Why Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater Is The Best Choice For A Remake

Storytelling in the Metal Gear Solid franchise is, and I’m putting this kindly, a mess. It’s up there alongside Resident Evil with its convolutions, retcons and general timeline buggering about. Which is impressive is a narrative about clones, genomes, world domination, secret societies and nanomachines. Definitely the nanomachines, in the case of MGS4.

Yet, amongst the mess of AI Colonel’s, super-suited presidents and possessed arms, Metal Gear Solid 3 stands out as one of the more cohesive tales in the whole series. For one, it’s a prequel to all the futuristic shenanigans and two, it’s set against a more realistic backdrop of Cold war tension, rather than future military scenarios.

It’s also got some of the best gameplay in the series, control issues aside (we’ll get into that), that make it one of the most immersive stealth/action games of all time. Which is impressive, as the 2000’s were eating good with the likes of Hitman and Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. So, why now?

Why, twenty years later, does Metal Gear Solid 3 deserve to be remade, if people like me think it’s already so good? Well, let’s find out why…

Grounded Like A Snake On Its Belly

Whilst this is a [clearly biased] celebration of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, it also serves as a comparison piece against the others. A sort of pros-and-cons as to why the others have their finer points, but wouldn’t hit true with today’s attitudes. It’s also worth pointing out that whilst MGS did have a remake in Twin Snakes, which I like, it doesn’t make exempt from another attempt.

Anyway, it’d be fair to say that for many, the series started at the first Metal Gear Solid. Personally, I hadn’t heard about Metal Gear until it went Solid in 1998, and even then it raised more questions. Why is the hero called Solid Snake, how do I beat Psycho Mantis, and what is a “genome”, amongst more in my twelve year old brain. Yes, this was an eye-opener in terms of storytelling for most of us youngsters.

By the time MGS2 came out, it just raised more questions with its story, like “what the hell’s a ‘meme’?” and so forth. So, it’d be fair to say that for as engrossing as Metal Gear Solid’s 1 & 2 are, a lot of us were confused. This is where Snake Eater came in, grounding a hell of lot of our concerns.

Keeping It Virtuous

Yes, I’m going to cover the story as a predominant factor first. As I said above, Metal Gear Solid at two main games in, as well as acknowledging the earlier Metal Gear titles, was pretentious in its story. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved them, but you imagine trying to explain it to someone new to the series. Difficult, right?

This is where Snake Eater ticks a big fat positive check in its favour: its story made sense. Well, “sense” may stretch it a bit for Metal Gear Solid, so we’ll go for “grounded”. The story, brought right back to the start of its canon, set out the scene for the birth of Big Boss, his conflict against the Boss and his country.

And generally, that’s quite grounded for Metal Gear Solid. In comparison, Metal Gear Solid 2’s beats about AI taking over and whatnot wouldn’t have the same gravitas this time around. It would be more a case of, “Yes, we know, we’re living it”. Of course, if you rewrote it to modern sensibilities, it wouldn’t mesh well with MGS4.

Which, speaking of story and pacing, would be absolutely lambasted by today’s standards. Let’s not forget the furore around The Order 1886 and its cutscene-to-gameplay ratio. That’s nothing compared to Guns of The Patriots, with its smattering of gameplay buried under about an hour of introductory scenes.

Snake Eater

Remember The Basics…

When Metal Gear first arrived (the originals, remember), console limitations put gameplay in that not-quite-isometric, top-down style. Which was fine, then. Of course, for many, they didn’t realise that “carried over” to Metal Gear Solid. And of course, we liked it, because we had no basis of comparison. However, it was quite hard to stealth at times when the enemy could be one frame out of shot, but still see us. Well, from my experience at least, some of you may be stealth savants.

So for as much as we lumped it, it wasn’t until the inclusion of movable third person cameras in MGS3: Subsistence that it really became immersive. Being able to move the camera freely and scope ahead was a game-changer in terms of Metal Gear Solid, even if it weren’t an inherently new concept.

It suited the environments better, allowing players to scope ahead in some of the games tighter, more vegetation-dense environments. One could argue that this could be applied to the first game as a remake, but it wouldn’t feel right. That’s why, for better or worse, Twin Snakes works better as a copy than a redesign.

It wasn’t until The Phantom Pain that players got a better type of stealth gameplay: more fluidity and less-painful controls. That Konami are working this type into Delta, as well as the option to use the original style, will work wonders. I personally welcome any system that means not holding one button to aim, pressing another to look down my sights, whilst holding two triggers simultaneously to stand on my tiptoes for that extra vantage.

Snake Eater

The Most Un-Slippery Of Snakes

Which leads to something I think all Metal Gear Solid 3 fans need to hear: take off the rose-tinted glasses for the way it plays. Ask me why I love Metal Gear Solid and I’ll wax lyrical for ages, probably show off my MGS tattoos too. But if I had a criticism, it would always be the controls (and the nanomachines spiel in MGS4).

It was great at the time because it’s all we knew, but how many of you have gone back recently? I’m currently doing Snake Eater via the Legacy Collection, and boy is it awkward in retrospect. Walking with the left stick, switching to the D-pad to walk quieter, enduring pause-and-load screens to change camouflage for that extra 5% vantage, it’s all a faff. Let’s not convince ourselves otherwise.

So as I said above, that Konami isn’t messing with the core gameplay, but refining it serves as proof of the care for MGS3. Obviously I can’t pretend to know how/if they’ll change the camouflage system, but in terms of control less input is better. I don’t want a streamlined experience per se, but I want it to be more accessible than it was in 2004.

Snake Eater

Just Look At That Bandana

The tricky part with most remakes is usually what they end up doing to the story. Just look at both Resident Evil 2 & 3’s remakes: the former made more succinct and streamlined, the latter hacked right up. Making progression more ergonomic is one thing, but removing iconic sections is not the way. Clock Tower furore was high. Fortunately, Konami have said they’re not changing anything in Delta. Don’t believe me? Just listen to Naked Snake himself, David Hayter, confirm that here.

Again, in terms of grounded-ness (just go with it), Snake Eater has the more comprehensive story. It’s still as cutscene-heavy as they come (although not as bad as MGS4), but it doesn’t get boring. The first hours are the heaviest, with constant Codec calls explaining every player action, but once Snake’s belly-deep in the Groznyjgrad complex, it’s all exposition from there.

It’s not without its sillier moments, like where Snake has something pulled and twisted out by Eva, but it doesn’t have anything offensive, per se. Don’t worry, I’m not getting on my anti-woke soapbox and telling players to man up or anything, relax. What I mean is that Snake Eater didn’t really have anything in it that wouldn’t pass muster today. Sure, some daft bits that probably won’t age well… but at least they’ll look good.

It’s Cold War espionage, with a cavalcade of strangely-named, probably-supernatural super soldiers and that’s why we loved it. The same but better, basically.

Snake Eater

To Russia, With Love And Nostalgia

I don’t think there’s much more I can say without this sounding like a school report on “Why MGS3 is the bestest game ever”. In short, I absolutely do love Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, as do millions of others. Konami have, less face it, been a bit shonky with the handling of its key stealth franchise as of late, so if this is their turnaround, we’re all for it. We’ll even forget about Survive. For me, this and the Suikoden remasters will be a whole plume in Konami’s cap if done correctly.

And why wouldn’t it? They’ve gone on record to say they’re not messing around with the formula, just modernising it. As always, the proof will be in the pudding but from the morsels they’ve already shown, it’s looking amazing. It was impressive twenty years ago, and it can only get better.

The excitement here at Finger Guns is at fever pitch too. I dread to think who’d win a Metal Gear-off between Miles and I, with Toby as an outlier, but who knows. What I do know is when Delta does arrive, that’s all we’ll be talking about.

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