Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D‎ Review

Some control issues distract from an otherwise stellar port of a console game.

By Andrew Hsieh. Posted 03/26/2012 18:05 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
1-Up Mushroom for...
Great sound design as usual; fine story and characters; excellent graphics and control additions
Poison Mushroom for...
Distracting controls; lack of gyroscopic controls

It’s 1964 again in Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D, and the timing couldn’t be better. Hailed as one of the most delicious best-looking games on 3DS back in E3 2010, Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D‎ definitely lives up to the hype in that regard– and, thankfully, there’s substance to that style, too.

If you’ve played Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater or its update, Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence, you’ll be pretty familiar with the game on 3DS. That’s not to say that it’s not an upgrade– in fact, in terms of control alone, Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D‎ has entered the modern era. Eight years ago, players complained about the often top-down view a la Metal Gear Solids of yore; even in Subsistence aiming your gun was sometimes difficult, which in one sense made sense considering the espionage action of the game, but also made it hard to play the game exactly the way some players wanted.

Well, both problems have been solved: Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D‎ not only adds extra control schemes for those inevitable times when players decide to forego punching and go straight to gunning (including a third-person style similar to Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker), but also allows you to move while aiming and crouching. There’s even an upgrade of sorts to the Camouflage system– players can take pictures using the 3DS and then transform them into camo, sometimes making schemes that are even better disguises than the built-in ones. Improvements abound, that’s for sure, especially when it’s so easy to access abilities like that on the new touch screen apparatus.

We’re sure others have made “snake in the grass” jokes already, so we won’t.

These changes in mobility definitely make Naked Snake a lot more agile in Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D‎, as is befitting his special ops status, but there are some other things in the way– namely, controls. In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, one of the easiest ways to aim in lieu of a true analog stick was to use the 3DS’ built-in gyroscopic controls; those are gone in Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D‎, and it’s more for the worse than the better. Much of this game relies on you being able to take down enemies before they turn around and look you straight in the snake eyes; using the face buttons and even the Circle Pad Pro to aim is a bit unwieldy and not at all quick. (It’s not as though the developers wholly forgot about the gyroscope, either– in fact, gyroscopic controls manage your balance when you walk across bridges and other precarious positions, and these controls are either unnoticeable or annoying.) Maybe you planned to snipe that soldier standing right by that bridge, unmoving, apparently an easy shot? Nope. You missed. Sorry.

Even in terms of moving around, Naked Snake seems a little bit unwieldy for a future father of Solid, Liquid, and Solidus Snake– to say nothing of making it to the end of this Cold War scenario. While Major Zero and Co. cheer Naked Snake on via comm-link (with conversations as amusing as any Metal Gear Solid title), what they want Snake to do usually is easier said than done. True to his name, Naked Snake spends most of his time on his belly in the grass, avoiding enemies whose eyesight often seem curiously bad. At this point, the view often shifts to first-person perspective, which is fine– it’s easy to look around this way, and in some cases it’s quite immersive. Other times it’ll shift to third-person with neither rhyme nor reason, which certainly becomes distracting when you really need to see what’s right in front of Snake.

Moving and aiming is great, but it’s probably not good to do it while you’re on a bridge.

Meanwhile, while it’s easy to look around a field swarming with enemies and formulate some kind of wondrous plan to take them all out, it’s still not that easy to execute it. (Or them.) Snake can only climb onto some surfaces, for instance, even if said surfaces seem easily climbable even for those not fortunate enough to be as buff as Snake is. This necessitates going around making sure which crates are climbable, and precludes any on-the-spot thinking– if that enemy’s running toward you with your back to a box, you’d better hope you can climb over it. If not, well, it’s a good thing there aren’t lives in this game!

At this point, it may sound like Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D is worth neither your time nor your money– but truly speaking, it really is. The graphics are fine as ever (and in some cases look even better than the original), and though there are some framerate issues, a little mental adjusting is all that’s needed for most of them. The story as usual is top-notch, and not as confusing as some of the other Metal Gear Solid titles we could name (Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, we’re looking at you)– it probably helps that the main conflict, involving Snake’s attempt to understand the motives behind his mentor’s defection, is something a little closer to home than the typical end-of-the-world scenario.

Who knew hot pink flowers could make such great camouflage?

And while Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D certainly attempts– and succeeds– in telling a serious, gritty story, there’s something to be said for the lighthearted commentary available via comm-link, including movie discussion with Para-Medic and gung-ho weapons talk with Sigint. The game succeeds because of the story rather than despite it– and the controls aren’t terrible enough to stop you from wanting to play more. And as far as 3D goes– well, they’re not entirely necessary, but they’re a nice touch, too, especially when you’re judging the distance between you and an enemy.

“There are no guarantees in espionage,” Major Zero tells Naked Snake at one point in Snake Eater 3D. “Only calculated guesses.” And as far as we’re concerned, you could do a worse hypothesis than this game.

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