You Need To Play Metal Gear Solid 3 Again
In a time when "cinematic" games are all the rage, there's no better game to return to than Hideo Kojima's magnum opus, Metal Gear Solid 3. From its opening cutscene, it is abundantly clear that you're playing something rather special, something that is so intrinsically embroiled within the language of cinema.
From an unabashedly Bond theme to title cards for the actors, it's certainly high time to revisit this gaming classic. Metal Gear Solid 3 is a sequel, a prequel, the third game, the fifth game, and stars Snake, but maybe not the Snake that you're quite familiar with.
It is not a particularly confusing game - at least by Metal Gear standards - but it is perhaps the best place to start if you're new to the franchise.
Snake Eater is chronologically the first game in the Metal Gear series, taking place in the Soviet Union in 1964 - where patriotism, defection, and espionage worryingly merge together. You play as Big Boss (otherwise known as Naked Snake), and it is your mission to investigate the crisis surrounding the defection of your former mentor (The Boss) to the Soviet Union.
Doing so leads you on a journey through the jungle and up the river, encountering a whole manner of intriguing characters along the way. And speaking of intriguing characters, Metal Gear Solid 3 is filled to the brim with an eccentricity and camp-ness that you rarely see in games. Revolver Ocelot is a particular favourite of mine, spending over half of his rather lengthy screen time either continuously spinning his dualies or taunting Snake in progressively homoerotic ways.
Snake himself is also - as always - rather hilarious, with his constantly inquisitive manner leading to some genuinely funny moments within the chaos. Simple jokes - like Snake confusing a comment about legs with shoes - help maintain a wonderful balance between campy fun, and more serious story beats.
The overall narrative is just excellent too, serving as a faithful riff on melodramatic spy films, with twists and turns around every corner, and a little bit of the supernatural too. While some of the information can sometimes get a bit heavy-handed - thanks to constant reference to obscure events, technologies, and people - I wouldn't have it any other way.
On the flip side, the cutscene direction does an outstanding job of making things seem so simple. It is easy to brand any cutscene-driven game released now under the banner of "cinematic," but very few directors have achieved the merge between games and cinema better than Kojima.
Snake Eater's critical moments work so well almost exclusively because of the precise shot selection and editing employed. Showdowns feel frenetic and tense, and each major character has weight and feels larger than life purely because the screen treats them so.
There are not only so many images that have stayed within my mind post-completion but so many sequences too, where the editing did far more talking than any script ever could. Additionally, there are wonderful little Easter eggs like the save option within the codec - where Para-Medic treats you to lectures on various films before you can preserve your progress.
This functions as little more than a preemptive version of Hideo Kojima's personal Twitter page, but it is still such a lovely aside from someone who genuinely loves cinema. In the words of Para-Medic herself: "When the going gets tough, movies can save your life."
Perhaps the one thing that could prevent you from wanting to play Metal Gear Solid 3 again or for the first time is the controls. Being a third-person game with first-person elements in 2004, it is safe to say that the controls aren't exactly the most intuitive. To simply shoot your gun, you will need to go into fps mode, hold a button to bring the weapon up, aim with the left stick while holding both buttons, and then release to fire.
As you can imagine, this is not the best feeling mechanic in the world, but you do get used to it over time. When push comes to shove though, there's nothing wrong with throwing your body into your opponent. Whatever gets the job done!
Outside of these finicky frustrations, Snake Eater is filled to the brim with magnificent set pieces that are still as groundbreaking today as they were 18 years ago. The End - a boss fight that you can complete both earlier in the story, and by simply changing your console clock - is as innovative as ever. The Sorrow is still one of the most memorable displays of guilt I've witnessed in a game.
The perfect reason to jump back into Metal Gear Solid 3 if you've already played it is the sheer amount of hidden features and mechanics in the game. From a purely gameplay perspective, you can do so many things that you wouldn't have even considered on a first playthrough, like the aforementioned early dispatching of The End and the unveiling of various hidden first-person moments.
There's a hidden hack and slash mini-game, secret radio frequencies you can use to aid you in a tricky situation, clever uses of camouflage to evade your enemies, and even the ability to make Snake or Eva throw up if you feel like it. There exists so much beyond the surface that can fill even the most dedicated players with intrigue.
A Question Of Access
Of course, the elephant in the room is the rumoured impending remake that would bring Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid 3 to new-gen consoles. This would, in theory, update the graphics and perhaps make the controls a bit more "usable" for new players. However, with this rumour rapidly approaching Bloodborne for PC territory, it is probably best to jump the gun and play it now.
Much like Konami's other high-profile series Silent Hill though, Metal Gear Solid 3 is unfortunately quite difficult to play for the average gamer. Unless you have an old PS2, PS3, or Xbox 360 still lying around, you will largely be out of luck- unless you resort to more nefarious means.
If you can get your hands on it, the remaster is fantastic, bringing 60FPS to the game and implementing new HD textures, but the original PS2 version is still obviously fantastic if that is your only option.
I'm not exactly breaking new ground here when I suggest that you give one of the most critically well-received games ever another go. but considering the rather difficult means of accessing it, I feel it necessary to encourage those who might have otherwise been turned off. Who knows, you might even be in line for some extra brownie points by saying you've played it before the remake.