First Impressions: Still hungry for some Snake?
You knew it would happen. After both Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid 2 received 'ultimate' editions of the critically acclaimed titles, it was a foregone conclusion that Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater would get the double-dip treatment, with Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence. While past MGS updates usually didn't reinvent the wheel, and only include minor diversions, Subsistence goes far beyond these games, as Kojima Productions (the new name of Hideo Kojima's development studio) has added new features out the ying-yang, in an obvious attempt to test upcoming possibilities for Metal Gear Solid 4 on the PlayStation 3. Building on what was one of the finest games of 2004, MGS3: Subsistence offers enough new and cool to warrant a double-dip, no matter how many times you guided Big Boss through the jungles of Russia or stared at Eva's artificially enhanced boobage...or if you've never played it at all, this is the perfect version to pick up to experience the greatness of MGS3 for the first time. Hitting stores in fall 2005, Subsistence looks to be Kojima's grand sendoff for the PS2, and a litmus test for his initial adventure on PS3.
There are no VR missions this time around, mostly due to the whole 'game takes place in the 1960's' angle, but there's still a good bit of fun stuff. There's a mode that lets you battle bosses in successive order, so you can replay that intense yet sad battle with The Boss, or the seemingly endless sniping duel with The End. A Cutscene Theater is here as well, letting you view the story without actually playing the game, as well as some parody cutscenes that make light of some of MGS3's sillier moments. The goofy Snake vs. Monkey returns with more missions too, creating a fun diversion for the whole family. There's no Snakeboarding this time around though, which is too bad. Instead, why not play through the games that started it all? Because Subsistence will include Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake ? the two original MSX versions. The first Metal Gear came out on NES in altered form, but MG2 never saw our shores, and instead we got the terrible Snake's Revenge. But since Metal Gear Solid is such a phenomenon now, Kojima Production is releasing the original versions, fully translated, for the very first time in the US, aside from technically illegal (though translated) ROMs and MSX emulators. Metal Gear 2 being included is a real treat ? many of the conventions used in the MGS series got their starts with this classic title. Now if only we could get Policenauts released here.
Those who played Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance will note that the main Sons of Liberty game was unchanged from the original, which might have disappointed those who had wished to play as Solid Snake the entire game, or at least part of the portion on the Big Shell. The Snake Eater game also will be unchanged, though with one big exception. In addition to the traditional overhead 2D camera, the Subsistence version of Snake Eater will feature a fully 3D camera typical of most action/adventure games of the current era (known to MGS fans as the 'Splinter Cell cam.' For those who couldn't stand the camera function (and there were obviously plenty of you given the mass complaints heard all over the Interweb), this will be a godsend, since you'll be able to actually see what's going on without using first person view constantly. Though personally I had little trouble with MGS3's camera, it indeed was a bit outdated, and without the radar being included this time around, it became more noticeable compared to the same exact setup in MGS/MGS2. Either way, you'll get the same great adventure, starring Snake as he looks to stop a nuclear crisis with typical MGS enemy Russia, and explain the origins of Metal Gear, Big Boss, and Revolver Ocelot, to name a few. Snake Eater is solid proof you can make a prequel and have it forward the story like a sequel, and ultimately set up the entire franchise itself...it's only fitting that Subsistence allows for the entire Metal Gear series (minus the Game Boy Color version) to be played on a PlayStation 2 console, considernig how important this game is to the entire saga.
Saving the best for last, Subsistence features the next evolutionary step in stealth games ? online. It's not like Pandora Tomorrow/Chaos Theory online though; instead it's built around the things that make Metal Gear great. For instance, you can take control of generic soldiers in a Team Battle setup, and eliminate opponents while sneaking around the maps, and a 'Vs Snake' dealie where you team up with other players to stop the one person playing as Snake. There likely will be a typical 'deathmatch' option as well, but other multiplayer types haven't been mentioned as of yet. If it all works out, MGS3 Subsistence could offer an online setup that rivals SOCOM in popularity, though that is indeed a tall, tall order.