Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Metal Gear Solid 3 (3DS) Review

Mission compromised

It turns out I was much closer to the end of MGS3 than I thought at the time I wrote my impressions! As result, most of what I said there is applicable to the game as a whole. Thus instead of writing a full review from scratch, here are some of my observations from the 3rd act of the game followed by some closing thoughts:

WARNING: There may be some spoilers ahead.
  • As I had said in my impressions, the fact that they crammed a fairly demanding PS2 game into the tiny and underpowered original 3DS is a technical feat that I continued to marvel at for most of my play-through. However, a lot of the big action set pieces that may have been gripping on the PS2 in 2004 felt drawn-out and excessive on the 3DS in 2017. After getting a few minutes into one of these scenes, I found myself wishing that they would wrap up so that I could return to regular gameplay and have full control of Snake again.
  • There are a couple of other artistic excesses that get in the way of the gameplay experience. Most glaring of these is the "boss battle" with The Sorrow. In this scene, all Snake can do is slowly walk by the ghosts of every enemy he's killed. Other than that, there's no other interaction involved with this scene, but it goes on for an extremely long time. While I realize that director Hideo Kojima may have been trying to make some kind of philosophical statement here, this section is not at all enjoyable to play. I ended up just tilting the analog pad forward while watching TV to keep myself entertained as I waited for this part to end.
  • While it may have just been the way things were back in 2004, to the modern eye, the sexualization of the female characters comes off as pretty immature. Female characters in MGS3 are usually in various stages of undress, even in segments of the game where it seems completely tonally inappropriate.
  • The last few boss fights (i.e. after trudging through The Sorrow) represented some of the best action sequences of the game. However, in some cases, these required the sort of speed and accuracy that the 3DS control scheme just cannot provide. As a result, I had to rely pretty heavily on auto-aim on some these which was a lot less exciting than lining up shots myself would have been. 
  • Though most of the action cut scenes fell a little flat for me, there were definitely some dialog cutscenes (especially the ending) that were surprisingly compelling. Kojima is at his best when he's weaving political intrigue and betrayal, rather showing Ocelot spin his revolvers around for the twelfth time.
Ultimately, the experience of playing Metal Gear Solid 3 on 3DS was less than ideal, but I'm glad I finally got around to playing it. I think a linear story-based action game is exactly what I needed after a sprawling open-world RPG like Breath of the Wild. However, throughout my play-through, I couldn't shake the feeling that MGS3 just didn't make a ton of sense as a 3DS game. The combination of clunky controls and a form factor ill-suited to watching lengthy cutscenes detracted significantly from what this game was trying to accomplish and I suspect that I would have enjoyed it more if I had been playing it in longer sessions on the PS2. Thus my recommendation would be if you have the option of playing on the PS2, go with that, but if portability is a big selling point to you, the 3DS version still manages to preserve a decent amount of what originally made MGS so popular (perhaps more so if you have a New 3DS).

Score: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Completion Time: 14 hours, 48 minutes (main story on easy difficulty)

Note: I suspect this game would have had a shot at a 4-star score if I had played it on PS2.

 No-kill play-throughs are for hippies!

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