Thursday, June 26, 2008

Afterthoughts: Metal Gear Solid 3

I was skimming through an old personal gaming blog I used to run over on 1up, and this post in particular seemed worthy of reposting. I think my statements at the time still hold up today. Here are the highlights of my review:
25 hours, 5 minutes, and 23 seconds.

That's what Metal Gear Solid 3 took out of my life (and then some, since I restarted parts a few times) and what it will probably take several times over in the coming months and years. There are games that I can play through and revisit on a rainy day (or so I tell myself), and then there are games that demand to be played again and again. Final Fantasy X, Zelda Ocarina of Time, Metroid Fusion, Tales of Symphonia; where MGS Twin Snakes once stood among these games, now Snake Eater stands proud. It shines as an example of perfect packaging (particularly with Subsistence) of gameplay, graphics, sound, ambiance, and storyline. This is what videogames are all about.

The storyline, while maybe not thematically as great as the original MGS, still draws me in like few others have. I'm not afraid to admit that the final cutscenes, in which you learn the truth about your mission, drove me to tears. Call me a sissy if you want (my girlfriend certainly had no problem), but it truly is a tragic tale. The characters were definitely a highlight of the whole experience. Between the bonding of Snake and Sigint; Para-Medic's constant movie talk (which actually made me want to watch some of the movies mentioned); The Boss's devotion both to her mission, Country, and Snake; and Ocelot's foibles: there was never a dull moment. In fact, I'd have to say that Snake Eater is one of the funniest and heart-wrenching tales ever told on a videogame.

While Metal Gear Solid had some outstanding gameplay (more so with the Gamecube remake), Snake Eater ups the ante considerably. The game doesn't make getting through the mission simple, which is something I really appreciated. Very infrequently would it directly give you a needed item (like the Scientist uniform), so exploration was a necessity in a title that, on the surface, discourages such behavior. However, it's the non-linearity of the gameplay that's really appealing. Choices concerning how to tackle a given situation is left up to the player entirely. Kill every guard you come across if you want, tranquilize them to make speaking by simpler, be completely stealthy without the use of guns, or tranquilize guards and then knife them to death. These are but a few options given to the player, and we haven't even touched upon the new additions to MGS3.

I'd also like to add that because of the ambiance of Snake Eater, I may never again look at birds, snakes, rabbits, and the great outdoors again the same way. Just today, I was outside and saw a bird in a tree. I'm not joking that I thought about how it would taste if I shot it (and I don't even have a gun). Thanks a bunch Kojima.

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