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Released in 2004, enhanced in 2005, HD-collected in 2011, and finally brought to handhelds in 2012, Snake Eater has been spread to a multitude of consoles. At time of writing, you can pick up the original or upgraded Subsistence version on PlayStation 2, the HD edition on Xbox 360, PS3, or Vita, and the 3DS port in full auto-stereoscopic 3D. Each version contains the main game, but the trappings included set each release apart from one another. Snake Eater 3D may be the leanest out of all current-gen releases, but delivers a near-perfect 3D version of the main game.

Snake Eater is a period piece inspired by James Bond films of the 1960s (From Russia with Love especially), with theme song to boot. CIA agent Naked Snake is dropped into the the U.S.S.R. in order to rescue a scientist who is being forced to develop a new devastating nuclear weapon. Along the way you'll meet your sexy female companion and the no-good, nuclear warhead-toting Russian... and don't forget the gadgets.

Metal Gear Solid has been self-titled "Tactical Espionage Action," which means you'll be doing your fair share of crawling on the ground. Luckily, Snake has plenty of disguises and can unlock many more over the course of the game. He can wear leaf or desert camo in the forest, or you can dress him up however you'd like to. While out in the field, a percentage sits in the corner of the touchscreen, representing Snake's visibility level. If he hits that sweet spot of face paint and camouflage, he'll be practically invisible to the enemy, allowing him to crawl around without consequence. Inversely, if Snake is wearing bright red he'll be spotted almost immediately, meaning the player will have to keep an eye on how Snake is meshing with his environment.

There are a number of stances Snake can remain in to further his sneaking status. While standing, Snake is much more visible, but can pull off a few punches and run at full speed. While crouching, Snake loses these perks, but gets a camouflage bonus. He can also lay down and reap the greatest benefits of stealth, but will only be able to crawl around. Couple that with tall grass, though, and Snake will be more menacing than the Predator. Planning where Snake can best position himself without being seen is a big part of MGS3, and with the costumes you're provided, players should have no problem concealing Snake from any nearby enemies.

If Snake does happen to get caught, he can still conceal himself once he's out of sight. The enemies will jam your map, radio for backup, and send in attack dogs. Once they think you've moved on from the area, they'll step down from red alert into a cautionary mode, in which they still are extra vigilant, but you'll at least regain your map. Finally, they'll settle back into their old habits, and you can start the whole process again. For the Rambo-minded individual, don't fear though: sneaking is not absolutely essential to MGS3D, although it'll save you plenty of health and ammo in the long run.

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Both Naked Snake and his mentor The Boss developed a technique called "CQC", or "close-quarters combat." It also means "kick the crap out of everyone." CQC is a satisfying staple of stealth games, familiar to anyone who has played Splinter Cell or games of that caliber. If you sneak up behind a guard and hold down the R button, you grab him quick and put your knife to his throat. From there, you can interrogate him or just knock him out and drag him into a corner. During combat, you can turn an enemy into a human shield and stop other soldiers from firing at you. If you're not careful, the enemy will get the upper hand and break free, so keep that in mind. CQC definitely makes the player feel like a real spy who's not afraid to get his hands dirty.
Snake will be able to carry all sorts of weapons and assist items with him to defeat the enemy. By using the backpack menu, Snake can equip up to eight support items and eight weapons, or swap them out for others. While playing normally, Snake can quickly switch between these 16 items, from pistols and shotguns to grenades and motion detectors. The more things Snake has on him, the more weighed down he'll be, slowing him down. It's another realistic feature that adds to the game's immersion. It takes a bit of managing to make sure Snake has the optimal amount of equipment on him at all times without impeding his mission.

Snake's support items are mainly used for stealth purposes. Snake can equip night-vision goggles to help him get through tougher, darker areas, or use a field mic to detect nearby animals. He can also throw different items like gun magazines and...well, adult magazines to distract guards or draw them into striking position. Lots of different items means lots of different, creative ways to distract your enemies, letting the player sneak by guards however they choose.

Snake also has plenty of guns, even though he'll really only get to let loose with them during a few key scenes. All enemies can be subdued through the use of tranquilizer bullets, or killed outright with pistols, rifles, machine guns, turrets, and even rocket launchers. The variety of firearms is enough to satisfy anyone's trigger finger, without going overboard and spoiling the espionage. Keep in mind, though: The game keeps count of how many enemies you've killed, and a certain ghost of a soldier won't easily forget whom you've killed...
Snake's damage is not just measured by the life meter. Snake can suffer from "serious injuries," which prevent a certain amount of his health from being refilled. These injuries include things like deep cuts, bullet wounds, burns, and even the common cold or food poisioning. Snake will have to go into his medical menu and apply different items to heal his wounds. For example, to remove a bullet from poor Snake, you'll have to use the knife to dislodge it, disinfectant and styptic to treat the wound, and then wrap it all in a bandage. Although taking damage is never fun, playing doctor to Snake adds a level of mortality that is often overlooked in video games.

If Snake eats a snake, is it considered cannibalism? We wouldn't think so. Snake's going to need to eat a lot of snakes, along with birds, wild mushrooms, stolen rations, and even crocodile meat. Underneath Snake's life bar is his stamina bar, which decreases naturally over time as he runs around and uses up energy. To regain stamina, Snake will need to have plenty of snacks. Without energy, Snake won't recover lost health, won't be able to aim straight, and his growling stomach will give away his position! Snake can either kill an animal and eat it later (though after a certain amount of real world time it will actually go bad), or he can cage an animal to keep with him for emergencies. There's a certain sick amount of fun to be had trying to catch and eat every animal in the game, but it's so cute to watch their corpses magically can themselves.
Even in the 60s, Snake still has his hi-tech in-ear radio system, the Codec. With it, he can call all of his backup team (far out of any harm's reach) for advice on where to go next, how to treat wounds or what the local wildlife tastes like, how weapons react in combat scenarios, and to save. While your commander will keep things professional and simply tel you where you need to go next, you can get into quite a lot of humorous conversations with your field specialist, usually concerning how tasty the animals you find are. The codec can also be used to call secret numbers to find hidden radio stations, stop alarms, or even unlock certain doors. Neat!
Snake will have to fight every member of the fabled COBRA Unit, an elite fighting squad with their own equally unique mental and physical issues. To avoid spoilers we won't name all of them, but we can tell you that there are six of them, and that each boss fight is a unique and fun experience. Along with COBRA, you'll fight about three other bosses, each of them equally interesting and entertaining. A lot of care went into these characters, and they feel like more than just enemies or obstacles. One COBRA member, The Fear, shoots you with a poison-tipped crossbow bolt at the outset of his boss fight, so you'll be both dodging his traps and combating the effects of the neurotoxin. For a real challenge, if you use tranquilizer rounds instead of bullets or grenades to kill the bosses, you'll collect their camo for your own use. The boss fights are some of the most enjoyable parts of the game, and it's a shame that there isn't some sort of "Boss Rush" mode, so you can fight them all again later.

Along with the functionality of the touchscreen to control the menu (which will be discussed momentarily), the 3DS also throws in a few extra gimmicks. While some consider the 3D a big gimmick of the 3DS, these extras honestly are gimmicks.

First up are the gyro sensor, which you'll use to balance Snake...twice. Maybe three or four times, depending on how Tarzan you're feeling. In the first mission/tutorial, Snake will have to retrieve his backpack from a tree branch. You'll have to keep the 3DS frozen in place, otherwise Snake will fall off and have to try again. ...which shouldn't be a problem, considering you'll need to keep the system in place to make sure the 3D doesn't get out of sync, so that eliminates the point of the gyro sensor. Almost immediately afterwards, you'll come to a rickety bridge. Snake will have to tilt the system to keep himself from going over the edge, and it's frustrating. After you stumble over this obstacle (while avoiding guards, mind you), you will never have to perform this task again. Unless you'd like to climb a tree branch, but there's not much purpose in that anyways.

Another gimmick, one that is actually pretty entertaining, is the "Photo Camo" option. Using the 3DS' built-in camera, you can take a photo of anything you want in the real world, and turn it into a stylish outfit! Obviously, taking a picture of something with an earthy tone will actually give you a camouflage bonus in the game, but it's much more fun to take a picture of something goofy and colorful, and watch Snake run around in bright pink stripes. Not the most useful feature, but it is entertaining and a good use of the 3DS' features.

One final tip for all future players out there...there is a certain gun that you use against a certain character in a certain duel. If you start to fiddle with the 3DS like you were performing gunplay, Snake will actually begin to twirl the gun and distract that character! The last of the secret little gyro features has been revealed.

As games get bigger and more complex, more and more buttons get thrown in the mix. Just compare the NES to the 360. There's like, 20 extra buttons on there! ...even the CONTROL STICKS have buttons. So it's no surprise that the 3DS has plenty of buttons for you to desperately keep track of, right? Wrong, actually! MGS3D does a really great job of keeping the controls simplistic and manageable, overcoming the biggest problem that plagues console games-turned-portable. Yes, there still are plenty of buttons to deal with, but the layout makes sense, almost as much as if you were holding a PS2 controller. You'll feel like the king of the jungle by the time you finish the opening scene.

The control pad serves as movement, and the pressure senstivity adds a nice level of realism that most gamers will be familiar with already. Just nudge the stick in one direction to move slowly (great for sneaking around), or push the stick as far as it can go to break into a full run (great for when you've messed up your sneaking around). The face buttons move your camera around, not unfamiliar to players that have enjoyed Metal Gear Solid on the PSP. For those firmly rooted to the idea of a console quality experience, you will find that the controls are compatible with the Circle Pad Pro expansion, giving you that glorious extra control stick for camera control and two triggers. While the face buttons do make things clunky (especially when trying to snipe or quickly hit a fleeing enemy that's moderately far away), this scheme is hardly abysmal. By the time you've adapted to the rest of the controls, the camera will feel much more natural.

You want to shoot, or punch? Push the right shoulder button. Need a support item, fast? Use the left shoulder button, or the touchscreen. MGS3D commits two buttons for items, and that's it. Switching to new weapons or items can be a little slow and can break the pace of battle, but tapping the R button to quickly throw a punch, then holding the L button to aim and then R button to fire feels as comfortable as it's ever going to be. You can also control the combat camera, deciding on an auto-aim mode, FPS, or over-the-shoulder.

You'll also still be using the D-Pad, along with the Start and Select buttons. While both Start and Select bring you to a basic hub menu where you can access different options (more on that later), the D-Pad serves a much greater function. Tapping the up button right under the control pad serves as your action button, letting you climb on top of things, open doors, push switches, and the other usual action-y things. Reaching alllll the way down from the pad to hit the down button lets you crouch, or lay down if you hold the button down. While the "down to go down" idea is easy to get, it means you cannot lay down in mid-stride, leaving Snake vulnerable (if only for a second) to foes. The left button equips and unequips Snake's support item with a quick press, or opens up the carried items menu with a longer hold. The same goes for the right button and Snake's weapons.

But wait, doesn't the 3DS have a touchscreen? This is why Snake Eater feels so comfortable on the 3DS. In the PS2 version of the game, you had to hit start to go into the menu, select an option with the control stick, select another option, use an item, then back out of everything and go back to playing the game with all sorts of maps and HUDs and whatnot all over Snake's beautiful jungle. No more on the 3DS. The top screen is completely freed up of the HUD, while the touchscreen contains six separate quick-menu options: Cure, Eat, Map, Camo, Codec, and Backpack. Just tap one and you're THERE. It quickens the pace of gameplay, and the fact that all the menus are touchscreen is just an added bonus. You can also use the touchscreen in place of the D-Pad's left and right buttons, switching (and seeing) your weapons on the bottom screen, and tap or hold anywhere that's not a button to crouch and crawl instead of using the bottom button. With the inclusion of the touchscreen, managing all of Snake's techniques becomes a breeze.

MGS3 is designed to be a story-driven experience, but the beauty of it is that the single experience is so great that you'll want to run through it at least one more time with all the knowledge you've gained from the first playthrough. Seeing the story again with previous knowledge almost makes it a whole new game, and you can see entirely different perspectives on some characters. The game also offers four difficulties: Easy, Normal, Hard, and Extreme, which gives you a Game Over the second you are detected by the enemy. There are also three special items that earn their own category in the results screen: EZ Gun, Infinity, and Stealth. These special items need to be unlocked, and then can be used to completely change (or cheapen) the entire feel and play style of the game.
{There's a bit of achievement-hunting to do after you've cleared MGS3D. After the credits roll, we were rewarded with a title: Panther. There are 27 titles to earn, depending on different conditions like number of continues used, number of people killed, meals eaten, etc. Getting every title will require plenty of extra playthroughs, but the titles don't really affect gameplay at all. There are some secret weapons to unlock, infinite ammo to obtain, and some bonus face paints and costumes to get, so going back to get them all and unleashing cheap bonus items on all the bosses again is pretty fun. Plus, a "new" secret challenge is to find and shoot hidden dolls of Yoshi, from the Mario series. This is an updated feature for Metal Gear Solid 3D, and finding them all and unlocking the "Yoshi" title is the ultimate post-game challenge. Don't expect any extra game modes, online multiplayer, or mini-games after you're done though. This package includes the main game and that's it.
For a game broken up into multiple tiny, set maps, it's incredibly well-paced. Each map leads into the next area, from forests to docks to a base to a mountain. It's a very "hip bone connected to the" style of game, and it works well. If at any point the player becomes frustrated, there's usually an alternate solution: either sneaking around or going in guns blazing. You'll rarely feel stuck, and the next goal is always clearly defined and in view.

The game is split into two chapters, each chapter representing a mission that Snake goes on. In fact, the first chapter/mission could be considered the tutorial, although it never feels like one. You quickly learn the controls of the game, and although there are plenty of buttons, the touchscreen makes controlling Snake a lot more manageable. The difficulty curve, depending on what difficulty you've selected at the beginning of the game, ramps up once you begin the second mission, but the only anxiety you feel is towards the enemies, and not the controls. Every mistake I made I believed was my fault, and not the fault of any ridiculous game mechanic.

Snake Eater is a lengthy one. After one playthrough, we clocked in at 17 hours. Keep in mind that we took our time, died a lot, and called our support team a LOT to hear everything they had to say. Perhaps another playthrough is in order soon, but the ending is very satisfying and kept us involved through the game's lengthy epilogue. There’s hardly a moment where you’re bored, except the occasional repeat of a codec call. MGS3 is a long game and there's plenty of meat in it.
Snake mainly goes toe-to-toe with a whole bucket's worth of army men. Soldiers will think they spot you from a distance and DEFINITELY spot you from close up. They'll call for backup, take cover, and man nearby turrets to try and take you out. Once you've been in hiding for a while, they call off the initial alert, but will remain on their guard for a long time afterwards. The enemies are so human it's almost scary. If you disguise yourself, they'll eye you suspiciously, waiting for you to screw up so they can pull their triggers. Sneaking past guards is not impossible, but on higher difficulties it can be quite a challenge.

The bosses are a little routine, save for one or two. They each have their own distinct pattern you must figure out in order to beat them, and once the code is cracked they become easy targets. The End, an elderly sniper, is one of the more interesting boss fights. It's more about conquering your own patience and trigger finger, making every bullet count. The final boss is also tricky, getting up close and throwing you into fast-paced fist fights that left us sweating. Other than that, the bosses behaved as most video game bosses do: interesting, yet predictable.
Hideo Kojima is infamous for his use of beyond-intricate plotlines, outlandish characters, and lengthy cutscenes. Initially a budding film director, this game director didn't really ever leave the film scene, making Metal Gear Solid 3 look and play out just like a movie. The plot is epic in scale and full of interesting twists and turns, with characters fighting amongst each other while completing secret agendas. Kojima's writing, although a little ridiculous at first, is extremely intriguing and rewarding for players that are willing to pay attention to every cutscene.
We don't want to spoil anything, but the phrase "triple-crosser" does come up at one point. We assume the voice actor said it with a straight face, but we can't be sure. All joking aside, the plot of Metal Gear Solid 3 is so well written, you'd think it was lifted straight out of a secret CIA file. Characters will betray Snake, betrayers will have a change of heart, and there's even a bit of romance. A lot of exposition and backstory gets shouted at you, but it's all extremely interesting. We were nearly brought to tears at game's end--something that doesn't happen often. The characters grow and change throughout the story, they speak naturally, and we became invested in what was happening. There are plenty of references to the previous (future?) Metal Gear games, but the story stands completely on its own. Snake Eater, with all its double-triple-crossing action, is a story like no other.
David Hayter, the voice of Snake, has complete mastery over his character. In fact, every character has a distinct, entertaining voice as well. There are British ex-SAS commanders and soldiers who believe they are spiders. NPCs will mutter to themselves as they patrol hallways. Every character is well thought out and well acted. Every line has a purpose, and the voice talent takes great care in fleshing out the characters. Their movement is fluid and natural, especially in cutscenes, feeling more and more like real actors on the screen instead of video game characters.

Most voice acting occurs during codec calls, where Snake can hear comments about anything his backup team has on their minds. At one point, the team medic asked Snake about James Bond movies (the inspiration for Metal Gear), to which Snake replied he had never seen any. This set the commander off on an entire monologue about how fabulous the Bond movies were, the medic sounding more and more frustrated with each passing line. We couldn't help but laugh out loud, admiring the talent of the voice actors. The acting is some of the best we've heard in any game out there.
It's cliché to even SAY that it's cliché that Metal Gear Solid 3 has a LOT of cutscenes, but we have to say it anyway. Snake Eater has a LOT of cutscenes. We would guess that about 40% of the game is dedicated to sitting and watching. Although we enjoyed the cinematics for the most part, gamers who just want to game will not enjoy 15-minute long monologues, no matter how polished they are.

Real detail goes into the lighting for each scene, the way the "camera" is positioned, and how shots are framed. At certain points, we noticed that the "camera" was shaking along with the action, as if it was actually in the game world filming a movie. Almost every additional effect from the PS2 version has made it over to the 3DS, minus a few lighting effects and miniscule details. Each scene is beyond well-crafted, acting more like mini-CG movies than video game transitions.

There are also quite a few moments where players are given control during a scene (and not through quicktime events). Most of these interactions involve holding the R button to see things from Snake's point-of-view. While you'll mostly be using it to stare at your female companion's endowments, sometimes you can use it to catch a glimpse of a ghostly member of the enemy team showing you what's happening behind the scenes. Another "cutscene" puts Snake in the passenger seat of a speeding motorcycle, and every time the R button is held Snake can fire his weapon. Otherwise, the player can sit back and enjoy the high-speed chase from an action-packed, outside perspective. Overall, Snake Eater's cutscenes are well-produced and very enjoyable, giving the player a purpose and backstory to what would be a very small story and game experience without them.
Every set piece in Snake Eater looks right out of the 60s--even the ridiculous, supernatural factors. The graphics are clean and polished, the sounds are crisp and enjoyable, and the music nearly brought us to tears. The Metal Gear Solid series has gained its fame by being more movie than game, and MGS3 has definitely received the Hollywood treatment. There is a certain level of realism that video gaming doesn't often attempt, but Snake Eater isn't afraid to pull you back in time.
Welcome to the jungle. The other Metal Gear Solid titles sat comfortably amongst their futuristic weapons and cyber-soldiers, so Snake Eater's deep jungle brought the series way out of its comfort zone. Kojima Productions pulled it off in the end, crafting a setting unique and beautiful in its own right. Everything about this game is steeped in nature. Snake takes a tour through the thickest of swamps and the most pristine waterfalls. There's a different piece of camouflage for each new environment the spy finds himself in, and there couldn't be a more gorgeous pallet of greens and browns.

The characters are especially vibrant and memorable--a staple of all Metal Gear games. The COBRA unit is comprised of the most stylized soldiers we've ever seen. A disfigured cosmonaut, a grenadier coated in poisonous wasps, and even a ghost that can't stop breaking the fourth wall? We rarely see creative characters like these, so its refreshing to know that there's always another new character with a bizarre trait waiting ahead for us. Even Snake goes through changes as the story progresses, and for the sake of spoilers we'll just say he becomes more and more grizzled and worn. With all these characters living in this fully realized world, MGS3 is just fun to look at, plain and simple.

Wow. The PS2 may be a decade older than the 3DS, but the fact that a Nintendo handheld can create the same console experience in 3D is stunning. MGS3D's cutscenes are technically impressive, the action only lagging a few times. Actual game play never stuttered (though the framerate was a bit underpar), providing gorgeous glimpses of the Russian jungle. The character models look like real actors (and only a few rough edges), with a lot of care going into their faces and physiques. Environments look textured and real, down to the grass Snake hides in. Guns look realistic, the lighting is superb, and the menus are crisp and clean. Everything in the 3DS port practically feels real, accomplishing its mission of pulling you in. It'll be hard for the 3DS to top another graphical monument like this one.
Snake Eater has a two-disc soundtrack, including its own theme song. As Snake would say, "That's DAAAMN good." In addition to the main theme, "Snake Eater," each character has their own distinct theme, further fleshing out their character. While not the catchiest of tunes, these orchestrated pieces really help to make MGS3D the cinematic experience it emulates. The opening cutscene alone features Hollywood-style action music, complete with horns and strings. After holding up a guard in-game, he gave me a codec number that played an entire original pop song that could have been lifted right out of the 60s. The most poignant scenes in MGS3 don't even have music at all, such as the infamous "ladder scene" featuring the haunting vocal track from "Snake Eater." Real thought and care went into the production of Snake Eater's soundtrack, marrying the classic Metal Gear Solid sound with the music of the 1960s.
If you've ever played a Metal Gear Solid game before, you'll recognize the iconic menu sounds: the tiny hiss as you select items, the "life up!" noise you hear as you devour a coral snake. Food never sounded so good! The menu sounds still have a tinge of futurism to them, indicative of the Metal Gear universe's hi-tech atmosphere. Selecting a weapon from the menu culminates in a rewarding reload sound, and each gun fires like you'd imagine it would.

When not neck-deep in menus, you'll find that the sounds of the forest are a good foil to the futuristic sounds of classic Metal Gear. We found ourselves looking up to search for real birds in our surroundings, not realizing that the noises were virtual. Each animal sounds frighteningly realistic, the rustling of wind in the trees is soothing, and the sounds of nearby footsteps are heart-pounding. Every "real-world" sound effect is believable and the audio is high-quality. Even more outlandish sound effects, like rocket engines or the crackle of electricity sound like they were recorded in a sound booth. Plus, when you shoot a secret Yoshi doll, it makes the classic N64 Yoshi sound. What more could you ask for?
“I’m still in a dream, Snake Eater…”

The idea behind Snake Eater is not only stealth but survival, and you'll have to hunt animals to feed Snake and keep his stamina up, while mending broken bones and fighting the Russian military. MGS3D refines and perfects the stealthy gameplay that the series is known for, and the controls could not be better suited for the 3DS. Every pixel portrayed feels true to the original Snake Eater. If you haven't played the game in its previous iterations, or any other Metal Gear game for that matter, there's no better jumping on point than right here.

If you can't get your hands on any other version of this gem, then Snake Eater 3D should be at the top of your wishlist. It's one of the best games available for the 3DS, and the stereoscopic effects are rivaled only by Resident Evil: Revelations. Minus the small inhibition of using the face buttons to aim (which can be remedied by the $20 Circle Pad Pro attachment), the main game is flawless, perhaps even being one of the greatest story-driven video games of all time. The game only stumbles when treated like a true portable, meaning you'll be battling battery life more than Soviet soldiers.

Fans looking for a bigger bite of Metal Gear overall would find more in the Vita or console collections of the game, but for those who want the ultimate portable version of Snake Eater, we recommend the 3DS version. Although the game isn't packed with extras like the other versions on the market, the well-developed, glasses-free 3D lets MGS3D stand out a bit more than another copy in 720p. And any fan of the original game will rejoice after quickly tapping through those convenient menu screens.

With so many re-releases out there, this port may seem like a cheap cash-in, but make no mistake. This is the definitive MGS3. If you're still not convinced, the game's demo can be downloaded on Nintendo's eShop. Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D is a title that can be relived again and again, so sit back, and enjoy those lengthy cutscenes like you've never seen them before. "I'm still in a dream, Snake Eater..."

Meet the tester

James Johnston

James Johnston

Staff Writer


James is a staff writer at Reviewed, working to the sounds of classic video game soundtracks. His proudest moment was capturing exclusive footage of Mr. 50 Cent at the 2013 International CES.

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