In this day and age I don’t need to introduce Metal Gear Solid: if you don’t know about it, you’re not a gamer. This third game is a prequel to the series, set in the 60s. The strengths of the series are still there: excellent graphics, outstanding score and a strong storyline. I usually dislike long intro scenes, but MGS3 pulls it off.

However, the ingame conversations and video can become a little nauseating: you get the feeling that you’re playing 5 minutes, then watching for 10. The video is good quality, but the conversation over your radio is terrible at best: long dialogues where people discuss all sorts of crap. It might build more of the background, but at the end of the day, you want to be playing the game.

MGS3 takes Snake out into the open air. As with many landscapes on the PS2, it can be a little linear as you make your way through the jungle - in buildings this isn’t a problem, but with gamers getting used to free-roaming territories, the PS2 is showing its limitations. An innovative change here is the camouflage system. As you spend most of your time sneaking and hiding, you can change your personal camo to suit the environment - change the face paint to blend in with your environment.

There have been some more advances - you now have to treat wounds and keep your stamina up by eating regularly - if you don’t, your stomach will start to rumble. You can also collect food from the environment by hunting animals and collecting fruit. The title Snake Eater suddenly makes sense.

Gameplay is not easy. You need to use first person view a lot of the time to catch sight of the enemy and make sure you don’t run into them. As this is set in the 60s you don’t have your trusty radar to tell you where the enemy is and where they are looking. It makes the game much harder, and this is the resounding criticism of the game: it’s hard - you need to dedicate all your time and patience to it.

Verdict

Since the last game was released a lot has happened in PS2 gaming - like Splinter Cell and Siphon Filter - which makes you think that MGS3 has been a little too long in development. It is a different game from before, where you could mostly blast your way through it. No more. Pulling yourself away from something like Mercenaries to MGS3 is difficult. Fans will love it, but those who loved the stealth more than the action will be right at home. It would be a 9, but it’s so damn difficult for any less than the ultra-hardcore.