Saturday, April 13, 2024
featuresfilm T.V and Video Games

Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater, Why It’s The Best Place To Start For A Newcomer

The Metal Gear Solid games are well known and one of the most incredible games ever (we don’t talk about Metal Gear Survive here). As there are so many entries when people decide whether to delve into the series for the first time, it can take time to determine where to start and which game to choose.

It is more complex than picking up and playing the first tied game (released on the NES). The masterpiece that was the original Metal Gear Solid released for the PlayStation in 2000 may also seem like an excellent point to jump on board, but I beg to differ. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is the best place to enter director Hideo Kojima’s magical mind, and I will explain why.

What Are The Games All About

The Metal Gear series is a renowned example of the stealth genre, consistently achieving success. Even titles like Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, initially criticised for their over-the-top nature, have become recognised classics (Revengeance, however, is not a stealth game). For individuals new to Hideo Kojima’s stealth-action franchise, the allure of exploring what the hype is all about may be substantial. However, characterising the series as complicated to grasp would be an understatement. I started with Sons Of Liberty, the first entry on the PlayStation 2. As much as I loved that game as an 11-year-old child, I struggled to grasp the entire narrative correctly.

While many Metal Gear games already boast intricate plotlines, the franchise adds a layer of complexity by presenting events non-linearly. For a newcomer attempting to navigate the self-referential narratives, the challenge becomes even more formidable, mainly when Kojima’s distinctive storytelling methods come into play. Those seeking a gradual introduction to Kojima’s uniquely intense stealth-action series are advised to begin with Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, as it lays the foundation for the franchise. It is a prequel to the original games and an origin story.

Why Begin With Snake Eater

Drawing significant influence from James Bond movies, Snake Eater places players in the shoes of Naked Snake, a CIA agent operating during the Cold War. The narrative unfolds as Snake is dispatched to the Soviet Russian jungles for a rescue mission. Emphasising stealth, the game frequently confronts players with overwhelming odds in hostile environments. To navigate these challenges, players can access diverse tools for eliminating enemies and maintaining stealth. Notably, Naked Snake’s camouflage is a crucial feature among these tools.

In Snake Eater, players can discover diverse camouflage options for Snake’s sneaking suit. These options extend beyond mere aesthetics, as many offer varying levels of concealment based on the specific situation and the surrounding environment. This goes beyond a passive enhancement achieved by aligning the camouflage with the general surroundings, as confident camo choices prove most effective when Snake actively takes measures to assimilate into the surroundings. For instance, wearing tree branch camo significantly enhances concealment when Snake positions himself against a tree. This was an excellent feature when I first played the game. Still, playing it more recently, the constant need to access the menu to change the camouflage in different scenarios gets tiresome. However, this is a minor problem with an otherwise superb video game.

Snake Eater integrates its environment in various ways, mainly through its survival elements. Enthusiasts of challenging survival games like Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead or RimWorld will likely appreciate features such as the injury system, which meticulously tracks distinct wounds on Snake’s body, each demanding a specific treatment. As the title suggests, Snake Eater incorporates a hunger system, compelling players to hunt the indigenous wildlife within the jungle for sustenance.

In contrast to numerous other Metal Gear entries, the narrative of Snake Eater is relatively straightforward. Although there are occasional references to characters from prior Metal Gear games, players are optional to be acquainted with them to grasp the storyline. MGS3 is an excellent entry point for those intrigued by Metal Gear’s narrative, as the events in this game become recurring points of reference in almost every subsequent title.

What Makes Snake Eater So Special

Snake Eater encapsulates the essence of the beloved Metal Gear franchise while avoiding the overly intricate elements that might deter players. Serving as an ideal introduction to the world of Metal Gear, the game gradually introduces the series’ trademark eccentricities, reserving the wilder elements for the latter half. It successfully refines the core gameplay elements that define the Metal Gear franchise, building upon the foundations laid in previous entries.

The jungle setting in Snake Eater provides an excellent environment for players to familiarise themselves with the stealth system. Despite the abundance of urban environments in the series, the jungle’s expansive and forgiving nature serves as a suitable stealth playground, particularly welcoming for first-time players. In contrast to the tight corridors and crowded military bases featured in games like MGS2 and MGS4, Snake Eater’s openness offers a more accommodating experience.

The game’s sense of humour, a hallmark of the Metal Gear series, adds another layer of enjoyment. Snake Eater is a testament to the series’ unique charm, featuring fourth-wall-breaking jokes, over-the-top moments, and peculiarly funny segments. Memorable instances, such as the endless ladder climb with the game’s vocal theme playing, contribute to the game’s quirky and entertaining atmosphere. Revolver Ocelot’s scenes, though occasionally campy, also inject dynamism into the overall narrative.

Despite its occasional wildness, Snake Eater seamlessly incorporates emotional moments that balance the game’s tone. The final confrontation between Naked Snake and his mentor is lauded as one of the best boss fights in Metal Gear history (and gaming history), contributing to the game’s impactful climax. Importantly, Snake Eater tells a compelling standalone story, making it accessible for newcomers to the Metal Gear universe, all while offering unique mechanics that set it apart as an exceptional entry in the series.

With a remake of Around the Corner of Snake Eater, some people may want to hold out for that. However, I still opt to play the original first as the new game won’t involve Hideo Kojima as he and Konami split due to a row over Metal Gear 5. A remastered version is available now on most platforms (and includes the other games as well). Just give it a go!