At a glance...

Reviewer Platform Publisher Developer Players Screenshots
Ross Gilder PlayStation 2 Konami of Europe Kojima Productions 1-8 (Online) Here
Requirements Buy from Amazon.co.uk
Memory Card, Network Adapter for online play (pre-Slim models) Click here to buy Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence review

When Hideo Kojima gave us Metal Gear Solid 2, I personally felt that the game was somewhat lacking when compared to its 1999 predecessor. So you'll be glad to hear Metal Gear Solid 3 is more than I had hoped for.

MGS3: Snake Eater takes place in 1967 in the Soviet Union, stepping back from the 21st Century action in the previous two titles. As such, you play as the legendary Big Boss - or Naked Snake - whose remains were a major plot feature in the original. He looks rather similar to Solid Snake, which isn't particularly surprising if you know the history. Back to the game, the amazing story features improvements in respect to everything I didn't like about the previous games. Gone are the long and sometimes tedious codec sequences from the original. In fact, it's really only the first few hours that you’ll see a lot of then. On the other hand, the cut-scenes are much closer together, especially during the first, virtuous mission, which serves really as a tutorial.

Presentation of the game has been tweaked so much by Hideo and his crew that it is almost ridiculous. Kill Ocelot, for example, and you get Campbell on the Game Over screen shouting "Snake! You've changed the future! You've created a time paradox!", as the words "OCELOT IS DEAD" fade into "TIME PARADOX"... brilliant. That said, if Naked Snake dies, then it's also a time paradox (play the first game to understand why), but we get one of his support team shouting "Snake, what happened? Snake? SNAAKE!", in true MGS-style.

The new additions to the actual gameplay are excellent as well. Snake now has a stamina bar which decreases all the time you're moving. As such you now have to worry about what you have in your inventory, as the heavier rocket launcher will weigh Snake down, and cause him to loose stamina much quicker than if he had a grenade. Food (which is nearly anything that isn't an enemy) refills the stamina bar. Your life bar always slowly increases until it's full, which is where the new injury feature takes account, as they cause a red bar to be formed on the bar, stopping your life increasing. Personally I feel these new additions are brilliant, as they make you have to think about what you're doing, especially in boss situations.

The major new feature to MGS3 has to be the camouflage. Unlike the first two games, where the places you go to are pretty much the same, MGS3 takes you through a myriad of locales. As such the developers have taken the opportunity to think (unlike some in the industry), and came up with camouflage. I mean, if you wear a red suit in the middle of a jungle you're going to stand out. Similarly, if you wear a green shirt in a sandy locale you're also making the enemy rather aware of you. Add to this that the game has less places to hide and you can see why camouflage is the most important new feature. You could be less than a metre away from an enemy and he wouldn't spot you, assuming you're wearing the best available camo. As well as acting as camouflage itself, you can also use the feature for disguises, such as dressing up as a scientist or a General. Just remember to salute on command, right?

As well as camouflage, MGS3's other major "new" feature is CQC or Close Quarters Combat. I say "new", but it's really just an update to the old kick/punch of the old titles, allowing you to, among other things, counter attacks, parry and throw enemies. That's all well and good, except you can go through the whole game without even seeing a CQC move. I know I would have done, if it wasn't easier to kill the last "boss" with CQC, than try and shoot it to death!

Graphically this game looks amazing for a PlayStation 2 title, but it doesn't quite have the graphical polish of an Xbox or GameCube game. However, it uses a myriad of effects and has an incredible amount of grass for a last-generation title. There was one occasion when I noticed a very blurry texture, but on the whole textures are what you'd expect. The one thing that is a down side is the frame rate, which drops off on occasions, especially in some cut scenes.

That's Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater covered, but what about Subsistence? This re-release adds new features to the original version, including the surprisingly good third-person camera, which makes the game even more involved. It's not perfect, as a more Resident Evil 4-style camera system would be an improvement, but that said, it is an impressive addition. Sketches and outtakes are also included and are, in general, pure brilliance. However, you should only watch them after the main game so not only do you avoid spoiling the story, you will actually understand what they are on about. Included on the third disc (available to all Europeans) is a 3 hour 40 minute film splicing together all of Snake Eater's cut-scenes; it's an interesting inclusion, but it may not be to everybody's tastes. I'm also forgetting two things; the MSX classics which began the series - Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2 - are also on disc two. I won't go into a review of them, but I prefer the first to the second. That said, they are both very good, especially for their time.

So that all seems like a very nice package... but then they come out with MGO. That's Metal Gear Online, in case you didn't know. MGO is played using the third-person camera, rather than as a top-down sort of view like third-person shooter Killzone: Liberation on the PSP. There are a tonne of different options and styles of gameplay, although team deathmatch seems to be the most played. All your favourite things make it online, including cardboard boxes! It is actually surprisingly useful to use a box in some circumstances, although a walking box will never deceive anybody. As well as this, MGO really is a stealth online game; sneak to a nice point, scout around and snipe someone in the distance. Yes, OK, that was the only way I could get a kill. The one thing to remember, though, is that if the connection rating isn't green, don't play on the server. Ultimately, MGO is a good tactical online experience, and a very welcome inclusion in Subsistence.

In short, if you don't already own Snake Eater buy Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence - it's worth the extra money, particularly for MGO. If you do, then you should probably consider buying this anyway, as it's a more refined package, with plenty more to offer even if you've played right through Snake Eater.

Ratings

Graphics Graphics are top notch, though they lack some polish and seem very aliased (pixelated). But, for what the PS2 can handle, this is the top of the range. 10/10
Gameplay Perfecting the already 'godlike' MGS gameplay. Third-person camera is excellent addition. The bosses are as amazing as usual. 10/10
Value As a story Metal Gear Solid 3 is worth every penny. As a game it is worth every penny. So, this is money very well spent. 9/10
Lifespan There are five difficulty settings, ranging from very easy to European Extreme (an exclusive for us, you might have gathered). There's also a tonne of unlockable features, such as new camo and new weaponry, a bonus movie on the third disc, around 15 hours once-through play time, and tonnes more extras. Oh, and did i mention MGO? That will keep the experience going for months to come. 9/10
Audio Harry Gregson-Williams has produced another excellent score. Music fits the locales you are in perfectly, and it's music that's not going to get boring either. Voice acting in the series continues to be excellent - still an example to many other Japanese titles. 10/10
Overall Simply excellent in every aspect; an intriguing story, brilliant gameplay, excellent music, and has a general feel of "we had too much time to make this game shine"! Not only that, it now comes in package that truly honours it, making it a must-have for the PS2. 10/10

Click here to buy Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence from Amazon.co.uk.

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