Benjamin Sherry ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Video Games Editor
In 2004, Hideo Kojima finished work on a game considered by many to be his absolute masterpiece. Coming off of the paranoia and twist-filled horror of his previous entry in the Metal Gear Solid series, Kojima turned back the clock to tell an origin story of Big Boss, a character who’s shadow had loomed large over Kojima’s epic. Kojima set his game in Cold War USSR, and created what may be one of the greatest and most enduring stealth games of all time.
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater plunges the player straight into the action, with an hours-long initial mission that sets the stakes for the meat of the game — a mission to rescue an embattled scientist and put a stop to a Soviet plan to turn this Cold War a few degrees hotter. In his mission, Snake will meet super-powered enemies, fall for a tough as nails double agent, and first cross paths with the shadowy origination known as the Philosophers.
The game plays better than either of its predecessors, with a maneuverable camera and added close quarters combat (CQC) functionality. Snake has a great deal of weapons to choose from, letting players approach any situation however they’d like. Players can go through the entire game without killing a single enemy, using tranquilizer darts or simply sneaking past enemy lines. Stealth is rewarding and fun in Snake Eater — there’s few things more satisfying than crawling right past a battalion of soldiers, none of them the wiser. With new additions such as camouflage and environmental stealth, it’s the easiest stealth had ever been in an MGS game.
David Hayter returns in the lead role, voicing Naked Snake in a story that’s been greatly slimmed down from previous installments. In its place Kojima creates an old school spy take, complete with a bombastic opening song. Snake has been betrayed by his mentor, and must put and end to her and to the Shagohod, sort of a Metal Gear point five. Kojima’s trademark style and humor remains ever-present for better or worse, with long existential speeches about humanity being cut short by grown men about to crap their pants. The story may seem inconsequential to those coming off of MGS1 & 2, but it proves to be essential in giving context to the insane events of the other games.
As wonderful as sneaking is, the true feature of any Metal Gear Solid is the boss fights, and Metal Gear Solid 3 might feature the best of the bunch. From the a fight with a much younger Revolver Ocelot to Snake’s final battle against his former mentor, to a true battle of attrition with a sniper known as The End, Snake Eater‘s bosses continue to surprise and push the box so many years after its initial release.
Twelve years after its release, Snake Eater absolutely holds up. The story remains epic in scope and the game play strikes the perfect balance of sneaky and badass. It also remains maybe the easiest to follow Metal Gear Solid story of them all, requiring basically no knowledge of the previous games. With over-the-top codec conversations and monologues, no one playing snake eater will be wanting for more dialogue, but by the end of the game, this player felt truly connected to Snakes allies and adversaries. Kojima is telling a story about a world divided, and the people in this world seemingly willing to give up everything to make it whole again.
With all this in mind, it isn’t a stretch to consider Metal Gear Solid 3 not just a high point for the series, but a high watermark for all games. This is still one for the ages.