Looking back at Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance, in retrospect, it was somewhat disappointing. When it was shown, everyone was wowed by thought of playing Snake in the Big Shell, learning of Snake?s exploits between MGS1 and MGS2 through the Snake Tales, and what everyone was hoping would be a wealth of other additions. While Substance was still an incredible game, it still left many wanting more because of the lack of any true plot-critical aspects to the added extra features. However, Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence will not leave gamers with this somewhat empty feeling and offers an incredible new experience that adds tons more gameplay to this blockbuster hit.
There is only one major addition to the gameplay of Subsistence, being the new user-controlled 3D camera, a first in the series. While it isn?t really unique or innovative, it?s still a noticeable departure from the norm of the series. Anyway, the new camera is the generally standard rotate-able setup, controlled by the right analog stick similar to Splinter Cell. While this new camera does have its advantages over the old one, but the caliber of usefulness is really determined by the gamer?s style of play. Those who are more inclined to play with an aggressive, gun-slinging style may not find the camera as helpful as the ones who more prone to hiding behind the trees and take the more stealthy approach to MGS. These players might find the camera more helpful than hurtful. Gunplay can still be somewhat difficult with this camera setup, however. Enemies shoot from off the screen, and when surrounded, it can sometimes be easier to chase down and neutralize an enemy, or go into first-person view mode rather than swinging the camera around from soldier-to-soldier. As a whole, though, the camera is indeed a helpful addition. But fans are not to worry as the standard overhead camera is still in the game. Switch between both camera mode is as easy as clicking the right analog stick.
Metal Gear Solid 3 Subsistence is divided into three disks (or only two if some poor soul couldn?t spend that extra ten bucks on the Limited Edition version). The first disk is called Subsistence. The main part of this disk is the Snake Eater main game, which is modestly enhanced by the new camera and a bunch of new uniforms and face paints (allowing Snake to paint his face with the likenesses of the flags of America, the Soviet Union, Sweden, Finland, Japan, and just about any other first world country that comes to mind). Non-serious gamers may or may not feel the urge to play through the main tale again, but the majority of gamers will definitely be encouraged in how Snake Eater is still a jaw-droppingly incredible game. Plus, the new camera allows them to better appreciate the excellent graphics, and is helpful in the boss battles (especially the Fear and the End). There are also some other features like the Demo Theater (where the CG sequences can be viewed), the Photo Album, and the Camouflage Download (though, this can take up a pretty big chunk of memory cards, so do it cautiously). But really, this disk is all about Snake Eater and having the ability to play it with the all new camera system.
The Disc 2 is called Persistence, and features the majority of the additions. The most important addition to the entire game is easily the online mode. There are five modes of online play. The first is called Snake vs. Enemy, where one player plays as Solid Snake, and up to seven others play as basic grunt-type soldiers. It is here that Snake must steal one of two microfilms on each map and make a mad dash to the return zone. The other modes, however, are pretty standard online multiplayer fodder, being Deathmatch (where everyone kills each other), Team Deathmatch (where two teams kill each other), Rescue (the Red team needs to go into the Blue base and steal their rubber ducky) and Capture (both teams need to capture the bouncy frog, bring it to their base and protect it for a certain amount of time). While the online multiplayer certainly isn?t bad, it is quite varying in quality. Unfortunately, there are only a handful of maps to choose from. Some very small, some very big, but all of them are really only good for one or two multiplayer modes. This is unfortunate because when games don’t fully sync up, the objectives can become very lopsided, or average in the degree of fun to be had. However, this is still one of the best online games the PS2 has to offer, and Metal Gear fans will love how they can use everything almost every element of MGS against real live people, from the good ol? box trick (cardboard boxes are scattered randomly throughout each level, so you may not even notice team?until somebody jumps out with a flame thrower) to the ?girly picture? magazines (which can stop an enemy in their tracks, providing excellent escape opportunities). Plus, Metal Gear Online has some of the best online stat tracking system on PS2.
While the online mode is the main feature this disk, the other content is by no means lacking. Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2 Solid Snake are fully playable on this disc and stay true from their original form, pixel for pixel. Players keep in mind, both these Metal Gear games were never released in the United States. Both these games were originally made for the Japanese computer system called the MSX. The US did, however, receive Metal Gear on NES. This version, unfortunately, was a toned down port of the original Metal Gear on the MSX. Playing these games is a great way to see how the series started, but many players might find the gameplay slow or unclear. However, these games actually hold up pretty well, especially Metal Gear 2 Solid Snake. It is hard to believe that games this advanced were made well over a decade ago. Seeing features like the radar system, that allows the player to view what is happening from multiple screens away, to using numerous types of weapons and items holds up extremely well against most 8-bit games.
Disc 2 also features a bunch of additional Snake vs. Monkey levels for fans of the mini-game. There is also a load of surprisingly funny movies in the Special Theatre, including the special TGS 2005 Metal Gear Raiden: Snake Eraser. Not many other gaming franchises can make fun of themselves and do it so well with taste and class than Hideo Kojima and his Metal Gear team.
The third disk is called Existence and is only available on the Limited Edition. Existence is pretty much just a simple rearranging of the cut-scenes from Snake Eater, along with the occasional clip of actual gameplay with the codec conversations playing in the background, made to be a more movie-like, with some new narration. For those who have already beaten Snake Eater, there really isn?t anything new to see here. Pretty much, this is only for those who aren?t really into the game, but are interested in the plot. Players will also find the TGS 2005 trailer of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots in full-resolution. This is a great added extra and a fantastic way to tease players about the future of Metal Gear.
Metal Solid 3: Snake Eater has some fantastic visuals. In fact, it has some of the best graphics on PS2. However, it is a wonder why the game does not have the option to run in Progressive Scan mode. Jaggies and aliasing can be seeing in all their horror within every cut scene, especially when playing on a high definition capable wide-screen TV. This is quite a downer.
Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence is truly a must-own for anyone with a PS2. Even those who played Snake Eater through any number of times should make a point of picking up this game. The new camera helps the gameplay along in many ways. The new online mode adds loads of lasting value to the game, and the numerous other new features will keep any MGS fan returning for many, many hours of great gameplay. If you own a PS2, you need to own this game.
Metal Gear Saga Vol.1 DVD REVIEW
As an exclusive extra for those wise enough to pre-order Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence, the fine people and Konami were generous enough to include an extra DVD called Metal Gear Saga Vol. 1 as an added bonus. Fans who weren?t lucky enough to obtain one of these highly collectable discs are kicking themselves now as Saga Vol. 1 has already started a ruckus on eBay. But this bonus disc may be rare and exclusive but is the overall quality of the disc on par with the rest of the Metal Gear series?
The disc itself is bundled separately in its own clear and white DVD case. The case is rather sleek and stylish, but it does not disclose what specifically is on the disc. To the average person, it will look on the cheaper side because of this. It isn?t until the packaging is opened will the user understand what the disc contains. Inserted within the left-hand side is a smoke-colored thin plastic sheet, displaying information about each chapter through black text. Having the chapter list printed on this plastic sheet increases the quality of the product and wouldn?t contain the same esthetic feel if it was printed on a standard piece of paper. It is nice to see Konami taking this extra step.
Even though the overall packaging design is unique, the quality of the contents of this extra bonus DVD is actually surprisingly lacking. In a simple but bold fashion, the disc displays five white stars with a plain black background upon first booting up the disc. Each star represents one game in the Metal Gear series. Starting with MGS 3: Snake Eater and ending with Sons of Liberty, the stars are placed in chronological order.
Each section, although displayed in a theatrical way by using sweet transitional effects, lacks detail about the Metal Gear game that is being discussed. A narrator guides the user through each chapter, telling the very basic of summaries for each game. But herein lies the problem. First, this narrator has no connection to the Metal Gear universe what so ever. This male voice will offset viewers because he is unrecognizable. The deeper but monotone voice is by far one of the biggest disappointments about this disc. Why couldn?t David Hayter, the voice of Snake, narrate through the disc? This would have created a much more enjoyable experience. Instead, the user is forced to listen to some man, who no one cares about, tell them about Metal Gear.
Besides the disappointing narration, the information that is given to the user is quite lacking as it only displays the most basic of information about each game. For example, when talking about the first Metal Gear, the DVD basically tells the player a quick overview story that doesn?t sound far from this: ?Solid Snake is sent into Outer Heaven where he finds and kills Big Boss.? They never mention anything about how Snake rescues Grey Fox, how he travels 100 floors underground to fight the Metal Gear and Big Boss, gives very little background history of FoxHound, and fails to tell anything about the other enemy bosses or item/weapons that can be used and collected. Each section of this disc only tells quick and basic information. Yes, you get quick snippets of Mr. Kojima telling about his experiences with each project, but I think newer users will still be in the dark about the whole Metal Gear saga when the disc is finished.
Perhaps it is because I have been a huge Metal Gear fan since it first appeared on NES, but I still think users are going to be expecting more from this disc. If you want to know all the details about the Metal Gear universe, you are still better reading an online faqs somewhere on the internet.
One of the saving graces behind this disc are the extra trailers that are given to the user via an extra menu. Here, it is possible to view a few Metal Gear trailers including the PS3 Metal Gear Solid 4 trailer that was shown at E3 last year as well as a pair of Metal Gear Ac!d 2 trailers.
Unfortunately, this extra DVD doesn?t even support 16:9 wide screen aspect ratio. Only standard mode is allowed. Combine this fact with the no-named narrator and the lack of detail within each section, and one can?t help but think Konami skimped a little on this project. However, this disc is FREE so one cannot truly complain. As an extra free bonus when you pre-order Subsistence, it is a great extra. But if you are looking to purchase this off of eBay for a hefty price, you may want to reconsider. Only die-hard Metal Gear fans will want this disc, but these die-hard fans will be expecting more from it. And people who didn?t pre-order, aren?t die-hard fans so they really shouldn?t have wanted this disc in the first place. There should be very few people in-between.
This disc does contain the words ?Vol. 1? in the title and Konami has hinted that more Metal Gear volumes might be on the way. If this is true, let?s hope they put a little more detail into the detail-heavy Metal Gear series. The running Metal Gear series is filled with tons and tons on detail, not only in the gameplay, but also in the story. Why they didn?t show this in the bonus disc is nothing but a let down.
Again, and let me stress this, as an extra freebie, there really can?t be any complains. But if it was a stand-alone disc that sold for $10-$15 bucks, it would be a major let down. If you are going to buy it off eBay, purchasers beware.
Metal Gear Saga Vol.1 DVD Review By: Zachary Gasiorowski