Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater’s 2003 E3 debut made everyone in attendance stand (or sit, if you could find some floor space at Konami’s perpetually packed booth) up and pay attention. Subsequent sneak peeks at the game have been equally exemplary of director Hideo Kojima’s fanatical approach to fulfilling his very specific—if occasionally unclear—vision of the videogame craft.

Conspiracy theorists went rabid when Snake Eater was revealed to unfold during the 1960s, an era of escalating tensions and rife with espionage of a lower-tech sort. It’s against this precarious political and global backdrop that the player (let’s just call him Snake for now, shall we?) crawls out of the air ducts and into the jungle. If 2001’s Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was futuristic, then Snake Eater is positively prehistoric.

Kojima’s mostly unmatched mastery of cinematic cameras and obsessive attention to detail suggests that this thicket will be every bit as finely honed as it is open ended. In a time when seemingly every big franchise is overcompensating for the success of the wide-open style of Rockstar’s GTA series, a trailer for Snake Eater poked fun at—amongst other things—the series’ staggering influence.

This is no small matter—few other directors, publishers, or games have the credentials to back that bit of lighthearted ribbing up. In any case, assuming the final product’s environments remain challenging yet navigable—and not frustrating—Snake Eater will sport some stellar 3D level design.

Proving that you can, indeed, teach an old snake new tricks, the player’s already ample repertoire has been expanded to complement the departure from the mostly angular environments of Metal Gear games past. We’ve already seen Snake dangling from trees, snacking on subpar sushi, and wading through the water. But other aspects, such as applying camouflage and hunting for dinner, haven’t been clarified yet. Kojima and co. have also been sure to emphasize the improved close-quarters combat, which should go quite nicely with the overall emphasis on survival. Treating injuries and tracking and setting traps may sound laborious, but we expect the learning process will be a pleasure.

But while surprisingly substantial information has been released in the past months, we all know better now than to think we’ve seen more than the tip of the iceberg…or the edge of the jungle. Series’ fans are well used to Kojima’s fondness for teasing and trickery—after all, no one could have expected Sons of Liberty’s Snake/Raiden switcheroo. Despite helming one of the most straight-faced series in games, it’s clear that Hideo Kojima likes to have a bit of fun, too. Witness, for example, his willingness to make Snake look the fool by donning an alligator’s head as a disguise. In fact, given Kojima’s propensity for going “out there”, the space-race time setting, and the campy James Bond-style theme song, the possibility of the action going into orbit—as some have suggested—seems no less plausible than, say, a walking, nuclear-equipped tank.

But even if we don’t see Snakes in space, expect to see the very first Metal Gear unleashed. And while nothing has been revealed about new additions to the series’ trademark cast of character-rich antagonists, we’d be surprised if at least one new boss character doesn’t take one of the more gruesome technologies in development at the time, such as chemical or biological weapons, as a motif.

Which is why we’re so confident in our enthusiasm for Snake Eater. The only thing we really know for sure is that we’re going to be blown away when the game is released. While other games on this list will surely hit delays, fail to meet the deafening roar of hype and hoopla, or be made superflous before they hit store shelves—we’d bet our right hand that this one won’t. Time tells all, but for now, we can’t wait to embrace the snake.

So tough it eats: Rambo, 007, and Col. Kurtz for breakfast.

Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in GMR Magazine.