Metal Gear Solid 3D: Snake Eater Review (Nintendo 3DS)

Despite all the hype that Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty got before its release (remember when folks waited at E3 just to watch the trailer?), we still feel that the strongest sequel that Hideo Kojima and his team worked on was Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.  Taking place in an entirely different time and featuring the kind of involving stealth gameplay that fans clearly ate up, it truly set the trend for action games at the time.  Since then, it’s been re-released on numerous platforms, including a Subsistence package for the PlayStation 2 and inclusion in last year’s Metal Gear Solid HD Collection for PS3 and Xbox 360.  Now, Naked Snake brings his exploits to the Nintendo 3DS, and although it has its moments of frustration, he still gets the job done.  (Cue awesome “Snake Eater” theme song.)

The game takes place in the 1960’s, when one little event could easily trigger a nuclear war between countries.  Naked Snake finds himself in the middle of a tense situation, in which he must eliminate a person he considers his mentor, The Boss, before she triggers an event that will put nations at each other’s throats.  It’s anything but easy, thanks to her Cobra Unit, filled with members of madmen (and women) who have their own way of dealing with enemies.  Naked Snake needs to use every bit of his skills and his cunning if he hopes to stop the Boss’ plan.

If you’ve played Metal Gear Solid 3 before, you know how epic this game gets.  It’s not a straightforward action game, but a game that relies just as heavily on stealth as it does Snake dispatching enemies.  You’ll need to use every bit of thinking you can with this game, especially when it comes to bosses like The Fear or The Sorrow.  (And yes, that incredible encounter with The End remains completely intact.  Don’t worry, hardcore gamers.)

With that, the game makes a mostly intact transition to the Nintendo 3DS.  There is some question when it comes to camera control (it’s better with a second circle pad, the one sold with Resident Evil Revelations), but the rest of the functionality is intact, whether you’re sneaking around a camp or using your side weapons.  What’s more, the game actually makes use of the 3DS’ gyro sensors in certain parts, like helping Snake across a balance beam.  It’s hardly what we’d call a game changer, but it’s nice that Kojima and his team left everything running moderately.

We say moderately because the team may have crammed too much into the game.  All the cut scenes, while amazing in 3D, are unskippable, meaning you can’t pause if you need to stop riding on a local transit or need to do something else.  Same goes for the ever-long CODEC conversations.  They can take forever.  Konami should’ve inputted some sort of ideal quick save system, so we wouldn’t lose our minds starting over at an earlier point in the game.

Still, the game looks very good on the 3DS screen, mild frame rate issues aside.  The third dimension really suits Snake well, and the environments look pretty damn swanky on such a small screen.  The audio is just as good, especially when the “Snake Eater” theme song kicks in.  We can’t stop listening to it.  The dialogue and sound effects are faithfully translated as well.

Yeah, maybe Snake Eater could’ve been chopped back a bit or edited to make the play experience as a whole a little smoother.  But as it stands, this is still a terrific translation of the classic game, retouched with 3D and featuring the kind of gameplay that still stands the test of time.  Even if you think you’ve seen it all before, you owe this Snake a revisit.  Even if it is just for that theme song.