Sneaking around in a bright purple jumpsuit.
Being a Metal Gearhead (a phrase I’m amazed nobody’s coined yet), I’ve mused about the series, posing and answering tough questions to myself: How did the nanomachines in Liquid’s arm somehow change Ocelot’s voice box? How did Fortune really stop those missiles in MGS2? And why the hell does Johnny Sasaki keep eating food that gives him the runs?
But I’ve also pondered which game is the overall best on a stand-alone basis, self-contained and outside the context of the series. And as much as I love MGS1, I have to admit that Snake Eater takes that honor handily. The Cold War setting—perfect for the nuclear tension-laced MGS—the sophisticated camouflage system refining the stealth genre, the sincere heart-wrenching drama between Snake and The Boss; everything about MGS3 comes together to make a tour-de-force gaming experience.
It’s for that reason that I think this particular game was chosen for the series’ 3DS debut. It also doesn’t hurt, as Konami has keenly pointed out, that the jungle foliage provides the perfect environment for detailed 3D visuals as you sneak your way through tall grass, swamps, and cliffsides.
I’ve played through the first half hour or so, right up to the scene where Naked Snake first runs into Sokolov. Judging from that initial gameplay, Snake Eater 3D looks like a flawless port of the PS2 original with perhaps even better graphics than before. I also can’t deny that I was impressed by how well each individual blade of grass stood out in 3D.
Sneaking around with the circle pad feels good, regardless of whether Snake’s crawling through flora or running from gunfire. I’m usually put off by handheld games dumping controls onto the touchscreen, but unlike Splinter Cell 3D, this one doesn’t feel as overly cumbersome—perhaps because the touchscreen controls revolve mostly around equipping items and weapons, which was always a bit cumbersome in the MGS series anyway.
The 3DS version will also have a “make-your-own-camo” feature using the system’s camera. The trailer demonstrated, for instance, that snapping a pic of some bright purple flowers would give Snake a flamboyant purple, textured outfit. I was assured later in a closed-door interview that the flowers were used in the trailer to clearly show the custom photo-camo in action, but that if you actually tried such an example in the game you would (as expected) be pretty much dead within a minute.
When I asked how the photo-camo feature calculated the effectiveness of a photo, I wasn’t given a clear definition, because that would involve a lot of math and stuff (gross!). But they did make a point of saying that their algorithm took many factors into consideration, not just the prevailing color of whatever object you snap a pic of.
If you missed MGS3 the first time around, or you just want to revisit an old favorite in a new dimension, Snake Eater 3D promises to be just as satisfying as the original. Originally scheduled for a November 2011 release, a delay into early 2012 was recently announced.