Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D – Video Game Review
By Justin Polak
Co-founder, Ambassador to the Mushroom Kingdom
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is my favorite MGS game to date. The setting, characters, music and many other aspects captured my imagination back in 2004. The Subsistence version, released two years later, fixed minor problems like camera control and had loads of goodies. Last year, that same version was included in the HD collection for the PlayStation 3. One might be asking themselves if a 3DS port is necessary at this point, even from someone like me. Well, let’s find out!
As far as the controls go, MGS3D gave me my first experience with the Circle Pad Pro attachment. It felt kind of funky at first, but I got used to it as the game progressed. Plus, it’s a hell of a lot better than using the 3DS by itself. However, neither control scheme lets you automatically center the camera, something this game, especially on a handheld, desperately needed.
One of the more innovative elements about MGS3 was the backpack inventory system. Through a series of menus, Snake can select camouflage, eat food to maintain stamina, heal severe injuries, select weapons and perform other various tasks. While the focus on more survival `based stealth was fun, I never liked how you had to pause the action to do just about anything. It was annoying to change into better camo because you moved a few feet or stop to remove a gunshot wound in the middle of a heated boss battle.
The touchscreen now handles those functions, and while you don’t have to spend as much time clicking through menus thanks to shortcuts, the action still stops whenever you need to manage anything out of your backpack. It does succeed in making the effort less clunky, but the constant pausing still throws the pacing off.
What I did l enjoy was the inclusion of MGS4-like controls. It’s a lot easier to run and gun, for example. You can also move around in first person mode and even prop the camera behind the shoulder. Kojima Productions also included the red or blue damage indicators from Peace Walker which helps make life easier on the smaller screen. I have to admit that I wish the console versions included these features.
As far as the 3D itself goes, the effect works adequately for MGS3D. They put effort into making the cinematic scenes more dramatic but not annoyingly so, where everything is popping out at you. The 3D doesn’t really add that much to the overall experience, but I would by lying if I said it wasn’t a nice touch.
MGS3 veterans will notice right off the bat that some sacrifices were made to fit this game on the tiny 3DS cart. There is a lower frame rate, but it wasn’t as choppy as I thought as it was going to be before I first played it. The only real frame rate issues happen during some cut scenes, and even then it’s not that much worse than how it was on the PS2.
However, it is obvious where they made sacrifices. Aside from a few textures being a little more on the blurry side, there is obvious texture pop-in. It’s mainly shows as the vegetation around snake suddenly grows just a few feet ahead of him. The way it looked at times actually reminded me of how the Forest Spirit in the anime movie Princess Mononoke had plants grow wherever it stepped! That effect didn’t ruin anything for me, but still, more picky people out there might want to take a look at videos online before making a purchase.
A small, but fun addition is the ability to make camo by using the 3DS camera. You don’t even have to quit the game to either take a photo you already have and convert it, or even take a pic while you are in the middle of a session! It’s tough to actually photograph something that will work well with Snake, but it certainly is possible. My cat’s fur pattern was the best camo in the game at a couple of points!
At the end of the day, while I like the ability to play MGS3 wherever I go, I already had three copies of this game to begin with. This version sports the smoothest battle/stealth controls (with the Circle Pad Pro), but I still prefer the console versions, especially the HD version on the PS3. As a handheld game it works surprisingly well, long cutscenes and all. They even considered battery life by making the alert/evasion/caution phases a lot shorter, but actually having guards hunt for you for a long period of time is an aspect that I loved in the original version.
I would say that it is really up to personal tastes if you should own MSG3D. I’m a big enough fan to enjoy it on the go, despite my console HD preference. A person who had never played the game before might enjoy it, but I don’t think there are that many people who are into the MGS series that haven’t already trekked through this gem. The port was a fantastic effort by Kojima Productions, but I don’t think it was entirely necessary to port MGS3 to a handheld.
Front page image and screenshots courtesy of Konami.