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Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D - Hands-On with the near-final game

Our early impressions of PS2's best MGS on a portable

When Gillian McKeith refused to pucker her lips and snarfle down a writhing gob of cockroaches on I'm A Celebrity, a shocked nation reeled in stunned disbelief.

"How dare she," we collectively howled into our televisions as she attempted to faint her way out of the situation. "I'm not entirely sure how the license fee works or whether I'm paying it, but I'm fairly certain this woman just dicked me out of five quid's worth of invertebrate genocide."

Little did we realise that she was lifting plays directly from Metal Gear Solid 3, in which one of Snake's tricks, should he find himself in an awkward moment, is to knock back a fake death pill to effect his own pseudo-demise.


You can do this to avoid the attentions of patrolling guards, waiting until they're no longer interested in your corpse before biting into the revival pill embedded in your molar and springing back on to your mortal coil.

Unlike McKeith, Snake would never tumble into a limp-bodied protest in order to avoid snacking on a jungle creature. In fact, having been stranded in the jungle for a less than a day he's already tucking a napkin into his shirt collar and coaxing all manner of rodent, reptile, fish and bird into his bottomless gullet. He barely stops to even chew. Sneaking missions work up quite the appetite, it seems.

Kojima's third Metal Gear Solid game is regarded by many as his best, and it's likely for this reason that it, rather than any other game in the series, has landed on Nintendo's 3D handheld.

It could also be because it's one of the most visually dense Metal Gear games, by virtue of its botanical environs. The thick, multi-layered vegetation of the Russian forests are lent a newfound perspective by the 3DS.

As Snake crawls through the undergrowth he pushes past in-your-face blades of grass that contrast with distant treelines, making it possible to pick out patrolling guards in what would otherwise be a flickering collage of greenish pixels. The depth effect is genuinely useful in the game, and you're at a slight disadvantage as soon as you flick the 3D slider to its off position.

But Snake hasn't been airdropped into Russia just to slide whole snakes down his throat before daintily pulling them back out as comically intact snake skeletons. He's on a sneaking mission, the goal of which is to retrieve a defecting Russian scientist, prevent World War 3 and defeat the Cobra unit, a team of elite special forces headed by Snake's old mentor.

Kojima's trademark wackiness is seen in their off-beat personalities and titles, each drawn from the emotion they take into battle - The Sorrow, The Fear, The Pain, The Fury, The End - and this oddness is offset by some very sincere and compelling character-led storytelling.


Metal Gear Solid 3 is the earliest game in the Metal Gear canon, an origin story for the series' most beloved heroes and villains.

Cobras present themselves as unique boss battles as the game progresses, each one an absolute novelty, at once surprising, original and inventive. These will be, as they were in the original 2005 game, some of the strangest and most bewildering, maddeningly brilliant moments in gaming - ones absolutely not worth spoiling if you haven't already played.

The meat of the game, however, is in its finely tuned stealthing. Enemy AI responds to sights and sounds as you move from cover to cover. Slowly dragging your prone frame through long grass is a common activity.

Guards can be attracted by tapping on surfaces, previously captured animals such as birds and snakes can be thrown as distractions, your camouflage and face paint can be changed to match your environment - there's wide scope to experiment and play with enemies to discover interesting paths through the game's areas, and as you progress you'll come across more and more tools to do so.

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