? I remember loving the stealth in the game. Yea, the action sequences are clunky, but I feel like that's kind of the point: that you're not supposed to fight your way through things. (Although perhaps nerfing a gameplay system to achieve that mindset isn't the most tactful strategy.)

If anything, my issues were more with the narrative than anything. Kojima's busy being Kojima, which I only sort of have a problem with, but then you have Ocelot. Eugh. I feel his presence alone noticeably degrades the female characters. (Not sexually; I'm just saying they're worse because he's there.)

You can read more of my opinion in my review of the game, because I am a dirty advertising whore.

Fuck Guile's Theme; Snake Eater goes with anything.

I see what you're getting at, though I also agree with you that there are better ways of making you feel weak than the controls being bad. That also assumes that it was intentional, which I have a hard time believing. I also enjoyed the stealth despite not being a stealth fan, but I think stealth games should continue to be enjoyable if you're spotted. In MGS 3, it basically just turns into a clusterfuck of stunlocks, control fumbling, and spraying and praying. At the very least, you no longer feel like the capable badass that you're supposed to be inhabiting.

The thing with the female characters -- and knowing this site, I might as well address this now -- is that despite the sometimes-leery treatment of them, they're the most badass and admirable characters in the game. The Boss is constantly kicking Snake's ass, was a secret astronaut, and turns out to have been carrying an unfathomable burden for the good of her country. Eva manipulates Snake throughout the game (in a way that, Kojima exaggeration aside, is sort of consistent with the spying of the day, sex included), cooly keeps up a pretty ridiculous triple con through the game, and can do motorcycle kung fu. If this game played everything completely straight and non-referential, some of the Eva stuff might have been a little suspect, but the whole game is so ridiculous, goofy, and clearly referencing Bond-esque movies that I don't think it would be fair to single out a particular element. Even the more serious aspects, like the allusions to rape (was that controversial at the time?), didn't really bug me in context. I tend to think the Kojima factor is a pretty integrated package -- I think it is what it is because of who Kojima is, for better and for worse. That's not a blank cheque, but I have yet to run into anything in the series that felt like it crossed a line to me. (None of this is really speaking to you so much as a hypothetical third party.)

Just saved your review -- I'll give it a read later on.

#5 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@grantheaslip:

I might be confusing this with the last two MGS games I played, but I remember my strategy always being buggering off to an obscure corner, quickly muttering "shitshitshitshitshitshit" along the way.

I don't disagree with anything you're saying about the characters; it's just that once Ocelot enters the picture, those statements become far less relevant. Eva.....OK, I don't have much for Eva (although copping a feel on her probably doesn't help), but The Boss just feels like she has to babysit Ocelot half the time. Not the best use for an otherwise great character.

And as long as I'm plugging things...

#6 Edited by GrantHeaslip (1573 posts) -

@video_game_king said:

@grantheaslip:

I might be confusing this with the last two MGS games I played, but I remember my strategy always being buggering off to an obscure corner, quickly muttering "shitshitshitshitshitshit" along the way.

I don't disagree with anything you're saying about the characters; it's just that once Ocelot enters the picture, those statements become far less relevant. Eva.....OK, I don't have much for Eva (although copping a feel on her probably doesn't help), but The Boss just feels like she has to babysit Ocelot half the time. Not the best use for an otherwise great character.

And as long as I'm plugging things...

I had a tendency to just go "fuck it, let's get this over with" and pull out a machine gun when I was spotted. Maybe that wasn't the best move, but the game does give you three machine guns, so I figure they at least had that approach in mind.

Ocelot was kind of insufferable at times, though the post-credits sequence (Ocelot calling the KGB, then hanging up and calling the CIA) does appear of justify some of it, especially the parts in which he seems to go out of his way not to kill you (which might be ridiculous, but at least ridiculous in a way that works within the story's internal logic). I haven't really sat down and pieced together the story yet, so I could be wrong about that.

If I'm thinking of the same sequence as you, I think Ocelot grabbing Eva was supposed to be unintentional (she tries to escape, he grabs her, then notices that she's a she). That's not necessarily believable in the context of the scene, but it seemed to be the intention, and serves a purpose for his gradual discovery that she's Tatyana. I think the weakest main character was Volgin, because he's so cartoonishly evil. I suppose he serves a purpose as a relative anchor for the rest of the story shenanigans to revolve around, but I didn't find him very compelling.

#7 Posted by wumbo3000 (960 posts) -

I played through the series for the first time last year with the HD Collection as well, and I've had almost the exact same experience as you. The controls are super awkward, the gameplay is clumsy, but Kojima's insanity and the fantastic story still made me love that series. It was easier to overlook the jankiness of the controls knowing these are old games. MGS 4 is a little better, but you can still tell it's dated. I mean, that game did come out nearly 6 years ago.

Ground Zeroes, despite its length, really makes me excited for Phantom Pain just because it actually feels good from a gameplay standpoint. The controls feel...modern?! Metal Gear?!

#8 Edited by CorruptedEvil (2716 posts) -

I started with this series back when the original version of MGS3 came out, which had the top down perspective from days gone by and even weirder controls, and I've been a fan of the series ever since.

I'm gonna defend Ocelot here, I love how he has an outer shell of cockiness and bravado but underneath that he is completely unexperienced, if skilled.

#9 Edited by Daneian (1228 posts) -

While i do think that Snake Eater's story is full of problems, its implicit narrative is quite striking. The idea that, through fighting the progression of Cobra members and defeating the battlefield emotions they symbolize, Snake is becoming a hardened warrior (only to be disillusioned by war itself). He goes from being a stealth agent that gets utterly destroyed by The Boss, to being able to use his talents and the skills developed through experience to finally defeat her on his own terms.

Ocelot, irritating as he is to actually observe, effectively carries the idea from Sons of Liberty that Raiden typified, using Naked Snake as an example of inspiration to grow.

That's really the depths of the series for me, how i realized that all those underlying concepts kept growing on top of each other- both individually and societally- to ultimately discuss the factors that shape a person and his or her values

#10 Edited by cloudnineboya (807 posts) -

Why is Robin disguised as that womans chest?

#11 Posted by Daneian (1228 posts) -

Why is Robin disguised as that womans chest?

My God, man. You have changed my life on this day.

#12 Posted by hollitz (1507 posts) -

It's the only MGS that I gave up on halfway through, finished a year or so later, and have never replayed.

I remember liking the story, but I just never felt like I could get a handle on the gameplay. Every attempt at stealth failed and I had all of these tools at my disposal but none of them seemed to work.

#13 Posted by ArbitraryWater (11642 posts) -

Even as someone who likes stealth games, I think Metal Gear has always been sort of clunky and bad and MGS3 is no different on that front. Yeah, it has some interesting ideas with the camouflage index and the survivalist stuff, but that just leads to a lot more pointless time spent in menus dressing your wounds or whatever. I think Snake Eater might have one of the more coherent stories for a Metal Gear game though, even if I still favor MGS2's brand of complete, subversive insanity.

#14 Edited by Fredchuckdave (5353 posts) -

MGS3 is a top 5 or 6 game all time; with both Volgin and the Boss being amongst the best villains to grace any game period. Comparing MGS3 to Gears of War is total insanity on basically every level imaginable; so there's that. Yeah RE4 is better for gameplay but RE4 is also a top 5 or 6 game all time; who cares?

But how does it taste?

#15 Edited by GrantHeaslip (1573 posts) -

MGS3 is a top 5 or 6 game all time; with both Volgin and the Boss being amongst the best villains to grace any game period. Comparing MGS3 to Gears of War is total insanity on basically every level imaginable; so there's that. Yeah RE4 is better for gameplay but RE4 is also a top 5 or 6 game all time; who cares?

But how does it taste?

I didn't mean to say that it should have played like those games or is even directly comparable to them -- just that those two games came out within a couple of years of MGS 3 and handled third-person shooting way better. I was basically just trying to say "yeah, it's an old game, but there are similarly-old games that aren't as clunky."

Even as someone who likes stealth games, I think Metal Gear has always been sort of clunky and bad and MGS3 is no different on that front. Yeah, it has some interesting ideas with the camouflage index and the survivalist stuff, but that just leads to a lot more pointless time spent in menus dressing your wounds or whatever. I think Snake Eater might have one of the more coherent stories for a Metal Gear game though, even if I still favor MGS2's brand of complete, subversive insanity.

Yeah, I felt like those complaints were well-trodden ground (I knew them going in, and knew very little else), but they really are big problems. The wound dressing is a huge bummer every time you're forced to do it. There's absolutely no strategy (not even resource management) involved in the camoflauge -- you just have to remember to go into a menu and choose the largest number whenever you enter a new area.

@hollitz said:

It's the only MGS that I gave up on halfway through, finished a year or so later, and have never replayed.

I remember liking the story, but I just never felt like I could get a handle on the gameplay. Every attempt at stealth failed and I had all of these tools at my disposal but none of them seemed to work.

I've felt the same way about the number of tools from the beginning, though they're optional enough that I was pretty comfortable with sticking with what I knew.

@daneian said:

While i do think that Snake Eater's story is full of problems, its implicit narrative is quite striking. The idea that, through fighting the progression of Cobra members and defeating the battlefield emotions they symbolize, Snake is becoming a hardened warrior (only to be disillusioned by war itself). He goes from being a stealth agent that gets utterly destroyed by The Boss, to being able to use his talents and the skills developed through experience to finally defeat her on his own terms.

Ocelot, irritating as he is to actually observe, effectively carries the idea from Sons of Liberty that Raiden typified, using Naked Snake as an example of inspiration to grow.

That's really the depths of the series for me, how i realized that all those underlying concepts kept growing on top of each other- both individually and societally- to ultimately discuss the factors that shape a person and his or her values

I don't know if I'm entirely on board with this, but it's an interesting way of looking at it. 3 leaves a lot of Snake's thoughts and development up to interpretation -- he's a lot more reserved than Solid Snake. Solid Snake's character development was a lot more spelled out in the first game, while I feel like a lot of it's left up in the air in 3, especially at the end. To be fair, I haven't played anything beyond 3, and I figure this stuff is probably addressed in Peace Walker.

#16 Posted by Slag (4269 posts) -

I need to go back and finish this one. Fwiw I played it near release and found the controls to be clunky too. I just could never get into this one, it's one I wish I had more patience for because I think if I stick it out I'd like it a lot better than Sons of Liberty.

I just liked the more top down camera angles from the old games.

#17 Posted by CorruptedEvil (2716 posts) -

@slag: There's a version of the game with the old top down camera which is just MGS3: Snake Eater.

#18 Posted by Slag (4269 posts) -

@corruptedevil: I probably bought the wrong one then. It's probably been nearly a decade since I played it, I'll have to dig the old copy and my PS2 out to check.

#19 Posted by GrantHeaslip (1573 posts) -

@slag said:

@corruptedevil: I probably bought the wrong one then. It's probably been nearly a decade since I played it, I'll have to dig the old copy and my PS2 out to check.

Top-down is the only option in Snake Eater, and you can toggle the camera mode in Subsistence (which was an updated version released a year later, just like MGS 2: Substance). I can't speak to how the top-down camera compares to previous games since I played 95% of the game with camera control enabled.

#20 Edited by NTM (7344 posts) -

I love all MGS games about equally, the main ones anyways. Two is one that, at least from a story perspective, you really have to pay attention to. You could believe you're paying attention to it, but the next time around, or even the next two playthroughs, you'll learn something significant that'll just blow your mind because you can't believe you didn't catch it before. Well, that happened for me anyways.

I've beaten all of them three plus times (aside from Peace Walker, and, if you consider it, Portable Ops), and for two, the last time I played it, which was a month before five came out, I was astonished at some of the stuff I didn't even get the first time, when I had beaten it about five times. As for gameplay, I feel like mechanically they all change in big and small ways, some things they take out that you preferred from previous games, but also wish the older games of which is in the new, but something they always do is give you just enough to get the job done efficiently enough.

When I was talking about playing through the games again, I also had the same revelations of being surprised after going through the original and three again, and like two, though there was only one factor that I didn't know of, it was a huge aspect, in which I was surprised I had either forgotten, or didn't know of in the first place. It's crazy how when you play one MGS, and then go into another, while they look the same, they don't play the same, so you have to relearn it again. For instance, playing two and three, relying on the radar, but in three, it doesn't have one nearly as good.

My least favorite thing about MGS, is that, and it's most apparent when you play through them back to back, is that they all have a very similar sounding tone and message; the feeling of "yeah, we get it" comes in, and it makes one also question the characters. I mean, I love Snake, but he's constantly surprised about nuclear attacks and Metal Gears like it's something new. There's also the dialogue that can get repetitive throughout the series.

#21 Posted by NTM (7344 posts) -

@fredchuckdave: I could compare both MGS and Gears of War to Resident Evil 4, but I can't compare Gears of War to MGS, or, I can, I just mean they don't have much in common other than main protagonists that shoot guns and have gruff voices. That being said, those are all some of my favorite games.

#22 Edited by Daneian (1228 posts) -

@grantheaslip said:

@daneian said:

While i do think that Snake Eater's story is full of problems, its implicit narrative is quite striking. The idea that, through fighting the progression of Cobra members and defeating the battlefield emotions they symbolize, Snake is becoming a hardened warrior (only to be disillusioned by war itself). He goes from being a stealth agent that gets utterly destroyed by The Boss, to being able to use his talents and the skills developed through experience to finally defeat her on his own terms.

Ocelot, irritating as he is to actually observe, effectively carries the idea from Sons of Liberty that Raiden typified, using Naked Snake as an example of inspiration to grow.

That's really the depths of the series for me, how i realized that all those underlying concepts kept growing on top of each other- both individually and societally- to ultimately discuss the factors that shape a person and his or her values

I don't know if I'm entirely on board with this, but it's an interesting way of looking at it. 3 leaves a lot of Snake's thoughts and development up to interpretation -- he's a lot more reserved than Solid Snake. Solid Snake's character development was a lot more spelled out in the first game, while I feel like a lot of it's left up in the air in 3, especially at the end. To be fair, I haven't played anything beyond 3, and I figure this stuff is probably addressed in Peace Walker.

To be fair, these concepts are introduced in the main narrative and concealed within the gameplay. In theory, the reason he's called 'Naked' Snake is because he's presented as a sort of blank slate on which his experiences are inscribed- explaining why he's more reserved than Solid and seems subservient in contrast to the much more assertive Boss. By fighting the Cobra Unit, he's in effect running through the progression of emotions that soldiers experience because of war: The Pain of bullets, The Fear of that pain, The End of life (and perhaps innocence), The Sorrow for the lost and The Fury of the helplessness to undo it. By 'defeating' these emotions, Naked Snake is able to prove himself and grow as a soldier and inherit the title of Big Boss. (and thus i remember that i drank the MGS Kool-Aid for far too long.)

Of course, those ideas are surrounded by a Russian triple agent gunslinger that meows for backup, an engineer designing a walking tank with a fly pair of shoes, a wheelchair-bound man in a coma with a pet parrot, a disfigured man that shoots bees, a psychotic cosmonaut, a billionaire general in an electric suit that says native american rain chants and... actually, i need to stop there for my own sanity.

#23 Edited by Ezekiel (415 posts) -

@grantheaslip said:

@slag said:

@corruptedevil: I probably bought the wrong one then. It's probably been nearly a decade since I played it, I'll have to dig the old copy and my PS2 out to check.

Top-down is the only option in Snake Eater, and you can toggle the camera mode in Subsistence (which was an updated version released a year later, just like MGS 2: Substance). I can't speak to how the top-down camera compares to previous games since I played 95% of the game with camera control enabled.

You missed out. Some of the fixed camera shots are rather well done and certain areas look better from afar. It's convenient if you know where to use it. The areas were designed for a fixed camera. It should have been the default in Subsistence/HD Edition. To get the most of the game, one should switch frequently.

#24 Edited by crithon (3138 posts) -

Yikes going into MGS4..... oh man this is gonna be painful.

MGS3 on the release of 2004 was an odd one, actually to be honest I knew very few who beat it. 2004 was an amazing year for games, and MGS3 sold well even beside Half Life 2 and Halo 2 but MGS3 felt like a massive text book when you wanted a simple summer block buster. Like the virtuous mission could last at least 3 hours mostly with the cinematic going on too long. Personally upon playing it took me maybe 3 weeks to beat it. Like it wasn't frustrating, but instead it took me a while to relearn everything I had come to expect how I was playing. Like I would just want to play the game as SUPER SPY, and restart when I was spotted when I crawled out of a corner the wrong way from an enemy who apparently had binoculars across the map at night. And then came a moment of just discovery, like sneaking up on a guard, interrogating them and then discovering a radio call to turn off alert phase or calling down an air strike. It was just discovering little things that never made the game dull, feeling super clever beating the end a different way then someone else. It's the same vibe I get from Dark Soul.

I do play the game regularly, and the only thing I cannot do is hit every single kerotan. Especially the ones during shaghod chase sequence. By the way, the biggest change in the HD edition was the removal of the Nightmare minigame. That's on both PS2 original release and Subsistance.

It's said it was never suppose to be in the game, and was removed on HD and 3DS release of the game. Rumor has it that Konami owns the rights to it or something and they can't reuse it there any more. Which is very odd. The title was called "Guy Savage," and it always makes me wonder what would have happened if Kojipro did make Rising.

But yeah.... mgs4.... sigh, I feel sorry dude.

#25 Posted by SteamRickroller (310 posts) -

EUROPEAN EXTREME DIFFICULTY.

KONAMI PLZ.