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PlayStation 2
Konami Japan
GENRE: Action
November 02, 2004

Metal Gear Solid: Rising

Metal Gear Solid: Rising

Metal Gear Solid: Rising

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

Metal Gear Solid

More in this Series
 Written by Chris Reiter  on November 30, 2004

Review: At last... the main babe of the game really is a babe!

Love is a word that gets thrown around a lot. Kids say it to their parents, parents to their kids, lovers to each other, and then gamers to their games. Loving a game...a franchise, a game character -- a genius whose life has revolved around the design of one such series that I can emphasize so much for, even if it seems others don't feel the same way about. Now that's love. When you know you have some kind of special connection with someone or something else, and you feel that he, she, or it is the one made for you. I love the Metal Gear series from the bottom of my heart. Come 'ere and let me give you a big wet one...well, maybe later when no one's watching. This love isn't of sexual attraction though. It's of a genuine admiration for true brilliance. That's the kind of love I like to profess for my most impressionable, desirable, enjoyable gaming experiences all the time. At last! The moment of moments has come to fruition...Hideo Kojima's latest artistic enigma, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, is finally here.

Stealth-action, the very definition of the term, was established none more evidently than when Metal Gear Solid arrived on the PlayStation in 1998. Even if Metal Gear Solid wasn't the original "Metal Gear" game, true stealth in the sense that it came about when Metal Gear Solid's Hollywood-like production values were brought into the limelight hadn't actually been perceived as fundamentally as they were in the 1998 sequel, and arguably the originator of the stealth genre itself. Fast forward to 2001, and Metal Gear Solid's follow-up, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, again proved to shape the status of Konami's biggest blockbuster ever built. With plenty of surprises found on this PlayStation 2 flagship title, some were pleased with Hideo Kojima's move to rid the game of its titular character Solid Snake in preference of a newer, never-before-seen Raiden. However, many more fans it seemed were uneasy with the change. They didn't like not being the battle-hardened tough-guy. I, on the other hand, was one who stuck with Hideo's vision of a newborn hero. I loved the facet he had employed for which made the game truly an experience unlike any other. What it comes down to now three years later is the third "pre" episode cased in jungle warfare before we've even come to know of the legendary soldier named Solid Snake.

Turn back the clock. Think of a different time, of a different place decades before the advent of Metal Gear. There was such a time, and there was such a place. And that time and that place was a Russian jungle in the year of 1964. In comes Snake. Parachuting into the sweltering green of the jungle. Out to find one man, one scientist named Sokolov. Once in the hands of the U.S., Sokolov has been traded back to the Russian enemy in return that they retreat so as to prevent a full scale nuclear war that has these two sides at the crossroads of. When it's discovered that Sokolov's secret project that would spur from his captivity in Russia's hands actually is a new form of nuclear weapon, they send in Snake, the one man who can get the job done. But there's more to this story than simply extracting one defective scientist. There's a lot more...

Everyone knows you can't change the past. But when there is no prior history to begin with, you have every right to invent one. A prequel in every sense of the word, Konami's Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater takes the series to a new setting with a wholly redesigned stealth system in mind for its third epic chapter of the Metal Gear Solid saga. Because the initial Metal Gear Solid title began in a period not too far off from now, you can imagine that in the year 1964, technology wasn't as evolutionary as it is in today's makings. With this working logic, the series' revered father Hideo Kojima got to thinking...his original model for stealth could use a facelift. How Konami has altered the method so many fans of the series have gotten attached to over the years, now comes as a shock. There is no longer any such map to display enemy positions and their field of view. Previous installments in the series had players paying attention to a radar that would highlight dots and triangles representing enemy's positions, and which direction it was that they were looking in. We're no longer in the future. We're in the past now where such a guide as that is no longer an option (technologically). But in ridding the game of its traditional system of knowing where an enemy was at all times, Konami now offers a brand-new element of stealth: Something that renews the originality of the series all together.

Camouflage. It's an environmental ability various creatures use to protect themselves from danger. Chameleons are generally the first most recognizable type of animal to put forth such tactics, as their skin change colors to blend with whatever material they're touching. Stick bugs can look like sticks. Even spiders have the advantage of darkness on their side. Snakes are slithery buggers sure, but generally these land and water-based reptiles don't have any unique properties that indistinguishably mask themselves from immediate harm. Not unless they're THE Snake of course. Introducing interchangeable cover-ups as Metal Gear Solid 3's innovative new way to not be seen by the enemy, I think Konami's right on the money this time. Konami has now scrapped its aged interior level design techniques in favor of pitting Snake against a forestry region. Where the former two entries had you worming your way through large enemy bases with fewer portions based outdoors, Metal Gear Solid 3 brings on the trees, the tall grass, and some pitch black cavern passages to channel through. Instead of ducking under cameras and flipping guards off railings, it's now slinking in the grass and slapping on a desert fatigue to become one with nature and look like it does for Snake. By disguising Snake in variable costumes, it's possible to literally trick an enemy into thinking you're part of a red brick wall by putting on a similarly red outfit that reflects its pattern. This survival technique works in conjunction with a percentage meter now seen at the top right-hand meter of the screen where the map once was, tallying between different numbers on a 100% scale when adjusting between camo patterns or otherwise. For example, the red pattern may work well when pressed up against the red wall...but take it off and put on a black or a brown outfit in its stead, and Snake will begin to stick out like a gray alien space craft that's just crash landed into the White House. Numbers determined on the scale are indicated also by how you're positioned -- if you're standing up or laying flat in a bed of grass. Naturally, the idea is to choose the right colors with the right environmental places, stick closely, and don't screw up.

Just as you'd imagine, Metal Gear Solid 3's basis of stealth is more difficult without the support of a mapped radar. But that's only if you're truly committed to the art of sneaking. If you are, it's going to be tough to go uncharted only because you can't always know when and where an enemy is at all times like you could in the other games. Paired with the game's usage of overhead camera and optional first-person views, Snake can employ three radar systems that distinctly detect either moving humans for one, animals for another, or a vibrator that fires up when enemy presences are around. Although each of these tools is obviously outdated. In the case of the human radar you'll have to wait for rotating wave to pick up on any movement. On the animal tracker for another thing, you have to press down on L3 to scope the pinned positions of life forms in a single wave (in which, you'll only receive dotted data for every time L3 is pressed). Battery life is consumed from these and other contraptions as well, making each useless after a while. Fact is, it's not a big deal really since coming in contact with the enemy isn't the end of the world. For those stealth-a-holics who want to experience the game dressed in flawless incognito, Metal Gear Solid 3's method for doing that is a lot more trickier than before. As for everyone else, there are still so many ways to go about completing the game. That's what's always so amazing about the Metal Gear Solid franchise though...its open-endedness. You can literally play the game running and gunning from one jungle scenario to another, or you can take things slowly. If you're like me, you're a tranq-a-holic. Like Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty before it, Snake is equipped with a tranquilizer gun to take down enemies easier than having to deal with getting from point A to point B unnoticed. Still applying appropriate camouflage where needed, as Snake I find a manageable route is to sneakily approach guards from tall grass, the shadows, or somewhere where my outfit sheds me from the enemy's vision. Putting guards to sleep and then knifing them to death (heh...heh...heh), it's just one way you can tackle the dividing sectors that connect the game's route to the finish.

Opposite of that, there are other ways to live by the book. After all, Konami doesn't classify this as a "Tactical Espionage Action" game for nothing. Finding the sniper rifle will give players the ability to kill from a distance. Finding the shotgun or the assault rifle will allow for more firepower in a shootout. There are stun grenades, and flame grenades. Snake can even hop into the back of a group of antiaircraft guns at one point to shoot down helicopters if you don't feel like whipping out the RPG launcher. But as any veteran of the franchise will know, if you don't put a lid on the noise, consequences will ensue. In each fraction of the game's interconnected spaces (which the jungle cohesively pieces from one outdoors location to another, and to another, and then through indoor territories too), there is usually an average of two to three men patrolling in most of these parts, sometimes even more. Head out into a visible range or start target practice with a loud weapon, and the enemy's going to want to call in addition support units like ones that carry armored shields. The only way to get rid of them is either to kill them all, or to secure a hiding spot from them. If you manage to elude the enemy by knocking them out, stunning them, putting them to sleep, or terminating them, any remaining members of the gang will stay on an alert schedule until Snake is found. Place yourself in a locker, under a box, or in some other out of the way location where others won't recognize Snake (such as ducking in a patch of tall grass or slipping under a tank or the like), and the time enemies are alerted to your presence will gradually decrease.

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