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Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence (PlayStation 2) artwork

Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence (PlayStation 2) review

"As a guy who broke his teeth on the old-school games of past generations, I was ecstatic to learn that Konami included two Metal Gear games originally released for the eight-bit MSX computer gaming system. The first game (featuring Snake's trip to a three-building compound enticingly named "Outer Heaven") was somewhat altered for release on the NES, while the second had never before been released in America."

I’ll level with you — Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater didn’t have nearly the effect on me as it did on the majority of the gaming world. While I was easily able to recognize it as a very good game, I felt a number of minor flaws added up to make playing it almost as much of a nuisance as a pleasure at times.

My feelings obviously weren’t shared by the general public, as Snake Eater was a huge hit, convincing Konami to re-release it at a reduced price. This would be no ordinary repackaging of a popular game, though. The new version (titled Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence) not only improved the original game, but added enough bonus material that there seemingly is something for everyone in this two-disc package.

While there is a demo theater to allow players to watch any (or all) of the game’s numerous cinematic scenes, the bulk of the first disc is taken up by the remake of Snake Eater. The primary addition to the game is a new, three-dimensional camera that makes exploring most parts of this game much easier. My main problem with the original perspective (which still is available) was that it simply didn’t allow me to see enough of whatever region I was in. This forced me to constantly shift to first-person view to scan my surroundings. Of course, since Snake can’t move while in first-person, I’d have to then switch back to the regular view, hesitantly creep a handful of steps and revert back to first-person to make sure I wasn’t on the verge of stumbling into a nest of patrolling guards.

Things run a lot more smoothly under the new perspective, which was a pleasant surprise for me. While switching to the first-person view still is a necessity at times (especially when I wanted Snake’s bullets to come close to their intended targets), this addition makes negotiating through jungles and bases much easier. With simple manipulation of the right analog stick, I was able to look in all directions around Snake, as well as above and below. Even better, Snake has great vision here, allowing him to see distant soldiers and form the proper strategy to dispose of or evade them WITHOUT switching views repeatedly.

Certain parts of the game, such as the intense contest of wills with super-sniper The End, mesh perfectly with this view. Shortly after this battle started, while creeping through brush, I thought I could see something a long distance away. Adjusting the camera ever-so-slightly, I realized I was correct — on top of a distant cliff, there was the unmistakable glint of sunlight reflecting off a rifle’s scope. Immediately, I dropped to my knees, equipped my thermal goggles (the better to see you with, my dear....) and readied my sniper rifle. Before The End could react, I'd sent bullet after bullet careening into his frail frame and had erased half his life meter....just like that. The rest of the battle was an utter nightmare for me, as the wily codger stayed one step ahead of me for what seemed an eternity, but that one shining moment has to rate among the most adrenalizing experiences I've ever had playing a game.

While this addition makes Snake Eater a better game, its presence alone wouldn’t have been enough to sell me on picking up Subsistence. Like I said, I never was a huge fan of this game, as I felt I spent more time listening to people talk and shuffling through menus than actually playing. While I can sit down in front of Snake Eater for an hour or two, it’s just not one of those games I find captivating or engrossing and none of the Subsistence improvements (which also included a tougher difficulty level) were enough to completely change my view of the game.

Fortunately for me, the second disc of Subsistence (named Persistence) was able to provide me with a little taste of heaven. Outer Heaven, that is. As a guy who broke his teeth on the old-school games of past generations, I was ecstatic to learn that Konami included two Metal Gear games originally released for the eight-bit MSX computer gaming system. The first game (featuring Snake's trip to a three-building compound enticingly named "Outer Heaven") was somewhat altered for release on the NES, while the second had never before been released in America.

These games are not only fast-paced and addictingly fun, but also provide a history lesson for fans of the series. In the chronology of Metal Gear, they bridge the time gap between Snake Eater and the original Playstation Metal Gear Solid. The first game is definitely superior to the NES port, even if Konami made the unfortunate decision to replace some of the more interesting dialogue (“I FEEL ASLEEP”) with proper English. And the second game, titled Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, is even better. With an increased emphasis placed on stealth, as well as some memorable multi-screen boss fights, it quickly became obvious to me that this game was the prototype for the Metal Gear Solid series. While I don't claim to speak for every gamer, I can say that for one of my tastes, the inclusion of these two eight-bit classics is more than enough incentive to pick up a copy of Subsistence.

But the great thing about this two-disc set is that gamers who'd rather not muddle through primitive games still have plenty of options. The "Snake vs. Monkey" minigame (think Ape Escape with Snake) is back with the addition of a few more levels. Also included are such perks as a boss mode, a collection of comedic scenes poking fun at various characters and online mode.

The latter of those add-ons likely will be of the greatest interest to the largest number of prospective buyers. While online gaming has never been one of my favorite pastimes, I have to give Konami credit for creating a variety of modes. Ranging from the basic deathmatch stuff to more intense offerings such as the "Sneaking" missions (Snake plus the best camouflage money can buy versus a multitude of guards), at the very least, Subsistence's online play is not lacking in ways to keep gamers entertained.

All of these things put together make Subsistence the perfect purchase for fans of the Metal Gear Solid series. I'm not going to lie and say I loved, enjoyed or even cared about everything on this two-disc set, but the stuff I did get into was more than enough to justify picking up a copy. It's the sort of thing I look at as good for the gaming industry. Take a popular game, re-release it with a couple of enhancements, add a few new diversions and throw on a couple of "forgotten" classics — the end result is a product that likely has something to satisfy anyone who remotely has an interest in the Metal Gear series.

overdrive's avatar
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (April 16, 2006)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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bluberry posted June 23, 2008:

good review, I just picked up the Essential Collection (I don't have MGS1, Substance, or Subsistence) and the camera makes a HUGE improvement. really dumb how this version only has the first disc though, I kind of want to play MG1 and MG2.

as if I don't have enough to play already.
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espiga posted June 23, 2008:

Maybe they're not essential enough.
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bluberry posted June 23, 2008:

why's MGS1 in there, then?
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espiga posted June 23, 2008:

Because fanboy-worship = money.Why else would there be no less than 30 titles with the name Final Fantasy VII?
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overdrive posted June 23, 2008:

You didn't get the ports of the MSX MG and MG2 in that edition? That sucks. MG is just the NES MG with a few changes, but MG2 is the shiznit!

For me personally, MG2 was my favorite part of the MGS3: Subsistence package. It was this perfect combination of the stealth elements and action elements WITHOUT six hours of pure movie cinematics interrupting everything you do. Obviously, you don't have crazy epic battles like against The End or any of a number of cool assorted things like you'd get in a MGS game, but just having the preliminary versions of the stealth-based combat without random douches yammering for 20 minutes straight about their lives constantly was awesome.

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