Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D Review

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Snakes on a 3D plane…

Making its first appearance on a handheld, the critically acclaimed Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater has sneaked onto the Nintendo 3DS. Does the title make use of the system’s unique capabilities and deliver a satisfying stealth experience, or are you better of picking up the recently released HD Collection instead? Read on to find out.

Game: Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D
Developer: Kojima Productions
Publisher: Konami
Reviewed on:

STORY

Snake Eater 3D takes place in the cold war era, following rookie CIA agent Naked Snake, future Big Boss and father to the Les Enfant Terribles project, as he enters the jungles of the USSR to save a defecting Soviet scientist. Naturally the missions doesn’t go smoothly and the story quickly turns into a tale of love, betrayal and patriotism, with a fair share of twists and turns thrown in for good measure. Being a Metal Gear Solid game, Snake Eater 3D is jam packed with radio chatter and in-game cutscenes, so it is a good thing then that the story stands the test of time. The characters are superb, with the relationships between some of them verging on exquisite, in particular Naked Snake and his mentor. For fans of the series, there are plenty of references to later Metal Gear titles (chronological order) to keep things exciting, along with plenty of random moments the iconic franchise is known for.

GRAPHICS

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Snake Eater was a great looking title in its day, and you’ll be happy to learn that the 3DS port holds up very well under scrutiny considering the source material is pushing eight years and the limited power of the target console. Apart from the odd blurry texture, the game looks great on Nintendo’s handheld. The use of the 3D is particularly impressive, adding another layer of immersion to the Tselinoyarsk jungles as Snake crawls through the foliage. However, it is somewhat confusing as to why the effect stops the moment you take your weapon out in first-person mode. Apart from that, the 3D effect only serves to heighten the series’ trademark cinematic style.

It’s not all sunshine and roses though, as Snake Eater seems to have inherited some of the frame rate issues that were also apparent in its PlayStation 2 incarnation. Funnily enough, the slowdowns is most apparent when the game decides to make use of slow motion pan effects in some of the in-game cutscenes, leading to a jarring choppy effect that is most unwelcome.

SOUND

On the audio front, everything is as you would expect from a Metal Gear title. The sounds of the jungle add to atmosphere and the guns on offer all have a distinct sound to them. Voice acting is sublime, with David Hayter and friends breathing life into the characters.

Norihiko Hibino and Harry Gregson-Williams’ soundtrack is remains untouched and is epic in every sense of the word. With Harry’s signature orchestral/electronic sound adding to the immersion and Norihiko’s bond-like theme tune capturing the feeling of the final battle almost perfectly.

GAMEPLAY

When Snake Eater was originally released on the PlayStation 2 it was critically acclaimed for blending the series’ signature stealth gameplay with jungle survival. Nothing has changed dramatically when it comes to the 3DS version, which means you’ll still have to make sure Snake remains well fed and hidden away from enemies by making good use of camouflage. Snake Eater 3D does a good job of squeezing all this goodness into the small Nintendo 3DS, as well as introducing a few new tricks of its own.

First up, you have Snake’s new found ability to crouch and shoot, which can be done in first or the new third-person aim modes. Unfortunately, third-person aiming looks weird, as no new animations have been implemented for this view, resulting in a rather awkward looking Snake. However, this addition brings with it a new realm of mobility that the original was lacking, making the overall experience slightly easier, boss fights in particular. To compliment Snake’s new found mobility, the controls have been slightly reworked, with aiming and shooting taking advantage of the 3DS’ shoulder buttons, bringing the title that bit closer to the modern era of gaming.

Kojima Productions has also made full use of the system’s duel screens, almost completely pushing the game’s HUD onto the second screen. This allows you to instantly access your medical supplies, camouflage and weapons. A map of the current area is also viewable at all times from here, and is rather handy when trying to instantly pick out enemies using your sonar.

The ability to create your own camouflage textures is another nice addition via the 3DS camera, and can provide many moments of fun distraction. However, it is quite the challenge to come up with better camouflage than what the game already offers, but it is possible with a bit of experimentation and just another example of Kojima’s outside of the box thinking.

Whilst Snake Eater 3D is a great game, the main problem with this latest incarnation is that you’ll need Circle Pad Pro to enjoy it fully. Yes, Snake Eater 3D does come with a control scheme for those who don’t want to purchase the attachment, but it certainly detracts from the overall experience. Snake Eater was always designed with two analog sticks in mind and without them it can become a bit of a chore to progress through the game.

LONGEVITY

If you’re experiencing Snake Eater 3D for the first time, the game can around 10 to 15 hours to complete, providing you don’t skip any cutscenes or codec chatter. On the other hand, if you’re a veteran, you’ll probably sneak your way to its climax in about 8 to 10 hours. The real longevity comes when you try to get all the special items, which are unlocked by getting a certain grade at the end of the game on all difficulties.

VERDICT

Snake Eater 3D is an excellent port that makes great use of the 3DS’ unique visual abilities. The lack of a second analog stick is its only real shortcoming, but once a Circle Pad Pro is thrown into the mix, it’s more than worthy of sitting comfortably amongst any Metal Gear fan’s collection. If you’ve yet to experience the wonders of Snake Eater, then you have one extremely difficult decision to make. Do you pick this up for your 3DS or do you get the HD collection instead? If you can afford it, spoil yourself and get both!

8.5/10

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