MGS3: Snake Eater First Impressions

I got this last night and dorked around with it for about 30 minutes.

  1. Wow, the controls are awful. MGS and MGS2 had awkward controls but it was OK - they were unique. But since MGS2 we’ve had the 2 Splinter Cell games - there is no excuse for MGS3 to have this awful control scheme.

Basically you are locked in a top down perspective, no camera control other than being able to pan it slight in each direction. Snake goes where you point the left analog stick. What’s really frustrating is that when shimmying it seems you are randomly locked into a first person view - the only way out of it is to stand up. This REALLY sucks as the FPS view is terribly restrictive - its useful for aiming guns, but when evaluating where a guard is in relation to you it sucks.

Case in point: I was trying to sneak past a guard by crawling through some low grass. Was doing fine until it randomly threw me into FPS mode - now I have no idea where the guard is. Inevitably he stumbles across me, I get caught.

  1. Camouflage. This is just stupid. OK, the premise is you have a menu where you can set the camouflage you’re using on your face and what you’re wearing. Different environments benefit from different camo. Supposedly this enhances the stealth aspects of the game - it really doesn’t. Mainly because you can see exactly the benefit any given type of camo gives you at any moment - it’s in the menu. So really camo is reduced to a chore - hit start, change camo, move through grass up to tree, lean against tree, hit start, change camo, wait for guard to pass, hit start, change camo… you get the point. It’s just an utterly obnoxious gameplay mechanic.

  2. CHRIST SHUT THE FUCK UP. I played this game for 20-30 minuts last night. I spent about an hour with it - most of it boring exposition on the radio about the nature of soldiers. Look, it’s hard to take Snake seriously as a Jack Bauer or Sam Fischer level badass when he spends ten minutes on the radio angsting about his former boss who left him. I was hoping that MGS3 would abandon the bullshit Jack-and-Rose style melodrama of MGS2, but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards.

So far, I’m regretting my purchase decision. I’ll play it some more tonight, see if I can’t get past the controls and find out if there’s a decent stealth game here. If not, I’ll just return it and wait for Splinter Cell 3.

First off the FPS viewshift is not random. It occurs when you’re in a field of tall grass. With good camo you should be practically invisible unless an enemy walks right on top of you. Crawl towards the edge of the grass and you should be able to get the top view without any camo detriment. Don’t forget to use the D-pad to walk/crawl silently.

Secondly with regards to the “Shut the fuck up” factor, I agree that the begining (half hour to an hour) is annoyingly chat heavy. However, I urge you to continue forward because after that it goes way down.

MGS3: Snake Eater has its share of flaws (awful camera when moving any direction other than north for example) but there are some truly awe inspiring and innovative moments that should really be experienced.

The attention to detail, the action scenes, the animation, the boss battles, all really stand on a league of their own.

for what it’s worth:

I started playing it not long ago and being extremely disappointed. I have memories of having a good time playing MGS2, but recently I tried playing Twin Snakes and literally quit after playing the first room for about 3 hours total. Having read all the super favorable reviews for Snake Eater, I was definitely expecting the fun right off but instead got a camera I hated, frustrating gameplay, and hours of non-interactivity at a time.

I actually looked to the internet and friends to find out what I was missing, how in this post splinter cell/thief world can I play this and have fun. What do I need to do to see what the rest of the world saw.

I soldiered on in the days to come, and have come to see the light. My problem was fear of being found. Thief and to a lesser degree Splinter Cell you play through trying your damndest not to get caught. Fuck it, don’t be afraid to rambo - it is the jungle after all. One of my favorite moments so far was skulking about, running up to a guard, slitting his throat, climbing to the roof where I waited for his friend to discover the body and then i jumped on the dude’s head.

The chatter goes WAY down after you start the game proper (4-5 hours in?) and honestly, I think the cutscenes are really damn cool, but the guy’s an idiot if he thinks the style can translate to the big screen and real actors.

I’m maybe 12 hours in, and no, I don’t understand the lavish praise the game received. It’s fun to watch, it’s fun at times to play, and now that I’m cool with being caught and laying waste I haven’t really been frustrated.

Agreed on the camo, although I do get an odd satisfaction when i’m up at 90% or wearing zombie facepaint. It’s a clunky interface worsened by the fact that there’s no improvisation to it: you hit start and look at what will give you the highest camo boost.

I wrote up my thoughts earlier; I’m being lazy and just copy/pasting them:

Metal Gear Solid 2 was a fine game spoiled by creator Hideo Kojima’s creative hubris and lack of editing. In the third MGS game, Snake Eater, Kojima reigns in his post-modern showboating and gets back to what we like; making thrilling games that tell fun stories.

Snake Eater’s 1960s jungle setting teems with vegetation and wildlife, making the most convincing virtual jungle I’ve seen. A number of gameplay tweaks create a survivalist feel: Snake must hunt wild animals for food, perform medical care on himself, and use camoflague to sneak through the brush successfully. These additions do much to establish the setting.

Unfortunately, the core gameplay mechanics have not aged well. Controlling Snake is needlessly complex and fussy for tasks like climbing on top of boxes or crawling in the intended direction. Moving stealthfully is now a daunting task due to the zoomed in camera and a “realistic” lack of radar. Stealthy play often requires more effort than many are willing to exert; players must constantly switch to first person mode and cycle through various devices like thermal goggles and directional microphones to determine the location of the enemy.

Thankfully, being discovered is rarely a big deal. Snake can be surrounded by enemy agents with assault rifles and lose only half his health. The game rarely requires the player to remain hidden.

While the core gameplay is not in top form, the boss battles in MGS3 are the best of the series. The highlight of the game is an unforgettable sniper fight covering a few square kilometers of dense jungle terrain. This isn’t a 5 minute long Sniper Wolf-style hallway shootout; two hours of cat-and-mouse, crawling through the brush hunting your enemy down while he’s trying to do the same. It is the ultimate realization of a Metal Gear Solid encounter that combines taut boss encounters with robust stealth mechanics.

Storywise, Snake Eater is as stupid and over-the-top as you’d assume, but less pretentious than MGS2 would have you expect. The Metal Gear world remains a bewildering concoction of a hyper-realistic “Soldier of Fortune” adherence to period weaponry, eyebrow-raising revisionings of historical events like the Cuban Missle Crisis, and super-villian style enemies that use photosynthesis to heal themselves.

Even though the story is silly, overly complex, and head-scratchingly confusing, the characters and action scenes make it remarkably enjoyable. The characters are amusing to watch, such as the young Revolver Ocelot and love interest Eve. The “Boss” character, Snake’s mentor, deserves special recognition. This virtual actress, through uncanny animation and superb voice direction, steals every scene with her powerful presence.

The action scenes are sublime and collectively surpass any action movie I can recall. The scenes are kinetic and brilliantly choreographed, and can be used as convincing arguments that cutscenes do have a place in gaming.


Unless, of course, you sniped The End when he was sitting in the wheelchair, in which case the entire scene you describe never happens. That happened to me. I took him out and never even had this battle, much less got the special camo you get by holding him up three times in a row.


And for what it’s worth, I agree almost completely with your assessment. One of the things I’ve always found so maddening about Metal Gear Solid is the juxtaposition with incredibly high levels of surface realism (models, textures, historical references, gun audio, etc.) with an embarrasingly juvenile story and tone. It’s like Konami has an annual “bring your kid to work day and let him write a story arc.” The kid looks at the cold war setting a says, “Kojima, dude, you know what would rock? Boobies! Give this spy chick some tig ol’ bitties and let her bust 'em out for no reason. That would rawk!”

Ignoring the awful camera, pointless camo mechanic, ludicrous theme song, and tedious eating busy work, MGS is still a baffling collection of the sublime with the supremely ridiculous.

This from FABIO on Caltrops.

Yeah, that pretty much guarantees I won’t play the game. I don’t have the patience to sit through that much pseudo-hollywood wankery.

While the camo and eating can be seen as busy work, I rather liked them. The stealth system is almost completely comprimised with the camera and controls, the camoflage does help keep some option of sneaking in the game. My only major objection is the couple second pause that occurs when you enter the options screen.

The theme song is awesome! I wouldn’t listen to it in my free time, but it certainly sets the game as a 60’s James Bond movie, an analogy that is supported through much of the game.

Anyways, I’m sorry you didn’t get to fight The End. If you can stand playing through the game again, I’d recommend it.


So I played more last night (finally, busy weekend).

I did some Snake vs. Monkey to get the controls down - the crouch/lay down control still throws me off, but not too badly.

The alarm system really is retarded - the caltrops poster was absolutely right; it’s simply absurd. If you’re caught you basically have to:

  1. Kill the guy who saw you
  2. Kill the 2-3 guys who come running
  3. Find a hiding spot before the 2-3 more guys find you
  4. Lay there for 3 minutes and hope the 2-3 guys don’t magically find you

I haven’t seen them come directly for me when I’m hidden - rather, they tend to just make a pretty wide sweep and stumble over me. Which of course resets the entire timer.

The utterly inane chatter is obnoxious. Save-game girl likes to talk about old movies! Major Tom is now Major Zero because [5 minute digression]. Also, most of the game is cutscene - at the end of the first mission (about an hour into the game) there is seriously about a 45 minute stretch of time where your only interaction with the game is five minutes learning to use the “Cure” menu - the rest is cutscene.

I got a few guns too. The gunfights are amazingly awkward - in FPS view you shoot accurately but can’t move to dodge. Don’t bother shooting outside of FPS view, you’ll miss.

I really loved the original Metal Gear Solid. I didn’t like 2, and so far I’m not liking 3 - has the core gameplay mechanic really changed that much? Or am I just used to MUCH better games like Splinter Cell?


I really loved the original Metal Gear Solid. I didn’t like 2, and so far I’m not liking 3 - has the core gameplay mechanic really changed that much? Or am I just used to MUCH better games like Splinter Cell?

If you really loved MGS1 then I would say that MGS3 would be right up your alley. MGS1 actually has a MUCH higher codec/cutscene to gameplay ratio.

A couple of things: If you want to play it all stealthy then as soon as you get caught you can use the suicide pill to continue from the same screen immediately. Alternatively, you can play a more ‘balls to the wall’ approach and kill off the guards in the area plus the few backups that are called in if you are sloppy. After that the alarm goes away quickly. CQC is vital in this approach as it allows you to take men down almost instantly.

Personally, I loathe the linear, trial and error snorefest that is Splinter Cell.

I’ve avoided this after the Penny Arcade review. If they’re not going to like it there’s no chance I will.

Halverston had an orgasm over this game in the latest Play, but I find I can no longer trust his “Fruit Radar”. I think he’s a broken man since the loss of the Dreamcast.

Sorry Jazar, I have to take issue with this statement: “Alternatively, you can play a more ‘balls to the wall’ approach and kill off the guards in the area plus the few backups that are called in if you are sloppy. After that the alarm goes away quickly. CQC is vital in this approach as it allows you to take men down almost instantly.”

That’s exactly what I do - and that just isn’t the case. IF I can kill the guard AND the 2-3 guys he summoned BEFORE more guys show up, I’m looking forward to 2-3 minutes laying prone in grass (where I can’t see shit) and hoping that the 2-3 more guard that have magically spawned don’t stumble over me (I’d try to dodge them except, you know, I can’t see them). Argh just thinking about it pisses me off.

I’m going to give this game another few hours - but it’s coming precariously close to being traded in for something like Mercenaries or RE4.


I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but gunshots give you surprisingly little damage in this game. This means if you screw up in stealth and you want to go all Rambo then just roll with the punches, run up to people and knock 'em down with CQC. If there are a large number of guys, grab one and use him as a body shield while you shoot the rest. No need to hide in the bushes for hours.

If you are hiding here are a few more things: 1) Remember you can always hide at the edge of tall grass for the top down view and still have the same camo index. 2) Using the motion detector in alert, caution or evasion mode should help tremendously in determining where the enemy is located and where they are headed. 3) Finally, tall grass isn’t the best place to hide during alert, caution or evasion mode IMO. Try to look for more inconspicuous and out of the way places that you can set the controler down and still be sure that you won’t be found.


You’re right about being able to just “rambo” it - the problem is that there are a TON of games that are better for that type of run and gun gameplay. Really that’s what it comes down to - in the years since the original Metal Gear Solid tons of games have come out that are just downright better at what MGS aspires to do (the stealth/action hybrid).

I’m going to keep it through the weekend, see if I like it more. Otherwise, it’s getting traded in.