Why! Why must the times be so cruel! And I'm not referring to the stupid silly delay the MGS HD collection underwent (which was still silly stupid), but for how my own tolerance for video games must move forward so fast. To put it bluntly, I don't think MGS3 has aged well at all. And it's killing me inside with a serrated blade... dipped in poison, while on fire, and I'm being force-fed laxatives giving me violent diarrhoea in the process.
MGS3 was one of my favourite games on the ps2; hell, it may well be one of my favourite games of all time. But after playing through it very recently, it comes across as unapologetically clunky and cumbersome. The shooting controls are hard to adapt to after so many improvements made across the years, not being able to move while crouching is pure insanity, and the camo and how it'll quickly dart down to 30% just as your elbow touches a speck of a different texture causing you to be spotted from a guy 50 miles away is ever so frustrating. To be fair, I remember that it all gets much easier to bear once I unlocked the ''Snake'' camo for beating down The Boss' stamina gauge, but I'm still going to have to complete the game to get to that point.
What also strikes me as dated, even by the game's original release standards, was how you couldn't just drop grenades when you're trying to escape from American accented Russians. So you're spotted right, and you'd imagine you could just drop a stun grenade on your current position and POOF like Batman or some shit. But instead, Snake has to pause on the spot and then do a small underarm throw; even when you're in the midst of running away, he'll stop on the fucking spot just to then girly-throw a grenade--seriously, Snake has a really poor throwing arm even when you hold the button in! What's crazy is that you could totally utilise such a tactic in the very first MGS! I can distinctly remember doing as such when I'm running up/down the towers before the Hind-D boss battle, with all of the gun-cameras scattered about.
The way the controls reverse or go completely sideways when you're up against a wall and attempt to move the camera around, forcing you to either accidentally get off the wall, or begin to shimmy, or even fall off if you're shimmying against a cliff-side or something is another bullet-point to add to my ever increasing rage! The way you're not able to maybe look down off the edge of a small hilltop or hill that you're crawling across, or drop a grenade on the guy who may be right below you is an another example.
And it's not like the game is too difficult or anything; it's just that we all want to play stealth games right. We don't want to get spotted and then be forced into some clunky shooting scenarios, especially since when you're in alert status, your camo stands for shit all. I mean even if you're out of sight but the alert phase is going, they will still know exactly where you are regardless of whether your camo index hits -9000% or 95%.
Make no mistake, this has nothing to do with me being impatient or lacking the focus to meticulously crawl everywhere. But there's a lot of overt clunkiness across every facet of the stealth gameplay that it often comes down to you being spotted because of the game's own clumsy mechanics. It's commendable that the game has such complex potential within, and MGS3 definitely made a heap of impressive improvements to its own formula, but the gameplay elements aren't able to match the complexity and give you the right amount of efficiency to tackle the stealth scenarios. There are far too many barriers created through the screwy gameplay that are then placed over the barriers implemented through MGS3's own design choices - it all starts to feel almost overwhelming.
Back when I first played it, I'm sure I went through some similar frustrations, but washed 'em off for the sake of everything else. The hunting mechanic is still really well done and unique, listening to 40 minute codec calls are still almost therapeutic, the writing is solid, the voice-acting is still a good blend of self-seriousness and goofiness, the cutscenes are still grand to watch (though the lip syncing is really poor), the boss battles are still inventive and fun, the soundtrack is still the goddamn MGS3 soundtrack, the ingenuity like the Sorrow & End (among many other things) boss battles are still ingenious (or I'd like to think... haven't actually gotten that far yet), and the story is easily my favourite of the lot. A lot of those specific aspects fortunately still manage to impress.
However, even if the increased dependence on age-old gadgets that have limited battery power, silencers that deteriorate, and your radar being replaced with your own cunning and self-awareness was a massive leap over MGS2's comparatively simple mechanics, those simple mechanics still make for a more satisfying stealth game because I felt like I was on even ground; I didn't often have to fight against a myriad of gameplay goofs alongside the overall increased complexity and resulting difficulty. For MGS3 I feel like I spend half of my playtime downing fake-death pills so I can just restart the whole area - all because of one small mistake leading into complete and utter chaos
Of course this sort of reaction is nothing new; nostalgia is both a loving and deceptive mistress, who likes to keep your memories warm and fuzzy, long hidden from reality. The same reality you are also ill-prepared to face. But.... it's Metal Gear Solid 3! How can this happen to me!? Why must this happen to me?! Is it because I touch myself at night?!?
Honestly, I think MGS3 was ahead of its time. It had the innovation, it had the ideas, it executed on some of those ideas, but didn't have the current tech nor the current mindset that would have really helped it flourish. MGS4 made innumerable incremental improvements, but it still can't top MGS3 as a whole for me for many, many reasons that I can't entirely be bothered getting into. But if MGS3 was to be re-released with MGS4's controls and added improvements, then it could very well match the memories I used to have of MGS3 prior to this horrifying realisation.
It's basically just like The Boss herself said and how everything is dictated by the times. /pseudo-intellectualism
Will I ever even return to MGS3 again? I'm at least still banking on the idea that once I get the 'Snake' camo, everything's going to be
alright better, since it consistently stays within around 80% regardless of the terrain. But even still, I'm currently just not having a lot of fun. And again, it's an awful lot of me taking my sweet time tranquillising everyone, only to then have my master plan foiled because peeking your camouflaged head from behind a piece of cover will apparently always destroy any and all attempts to blend in - full stop. I mean seriously, no exceptions? It has to always drain down to a staggering 0%?
PS: The original Devil May Cry sucks to play now, too. But DMC3 is still as fun and addictive as ever, so it's all good in that department.