Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid franchise has seen more than its fair share of remakes and remasters. Just last year, three of the games were bundled together and received high-definition upgrades. Like the original versions of the games, the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection was restricted to consoles. Fortunately for the owners of the Nintendo 3DS, Konami and Kojima had plans to bring one of the series’ most beloved titles to the handheld. After eight years, a Nintendo device finally had another Metal Gear game in Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3DS. While this latest port of the classic stealth-action game is certainly a worthy one, it’s unfortunately not the best one.
For the uninitiated, Snake Eater is the prequel to all other Metal Gear games. Here you play as the very first man to be codenamed Snake. Though he would later grow to become Big Boss, the father of Solid Snake, in Snake Eater you play as a younger version of the character during the late 60s. Snake Eater’s story is one of political intrigue, and the Cold War provides a wonderful backdrop to the complex and intricate personal plots Hideo Kojima is weaving. At its most simplistic, Snake Eater is about a soldier tasked with stopping some rogue Russian soldiers from stealing a powerful nuclear missile delivery device. Experiencing the depth of the narrative is one of the key reasons to play a Metal Gear Solid title. Since this title is a port of the original game, you’ll find nothing different in the way the story is told, but that’s not a bad thing. If this is your first time, or your fiftieth, playing through the game to unravel the various betrayals, subplots, and backstories is just as enjoyable on the 3DS as it was on the PS2.
"If you’ve never had the chance to play a Metal Gear game before, this is a great first entry into the series."
The same can be said for the way Metal Gear Solid plays on the 3DS… for the most part. Snake Eater is compatible with the Circle Pad, and since the original game was designed to work with two analog sticks, that’s really the best way to play. However, without the Circle Pad, Snake Eater’s controls suffer a bit, particularly when you’re in a firefight. Ostensibly, you could go through large portions of the game without being seen. In fact, that’s kind of the object of the game. No matter if you decide to play the game guns blazing or as stealthily as possible, there are sequences in the game that require you to shoot your way out. Boss fights in particular are tricky when using the A, X, B, and Y buttons to work the camera. You can switch in and out of first-person shooting with a click of the touchscreen, which helps, but the button-controlled camera isn’t smooth in the least.
The 3DS does get a few new additions to the control scheme. The first, and most helpful, is the ability to walk while crouching. Even the HD Collection didn’t have that mechanic added in, and it makes Snake Eater that much easier to play. Previously, you either had to stand up completely or crawl around on your stomach to move. Crouch-walking gives you the ability to stay slightly hidden, while also letting you progress through an area a bit quicker. Additionally, CQC gets a bit of an upgrade. Anytime you sneak up on an enemy soldier, you can grab them from behind. Prompts will show up on screen with different options you can take. Interrogation will have the soldier spill his guts with gameplay tips, stun will have you knock the soldier out, and the death option is pretty self-explanatory. While these options were also available in the original games, there weren’t any on-screen prompts to remind you how to get the results you wanted.
The touchscreen inventory management provides a much clearer idea of where items are for newcomers. Even longtime veterans will appreciate the ease and functionality of the way camouflage, food, weapons, and items are organized. Players might also get a kick out of creating their own camo for use in the game, though it does potentially take away from the necessity of the portions of the game where you have to search for better camouflage. Oddly enough, there are also some new gyroscopic features added. Now when Snake is moving across narrow ledges or paths, players will have to balance their 3DS to keep him from falling off. It’s rather pointless, and adds absolutely nothing to the game.
Easily the most impressive feature of this remake is the use of 3D. Strangely enough, the graphics themselves are a little more muddled than the recent HD versions, and end up looking only slightly more impressive than the original release. That said, the use of 3D is quite good, particularly when in first-person viewing mode. Technically, you could play through the entire game in first-person, but you’d get tired of having your hand hold in the left trigger for the duration of the game. Even when not in first-person though, Snake Eater’s 3D adds some really nice depth to the environments, and gives the cinematics a bit of weight. It’s never a matter of having things pop out at you, but creating a sense of the space these characters inhabit. It’s not quite as impressive as Ocarina of Time’s 3D, but Snake Eater definitely makes better use of the technology than many other 3DS titles.
All in all, Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D is a good game. If you’ve never had the chance to play a Metal Gear game before, this is a great first entry into the series. Sadly, the die-hard fans of the series will likely get the least out of the game. With the recent MGS HD Collection providing a better-looking and more robust package, there’s little reason to pick up yet another version of the exact same game. If anything, Snake Eater 3D shows just how well Kojima’s franchise holds up after it was originally released. Though the 3DS version of Snake Eater is still a really good game, there just isn’t enough different about it to make it stand out from the other versions currently available.
Release date : 2012-02-28
Publisher : Konami
Developer : Kojima Productions
Gameplay : Action
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