Game Review

Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Jon Wahlgren

Not for honor, but for 3DS

Every so often a game comes along that makes you appreciate just how clever it is, a feat that creator Hideo Kojima pulls off every time he steps up to direct an entry in his Metal Gear Solid series. From fourth-wall-shattering boss battles to hiding key information in plain sight, they tend to raise the question of why don’t more games sit down and have a good think about what they do and why they do it.

Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D carries that line of thought in its adaptation from PlayStation 2 to 3DS, not by merely adding stereoscopic visuals and calling it a day but by taking a good, long look at where other developers have faltered in the process and doing one better. A faithful but possibly not the definitive version of a stone-cold console classic, Snake Eater is one of the best uses of Nintendo’s young handheld hardware to date.

As the chronological starting point of Metal Gear’s often convoluted timeline, Snake Eater marks a great entry point for the series as it requires no prior knowledge, establishing many of the characters, themes and technology that pop up down the line. Taking many cues from Cold War-themed spy movies like the James Bond flicks, Snake Eater’s story is filled with questions of morality and loyalty, betrayal and duplicity as it tells of how a CIA operative goes from codename Naked Snake to Big Boss.

Coming off the post-modern insanity of Metal Gear Solid 2, Snake Eater’s story is pared back in comparison and, while still full of twists, turns and elements of the supernatural, comes off a bit more straightforward – it does, after all, have the privilege of a fresh start, and the Cold War setting befits the cloak and dagger twists. There's certainly no need to know anything about Metal Gear to enjoy the plot, although those familiar with the overarching story will get a kick out of seeing young versions of key characters.

The Cobra Unit that makes up the rogues gallery has, on the whole, arguably the most memorable foes that any Snake has come up against, with tense fights and multiple ways to tackle each. One Cobra confrontation involves no combat at all, and another Cobra can be taken out hours beforehand in a separate location to avoid the battle altogether. Each encounter could easily stand as the individual highlight of separate games, so to have them all in one is a true accomplishment.

Challenging series convention, Snake Eater mostly trades tight military corridors for a jungle filled with wild animals and foliage and opens the game up for camouflage. An index based on how you are equipped and positioned tells you how visible Snake is, affecting the risk of being spotted by enemies. Certain camos work better in particular areas, and for maximum sneaky you’ll want to cycle through your options whenever you enter a new area. On PS2 this meant a lot of fiddling with menus, but thanks to the touch screen this is considerably easier, as is applying medical treatments and switching weapons. New for 3DS is the ability to create your own camo from photos – a novel proposal but not always the most useful.

While realistically your path through the jungle isn’t as extensive and open as it may suggest, there is something to be said for being able to swim, climb trees, hide in tall grass and look up at the sky. Snake Eater takes full advantage of its outdoor environments, especially with the 3D screen volume cranked up. In fact, Snake Eater makes gorgeous and deliberate use of stereoscopic 3D, providing a sense of place and atmosphere that the technology has always strived for but seldom reached. Pop in some headphones and the jungle becomes almost a living place. The world feels refreshed with the extra dimension, a sensation seemingly not lost on Konami as the huge number of cinematics are tweaked to best use the new space — everything is very aware of its perspective, playfully so at times.

In addition to being very pretty, 3D is technically well implemented to boot. Not once will a gimmicky “in-your-face” object stick too far out of the screen and cause double-vision. Objects feel very rounded, as if they inhabit an actual space, as opposed to looking like cutouts in the fore- and background. A minor but extremely convenient touch occurs when the limited gyro controls come in to play, almost invisibly flattening out the 3D effect for when you're expected to move the handheld only to slowly flesh out the environment when you're clear. It's such an obviously brilliant solution to an annoying, seemingly inevitable problem that we're surprised it's taken someone so long to figure it out in this basic way.

Less than stellar is the frame rate; while the visuals are on par and sometimes improved over the PS2 original, the average frame rate has more stutter than we would like and busy sequences take a much more noticeable hit. It's never unplayable, but it keeps Snake Eater from making the most of itself.

Purists may scoff at the idea of playing Snake Eater with only one Circle Pad, and for them the Circle Pad Pro offers a more traditional take. In truth, the game controls just as well without the accessory, using the same scheme as the one-nubbed Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker on PSP. It takes a few moments to get accustomed to the new layout (or no time at all if you’re down with Peace Walker), and once you do it’s hardly noticeable.

Those who do plump for the Circle Pad Pro will find the second analogue input and shoulder buttons to be welcome additions; camera control is noticeably easier with the extra slider, and having access to two extra shoulder buttons makes close-quarters combat and gunfire more satisfying, Double analogue addicts will find it a nice facsimile of traditional controllers; those accustomed to making do with one will manage fine without Circle Pad Pro.

As evidenced by its copious amounts of cinematics and general runtime they can span, Snake Eater is noticeably handheld-hostile. It’s not the kind of game you can always pop in for, say, your morning commute and reliably spend half an hour in the jungle sneaking around – unless you know they’re coming based on repeat play, you play a Russian Roulette of extended codec conversations and cinematics that could go on for days. And considering how pretty the 3D effect is at full blast, the most reliable way to play Snake Eater 3D is plunked next to an outlet, doubly so if you opt to use the Circle Pad Pro.

Conclusion

Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D may not be the definitive version of Snake’s Cold War escapades but that doesn’t stop it from being a clever, well thought-out and simply great game — frame rate hiccups aside, the impressive and intelligent use of stereoscopic 3D makes the game an absolute joy to look at as well. It's not often that games as dense and exciting as Snake Eater see the light of day on any platform, which makes the 3DS version all the more worthwhile whether it's your first romp through the jungle or just to see an old friend in a new perspective.

More Stories

Game Trailer

Sweet footage from Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D, heading to 3DS next year. It looks even better in 3D, trust us!

User Comments (80)

LEGEND_MARIOID

#3

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

The demo was pretty interesting. Not my kind of thang anymore but good to read it turned out brilliant. Nintendo Gamer (formerly NGamer) and ONM have rated it over 90. Its getting great rews.

zezhyrule

#6

zezhyrule said:

Awesome review! Nice to see this 3DS remake of the game didn't fail like I thought it would :O

"Purists may scoff at the idea of playing Snake Eater with only one Circle Pad,"

Well, considering MGS3's original release didn't even support the second analog :P

Samholy

#7

Samholy said:

not a title for me. got bored quickly with the demo. i guess that stealth ops gaming isnt my cup of tea.

but graphically, it proved me i can wait eagerly for great deal of visuals in the future of this console.

metafaniel

#8

metafaniel said:

"There's certainly no need to know anything about Metal Gear to enjoy the plot"
This is the firts Metal Gear Solid I play (except from the NES one I played a while emulated) I've never played one because I have never had a console where a game was launched a t the time it was launched, always for some reason I couldn't play it at the time. So I'll really enjoy this gem =)

Weavius

#9

Weavius said:

Nice review. The gameplay is wonderful (no CPP here). The 3D is amazing and I didn't realize until after reading this review that the 3D wasn't jacked-up when using gyro controls. Great game so far!

GARF13LD

#10

GARF13LD said:

Got this pre-orderd, can't wait to play it as I never played the full game before. Plan on finishing Resi Revelations tonight in time for this next Friday, so bring it on :)

Then the following week should be Bit Trip Saga, and that the end of the month Rayman Origins, ARRGGGHHH! too many games in such a short space of time, my back log is huge as it is.

TheGreenSpiny

#12

TheGreenSpiny said:

@zezhyrule: Which begs the question... Why oh, why didn't they use the originals control scheme? I would have used that over this Peacewalker crap.

ejamer

#13

ejamer said:

I know it's just a port, but what I like most about Snake Eater is that it (along with Resident Evil) proves big things are clearly possible on the 3DS when key franchises like this make a meaningful appearance less than a year in. Can't wait to see what fully original games will arrive over the next couple of years.

shonenjump86

#15

shonenjump86 said:

I liked the demo, but I picked up the HD collection on 360. A good series, I have been missing out all these years .

eviLaTtenDant

#16

eviLaTtenDant said:

Wow ! This review turned out just as addicting as the demo. :o
At first i also noticed that the framerate wasn't as fluid as i expected but got used to it quite quickly.
The other negative was the gyro balancing. I only got it right by luck twice. Most often it didn't work for me.
Personally i think that's not enough to damage the game significantly. Guess this will be a weekend one purchase for me.

Blaze

#17

Blaze said:

I'll still be buying the HD Collection, but at least the 3DS version wasn't a total flop.

JakobG

#18

JakobG said:

Not gonna pick this one up, but I'd love to see the final battle in full 3D.

Yrreiht

#19

Yrreiht said:

Woohoo! That's exactly the score i'd give it. Yes, the game has a few problems but it's still great, and i prefer the 3DS version to the HD version.

AltDotNerd

#20

AltDotNerd said:

I'm so sick of people saying "why get this when you can get the HD collection? Herp-a-derpy-doo!" The 3DS version utilizes the touch screen for the map, you can crouch-walk and shoot over-the-shoulder, and did I mention IT'S PORTABLE?! Not to mention the photo camo.

warioswoods

#21

warioswoods said:

The demo had hands down the most clunky controls I've yet experienced on a Nintendo handheld, and the optional CPP is irrelevant to me. Honestly, after that awkward demo that felt like a broken port, I wasn't expecting better than a 5 for the review.

But evidently this series isn't for me, because I find it corny and ugly. Also, cardboard crocodiles that just whip their tails to knock you over... what?? How can I play this with a straight face?

Azaris

#23

Azaris said:

Personally when i played the demo i did not like the aiming system.
plus this game forces the stealth element on you when i played twinsnakes on gamecube i was never forced to use it.

Bliquid

#25

Bliquid said:

i don't know if the final game is better than the demo, but the frame rate in the latter one made me switch from "maybe" (already played multiple times on PS2) to " i'll never spend my money on a gimmicky port badly optimized"
I guess that for ppl who never played it this is still a great occasion to catch up with a masterpiece of our dear media.

WolfRamHeart

#26

WolfRamHeart said:

Great review Jon. I'll admit that the demo didn't exactly wow me when I first tried it. I almost cancelled my pre-order but I sure am glad that I didn't. This version of the game is fantastic. I am really impressed at how good it turned out to be. I am playing it without the CPP; the controls do take some getting used to but once you get it down it plays just fine. The graphics and the 3D effects are also excellent. It may not be everyone's cup of tea but if you enjoy stealth games then I highly recommend that you get this game.

Tsuchinoko

#27

Tsuchinoko said:

Okay Jon, one question, and this is coming from someone who first played this game on one of the PS2 re-releases that didn't come with any extras but...Snake vs. Monkey? :(

Azaris

#28

Azaris said:

@JonWahlgren like in the demo the game tell you can't go talk to someone if the guards are in alert. the only way to do that is to stay under cover.
another thing is none of the weapons in the demo actually do more then knock people out in twin snakes you had guns that were for knocking people out and guns that would out right kill people.
these types of guns are useful for the style of gameplay i have but guns that don't kill aren't at all useful to someone who wants to play the way i want to.

Spoony_Tech

#29

Spoony_Tech said:

Great review Jon! You expressed everything I feel about this game. I haven't got into it as much as I would like yet but I'm starting to free up other game time so I'm really going to get into this this week!

Skotski

#30

Skotski said:

@warioswoods Honestly the game felt a lot smoother in controls than the demo. Then again, it would probably still feel clunky to those who don't prefer these kind of games. (multiple controls for stealth element limits button configuration...)

But yeah, you're not supposed to keep a straight face. XP Afterall, Hideo Kojima based Solid Snake after Plissken from Escape from New York. Not really supposed to be taken that seriously. :P

Skotski

#31

Skotski said:

@Travis1984 You have to find the guns that kill people. They're hidden throughout the game. :3 Plus, you could always just shank everyone... :P

Zenszulu

#34

Zenszulu said:

Debating with myself if I should cancel my pro order on this game just because I may struggle to find time to play it with all that's going on in life.

Sneaker13

#35

Sneaker13 said:

I didn't like the demo. So I think I skip this one or pick it up when it's cheap.

Tsuchinoko

#37

Tsuchinoko said:

Well darn, everytime I get a copy of this game it doesn't come with the Snake vs. Monkey extra.

Bankai

#38

Bankai said:

I'm not sure how this got 9? The HD version is a solid 2-3 points better than the 3DS version, and last I checked you guys don't turn up to 11.

Capt_N

#40

Capt_N said:

From what little I've played of the demo, I kinda like it. I still haven't got the control scheme down. I need to play this some more. I may end up getting this. Then again, I may not like it in the end. I just have to play the demo more to get a better opinion. Edit: I never had a PS2, so this is a new game to me. I also may end up getting into the series.

sketchturner

#42

sketchturner said:

"It's such an obviously brilliant solution... that we're surprised it's taken someone so long to figure it out in this basic way."

This sentence really doesn't make sense. Someone came up with something brilliant and it doesn't make sense why it took someone so long to do so? That's like saying computers are a brilliant idea, so it's hard to believe it took humans thousands of years to invent them.

Kagamine

#43

Kagamine said:

thought i would get this but i'm not. The demo left me so unimpressed that not even a 10 could win me over. I hate the camera, didn't care for te gameplay that i tried, and the framerate really sank the ship. I have never played metal gear games before this though, so I really don't have any incentive to buy it.

Ren

#45

Ren said:

Hmm, I found the demo really bad; weird controls, cheesy story that's played out as usual "serious military" game. But I can see a little of the satire in it, now that people mention it, it's just hard to see since most games are already that cheesy.
Maybe I'm reading it wrong though. I want to like it. I even like the stealth thing. If the controls really are any better than the demo and I don't take it so seriously maybe it's a good fit for me after all.

RR529

#47

RR529 said:

Just finished it (without the CPP), and I loved every minute of it. I'm currently on my second playthrough, and am taking different pictures of funny stuff/Easter eggs with the camera you get, and am distributing them through Swapnote (I'm even including clues for the Yoshi's I've found). Also, if you manage to beat a boss by making them run out of stamina (by tranqing them), you'll get something a little extra after the fight :)

BenAV

#49

BenAV said:

Nice review.
Still not completely sold on this game, but if I have spare money some time after it comes out I'll probably end up picking it up.

SageWaterDragon

#50

SageWaterDragon said:

@Travis1984 Actually, I am pretty sure you can climb under the gyro-bridge and grab a fatal gun in the demo. At least you can in the full version at that point.

Sh00kst3r

#52

Sh00kst3r said:

Stealth game are my total forte, but my friend HATES playing them with me. I'm always WAY to cautious.
Camo %: 80
Me: Ok, so far so-
Camo %: 70
Me: OHGODOHGODOHGODOHGOD CHANGE MY CAMO RIGHT NIW AND GO PRONE

Kid_A

#53

Kid_A said:

@warioswoods
I hope you give it a shot someday. The game was largely inspired by Kojima's love of 60's b-movies, and I think you'd really appreciate the absurdist design choices (and uncommonly nuanced gameplay) if you sat down and played the retail version. It's a game that was never intended to be taken seriously. The demo really was garbage, but frankly the final cut is a 10 for me. Easily my favorite version of the game :)

hamispink

#54

hamispink said:

I'll be going for the vita HD collection, but it's good that this 3DS version turned out good as a standalone game!

Sup

#55

Sup said:

Really well-written review! Will have to make this my excuse to buy a CPP.
@sketchturner "obviously brilliant", as in brilliantly simple, hence the surprise at why it had taken so long for someone to implement it.

RantingThespian

#56

RantingThespian said:

I've been playing the demo, and I am a little put off by the camera controls. Maybe I just need to get used to them (just pretend they are C buttons or something).

The 3D looks amazing, though. When the brush comes right up to the screen, it's quite impressive.

ToxieDogg

#58

ToxieDogg said:

@20 (MetalDragonZero) Maybe it's the fact that the HD collection offers 3 MGS games rather than just one for the same price? Maybe it's the fact that the PS3 version and the forthcoming Vita version allow you to play the game on the move, and then continue at home on your big screen TV? 'Herp-a-derpy-doo' indeed. I'm glad that this 3DS port of Snake Eater has turned out well, needed more original content to make it a worthwhile buy for more seasoned Metal Gear players in it's own right iMHO though.

CharlieBravo

#60

CharlieBravo said:

This game is great, I pre-ordered so that I could play it on day one and never regretted it. It's definitely worth getting if you're curious about the series or if you don't have an Xbox 360 or PS3.

carson

#61

carson said:

Maybe I'll buy this in 6 months, when i actually have money...and the circle pad pro.

Son

#62

Son said:

Finished playing the demo. I kinda like it! Stealth mode is good and the graphics is amazing! I might buy this later on... Is it easy to control when Circle pad pro is attached?

Satans_Therapist

#63

Satans_Therapist said:

Hate having to tilt the 3DS to cross that bridge in
the demo. Please someone tell me you can turn
the gyro controls off

Nintendi

#64

Nintendi said:

I play the Demo to death. I will eventually purchase this game some time this month for sure.

Son

#66

Son said:

Because of the demo I decided to purchase this game "Today!" yay! Hopefully Nintendo eShop release more game demos like Kid Icarus, Luigi's Mansion 2, etc.

Dreadjaws

#72

Dreadjaws said:

I'm still waiting for the game and CPP to arrive in the mail. I loved the original in PS2 and the demo looks great, but I can't play with those controls (I played Subsistence, though, I never played the original MGS3).

I loved how the 3D effect dissapears when you're aiming in first person mode. It's realistic, since in real life you close one eye when doing it.

DeMoN-13ruce

#73

DeMoN-13ruce said:

this game is worth buying you can now crouch walk etc it's reallynice and with the ccp it's really easy to control

Clayfrd

#75

Clayfrd said:

Somehow, I managed to never play this until now. It has now become one of my favorite games of all time. Simply phenomenal.

Andyv01

#77

Andyv01 said:

Just finished it tonight for the second time in a row and i'm astounded at the production values poured into the cart... seriously, it's almost criminal that this version only sold barely 200,000 worldwide. The final battle in the meadow was beautiful and so moving it took me by surprise, although I did end up eyeing up the horse... that would have kept Snake well fed for the flight back.
Don't worry about the frame rate and controls, if you havnt played any other version you simply wont give a hoot its that immersive :)

Jordan1834

#78

Jordan1834 said:

By far one of the greatest game titles created next to grand theft auto which they need to make for the 3Ds. Althogether Metal Gear Solid Saker Eater 3D in a ☆☆☆☆☆ game. Hoping for more games in the future

Technosphile

#79

Technosphile said:

This is the definitive version because of the crouch-walk, 3rd person aiming, free camera standard, and control options. Not to mention Yoshi.

There are so few 3DS games that utilize Circle Pad Pro, but Metal Gear Solid 3DS and Kid Icarus alone make it a must-own if you're really into 3DS gaming. Why oh why didn't Namco include it in the US version of Assault Horizon?

Leave A Comment

Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...