The Vault is APG's tribute to what we believe to be the best games of all time. Read on to find out why I thought MGS3 was so supreme.
Metal Gear Solid has had a great run. The series has spanned platforms from the MSX all the way to current-gen consoles, a 28-year love letter to videogame fans that includes the original two Metal Gear games, the five core Metal Gear Solid games, and numerous prequels, spinoffs, and other titles that carry the awesome Metal Gear name. While the entire series’ success is nothing to sneeze at, I feel the series (and videogames as a whole) reached its pinnacle with the absolutely divine Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. It is my personal favorite game of all time and a game that belongs in the greatest games ever made conversation. Here’s why.
From the moment Metal Gear Solid 3 launches, you realize that you’re in for a treat. As Cynthia Harrell belts out “Snake Eater,” the greatest song in any videogame ever made, and the gorgeous psychedelic intro to the game unfolds before your eyes, you truly do feel as supreme as she says. It oozes classiness and sets the tone right away for the noir Bond influence the game handles so well.
In MGS 3, you play as Naked Snake, a CIA operative sent to the jungles of Tselinoyarsk to rescue a scientist from Soviet hands and prevent nuclear war. As any good espionage film, Snake Eater has twists and turns that will leave you breathless (especially the final stinger) delivered in beautiful cutscenes with superb voice acting that are both badass and, in classic Metal Gear fashion, so bizarre that it’s amazing. These cutscenes all have an unparalleled cinematic flair through excellent camerawork and facial animation, especially the eyes of the characters. Second and third playthroughs of the game will reveal that characters’ true motives were there the whole time through subtle glances and body language that are well masked the first time around.
Speaking of playing, the gameplay of MGS3 is where I feel the stealth-focused series hit its stride. It introduced CQC (Close Quarters Combat), a melee system that allows you to grab, punch, or throw enemies in a smooth dynamic fashion. It also deviated the series away from top-down camera control, introducing third-person, and eliminated the always-on radar of the first two MGS games. Finally, a camo system (you’re in the jungle for most of the game after all), a food system to regenerate stamina as it drains throughout the game, and a healing system for when you get shot or fall were all mechanics introduced in Snake Eater. All these new features join together to create absolute freedom for the player within each stealth “zone” to approach the situation as they see fit. Whether silently knocking out and tranquilizing enemies or going HAM and unloading on baddies with the M60 accompanied by a David Hayter Rambo-like yell, the game is a blast to play and encourages multiple playthroughs with all the tools in your arsenal to play with.
The boss fights break up the stealth action of the game and are a testament to the zany cast of characters Snake Eater has. Each fight is unique in approach and while The End and The Sorrow are most famous for their outside-the-box approaches and idiosyncrasy, every single fight is special in its own right. The option to approach fights either lethally or nonlethally again encourages replay. Interesting little quirks like being able to shoot The End before his boss fight and completely avoid having to do it (don’t do that, it’s a fantastic sniper duel to the death!) or using the Fake Death Pill to trick the Fear into showing himself before you revive yourself and pop him full of bullets are things only Metal Gear would be able to successfully accomplish, and finding these little Easter eggs just adds to the fun even more. Each boss brings something special to the table and it all culminates in an extremely emotional final boss that will leave your tear ducts in shambles.
The final thing that needs to be said about this game is that it truly plays out like a movie in its pacing. It is absolutely perfect, hitting you with a couple zones and then bombarding you with an awesome cutscene that will leave you wanting to dive back in and get to the next one. Each boss fight slows down or quickens the pace in their own right to balance the game out at a solid 10-13 hours, an exhilarating stealth rodeo that plays with your superspy fantasies and your emotions to deliver a truly complete game.
In case you couldn’t tell, I REALLY like Metal Gear Solid 3. I encourage you if you have not played it to stop what you’re doing and play it (if not the whole Metal Gear Solid series) as soon as possible. I’d like to thank Hideo Kojima for his passion and his heartfelt 28 years that he’s dedicated to this brainchild of his, stemming from his affection for movies and how to stretch the borders of videogame interactivity while creating something fun at the same time. Snake Eater is the epitome of why I love videogames and I can confidently say that it belongs in the Vault as one of the greatest games ever made. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater took me to Outer Heaven. Will you join me?