Metal Gear Solid Noob Diaries #8: Snake Eater
Welcome to the Metal Gear Noob Diaries. This is the recounting of my experience through the MGS series from MGS2: Sons of Liberty all the way to MGSV: Ground Zeroes. I’ll be updating every so often with new thoughts on sections of the games and taking a look back at memorable and enjoyable moments. I’ve never played the series before, so for the fans out there it could be an amusing tale of one noob’s journey, while those as green as myself could well learn a little about the mad world of MGS. Enjoy!
Time for the next game in the series, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. A prequel to all of the previous games in the series that focuses on Big Boss (Snake’s dad), it’s set during the Cold War, which is a much more interesting time period than the ‘modern’ setting of MGS2. So I’m looking forward to getting stuck into it. I’ve heard through the wire that this is generally regarded as the best MGS game of the lot (although that, of course, comes down to personal opinion), if it’s any better than the previous installment was, then this should be a doozy. Which isn’t a word I use very often - that’s how high my expectations are right now!
I’ve now played the excellent prologue and the theme really is just so much better for me. I’m a bit of a history nerd, you see, so any game that feeds off of real life historical events is of interest to me. It’s a big part of why I still enjoy the Assassin’s Creed franchise and why I’ll always love WW2 FPS games over modern shooters. An awesome opening cutscene introduces the new characters, the new mission and features the ‘world’s first HALO jump’ from 30’000 feet. You can just feel the weight of expectation on Kojima’s shoulders from the game design itself.
The mission itself is pretty simple, but it’s an excellent setup. With the Cold War at the height of its hotter end, the Fox unit has been tasked with recovering a British scientist from the USSR. He’s been held captive by them whilst he develops a super-weapon for the Soviet nation. That needs to be stopped, so Jack, or Naked Snake as he is newly titled, is sent in to recover Dr Sokolov before it’s too late. Snake, who’s also voiced by David Hayter (as in, Solid Snake), is backed up over the radio by Major Zero - essentially a British version of the Colonel, Para-Medic, who handles saves etc and the inevitable flirting, as well as Sigint, the tech expert. Plus, Snake’s mentor, The Boss, is backing him up on the ground (although not for long).
Following that intro, a nice protracted gameplay session introduced a lot of the new mechanics as well as the new jungle setting. The camouflage mechanic is an interesting concept, being able to change your camo suit to match the scenery is a novel idea, but I’m not sure if this is something I’ll actually find enjoyable during my playthrough, it seems a bit too simple for my liking. Something that I do like, however, is the new camera. Those few years between MGS2 and 3 see a clear influence from other PS2-era games. The main difference is a freely controlled camera that can be directed with the right stick, which is a godsend. It’s the style I’ve become accustomed to, and while I like a challenge, not being able to control the camera in Sons of Liberty never stopped being a pain.
That jungle setting is also much more suitable for a game of this sort. Despite actually playing the game for only half an hour or so, I’ve already creeped through long grass, hidden up trees and sneaked around a gaggle of hungry crocodiles (I realise gaggle isn’t the right collective noun, but I think it fits nicely). The environment just straight up works, making the plant from Sons of Liberty look like a concrete wasteland in comparison. Well, it was I suppose. Still, I’m already loving the setting, it can only get better from here, right?
I couldn’t start an MGS game without having some issues though, that would be outrageous. I basically spent way too long on the first and only open-plan section of the prologue. You see, Colonel Zero told me that nobody was to know of my presence in the area, so I tried to complete the level without anyone seeing me and without making contact with anyone. Which meant no shooting, even to put them to sleep. Turns out that’s a bad way to approach the game, especially as a noob. After finally completing it I decided to have a look at how an experienced player went about it: he just shot them all in the head! So much for super stealth. I think I’m gonna be a bit looser with my trigger finger from now on.
The prologue closed with an awesome series of cutscenes that saw The Boss defect to the USSR, which wasn’t exactly a shocker. She took Sokolov with her and joined up with Colonel Volgin, a Russian military leader who wants to take control of the nation from Khrushchev. He’s the man behind Sokolov’s capture and creation - a giant nuclear tank that’s basically an early metal gear. A young Revolver Ocelot rocks up (or I assume it’s him, at least), although he’s just Ocelot at the moment because, well, he doesn’t have a revolver. It all ends with a big nuclear explosion and a title sequence that couldn’t possibly be more James Bond. In fact, that’s a vibe that resonates throughout the prologue.
Long may it continue.