The Best in the Series
Metal Gear Solid 3 tells the story of the legendary Big Boss, who was sent on a solo mission to save the world from nuclear war. If you're unfamiliar with the story, you might think this Big Boss looks a lot like Solid Snake. Well, that's because it is Snake, though this is the original Snake from whom Solid Snake was cloned. This time the story is set in 1964, in a russian jungle. That's right, Snake is finally back in his own element where snakes belong. Kojima seems to have finally found a good balance in the story telling, reducing the excessive philosophical preaches to a bearable amount and creating his most interesting characters, making Snake Eater his most successful and celebrated effort thus far. Surely some might still make the argument that the story is just as convoluted as ever, this is true to some extent. But the fans of the series have become to expect this unique experience from Kojima. If you happened to like the story in the previous games, you'll love it in this one. However, if you are disgusted by Bond movies, you might be turned off by the 60's Bond theme that has been implemented to the game. Personally I'm not a Bond fan, but I didn't mind this direction. One might also pick up similarities to other movies, like the Indiana Jones franchise, especially in it's epic chases around the final hours of the game.
While Big Boss seems like the most badass hero a game could have, there's no doubt that his mentor, The Boss, is at least or even more badass as her disciple. The Boss happens to be one of my favorite characters of all time. In every scene she appears, she's always the boss. The Boss is the only character in the history of MGS who can totally humiliate Snake, thanks to her superior CQC skills. Even Volgin -- who's the insane leader of their terrorist group and main villain of the game -- wouldn't want to argue with The Boss.
What worked before, hasn't been changed much but simply expanded on to near perfection, though it still suffers from some camera problems. The well executed gameplay mechanics of MGS2 have remained pretty much intact, but there are some subtle improvements and even decrements. For example, your trusty radar from the previous games is now gone, making it even more challenging to sneak around undetected. This time you have various cadgets to keep track of enemy movement. The most useful being the motion detecting radar, unfortunately for Snake, it also detects every movement of every single animal in his surroundings, so it may not be suitable for every situation. Taking out enemies has been improved as well, because you get to pull off sneaky CQC moves to knock out unsuspecting enemies. Of course you have a nice arsenal of weaponry and you can still finish the game without killing a single enemy.
For variety's sake, the entire game doesn't revolve around a jungle enivironment, but you also get to sneak your way through swamps, mountains, caves, woods and even an army base. The extremely detailed environments are another thing to experience. A jungle has never been this alive in a videogame before. Every petal of tall grass is mapped seperately, and are given a very dynamic physics-based animation. Whether there's a snake crawling in the bushes or Snake sneaking upon a clueless enemy or maybe an enemy spraying bullets through the grass, it really acts and sounds natural. What really adds to these environments is the vast collection of different animals wandering around in the wilderness. Of course you can hunt for these creatures and eat them, if not for stamina recovery, then maybe just to hear Snake's reaction after consuming the animals you'd least likely consider for dinner.
Much like in the previous installment of the series, the codec conversations are where most of the game's humour can be found. Although a great deal of the dialogue is tutorial for the game, frequent calls to these team members of yours can trigger some hilarious moments, especially about Snake's unhealthy appetite for anything that tastes good, like snakes -- *cough*, cannibal, *cough*.
What to do after finishing the game? Well, for me the thing that instantly came to mind, was finishing it again, and again, and again. But let's say you've played through enough times already and you're asking "what's next?", well, you can start collecting hidden frogs from each area of the game. If you're not the collecting type, you can play a minigame included in the game, which is inspired by the PS1 classic, Ape Escape. Basically, in Snake vs. Monkey, you go around chasing monkeys in a set of familiar locations from the game. If you're into speed running or just have a knack for improving your high scores, you can hone your skills against the many bosses of the game in Duel Mode. Or rewatch cutscenes, choosing the characters/costumes yourself in the Demo Theater. Although Duel Mode and Demo Theater were only included in the European version of the original game, these two game modes were included in Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence. Even though the game is relatively short in terms of actual gameplay, it's still longer than previous games in the series. Besides, it isn't necessarily the gameplay that will keep you coming back to this game, but the brilliant story and intriguing characters.
Would I recommend this game? Absolutely. The story is excellent and full of surprises with amazing characters and top notch voice acting. If you're into the stealth action genre, then this is what you want to play. The environments have been made with incredible detail making MGS3 better looking than MGS2 and arguably one of the best looking games on the system. The Bond themed action may not be very suitable for a MGS fans, but they certainly pulled off what they were going for really well, and it's certainly a breath of fresh air for the series.