Brilliantly Flawed #04 – Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

MGS3 header

There are so many games that are near enough universally adored, but are they all as perfect as we like to believe, or are we just peering through overly rose tinted glasses? The goal of Brilliantly Flawed is to expose games we all know and love for what they really are: very well made and enjoyable, but by no means perfect. Watch as childhood memories are shattered and objections are shouted. This week we put under the microscope what is arguably legendary game designer Hideo Kojima’s magnum opus; Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.

 

The Defence

Dan says: Metal Gear Solid will always be known as one of the standout IPs to be met with an extremely bipolar fan reaction. I always fell on the side of adoration in response to the releases, loving each iteration of the series for their merits, but Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater has managed to stand head and shoulders above the others in my affections. Despite being a prequel it provided us a fleshed out and incredibly compelling account of a young Big Boss as he carries out his first solo operation where he comes up against his former mentor. Trademark hour long cutscenes included (which you will either love or hate), the story is frantic and engaging while taking multiple cues from older Bond films which creates a truly unique Metal Gear Solid experience.The game itself looks absolutely glorious with a level of sheer graphical prowess that was very rarely matched last gen and features varied and appealing locations meaning that you never feel that you’re beginning to get bored of your surroundings. Snake Eater features luscious jungles, dingy subterranean cave systems and sewers, cliffsides, deserts, laboratories. The list goes on. I feel that it is by far the most interesting Metal Gear Solid title when it comes to variation in location and visual appeal.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater also excels in broadening the gameplay possibilities in the series, bringing about a really nice balance between stealth and action and providing a massive number of choices on progressing through the game utilising either. The previously awkward combat from previous titles in the series has been fleshed out and made more comfortable and there is a massive emphasis on using the environment to your advantage. You can set animals on soldier to distract or maim them, climb trees to remain hidden, or hide in the series mainstay: the cardboard box. Every time I played through MGS3 I played a different way and felt that the experience was significantly different than previous playthroughs, which was a really lovely thing. The last thing I really had to mention was the bosses. They’re one of the main draws to the Metal Gear Solid titles and Snake Eater is not only no exception but the prime example, in my opinion. Each boss fight brings something brand new to the table and breaks the normal pace of the game up very nicely at a relatively frequent rate. If you need more convincing on this front; The End.

 

 

The Prosecution

Greg says: My main problem with Metal Gear Solid 3 is one that runs throughout the series as a whole. It may make you roll your eyes as it’s a fairly common complaint but it doesn’t make it any less tedious. The Metal Gear Solid cutscene. Spanning between ten minutes and, what feels like, ten hours, these boredom inducing tests of endurance normally throw a dense amount of information at you and a whole load of unnecessary nonsense at the same time. I feel as though many could be slashed in size if everyone involved calmed down a bit and accepted that a good story doesn’t have to bombard you with flow destroying cutscenes. It’s a huge shame that these barriers of entry exist because, honestly, I adore the core gameplay held within Metal Gear Solid games but I have never played the entirety of a single campaign to this date. I simply get bogged down within the jargon heavy, overbearing story that feels like it has good ideas but they are locked behind a sea of pointless words which simply wears me down and makes me long for the next gameplay section.  I do understand some people enjoy this silly, over the top style of telling a story and I’ve enjoyed such stories in the past but Metal Gear Solid stretches the length of story cutscenes to an absurd level.

Michael says: Metal Gear Solid as a series is something that I only just recently played through. By far though, Snake Eater was my favourite of the four numbered games. While that may be, there’s one thing that it does more than any of the other games that irritates me to no end; secrets. Every game in the series has boasted its secrets in one way or another, but Snake Eater takes it a step too far in some cases. Absolutely insane things such as being able to kill bosses before you even face them, codec calls that can only be experienced at set points in the game and, possibly the most obscure of them all, being able to play an early build of an unreleased game by saving and restarting your game at a certain point. While it’s undeniably great that you can do some of these things, it becomes absolutely silly when most people playing the game are only going to experience what could be called the “vanilla” experience. You shouldn’t have to go the extra 5 miles to experience all of these kinds of moments that are a much loved characteristic of a series, nor should you be forced to find a YouTube video merely because you didn’t see something during your first playthrough. Secrets or not, they should be more explicit so that everyone can experience them, rather than only those with the time to waste exploring the game for countless hours.

 

Counter-Point

Dan says: The cutscene debate is one of the longest standing arguments in relation to Metal Gear Solid. All I really have to say is fair enough, because whether you’ll enjoy the cutscenes or be irritated by them is almost entirely down to personal preference. It’s a questionable design mechanic but it’s one of the core characteristics of the series and it just wouldn’t be the same without them, even if it does alienate a percentage of the audience.

I completely disagree with Michael’s argument, however. There are a massively varied amount of secrets, easter eggs and nods to other games in Metal Gear Solid 3, with some obviously being harder to find than others. But saying that they should all be easy to obtain and experience is against the point. They’re supposed to be small rewards for doing things that the player wouldn’t normally do, to make each playthrough unique and to post challenges. If anything I feel that the vast depth of the secrets and easter eggs in Metal Gear Solid is one of its better selling points rather than a detractor. Saying that having to play the title multiple times to find all of the easter eggs seems like a stupid argument to me.

The Rebuttal

Greg says: Yeah, it’s an issue in which either side will not be able to persuade that other, honestly. I’m hoping that the upcoming Platinum Games developed Metal Gear Rising: Revengence will do away with the elongated, tedious cutscenes and focus more on some fantastic, tight gameplay. Honestly though, Revengence will either appeal to people who love the series or will be so stylistically different that it appeals to those who never really got into “traditional” MGS experiences, like myself. It’ll be curious to see the outcome.

Michael says: I’d have to agree that the ridiculous secrets are a great addition and trope of the series, but by making these brilliant little additions more accessible and obvious to people, it becomes something that more people are able to experience and enjoy. It’s incredibly hard to fault a game as well-crafted as Metal Gear Solid 3, but the fact that it hides so much of its content can be incredibly off-putting for a new player. It’s all well and good for the avid players who have a large amount of time available to put into the game, but for those who don’t have the time it can be a huge detractor from the experience to know that you missed out on one of the best aspects of it. The sheer amount of codec dialogues that there are is amazing, but not for those who don’t have the time for them.

Metal Gear Solid 3 is arguably the best game on the PlayStation 2, not to mention one of the best games of all time. For every small fault that it exhibits, there are at least 2 amazing little things that it does to make up for it. That is the genius of Hideo Kojima; he takes into account every detail. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is an absolute masterpiece born from extreme pedantry and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Articles related to this:

  1. Brilliantly Flawed #01 – The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker
  2. Brilliantly Flawed #02 – Metroid Prime
  3. Brilliantly Flawed #03 – InFamous

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  • Lawzer

    I have a copy of MGS3 sitting on my shelf even though I moved out without my PS2, pretty good game.