Disc One: Subsistence
“Who are the Patriots?” the agent named Snake asks, his gun drawn and aimed directly at the head of the woman on the motorcycle in front of him.
“The La-Le-Lu-Le-Lo,” she answers, only after being pressed several times for a response. Snake lowers his weapon, feeling slightly more assured that this woman is indeed on his side.
Should one hear these two lines of dialog out of context (like reading them here), the last thing they would think would be that the title would not only contain the best story in years, but also be destined to go down in gaming history as one of the finest titles ever made. Kojima Productions’ release of Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence (the “director’s cut + extras” version of the subtitled “Snake Eater” game from a year earlier), surpasses the original in every way imaginable (a rare thing) and delivers a gaming experience worthy of the highest accolades available (an extremely rare thing). Do not think twice about spending your hard earned cash on this one… it’s that good.
The Metal Gear games have always been known for their intricate storylines, self-aware humor and intense hide-and-seek gameplay. It was this franchise that started the whole “stealth-action” genre when Metal Gear Solid was released on the PSOne. It’s the only series that delivers 20 minute cut scenes at a clip, and yet you sit riveted. It’s the only series that let’s you manipulate your controller during certain cut scenes to look at the world around you, since clues on how to proceed are literally everywhere.
Finally, when a player can watch a woman’s face and be able to see the deep love she has for a man as she beats him down, breaks his elbow and smashes him in the ribs before throwing him off of a suspension bridge, well that’s damned fine storytelling in anyone’s book. Add in the exceptional voice acting and animation that makes players forget they are looking at CG people (keep a close watch on Snake’s face whenever someone speaks loudly or threatens him… he does a perfect Clint Eastwood grimace), and you have yet another “A” list winner from Hideo Kojima.
The single player experience is still the same exact one from the “Snake Eater” release, with all of its graphical excellence and aural bliss in tact (You have to love the Bond film homage on the intro titles and song). This is some of the best stuff ever seen on the PS2, and it’s a pure joy to behold. The control scheme is complicated and takes a bit of getting used to, but once mastered becomes second nature. Fans of the series will have no trouble picking this one up and getting started, as it relies on much of the last game’s (Sons of Liberty) control points.
The one major change in the single player experience is the now-fully-adjustable 3D camera. This is a Metal Gear first, and a feature that was met with a great deal of controversy among the series’ enormous fan base. Historically, the Metal Gear series has always used a fixed camera angle, usually a view from above, during normal gameplay, and a first person view for looking around while standing still (they added firing weapons in this mode since Sons of Liberty). There are those that feel the fixed camera views (which were usually a fascinating angle or perspective to begin with) are what made Metal Gear “Metal Gear” and that they shouldn’t be messed with or altered, and that adding this freely adjustable (and more commonplace) third-person camera removes some of the “hide and seek” tension for which the series is celebrated, thereby dropping the title’s respect level to that of a common action game.
Lastly, you have the camp of those who say the addition is long overdue, and makes the game stand apart from the “Snake Eater” version to such an extent that it’s a whole new experience. Kojima Productions indirectly answered all of this chaffering by giving players the ability to choose. The new camera perspective can be turned on and off “on the fly” by clicking down on the right thumb stick, or permanently disabled in the options menu. This is a prime example of what Kojima Productions is known for… give the fans what they want, every way they want it. Put together all of the game’s pros and the amount of fun both the developers have with the player and the player has with the game, and what you’ve got before you is a perfect gaming experience at a bargain price.
Disc Two: Persistence
If all of this weren’t enough, Kojima decides to make a multiplayer game for MGS3, and throw it into the package for the fans. They literally could have released this second disc as a stand alone product, but the fan service here is showing much love. Once logged into the network, players can choose to take on fellow spies from all over the world in deathmatch, team deathmatch, rescue, capture and sneaking missions. Your typical online scenarios are all accounted for, including some special Metal Gear style surprises. Eight players at once are supported per match, and the lobby system is really straightforward and neat. All of the Metal Gear staples are present here online, including the cardboard box, CQC (throws only), distracting “dirty” magazines, corner peeking, etc. As one might expect, the new 3D camera is the only option available in multiplayer and this time around there’s no debating its role.
So you would think Kojima’s new Subsistence package would end with the online offering, but wait! There’s more! Yes, just so they made sure players would be able to wring every cent of value from the game for their $29.99, Kojima’s team decided to throw in full versions of both the original Metal Gear games! Yes, Metal Gear and Metal Gear II are available on the disc, perfectly ported in all their 8-bit glory! Throw in a “Secret Theater” mode, full of parodies and various Metal Gear clips and a “Demo Theater” mode that enables you to watch all of the movies from MGS3 in one sitting (watch only after beating the game), and you have the complete package that is MGS3: Subsistence, right? Wrong!
There are two more single-player game modes that really add to the fun once the main game is completed. Snake vs. Monkey is fun for the whole family as Snake dukes it out with the Ape Escape monkeys, and “Duel Mode” allows players to take on any of MGS3s boss battles out of the context of the storyline… sharpen your combat skills on these!
What else is there to say? Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence took a great game and made it better, added a whole other online game to the mix plus a wealth of extras and then chopped the price nearly in half. Considering the product they started with was already a masterpiece, it becomes apparent that the title deserves the ultimate praise, as do those who created it.