Update: I was unfortunately not aware of Shamus Young's severe criticism of Fallout 3 available here to link in the original piece and I regret that. It dovetails rather nicely with what I've written and it's much better executed than my piece. I strongly recommend anyone...
You've got to hand it to Hideo Kojima. With the success of the original Metal Gear Solid on PS1, most people would simply make a half assed, half baked sequel, not really changing anything. Kojima, on the other hand, used that success to see what people liked and disliked about the first one and tried to fix the problems in the second one. But, for every one thing he fixed, he changed something else.
Now Kojima's done the same thing to Metal Gear Solid 2. The result: The best damn excuse to buy a PS2.
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is the latest in Kojima's legendary Metal Gear Solid series. One look at the opening sequence and you'll notice the first great change. Kojima's lost all that city bound stuff and gone bush. No more air vents, now it's tall grass. No more pre-made snacks, now it's live animals.
And now for the absolute best bit of the game. Your character takes off the air mask and... Raiden?!? But wait, that's just a face mask. Yup, that mask goes off and Snake, the infamous hero from Metal Gear Solid 1 returns! No more Raiden, no more grieving for Snake. What's even more cool? Later, you get to beat up Raiden. You read that right. Raiden does make an appearance, but you get to, no you have to beat him to knock him out! Now, that'll be fun!
But let's go back to the wilderness thing again. To succeed in this game, you'll need to be as stealthy as possible, using what you have at your disposal. This means that you'll have to be invisible to the enemy. And, without any walls or things to hide behind, it'll have to be in direct vision of the enemy.
Fortunately, Snake's learnt a few new tricks. The first is camoflague. By wearing different suits, you can become harder to see in different surroundings. Obviously, a tuxedo (there is one in the game) won't hide you on a bright yellow cliff, but some desert camo will work brilliantly. But your camo is only half the process. You have to move stealthy in order to win as well. This means crawling through the undergrowth, and moving very slowly will keep you hidden. The more you move, the more likely you are to be seen.
This is all represented by your camo index. The index is at the top right of the screen and shows how well your camoflague is working. In the tux-on-a-cliff situation, it would be in the negatives. But, in the desert camo, it'll be around 65-70. That's good. You can get a camo rating of 100, but that requires a hidden camo, and can only be gotten in certain areas, which makes it ineffective against the regular enemies.
The enemies are smarter too. Although, not by much. They'll still fall for the magazines, allowing you to sneak past. They've got a longer range of sight though, so that camo better be ready.
That's not the only way you can get around them. If you find a nearby food store, you can blow it up. This will cause the enemy to start getting hungry. Then, they'll eat any food you throw at them, even if it's poisonous. You can also blow up their ammo stores, so they run out of ammo, causing that satisfying 'click' sound when they try to shoot you.
That sound's not the only satisfying one, though. All the audio is done to the usual Kojima standard, which means nothing will stand out, but it will phase into the background, which it is supposed to do.
Also, the enemy aren't the only ones who'll get hungry. Snake needs to eat too. Below the health bar there is a stamina bar. When this is running low, it's time to sit down and chow down. But on what? Anything Snake can find. Rats, frogs, crabs, fish, alligators, snakes, enemy rations, whatever is on hand. But, be warned, for not all things that can be eaten should be eaten. Some things will make Snake get sick with food poisoning...
...and then you'll need to CURE him. This is done in the CURE menu, in the pause screen. Here, you can cure any affliction, from food poisoning to an RPG in the face. It's a bit unreallistic, really. Not curing a particular injury will cause a drop in max health, and possibly a drain on stamina. Better get patched up pal...
...so you can enjoy the brillantly written storyline. Man, it is awesome! This is a Kojima game, so what did you expect? The story behind the action is just brillant. I'd tell you more, but that'd spoil the party.
Unfortunately, this is also where the game falters. The story is behind the action, and doesn't really influence what you do in the game. Sure, the plot is wicked awesome, but it doesn't apply to the gameplay. They're kind of dislocated, for lack of a better word.
But I'll let that slide, as the story is completely strange and far-fetched, but yet strangely believable. Gotta hand it to Kojima, if he can make games of this caliber, he certainly knows what he is doing. Looks like it's time to don the trusty bandanna once again. Look out world, there's a Snake in the grass.