March 2, 2012

Snake Eater 3D – The Good, The Bad and The Boss

Metal Gear Solid Snake Eater 3D
In deciding which Metal Gear Solid title to port to another platform, Metal Gear Solid 3 stands as the most viable choice. The story of how Big Boss became the world’s greatest soldier serves as the founding narrative for all future events in the series, providing loving bits for fans while creating the most accessible entry point for those not familiar with tactical espionage action – though it helps that the original Metal Gear Solid would require a far greater overhaul to become eligible for such a trip.

Metal Gear Solid 3D sits alongside four other releases of the game – 3 on the PS2 and most recently within the Metal Gear Solid HD collection for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. With that in mind, it seems more sensible to sort out the good and the bad of this latest 3DS version rather than rambling on about one of the most narrative rich releases in gaming and sticking a number to it.

It might also help sort out whether you’re better off spending the equivalent of what the HD collection costs to get your mitts on only one of the titles that release offers, which presents a pretty tall hurdle from the outset.

The primary draw for Snake Eater 3D ownership is the chance to watch Metal Gear Solid 3’s generous helping of cinematic sequences in 3D.

Many of the long speeches and explanations that litter the game remain rather flat for the trouble, given that there simply isn’t a great deal of action involved in listening to men explain their plans and the history of the franchise. But Snake Eater heavily subscribes to the MGS school of thought that the most important part of forming a specialized military unit is recruiting several paranormal wierdos, which in turn offers plenty of sequences giving firearms a chance to push out from the screen while swarms of bees work to get in the player’s face.

Within the game proper, the 3D effect manages to make aging environments seem less flat, but there’s a consistently muddy feel that left me playing the game the old fashioned way and cranking up the 3D slider whenever cut-scenes took over. There’s also an awkward switch into first-person shooter mode that will give your eyes a jolt as the screen fights to keep projecting a 3D image while changing perspective.

Snake Eater 3D puts the 3DS’ touchscreen to use as a quick means for inventory management and for switching between auto-aim, first-person and third-person options for weapons. This provides easy access to camouflage and health screens, but given that you could always break from the game to manage items and weapons, there’s no real tactile advantage.

The slickest trick in Snake Eater 3D’s goody bag is using the 3DS camera to create camouflage patterns. Players can suspend the game to take new pictures, and trying to find ridiculous patterns was a worthy distraction as well as a tactile advantage with the chance to blend into any environment based on the ability to find similar colors in the real world.

To balance out the good of that addition, Snake Eater also challenges players to physically use the 3DS tilt sensors to keep balance over tree branches and bridges, a task I feel is utterly ridiculous in a game where one is trying to keep all eyes on the screen to avoid detection.

While many seem to favor the 60fps HD version, I’m going to insist that the smaller scale of the 3DS’ screen makes this old warhorse look a lot better versus an HD revisit that couldn’t entirely hope to hide the age of the game. On a portable system, Snake Eater manages to hide its years more successfully while also adding to the ambiance of jungle creatures and sounds.

That last observation likely owes plenty to the way I squished the portable near to my face, and leaves me feeling that the major draw here is for fans that want to be able to take Snake Eater anywhere and/or simply curl up under the covers with the game. It’s worth mentioning that the smaller screen requires sharper eyes to spot hazards in the jungle such as trip wires, mines, and the never ending supply of soldiers, which really makes the HD version more functional and less frustrating in the end.

Players not in possession of the Circle Pad Pro can use the single analog pad and the direction buttons to move and readjust perspective simultaneously, which makes Snake Eater 3D similar to Peace Walker on the PlayStation Portable as far as basic controls. Using a Circle Pad Pro frees up the face buttons however, which makes reloading weapons, climbing trees, and aiming at enemies far less frustrating.

It’s worth mentioning Peace Walker as an example of a Metal Gear Solid title that was created to provide a portable experience, delivering a full game in the series via pockets of play that fit a handheld. Snake Eater 3D is a game revisited to take advantage of the 3DS, but certainly not designed to fit it in the way Resident Evil Revelations recently has – I can’t imagine playing a quick round of this on the bus for instance. Battery charge time can become a major issue given how long players can linger before reaching a crucial boss encounter, suddenly forced to find an outlet or break for a recharge. This isn’t a deal breaker, but certainly something to keep in mind while watching cut-scenes and crawling through the jungle.

I can’t escape the feeling that newcomers would be better served by the HD collection released during the Holidays last year. Snake Eater 3D doesn’t offer the revolution some might have imagined when the title was originally announced, it simply delivers a portable version of a fan favorite with Yoshi toys scattered throughout the game – which make a delightfully familiar sound when shot.

What Konami really serves up here is an intimate means of revisiting a favorite entry in the series with a few bells that don’t do much in the way of whistling, and as much as I enjoy any chance to tango with the Cobras again, I’m hard pressed to recommend paying the price of admission here.


  1. Snake Eater is part of a very short list of games I started but never finished. I quit an hour or so after fighting The End (weird, huh?).

    I’ll try the demo and see if it makes me want to start all over again.

    Comment by EdEN — March 2, 2012 @ 6:45 pm

  2. With MGS HD Collection coming to Vita… that surely seems the way to go for some portable MGS 3 action.

    Comment by Ujn Hunter — March 13, 2012 @ 12:47 pm

  3. I have this game on PS2. When the Vita version of MGS 3 is released, I would like a comparison with the 3DS version of MGS 3.  I’ll ignore the fact that the Vita version will have MGS 2.  While ignoring the 3D part of the 3DS version since I have no interest in 3D at the moment.  I want me some best of portable Metal Gear Solid 3!

    Comment by Win Umali — April 9, 2012 @ 6:11 pm

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