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Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (PlayStation 2) artwork

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (PlayStation 2) review

""There's a saying in the Orient: Loyalty to the end." "

"There's a saying in the Orient: Loyalty to the end."


"It means devoting oneself to one's country."

At the beginning of the game, Hideo Kojima's Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater asks you, "What is it like to be a soldier?" What is it like to be Naked Snake, a soldier who must sneak through the Soviet Union during the Cold War, when the space race and weapons threaten to turn the world into a blazing hot battlefield? What is it like to be alone, with no comrades or reinforcements, forced to sneak your way past the enemy, hoping their watchful eyes don't notice you as you try to blend with your surroundings? What is it like to be unarmed, and having to survive off of dead snakes and fish? Most importantly, what is it like to be a political tool, expected to mindlessly follow orders even when they clash against your feelings and you wonder what choice you should make?

You'll find out.

You'll find out because once you step outside the cramped airplane and dramatically leap downward into enemy territory, you are Naked Snake; a soldier, stranded in the hostile jungle. All he knows - and you know - is the mission, and you must accomplish it. "Show your patriotism," your commander tells you, as if he had any idea what you would be up against in this awful place. Sure, it may seem that all you have to do is rescue the cowardly Dr. Sokolov and bring him to America, but, as all video games do, the situation becomes worse and worse until failing the mission could cause a GLOBAL NUCLEAR WAR. A normal person would turn back, realizing that their very existence is at stake...but you must continue. It's your duty.

Stealth is absolutely necessary, and when you are spotted, you’ll know. The music, normally a quiet, repetitive tune, instantly becomes an orchestra as you just look for a place to hide. No longer are the quiet sounds of your footsteps even audible, instead, all you can hear are gunshots and alarms echoing in your mind. Scientists scream in fear, and guards rush to the scene, firing AK-47s and devastating RPGs your way. However, you can still turn the tables with close-quarters combat: simply grab any enemy and you can use him as a human shield, choke him, or slit his throat.

Luckily for you, the world of Metal Gear Solid 3 is huge, and you can use camouflage to your advantage. By wearing a light green camo and woodland face paint, you will seem like nothing more than blades of grass as you lie, motionless, in the calmly beautiful forest. It’s an absolute must for fighting ancient sniper The End, who will often do nothing but wait for you in the gigantic jungle. If you make the slightest mistake, he will instantly detect you and send needles at your skin. As you crawl forward, in absolute silence, you can hear his grunts as he carefully aims his sniper rifle. On the surface, the fight seems overly long and dull. To those who are playing, however, every second is intense.

Every time I play, I find little details that make the experience all the more worthwhile. Defeat a boss with your pitiful tranquilizer gun and you will earn a special camouflage uniform. Quietly sneaking up to an enemy will yield more (and better) items than simply killing him and dragging him to an inconspicuous area. Animals hiding in the jungle can be killed as food, assuming you can take down a gigantic crocodile.

And despite all of this, there is more to MGS3.

Yes, it’s your duty to rescue Sokolov, but it’s also your duty to kill The Boss, Snake’s old mentor. Snake—no, you--have no choice in the matter: The Boss has defected to the Soviet Union and she is an obstacle in your path, friendship or romantic relationship be damned. Snake may be a badass (if you want to, you can make him save the world without a shirt on), but he is a human being, and he simply cannot pull the trigger. The Boss was his mother, his master, and his friend all at the same time, but now he must take her life by his own hands. Snake may have to follow orders, but he is still responsible for his actions. It’s the duty of a soldier, but can you truly kill The Boss?

Her old face reflects the maturity of a general, while her shining blue eyes show passion beyond simply fighting on the battlefield. When she cries in joy, you can see the tears trickle down her face, and feel the tears gather in your own eyes. When she is angry, you'll know: she looks so intimidating you think she could knock you down with her screen presence alone. Every scene she is in is just so intense, so powerful, and so memorable, that even when she does something as simple as looking up in the sky it leaves me spellbound.

And yet what throws it all together that makes the game truly special. The Boss constantly challenges Snake’s morals, knowing too well that she is far more powerful than you are. Why does she constantly beat Snake to a bloody pulp, only to leave him nearly dead as she walks off into the distance? How could Snake have trusted her? How could he trust anyone? Is the government involved in this struggle, as hinted by the cruel Colonel Volgin? At first, the Boss is a character full of mystery, and Snake a confused individual…and yet it all makes sense in the last few moments of the game, a battle as emotional as when Cloud Strife confronted Sephiroth “to the settling of everything!”

Make no mistake: Metal Gear Solid 3 isn't flawless. The overhead camera sometimes creates awkward moments when you can't see an enemy that is directly in front of you, forcing you to switch to first-person mode every so often. More importantly, the game is short, clocking in about fifteen hours at most. This certainly will convince you to play again and discover all the rewards for giving yourself extra challenges, but when all is said and done you’ll find that MGS3 isn’t extremely new after all.

But I don't care about any of this. I don't care because I have played this game through twice (after only owning it for a month) and I can honestly say that Metal Gear Solid 3 is one of the greatest games I have ever played. No, (as cheesy as this may sound), it's not just a game. It's a story, and one with truly great moments. Watch as Ocelot changes from a reckless kid who constantly fights against you to a man who willingly defies his commanding officer. Witness the brutality of Colonel Volgin, who combines Ganondorf’s raw power with Emperor Palpatine’s fierce ambitions. When Eva, a KGB spy who occasionally assists Snake, tries to speak, through bitter tears, about The Boss, you know you’re playing something special.

You'll be sucked into the Cold War at the beginning, watching the events that almost lead to a nuclear crisis--you know what you have to do. You'll continue in the middle as a labor of love, and although every boss battle and cutscene will amaze you, you will know that the final showdown will be even greater than all of them. As the famous Metal Gear Solid 2 theme changes from a slowly played tune to a dramatic piece and you finally realise what it really means to be a soldier and a patriot...

...You'll salute. Be proud, soldier.

eoib's avatar
Community review by eoib (January 28, 2005)

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