Review: Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D

It was a long time coming, but Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater finally crawled all the way onto the 3DS. A triumph of a handheld, for sure, the entry into the Metal Gear saga is now available for scads more players to kill and consume frogs, rats, and of course, snakes. Oh, and to face up against hordes of enemies, from which you’ll spend a glut of your time hiding from in the tall grass. Largely, Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D brings the same PlayStation 2 hit you’re used to with plenty of new window dressing to up the ante. Portable Snake is the best snake when it comes to the 3DS.

This enhanced port is interesting in several ways, mostly in that it makes admirable use of the 3DS’ depth effects. While so many 3D releases rely only on the gimmick to create arresting visual effects that aren’t necessarily useful to the player, MGS3D utilizes them as part of a unique arsenal that gives a new sheen to the older release. Looking out across lush greenery with environments that blend together with the 3D turned all the way up lends a more believable lilt to the jungle terrain — rocks you previously used as landmarks now pop, as well as the rest of the arid jungles and woodsy areas. It’s easy to see why 3D was the best new addition to the game, as players seasoned and new to the franchise will be able to detect beneficial differences straight away.

Other small tweaks have been made that may not be immediately noticeable, but are interesting as well in their own way. For instance, when beginning the game you’ll be asked what type of Metal Gear game is your favorite — you may now choose from Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, which unlock additional forms of camo available to Snake. An alteration unique (and probably obvious one) to the 3DS version is the removal of the cartoon Kerotan dolls found throughout the terrain, now having been replaced with Yoshi models. It’s an interesting change that Mario fans will appreciate, and a cool nod to the new system the game’s been brought to.

At its heart, of course, it’s still the same tale of Naked Snake, who (in a very cramped nutshell) is on his way to stopping a rogue group of Russians whose goal is to eventually overthrow Kruschchev, effectively hurtling the United States into war with the Soviet Union. It’s a bleak situation, and one that matches the lonely (often suffocatingly so) landscape.

Stealth action is the name of the game — avoiding those who mean to stop you in your tracks is usually where most of the fun lies, anyway. Keeping just out of the line of sight of some particularly dimwitted soldiers (it’s just a box, guys, no big deal!) is practically what makes the Metal Gear saga, and Snake Eater brings more of that in full force. Step out of line, though, and let a guard see you, and it’s game over — kind of. The guards will open fire and gun you down on sight if you let them, unless you make like a tree and leave. They’ll call for reinforcements, too, but lucky for you there’s a menagerie of suitable hiding places. Crates, ditches, even the branches of a tree, there are tons of nooks and crannies to slip into to avoid enemy soldiers. Once you alert guards you’ll need to be particularly sneaky, but you know. You’ve probably played Metal Gear, many times over. As previously stated, Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D is a healthy dose of more of the same.

From start to finish, it’s a cinematic masterpiece, matched only by a rare other few in its ranks. An excellent if sometimes obtuse story unfolds across several different terrains sprinkled with memorable boss battles and a tale that invokes a veritable schizophrenic range of emotions. It’s unfortunate, then, that the 3DS controls feel somewhat finicky. They’re not exactly intuitive, and more than once I found myself clamoring for the comfort of a PlayStation controller. Truly, it feels as though the handheld simply isn’t suited for this type of game at times, but after struggling through touchy camera options you can acclimate yourself. It’s an obstacle most should be able to overcome, but if there’s one reason you find yourself shying away from this otherwise excellent port, you wouldn’t be blamed for making it that one.

This 3D adaptation of, arguably, one of the best PlayStation 2 releases is every bit as engaging and intriguing as its home console counterpart, with excellent graphics, a stellar soundtrack, and the ability to now take Naked Snake on the go. If you’re looking for a solid stealth action title to add to your 3DS library, go straight to Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3DS. Skip all the small fries. This is what fans of the genre and franchise with Nintendo’s latest handheld have been waiting for.

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