Saturday, December 8

Metal Gear Solid 3 Subsistence Review

I played on: PS2
I paid: £0 (2017 Xmas gift from my Sister)
Available on: PS2
Notes: Metal Gear Review (coming soon), Metal Gear 2 Solid Snake Review

While Metal Gear Solid 3 would be ported to everything from the 3DS to the PS3 the Subsistence edition only ever came out on PS2. This means it's become a rather rare collector’s item that I’m very happy to own. It comes with 3 discs of Metal Gear action so let’s start by looking at the main game on disc 1.

Metal Gear Solid 3 Subsistence is a master-class in stealth gameplay. The beauty of its design are the three different types of camera. You have your standard early Metal Gear fixed camera perspective that allows you to see around angles impossible in 1st or 3rd person. Then you have the newly added 3rd person view that allows you to move the camera yourself to see around corners. This is the camera I use the most as it lets you have full visibility around you. Lastly, you have the first person camera that allows you to line up headshots and other precision targets. Although you can get through the game with just a mix of the fixed and first-person views it takes all 3 to master the stealth. If you plan on playing on any of the higher difficulties or even just finishing a perfect stealth run on normal then you need to master all of these views. The placement of every enemy and item as well as the design of every area feels purposeful. Long before Dark Souls Metal Gear Solid 3 mastered the act of hard but fair. Getting through this game on higher difficulties is a great challenge for fans. To this day European Extreme bests me every time.

Although Metal Gear Solid 3 is primarily a stealth game it’s also one of the earliest games to feature survival aspects. Throughout your mission, you will need to hunt food and treat any injuries you gain. While in most games this would have got in the way of the stealth here it fits perfectly together. See it’s not only that you that suffers from hunger and a shortage of ammunition. If you take out the enemy armoires and foodsheds then they will get hungry and open fire less. You can use this to feed them rotten or poisonous food that will injure or kill them. Then again you could just leave some food out next to a claymore or other trap luring them off to their deaths. This creates a system you can have lots of fun playing around with. It’s not just food and ammo you can remove from the enemy as radios can be shot and destroyed leaving a patrol alone with no backup. This is great if your sniping as you can then slowly move around the area picking the rest of them off. That’s the beauty of all these details, you can always find a way to use them to your advantage. No other Metal Gear has got this same level of detail to it.

I think the last thing that needs talking about in the main game is the story and the wonderful way Metal Gear Solid 3 treats women. In this game of spy vs spy, there are only really two main women, The Boss and EVA. The Boss is Snake’s mentor and a mother figure and it’s his mission to kill her. Her character may be gamings best example of a powerful, emotional and well-written women. She is non-sexual in both personality and appearance. Although during the end she does show you her body it’s a way that depicts sorrow and regret. The focus is her scar from performing an emergency C-Section on the battlefield and not her body. This helps explain why she is as disconnected to her emotions and such a good soldier. She’s loyal to the end, even if means damaging herself and the ones she loves. Then we have EVA the triple agent posing as a turn-coat NSA agent helping out Snake while really working for the Chinese. She is a very sexual character. Almost to the point of being a trope of the way most women in gaming are treated. During the ending, you learn why this is and it makes complete sense. She’s a sleeper spy trained in seduction as a way to get people to trust her. This is what she’s doing with Snake and it works. Snake in a way is a stand-in for most of the male audience in gaming. Far too distracted by all the sex to really see her true motives. While I think this is clever it’s not without its flaws. For a start just being smart about your fetishisation of a woman’s body still leaves you doing it yourself. This allows Kojima to look progressive while still exploiting women. Kinda having his cake and eating it. Besides this, the story is a fun, detailed and well-written spy drama in the style of early 007.

On Disc 2 you have a bunch of rather silly and enjoyable bonus content. The biggest feature would have been Metal Gear Online’s first incarnation. The servers have been down for years so there’s no playing this any time soon sadly. Besides MGO you also have Snake vs Monkey. This lets Snake out to random locations from the main game to hunt down the Ape Attack monkeys as fast as possible. It’s as ridiculous as it sounds and yet I can lose hours playing it. Something about the short bursts of really fast but difficult attempts at the MGS3 gameplay just drags me in. Then you have both of the original Metal Gear games for the MSX but with updated artwork. I’ve reviewed both of these but in short, they are rather fun but dated games that explore Big Boss’s later life. Lastly, for disc 2, you have the Secret Theatre that features a bunch of rather odd but often quite funny sketches. They will normally take an existing idea and mix it with something nonsensical and wrap it all together in pop culture. I don’t want to spoil too many but one of them has Raiden using the Terminator’s time travel in order to kill Big Boss so he can have the lead role in Metal Gear Solid 4. Of course, everything goes wrong for poor Raiden in a very Looney Tunes way. Not groundbreaking but fun extra content that fans will enjoy.

The 3rd and final disc contains a bunch of behind the scenes content relating to the making of Metal Gear Solid 3 and a bit of promotional material for Metal Gear Solid 4. I always enjoy learning more about the process of bringing games like this to life. What I love the most about this disc, however, is the Metal Gear Solid 4 content. It’s a snapshot of the world back then and watching it brings me right back to when I was a teenager. The new 4th game was going to this epic event that ended the Metal Gear series forever. All the secrets about the Patriots, Big Boss and more were going to be revealed. For Metal Gear fans back then it was a really big deal and being able to relive that nostalgia is amazing.

All in all Metal Gear Solid 3 Subsistence is one of my favourite special editions to any game ever. The inclusion of both the original MSX games allowed players outside of Japan to play these games for the first time. Then you have so much extra content that doesn’t push the series forward but does take the time to make fun of itself. From Snake vs Monkey to the silly sketches it’s all wonderful and fun. The 3rd person camera would prove to be a mainstay for the series after this and you can see why. Basically, Subsistence just takes a fantastic game and makes it better and then offers more stuff on top of it.

Recommendation Rating: 10 out of 10

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