Okay, so in retrospect, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was
severely lacking in the story department, with its scarcity of Solid Snake, abundance of whiney Raiden, and speeches on the
evils of nuclear war--not to mention a final resolution that didn't make much sense.
Forget all that.
Snake Eater revives the spirit of the first Solid, with an intriguing scenario, intense action, and
a long adventure that stays riveting almost every step of the way--all wrapped in high-gloss cinematic cut-scenes and voice-overs
that could have come from any A-action film. The game's long, but not overly so (save a few boss battles that go a few rounds
too many), and it brilliantly combines the wide outdoors with confining interiors.
"Loyalty to the End"
The game's Cold War 1960s setting puts Snake right at cloak-and-dagger home. His mission is to infiltrate
Soviet territory and rescue a nuclear scientist before he can create a weapon for a renegade group of Russian soldiers called
the Cobra Unit. Complicating matters is Snake's former mentor, The Boss, who has defected to the Russians for personal reasons.
The Solid titles dish out some intriguing boss characters, and Snake Eater features a pack of self-loathing,
suicidal psychos condemned by their own murderous skills. Defeating them requires brains (The Sorrow), brawn (The Fear), or
a combination of both (The End).
Although it's set an era long gone, there's an effective arsenal of weapons and gadgets to collect.
Dealing in stealth, there's a camouflage system where the uniform, face paint, and stance determines how well you blend into
an environment, but to keep his stamina high, Snake must gather his own food, heal serious wounds, set fractures, and even
cure diseases. It adds excellent depth to the game and makes the main character that much more human.
Close-quarter combat is emphasized this time, as Snake can take on enemies in an up close and personal
fashion by using his knife and pistol combination to extract information, create a human shield, or silently dispose of his
prey. The solid controls keep the multiple functions literate and easy to remember. However, one of the few hitches is trying
to fire your pistol while you use an enemy as a human shield. Somehow, you must keep your thumb on the [C] button and tap
[SQ], which is quite a feat to accomplish. The game's lack of a custom-controller configuration doesn't help, either.
The aesthetics pack a huge punch. The steaming jungles are fittingly brought to life, albeit with
a tad of slowdown and other minor distractions for the otherwise-steady frame rate. The audio is first-rate, with the usual
excellent voice casting, poignant sound effects, and rousing music score--some of the best the industry has to offer.
Games of this high caliber don't come around often, but they're certainly appreciated when they do.
Rumors abound that this is the last Metal Gear Solid game. If this is the case, Snake Eater is a superb swan song...and one
of the best games of the year.