THE PAXMAN JOB
The interrogations are yet another little strand that makes MGS3D special. Snake can grill anyone he can grab, and his knife is pretty persuasive. Some soldiers tell you about the area you're in, some know where the weapons are, some will give up secret frequencies to call on the Codec. (These are brilliant. Mostly they're one-use benefits like calling in artillery support or cancelling an alert. But one or two just tune you into a new radio station where you can hear a soothing song, and Snake can relax.) Some soldiers will just shout 'Bastard!'. And they're the ones that get their throats cut.
Cutting throats? On Nintendo? Yep, and it's a really gory and satisfying effect. Snake sticks his knife right into the neck and a gout of arterial blood sprays forth, as if to say "here I am, folks, I know you've been waiting so I made this one red and special." MGS3D is actually pretty anti-killing, and has a brilliant way of reversing things on murderous players near the end, but we won't spoil what happens. It's fantastic that none of this gritty, unblinkered quality has been lost.
Though Snake can acquire a vast arsenal on his travels, firing off a big gun is a big sign to any nearby guards. Your options for aiming are either free, which you can do in first- or third-person, or an auto-aim which is only really useful in total bunfights. One bullet to the head will take enemies down, unless they're wearing armoured helmets or are a boss, so free aiming's the way to go - but keeping your gun steady and hitting multiple moving targets while they're chewing through Snake's health is a big, big ask.
Combat's exciting because it's dangerous. There are no health items in MGS3D. Instead Snake has a health gauge and a stamina gauge. The higher Snake's stamina, the faster his health recharges, and stamina is regained through eating the animals you can catch in most areas. (Another great detail is that you can kill these animals but the meat will go off if you carry it around too long. Alternatively, you can trap or tranquillise them, and keep them alive in a cage until you get peckish.) But stamina can also be impaired by injuries like broken bones and bullet wounds, which stick around until they're treated.
THE CRISP TASE OF COBRA
These are the considerable basics that MGS3D is built around, presenting you with location after location that reassembles them in new ways. This game moves from lush jungle to dark caverns to military outposts to fortresses and weapons labs without missing a beat, always changing what it demands of the player.
Nowhere is this better seen than the Cobra unit. Kojima is an incredible boss designer, and this is his best collection - each named after the emotion they carry into battle. The Pain. The Fear. The End. The Fury. The Sorrow. Going into detail on these encounters would spoil them, but they range from quick and nasty deathmatches to drawn-out wars of attrition. Each has a different speciality, and makes sure they face Snake in an arena suited to them. It's a magnificent, unique gauntlet.
And there's more. What of Colonel Volgin, the ugly Russkie with electric arms? What of the Boss, who seems able to take down Snake with ease every time they meet? And what of Metal Gear itself? If we told you, we'd have to kill ourselves - for ruining one of gaming's finest endings. MGS3D's final stretch is so good everyone should experience it fresh.
Metal Gear Solid is an awesome series of games, and Metal Gear Solid 3 is the best of them. The 3DS version loses nothing from the original, but the addition of such a convincing and comprehensive 3D effect makes playing it through again a renewed and improved experience.
Nintendo gamers have never been especially well-served by the Metal Gear Solid series, but here is MGS3D - and it's the Big Boss of them all.
This is a game that anyone who's serious about games should play. A mammoth adventure crafted with unparalleled attention to detail. A fantastic experience.
- A portable version of one of the best games ever made
- Gawp-worthy use of 3D
- Tells an excellent story
- Exciting stealth and combat gameplay
- Occasional framerate hitches