In North America anyway. Doesn't look like stores have been stocking it well though. I grabbed the last copy a couple hours after the store opened on tuesday.
It seems like all the sites that tend to review portable games are in Europe and the game isn't out there yet, so there's barely any reviews to read about it. Seems like Konami is quietly letting this game get released, which is strange because they typically have a lot of fan-fare over any Metal Gear release. So I offer my initial impressions of the game:
After finishing the Virtuous Mission, my thoughts are generally positive. The 3D is on par with Super Mario 3D Land, that is to say really, really good. No ghosting or other after-images, and the sense of depth is really well realized. For fans of the game with a 3DS, it's almost worth it to just see how all the cutscenes look in 3D. It plays well too, the 3D is really quite immersive when you're sneaking through the jungle or crawling through a rotten log. You get a good idea of where enemy guards are relative to your position, so making sneaky approaches is a bit easier.
You're going to need that advantage though because the controls are a little bit of a struggle. They did the best they could, and honestly they did a good job getting it to work well without the circle pad pro, but it is clumsy. If you've played Peace Walker on the PSP, you'll be instantly familiar with the controls. It seems weird and unintuitive to have all the action buttons on the d-pad and aiming with the face buttons, but when you get used to it, it's fine. If anything, it forces you to play a bit slower.
Honestly, I think the weirdest thing about the game is the additions from Peace Walker. You can crouch-walk like in PW, but they kept the belly crawling from MGS3. Same with the over-the-shoulder aiming from Peace Walker. You can choose to just have it aim in first-person mode like in MGS3. So it seems like they give you some nice options to work with no matter what background you have with the series. Crouch walking isn't quite as useful as it may seem though. You still have pretty high visibility, so enemies will be spotting you from afar, unlike Peace Walker. I just stick to crawling. Though crouching does give you a nice new way to approach dudes for CQC.
Visually this game looks pretty great! I was comparing it shot-by-shot with the recent HD collection release and it holds up. The textures aren't as detailed as the HD version, but lighting has been vastly improved, and I think the models have a higher level of detail. Either way, the visuals are really impressive, this gives me a lot of hope for the 3DS.
But yeah, overall I find the game as enjoyable as ever, and even if I literally just beat Snake Eater two weeks ago, I still feel like jumping right back in with this version. My only real concern is that a game with lengthy cutscenes and extended sneaking missions aren't exactly suited for portability. You can always close the screen I guess, but you can easily get caught with like a 30 minute cutscene when the battery is flashing low and you're far away from a charger. That would suck.
Anyway, has anyone else been playing? What are your thoughts? Any questions for those on the fence? This ended up being WAAAY longer than I thought. Maybe I should properly review the game after all.