It's odd that, despite Hideo Kojima requesting Solid Snake to be put in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, there haven't exactly been many games from the Metal Gear series on Nintendo systems, and none since that crossover happened.
Thankfully, Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D is due to change that later this year. An enhanced port of the third Metal Gear Solid title, viewed by many fans as the best game in the series, it has to be one of the most promising upcoming 3DS titles. We had a chance to play it recently, and we can safely say it's stunningly accurate to the original.
Upon starting up the demo we were briefly presented with a screen showing all controls, on which one thing in particular stands out very much: all of the "face" buttons (that is, A, B, X and Y) are used to control the camera, while the Circle Pad moves Snake around. Everything else, like inventory management and shooting, is done with the shoulder buttons and the D-Pad. Using the most important buttons from just about any other game just for simple camera movement felt very weird for a bit, but we quickly got used to it, and it actually works surprisingly well. Of course, precise camera movement is a very welcome feature in a primarily stealth-based game like this.
The demo took us through the very first few areas of the original game, though without much of the intro. Air-dropped into the Soviet Union with the mission of rescuing Dr. Sokolov, we had to make our way through a short swamp section in order to reach the building where he was being held captive. To get used to the controls, the game sent a few crocodiles our way, which we could stun from a distance with tranquilliser darts, before making our way through the mud surrounding them and trying not to drown.
In the next area, we encountered a guard, so we had to make our first use of actual sneaking. Since it was just a lone guy, this was pretty simple enough, we could just wait for him to pass by and then sneak past. Veterans will be pleased to know the hidden pick-ups are still present, though.
Next we reached the bridge that's been seen in trailers a few times. There's a trick to clear this area rather easily, but we decided to try out a little bit of combat and defeated the guards with some hand to hand combat instead. Curiously, Snake seems to be pretty resistant to damage, so we took a few hits that didn't really seem to make an impact on our health. Perhaps this was just done for the demo to make it easier for those who've never played the game, however.
Unfortunately we knew the demo was about to end there, as the next screen held the building in which Sokolov was being held. There were still plenty of guards patrolling it, but with some quick grass-crawling we were right next to the room he was in and quickly snuck in unseen. No cutscene followed, sadly; the demo simply ended without warning right as we walked up to the door.
Despite the relatively short length of the demo, we walked away quite impressed. The game plays pretty much identically to the original release and surprisingly actually manages to look the same, if not slightly better, though we did notice that the framerate was most definitely not at a solid 60, especially when we were in some of the large open areas with guards around. Let's hope that they can smooth this out for the final release.
If the rest of the game is the same as it was originally, then we can quite easily say this is going to be another must-have for the 3DS library. It's quite likely that if you don't own a Sony system you've never played a Metal Gear game, so this is going to be a nice entry point for new players as well.