What would you call non-nostalgic nostalgia?
I'm having difficulty summing up the main theme present within myself as I play Metal Gear Solid 3. With MGS, I'd call it an experience of pure stealth action. MGS2 reflects itself as an awakening of unrealistic reality. And although a big part of me wants to call Snake Eater an event of ultimate modern day nostalgia, somehow, that doesn't sit well with me. At first I assumed it was due to the contradiction of such a phrase that included 'modern day nostalgia' but then how is that any different from 'stealth action' or 'unrealistic reality'. It seems that Metal Gear Solid has always been a series that relied somewhat on it's own hypocrisy. It's sort of the appeal.
One quick visit to dictionary.com (seriously, everyone should have this site bookmarked) and I start to realise what the problem is. Apparently nostalgia is a wistful longing to be present at a former time one has experienced. A few problems there; I don't want to go back to the 60's as the Cold War started out, and I wasn't even in existence when it happened. Come to think of it, people who clearly remember that time aren't exactly the niché audience of MGS3.
The reason nostalgia comes to mind is that, although at first I appeared to have misunderstood the definition of the word, Metal Gear Solid 3 is incredibly well realised. From it's barest bones to it's fullest strength, the game reeks of sheer passion and honesty. The world you traverse throughout the game feels so real, even at it's most absurd thanks to very intense and logical scenery and truly deep characters. The music throughout feels big and bombastic, almost corny thanks to the unavoidable comparisons that are to be drawn to the music of old Bond films (the eponymous song, Snake Eater particularly draws stark similarities). This isn't solely a visceral or audible experience of quality either. The gameplay itself retains Metal Gear Solid's tradition of increasing in downright playability with each game. The new camoflague technique really adds a new perspective to the stealth element of the game which really feels comfortable within the jungle setting. Although it can on occasion be a pain to scroll through the menu's to find your proper outfit, the feature adds a sense of freedom by allowing you to take more control of whether or not you're captured outside of the old method of avoiding the cones on the radar. Of course, what with this being the 60's radar isn't an option and you're stuck with a sonar that can run out of power which brings me swiftly onto my next point.
Like I said, the game is very well realised and it's these little features that really make it so. It would have been all too easy for Kojima productions to literally transplant MGS or MGS2 to a jungle and leave it at that but they seem to have gone all out. From the clothes, to the random trivia, to the weapons and gadgets, everything fits. There's even one cinematic where there is some light blues playing on the radio, something that would feel completely normal back then. Kojima and his crew took a risk, and suffice to say, they came out trumps. And let's not demean that, they did take a real risk. Up until Snake Eater, the entire franchise has been set about a decade or so in the future, so to jump from that comfort zone to approximately 40 years in the past takes a great deal of courage to attempt and skill to pull off and without meaning to sound repetitive, they managed.
I'm not going to mention too much of the plot. Unless you are missing a whole lot of brain cells (or are far too much of a conspiracy theorist) this game is a prequel to the rest of the franchise and follows Naked Snake as he attempts to stop the launch of a mobile tank armed with nuclear warheads. Trust me when I say, anymore would just spoil things. I'm not going to mention any characters either for the same reason, although it is completely safe to say that the inevitable boss battles are both varied and intense, not disapointing the fans of the franchise, and hopefully managing to entice some of the newcomers.
Naturally, most of this has been in comment to the game as a game which doesn't help me in terms of coming up with a theme. The best I've come up with so far is that MGS3 is an ultimately retroactive encounter.
But if that's too over the top for you, I could sum it up for you by simply saying a really great game that deserves your attention.