"Kept The Big N Waiting, Huh?!"
Nintendo has made many poor decisions over the past decade or two. Among their mistakes include choosing low-storage proprietary media for their games, wasting effort and money on gimmicky accessories, alienating third parties, and –perhaps most damningly- lacking Metal Gear Solid titles. The only Nintendo entries in Hideo Kojima's sprawling postmodern masterpiece have been a low-tech Game Boy spin-off, a bizarre Super Smash Bros. appearance by Solid Snake, and an obnoxiously over-the-top GameCube remake of the PlayStation original. Thankfully, the 3DS offers Nintendo fans a proper taste of Snake, in an excellent remake of one of the series' best, Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D.
While some might have preferred an original MGS rather than an enhanced port, it was a good choice on Kojima Productions' part to choose Metal Gear Solid 3 for the remake. MGS3 is a prequel to the rest of the series, so it lacks the infamously convoluted and newbie-unfriendly plots of the other games. The title is also well regarded, and it's considered by many as one of the PlayStation 2's greatest games.
For the uninitiated, the short description of MGS3 is a spy story set in the Cold War, casting players as elite CIA agent Naked Snake as he infiltrates the wilds of Russia. The long description involves a brutal deconstruction of spy movies and wartime morality, a story where the hero comes to realize that he's a puppet of governments who care more for propagating themselves than for the welfare of any of their constituents. The ending may well be the most depressing in video game history, and it becomes even harsher in the context of later games — Naked Snake, after all, is destined to become the anarchist villain known as Big Boss, a tragically disgraced hero similar to Anakin Skywalker were he written with actual depth.
Of course, many gamers don't care about the subtext of the narrative and just want to slit enemy throats. Those players can skip the cutscenes (albeit to their own detriment) and focus on the gameplay offered in Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D, which is better than ever. The original MGS3 was greater than the sum of its parts, but those parts were often flawed. The Survival Viewer mechanic, the one that forced players to constantly pause to systematically treat Snake's wounds and feed him local wildlife, has been mapped to the touch screen, allowing much quicker access to each feature. It's still a bit tedious, but it's easier to use if you have the stylus on hand (I personally recommend holding it between two fingers when not in use, a la Snake's CQC knife grip). The camera has been overhauled, replacing the awkward fixed camera with the roaming view and an over-the-shoulder aiming mode of later MGS games. Using the face buttons to move and aim can be clunky, but it's certainly superior to the automatic aiming of the original. Moreover, the Circle Pad Pro offers nearly perfect control, albeit at the cost of the system's portability. Even the updated camera from the Subsistence remake wasn't this accurate.
There isn't much new content to Snake Eater 3D, other than a few 3DS-exclusive gimmicks. You can map your digital photos to Snake's uniform as Camouflage (which doesn't really show up on his fatigues, thus quashing my dream of having Snake wear the face of my cat), and crossing the iconic rope bridge now requires gyroscopic steering of the system (which is more annoying than innovative). In addition, the Kerotan dolls have been relocated and replaced with miniature Yoshis, forcing veterans to tackle this side-quest all over again. The rest of the game is more or less the same as the original, but that's hardly a bad thing. Players still get to devour most of the animal kingdom, endure sniper duels that can provide over an hour of nerve-wracking tension, and ogle the female spy EVA via secret first-person viewpoints. The removal of the original's tedious idiosyncracies only enhances Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D, giving Nintendo fans the best version yet of one of the greatest games ever made.
GameDynamo's Score for Metal Gear Solid 3D: Snake Eater (3DS)
Neil Kapit is a freelance writer, cartoonist, and "La Li Lu Le Lo" agent based in Los Angeles. His work can be seen on www.therubynation.com.
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