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Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence Review

Joe_Dodson By:
GENRE Action / Adventure 
DEVELOPER Kojima Productions 
M Contains Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Language, Sexual Themes

What do these ratings mean?

Spy versus Spy.

Originally legislated by EA, "Madden's Law" states that adding a couple minor features to an already well-received title and re-releasing it will make a ton of money. This is because people are more likely to buy the same game twice, or even 10 times, than they are to buy one that's completely original. Psychonauts, you never had a chance.

click to enlargeIt's sad, true, and sums up the existence of Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence. A repackaging of a year and a half old game that few people missed the first time around, Subsistence is the fruit of a conspiracy to sell idiotic gamers the same game twice. But for the sake of an unbiased review, we are going to assume you are not one of those idiots, and that you are, instead, one of the idiots who somehow missed Metal Gear Solid 3 the first time it came out.

We don't know where you were or what you were doing, but now is your chance to make it up to yourself, for close to half the price. Despite its nefarious underpinnings, Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence is an incredible package that includes a great single-player game, mediocre multiplayer and several sweet bonus features.

The best part of Subsistence is the single-player campaign Snake Eater, which we've already covered extensively in this review. It's the exact same thing here, but with one big new improvement: a third-person camera system, which effectively makes this great campaign even better than before. Instead of dealing with the horrible pitfalls that came with the original fixed camera, Subsistence owners can freely move the camera any which way they please, making it much easier to detect patrolling enemies. This improves the flow of the game because you'll be discovered less often, which in turn means you'll spend less time in Evasion and Caution modes.

click to enlargeFor those with little patience for a twenty-hour action game, there's a Duel mode that allows you to instantly fight any of the bosses, as well as a Demo Theater where you can view any of the game's many cutscenes. Like a gorged anaconda, this game is stuffed with great single-player content.

But it's not exactly overflowing with awesome multiplay. Although it features all the trappings of a robust offering, complete with tracked stats, buddy and black lists, a deep lobby system and five match types, the classic Metal Gear Solid control scheme is quite simply not suited to online play, and it is your only option.

At first, this seems like a good thing, because you're probably already familiar with the controls. You can run around, crouch, crawl, lean against walls, hide under boxes and switch weapons with ease. But what really distinguishes Subsistence from other online shooters is the fact that you can't aim and shoot at the same time. The Square button fires, and to press it you have to take your thumb off the R-stick, which controls the camera. If you switch to the first-person view mode you can aim and fire, but then you can't move. It's awkward to say the least.

click to enlargeWhile the button configuration is unusual for an online multiplayer game, the modes are not. Playable by up to eight players, they include Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Steal the Bacon (in this case, a little frog) and Defend the Bacon (one team has a ducky and the other team tries to take it from them). The only unusual mode is "Sneaking Mission." Here, one person plays as Snake and must steal a roll of microfilm out from under the other players' noses. It's an interesting idea and takes advantage of Metal Gear's signature stealth gameplay in ways the other modes do not. Having said that, it isn't much fun if you aren't playing as Snake. Even though the online multiplayer content is worse than what you'll find in games like SOCOM or Battlefield 2: Modern Combat, it's still a nice addition to an already robust package.

So is the inclusion of the first two Metal Gears released in Japan: Metal Gear and Metal Gear Solid. The original is still a difficult, top-down stealth action game, while the latter introduces a mini-map and provides the basis for the Metal Gear Solid that would later appear on the first Playstation. It's a fun trip down memory lane and a boon for hardcore Metal Gear fans. The games themselves aren't bad, either, and unlike Snake Eater, you haven't played them before because they were never released in the United States.

Madden's Law notwithstanding, Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence is a great deal. For thirty bucks you get one of the PS2's best single-player experiences, two classic 8-bit games and interesting but flawed online play. We don't know why you missed it the first time it came around, but now that you can get it for a reduced price with tons of features and a serious gameplay improvement, you shouldn't let this snake slip through your grasp.

B+ Revolution report card
  • Improved camera
  • Cool bonus content
  • Great single-player game
  • That came out over a year ago
  • Multiplayer control issues
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