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Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence
Score: 100%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami
Media: DVD/2
Players: 1 - 8
Genre: Stealth

Graphics & Sound:
Looking back, itís pretty amazing just how far the Metal Gear series has come. Starting out as simple stealth action title for the MSX home computer, the latest title in the series, Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence boasts better visuals, camera work, and storyline than half the Hollywood movies out there. Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence is a re-release of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, with more goodies and a new chase camera which completely redefines the game experience. Metal Gear just keeps getting better and better.

MGS3: Subsistence has some of the most amazing graphics available on the PlayStation 2. Looking back, Metal Gear Solid 2 looks primitive by comparison, and thatís saying a lot. Not much, if anything, has changed since the original release of the game, but everything was done so well the first time there was little need to change a thing. The level of detail and polish in everything from major characters to the rusty floor of a jail cell means the game looks absolutely amazing. MGS3: Subsistence is an interactive movie, thereís simply no better way to describe it.

The music holds up the same level of excellence as the graphics. With a score composed by Harry Gregson-Williams (Shrek, Armageddon, The Rock), few games boast a more powerful soundtrack. From the opening theme that features a new take on a 60ís James Bond intro theme, to new versions of the overall Metal Gear Solid theme, MGS3: Subsistence keeps the blood pumping. No detail is spared in the sound effects either. From the sounds of sparks from a shot up electrical box, to the first rate voice acting, only a handful of games boast a presentation on par with Subsistence.


Gameplay:
The overall idea of any Metal Gear game is simple; you donít want to run around shooting up all the bad guys you see. Instead, you are to attempt to progress through the game engaging the enemy as little as possible. Your ability to sneak, not the size of your gun, is the measure of victory. Thatís not to say there isnít some seriously cool fighting. Youíll blow up helicopters while fighting tanks and gun fighting pretty frequently.

MGS3: Subsistence is actually a prequel that takes place first in the overall Metal Gear chronology in the early 1960ís. Players don the mantle of a U.S. special-forces soldier codenamed Naked Snake. This man would later go on to become Big Boss, the protagonist in the first two Metal Gear games.

The game takes place in the jungles of the Soviet Union, near the Afghanistan border. The game is a departure from the indoor stealth gameplay of the first two Metal Gear Solid games, instead taking place outdoors. There is no easy breezy radar to tell you where the bad guys are. Youíll be using old school camouflage to avoid detection. This takes us to the single biggest difference between Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater and Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence, the chase camera.


Difficulty:
In Snake Eater, players were limited to a nearly fixed camera. As you moved around, the camera angle would change on its own. You could move it around a little bit with the right analog stick, but not by much. You had a first person view, but you canít move around while using it. Many players and critics complained.

MGS3: Subsistence incorporates two cameras. Using the R3 button, players can switch between the original fixed camera and the new chase camera. Though it is a simple addition, because of the nature of the game, it causes a fundamental change in the way the game plays. The world really opens up with the ability to see three feet ahead of you while walking at the same time. Sometimes the original camera is better, and can move to places the chase camera cannot, so you will be switching back and forth rather frequently.

The result is a game that is made significantly easier. The ability to run around with a chase camera does not diminish the value of certain items as much as you would think. The active and passive sonar are just as valuable as ever. The difference is you will no longer get seen by an enemy soldier who you didnít notice, despite the fact that he was in plain sight right in front of you, an occurrence that frustrated many players.


Game Mechanics:
The chase camera is the biggest gameplay addition, but MGS3: Subsistence allows includes an entire disc worth of new things.

Included in disc 2 are the first two Metal Gear games, Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. Neither of these are the NES games you are probably familiar with. This is the original MSX home computer version of Metal Gear and actually includes the games namesake as a boss, unlike the ridiculous super computer found in the NES version. Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake has never seen an English release before. So this is a significant addition for die hard fans. These two games, along with MGS3: Subsistence forms a sort of Big Boss trilogy.

Disc 2 also has an extremely addictive online mode. Similar to games like Counter-Strike, the online mode is similar to typical online First-Person Shooters, but with distinctive gameplay elements highlighting the game's 3rd person and sneaking mechanics. Youíd be amazed how often hiding in a cardboard box fools even human opponents. Matches support up to 8 players and have rule sets such as death-match, team death-match, seven vs. one sneaking missions, and more.

The limited edition of the game also features a 3rd disc with a very interesting addition. The entire gameís series of cutscenes have been re-cut and re-edited with new scenes creating, in essence, a three and a half hour movie version of the game. Unfortunately, I am unable to comment on this particular offering as I have not been able to see it.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence offers a plethora of new offerings, including the original Metal Gear game and an online mode. Between these new offerings and the new camera, the game is worth a purchase, even if you already own the original Metal Gear Solid 3.


-Alucard, GameVortex Communications
AKA Stephen Triche

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