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Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D Review

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On 03/26/2012 at 10:00 AM by Jesse Miller

Snake Eater has a hard time seeing the forest for the trees.

For fans of the series looking to bring Snake Eater on the go.

Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D is the kind of game that appeals to a very specific audience; an audience that already has unconditional love for the source material, which allows them to overlook the obvious shortcomings of this handheld iteration.  Though there is evidence that suggests that the developers treated this game as more than a simple port, their efforts will likely go unnoticed by those not previously indoctrinated.

Snake Eater is often hailed by fans as one of the best if not the best game in the series.  Taking place in a Cold War era Russia, Snake Eater follows Naked Snake.  While previous and later entries in the series more often saw Snake employing tactical espionage in the dark corridors of secret bases, this game put our protagonist square in the jungle – introducing a plethora of new scenarios and sneaky tactics in which to deal with them.

Julian’s review of the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection did a wonderful job of detailing the basics of Snake Eater, so I won’t bother you with those details.   Instead I’ll concentrate on what sets this particular version of the game apart from the previously released ones.

The controls will no doubt be the first thing to garner your attention, having been shoehorned into the 3DS’ more limited scheme.  The touch controls that allow access to your com, weapon selection, camo choices, etc. are responsive and easy to use.  Switching between guns on the fly and navigating through the various menus is a breeze thanks to an intuitive GUI, but the pleasantries end there. 

Resident Evil: Revelations showed us that the 3DS is capable of displaying some fantastic visuals and smooth animations, so it’s all the more disappointing that Snake Eater would suffer from such rudimentary issues as frame rate drop, which consistently pops its head up in even the most non-cluttered areas of the game.

What makes this a particular shame is that the game does actually look better than the original.  The color palette seems a bit more varied and brighter, and some of the character models have added detail, but since the game more often than not animates like a flip book these enhancements are all for naught. 

The stereoscopic 3D is nicely done, breathing some life into the surrounding world, but when navigating the jungle I would find myself sliding the 3D effect down or off entirely as it would oftentimes hinder my ability to view people or items at greater distances.

The camera is about as responsive and easy to use as riding a coked out bull. The game uses the A, B, X and Y buttons to move the camera, making for a slow and at time exasperating experience.  The camera feels heavy being controlled in this fashion and lacks the precision that using another slide pad offers (see side-by-side).  It’s unfortunate that the development team didn’t figure in a way to use the touch pad for this function, or at least offered some alternate control schemes to alleviate this pain.

A couple of other 3DS specific features were shoehorned into this such as some limited gyroscopic control moments and the ability to use the 3DS’ camera to create your own camo patterns, but neither of these really stuck out as worthy additions. 

Not surprisingly, the Ape Escape mini-game did not make it into this version (due to those rascally monkeys being a Sony property).  In its stead you’ll find numerous Nintendo themed Easter eggs scattered throughout the various maps, like Yoshi dolls and issues of Nintendo Power.  These additions will surely draw a smile from the Nintendo faithful, but don’t quite stack up with what they are trying to replace.

On a positive note, the crouch walk from Guns of the Patriots has been added to Snake’s small list of maneuvers and Close Quarters Combat has been simplified to compensate for handheld’s interesting control scheme choices.   These slight changes have a big impact on the overall enjoyment of the game and indicate that some modicum of thought was put into the port.

Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D isn’t an awful game, but it’s certainly the worst of your many options.  If you have the means to play this game on its original platform, or better yet via the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, I would advise you to do that instead.  For those whose only option is to play it on the 3DS, you could certainly do worse, but you could also do much better too.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.

Side By Side - Playing with the Circle Pad Pro

If you’re planning on picking this title up, or perhaps already have, I would suggest that you also procure the rare “optional” Circle Pad Pro peripheral as well. This hard to find device fixes many of camera and aiming issues plaguing the game and ultimately resulted in a lower score. Playing with the extra circle pad would raise my final score to a 4/5 as it makes for a much more enjoyable experience.



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