Mgs3 Ending Analysis Essay

By Dane Thomsen

MEME, GENE, SCENE

As an aesthetic work, the Metal Gear Solid saga examines what it means to be human. The spine of the series revolves around the full development of an individual’s identity through the foundations of their biological makeup, the shaping of culture and art upon them, and the importance of the experiences that individual collects throughout their life. But just as important is how those facets forms an individual’s beliefs and directs policies within their country, relative to countries across the globe.

Each game’s theme is divided into a handful of concepts that best represent it and turned into villains that its hero must literally defeat. Every member of FOX-HOUND, Dead Cell and the Cobra Unit are abstractions of parts of a larger system and the hero’s fight to defeat them is the moral of the story in which they appear. The true beauty of this series is that each game’s theme is fundamentally based on the themes explored by the entries that preceded it.

The Twin Snakes

Solid Snake retired from FOX-HOUND after he saved the world. His last mission had been physically and mentally exhausting: he had destroyed Zanzibarland’s nuclear equipped Metal Gear D and killed its pilot, his friend Gray Fox, only to be confronted by a man thought dead: Big Boss. His former commanding officer reveals that he is Snake’s father as the two men are caught by explosions rocking the facility around them. After committing patricide and narrowly escaping destruction, Snake resigns himself to the snowy Alaskan countryside to live in seclusion.

His peace is short lived. On the nearby Shadow Moses Island, Terrorists have taken over a nuclear waste disposal facility. Colonel Roy Campbell, CO during Zanzibar, comes to Snake’s home and gives the soldier reason to take on a new mission: the terrorists are comprised of the Next Generation Special Forces led by new members of FOX-HOUND. Among them is its current leader, a man named Liquid Snake who shares more with Solid than just a codename. They have a nuclear missile and hostages, including Campbell’s niece Meryl and executives in DARPA and the weapons manufacturing company ArmsTech. The two men were collecting final data on a newly completed black ops project. Metal Gear Rex. They have a single demand: Big Boss’ remains. Snake heads back into danger.

Snake swims the subarctic Alaskan waters and reaches the disposal facility at its dock. What he sees is a battalion of men and Liquid, with identical features but British accent, riding the elevator up at the back. Naomi Hunter, FOX-HOUND’s chief medical officer is on the missions support team and through her, Snake learns of the Genome Army, soldiers genetically modified with genes that build great soldiers, raising their IQ’s and combat ability. All of these genes had been recognized in the twentieth century’s greatest soldier; the terrorists honor him by appointing themselves the Sons of Big Boss.

This idea is the origin point for the story’s thematic subtext. The Twin Snake’s central thesis is about genetics; it explains how genes define our physical appearance while questioning whether they dictate the quality of our life. The answer is found in both plot and gameplay. It is man’s fight against nature, against genetic determinism. Snake’s test is one of character. It starts here:

Each member of the new FOX-HOUND represents a different aspect of a larger biological system within nature. To help represent it, each one is a different organism that a collection of genes has found to be the most effective vehicle to survive; a mantis, an octopus, a wolf and an ocelot, a raven, and a snake. This is why all the characters use animal codenames.

Sniper Wolf shows the pair-bonding nature of animals in general and the pack-based social structure of Wolves in particular. She can survive in any terrain and supports her family by slowly and relentlessly stalking her prey.

Revolver Ocelot is the migratory flocking of animals. The ocelot can be found in various places all over the world, and, so, holds no allegiance to a single land, a character trait fitting of a man whose motives and loyalties only become more complex as the series continues.

Decoy Octopus is a master of disguise, a person who sheds all personality in order to inhabit the life he’s stolen. Biologically, he represents the mimicking nature of organisms who can take on the appearance and characteristics of other creatures to ward off predators and kill unsuspecting prey. Just as the process is faceless and unique to no one species in particular, the man himself has no distinct facial features or characteristics. The way in which he incorporates all the blood from the victim whose identity he’s stolen allows him to be any species, aligned with all and none.

Vulcan Raven is a metaphor for the circularity of biological life forms and the recycling of genetic material from one organism into another. The raven itself is a symbol of death and it would seem that the primary reason for its selection here is to show its inevitability. It’s no surprise, then, that Vulcan Raven’s birds consume him when he’s dying- he is a part of them as they will one day be a part of something else. Nothing goes to waste.

Psycho Mantis is an abstraction of the way that a brain functions. By taking control of the Genome Army, he is in essence issuing orders to many parts of a single ‘body.’ In the same way we use our eyes to see a fly, tell the hand on our left arm to move to a flyswatter, to pick it up, to raise it above our heads and swing it down, Mantis collects the information from a soldier in the second floor basement of Nuclear Storage Building A who has seen Snake (he is, in effect, more eyes), deliver orders back to that soldier to attack and sends out commands to other units in the area to rush in and give support without the need for that soldier to radio it in personally (it’s also a clever solution to the technical limitations of the PS1). This is precisely why there was unanimous support for the revolt and why FOX-HOUND begins to lose hold on the Genome Army after Mantis’ death.

As Snake defeats FOX-HOUND and rescues the hostages, each executive dies of a heart attack before the warrior’s eyes. It’s not long until he discovers that Naomi Hunter had infected him with FOXDIE, a virus intended to kill those behind Rex and its theft to keep the Metal Gear a secret. This is where we are offered a Darwinian outlet. The FOXDIE virus is programmed to destroy only those with certain genetic strains, letting the strong – those organisms without that strain – to continue and flourish in their stead. In very real terms, Snake is a vector, the source where a virus enters into a population and spreads from one host to the next.

The cyborg Ninja illustrates the incompatibility of genetics and bio-technology; he is a being whose organic material can die, even though its metal frame cannot. The man who was once Gray Fox has been transplanted into a cybernetic exoskeleton and is a mind desperately trying to find a place in the world.

At the far end of the mission is Liquid Snake – the man who calls Solid ‘brother’. Raised by Big Boss, Liquid became a member of Britain’s Special Air Service, and is a dark reflection to our steely hero. Atop Rex’s burnt-out wreckage, Liquid reveals the truth: Solid and Liquid are not actually Big Boss’ sons, but his genetic duplicates, each composed of one half of that legendary soldier’s complete genome. The Les Enfants Terrible project had tried to build the perfect warrior and Liquid had long believed that he had received the recessive waste material that resulted in the creation of Solid Snake. Liquids resentment towards his brother became an obsession to prove his own abilities – to his father, to his brother and to himself. It’s within the disparity of these twin snakes, now unrecognizably different, that the nature/nurture argument is most fully explored. They have become different because of their unique experiences and drives. This is where Kojima’s answer to the question of genetic determinism begins to form: genes are only the start of what a person can be, design a potential future.

This story is one of wills. Consider that The Twin Snakes is the only chapter in all of the Metal Gear Solid series with two potential endings. In Act 2, both Snake and Meryl have been captured. Snake has been strapped to a torture rack while Revolver Ocelot brutally interrogates him. There are only three options: submit, die and fight. Die and its game over, a fact Ocelot directly informs the player. Submit and the sadistic nut will have his fun on Meryl. Fight, by rapidly hitting the ‘Action’ button, and she may survive. It is the player-as-Snake’s struggle.

So as fist strikes bone and the Snakes last test commences, it’s no surprise that it’s Solid Snake who emerges victor. You had proven that he is the stronger of the two brothers. But as Snake escapes Metal Gear’s hangar, he finds that Liquid is beaten but not broken. Snake trapped and in Liquid’s crosshairs, something unlikely happens: Liquid Snake finally dies – of a heart attack. FOXDIE had taken another life, but perhaps not its last. As the virus is programmed to destroy specific genetic strains, if Liquid had its target genes, so could Solid. He leaves Shadow Moses – perhaps even with Meryl – and into an unknown future.

But over the course of this one mission, Snake had repeatedly beaten nature. His will overcame fate. That’s important for the story’s eleventh-hour reveal; it was Solid who was built of Big Boss’ weaker genes. It’s not Liquid’s physical inferiority but his blind obsession with it that deny him his victory over Solid Snake. In fact, he possessed the same determination and resilience that Solid does but chose to focus it on a different end – fight after fight, Liquid survives death because his life is dedicated to killing his brother; it has defined him and he has lost the perspective and strength of character to create his own path. Over the course of his life, Solid Snake had become a hero through his actions, ones based on his personal choices and the will to fulfill them. He is more than a copy of Big Boss.

While genes build our body and that influences how we perform in the world we are not bound to a defined fate. We can set off in our own directions, with our own hopes and dreams- it’s up to us to live our lives as we see fit. Solid Snake will die, without warning, but he will be different than when he was born. That is true of us all.

Sons of Liberty

The second installment in the Metal Gear Solid saga is about the dissemination of information, how important ideas are to the beliefs of an individual, and how they get passed within a society.

For those who never played The Twin Snakes, it’s story is recounted on disc as the fictional novel ‘In The Darkness of Shadow Moses: The Unofficial Truth’ written by that games weapons specialist, Nastasha Romanenko. The book fulfills several important roles all at once: it provides players of the first game with new story bits that happened on the opposite end of the Codec that Snake wasn’t privy to and exists in the Metal Gear universe as the tell-all that made Solid Snake and his crop of dark mulleted hair a hero the world over for preventing nuclear war.

After Rex’s data was stolen, it’s blueprints were leaked onto the black market, allowing anyone with the means to build their own Metal Gear. To combat the threat, Snake and Otacon formed a fringe group called Philanthropy. Receiving intel that the navy is transporting a new anti-Metal Gear Metal Gear code named ‘Ray’ down New York’s Hudson river, Snake infiltrates the USS Discovery tanker housing it.  Moments after drop, Snake watches a military unit led by Russian ex-patriot Sergei Gurlukovich seize the upper decks and claim the ship. In the holds, Gurlukovich welcomes his partner Revolver Ocelot, who claims Ray as his property, kills Commandant Scott Dolph and betrays the Russian. When Snake reveals himself to the old gunslinger, Ocelot, and his shiny new hand, go berserk. Snake watches in horror as his voice is replaced by that of Liquid Snake, who tells him he lives on through his arm grafted onto Ocelot’s. Activating Ray, Liquid tears out of the Tanker and records Solid Snake standing amidst it’s wreckage before disappearing into the depths of the Pacific.

The story jumps two years into the future. Terrorists comprised of the anti-terrorism squad Dead Cell and an Olga-run Gurlukovich army have taken over the Big Shell, a processing plant used to purify the water polluted by the Discovery’s destruction. Colonel Campbell, leader of the support team in Alaska is prepping Snake for infiltration into the facility. But something’s not right; Snake’s voice is wrong, his body too slim and movements too acrobatic. He enters from the water and has to wait for the elevator. The guards patrol and even though this is your first time in this room, you already know how to navigate it past them. The situation seems so…familiar. Even the cutscenes tug at your memory. As Snake rides the elevator up, he removes his mask and reveals a fair skinned and long blonde-haired young man.

This is where Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty takes an abrupt left turn from audience expectations and it’s first step towards the theme that pulses underneath the entire game. But to get there, we have to look at the marketing campaign that fueled its hype.

Unveiled at E3 2000, every piece of content for Sons of Liberty prior to release exhibited Solid Snake front and center. Although primarily showcasing  scenes from the Tanker section where Snake does appear, sections were released with Snake that were replaced with this new soldier in the final product. No one expected it. No one expected that this soldier would be the primary protagonist for the game. No one expected Raiden.

This switcheroo is information manipulation distilled into theme and goes layers deep into the narrative. It was Kojima playing with memes. Memes are information, concepts and ideas that are passed between people and are analogs to genes.  Memes are copied, they mutate, they spread. Ideas are factors that build a personality and what they believe. Ideas can be passed on through books, marketing campaigns and story.

That last one is particularly important. Despite this being his first mission, Raiden performs in many of the same ways Snake did during the Tanker portion and with much the same expertise. And we know why. Raiden had been trained in VR simulations based on a limitless number of combat scenarios, many of which appeared on the MGS disc and its Integral special edition.

Where The Twin Snakes showed the variations of forms that genes create for themselves as different types of animals, Sons of Liberty focuses on how racial differences are merely variations on a single species. The human. By having each member of Dead Cell come from different ethnic backgrounds we are focusing on how humans have developed features that allow for survival in different terrains. By combating them, Raiden is fighting against social constructs that perpetuate ideas that can be harmful to the individual – classism, religion and government.

Olga is the human counterpart of the idea of pack mentality and pair bonding that Sniper Wolf had personified. She and her father’s Gurlukovich army were forced to become mercenaries to survive. Survival meant crossing social and national borders. They had to migrate. To a small extent, her story can be viewed as the adoption of culture into new and different social surroundings. It would seem that her presence is primarily to show the Nomadic herding of tribes, traveling together – of sharing ideas and information with other cultures.

Fatman, slurping down cocktails and with his manicured hands represents decadence and classism. He believes he is above socially placed morality because of the fact of his birth and builds bombs to blow the world apart.

Fortune represents mysticism that can be used to impose social controls.  Her father, her husband and, to an extent Fortune as well, have been turned into martyrs whose lives and suffering have been exploited to become a rallying cry for Dead Cell. Her past has been twisted and distorted so she is more a symbol than a person, a dark reflection of Snake and Raiden’s relationship. Notice how Solidus uses her to make Vamp act while redirecting his aggression towards accomplishing his mission.

That’s what is so horrifying about Vamp. He represents the horror of zealotry for beliefs that have existed from early human thought. His characteristics are the classic representation of horror. He drinks blood, thrives in darkness and is immortal.  Even if you are fast enough to get a shot in, he just keeps coming.

This installment also shed light on the code names for the Sons of Big Boss and how they represent distinct traits for those characters:

A Liquid takes the form of the container it’s placed in, regardless of its shape – whether it’s a cup or a Russian agent. Liquid Snake transcends the genes he was given, but not the personality that they helped to shape. The statement is that there are things that can be true of any person, regardless of the body that was built for them. He is the opposite of Solid Snake, who has always walked his own path.  Until the Shadow Moses incident, Liquid possessed a body he despised, being ridiculed for having one that was inferior while becoming defined by it. Revolver Ocelot, the current vessel, has already been expressed as being an animal without a home and would seem the perfect choice for a soul without a form.

Which brings us to the third son of Big Boss. Solidus materials (think Silly Putty) are malleable substances that can be molded into whatever shape a set of hands wants it to, but never by its own will. It must be the hands of something else, which is exactly why the Patriots chose to place him into their ranks: it was their hand that shaped him with the fingers of environment and culture. What is so terrifying is that Solidus was a social leader, someone who dictated policy for the citizens of his nation, but only through cheating, deception and cover-ups.

We also learn that Raiden was raised in a child army led by Solidus and is haunted by what he witnessed and what he did. Their relationship closely resembles the relationships Big Boss has with both Liquid and Solid. The man himself aspires to be Big Boss. Until this point, every picture we have of that Legendary warrior is an old man with his white hair and trademark eye patch. When we meet Solidus, the similarities are startling. Even during Raiden’s fight with the Solidus-piloted Harrier, the former Presidents left eye is damaged, an injury the man meets with a wry smile.  Later you understand his glee – he has donned an eye patch and his physical transformation into Big Boss is complete.

That’s where the plot veers back on course with the meme concept. Solidus is on the Big Shell for ulterior motives. The Big Shell was a front for a battleship-sized Metal Gear code-named Arsenal that is so immense that the Ray model was mass-produced to protect it. Constructed underneath the facility, Arsenal Gear houses GW, a complex artificial intelligence network that processes all memes perpetuated through music, technology and the internet and promotes the ideas it wants while eliminating the ones it doesn’t. It is trying to build a program with the sole purpose of cultivating a society and breeding ‘proper’ citizens. The program is deemed the Selection for Societal Sanity, the S3 engine. But GW has activated. Its initial test run was to create a set of protocols that would shape a person into the perfect soldier. The scenario is based on data collected from the operation on Shadow Moses, an incident that the player is incredibly familiar with. That’s the familiarity you felt from the moment you saw Raiden swim into the Strut A Deep Sea Dock.  Raiden’s entire adventure was a test run of GW’s simulation.

It’s an implementation of the very unique kind of experience storytelling provides – one that was never yours. Raiden learned something from fighting Liquid Snake, from enduring torture for Meryl, but he didn’t do them. Neither did you. Moreover, because the experiences affect us psychologically in the same way our own collected ones do, they can build a set of behaviors to dictate an individual’s actions. You are Solid Snake’s clone but not genetically.  It would be hard to argue that playing through The Twin Snakes didn’t make the player better capable at completing Sons of Liberty. In the young soldier, that behavior was a set of skills to complete his mission. That’s why Raiden has no defining characteristics, has an almost ethereal ghostly pigment and earns bonuses represented as differently-colored wigs; he is all men through all time. He was GW’s prototype. So were you.

Metal Gear Solid 2 is about the fictions we wrap around ourselves to give us a sense of comfort and control. Fortune’s staged ‘luck’, Stillman’s faked handicap, the theater of American elections produced to fool The People, and Raiden’s perception of reality. Every character in Sons of Liberty is living in a fabricated narrative. Everyone except Solid Snake. That’s why he’s a threat.

GW wants Snake’s skills, not his unwavering sense of right and wrong.  That’s why it needed to defame him. By painting him a terrorist, the world wouldn’t live in his inspiration. What it didn’t figure is that much of those skills come from his strength of personality and his will to do what he considered right. By electing to forego those characteristics, they wouldn’t be passed on to his copies. Notice how Raiden can fight, but he cannot defeat, Dead Cell – his impotency at fighting Fortune, his despair at Vamp’s refusal to die. He couldn’t beat them because Solid Snake never fought them.

But Raiden has changed. Betrayed, stripped and sneaking through the bowels of Arsenal Gear, the young man is alone. Creeping along the corridors, he meets Solid Snake who has fully shed his Iroquois Pliskin disguise and is now dressed in his sneaking suit equipped with the infinite ammo bandana he earned by saving Meryl’s life. Through the madness of The Big Shell and witnessing Snake’s courage, Raiden has become his own man. Gripping the sword he inherited from Snake in his hands, he is stronger than he was; strong enough to face his past, create his future and defeat Solidus.

Raiden is the star of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, but Solid Snake remains its hero, a fact that had been with you from the beginning. From the moment you start the game, you think the title screen is the face of Solid Snake looking out. That’s not true. It’s the reflection of his face cast off the television that both Raiden and the player had been looking into. It’s by his inspiration that Raiden had been able to grow. No longer red, the color of the game’s lethal weapons, the title now has the blue, non-lethal reflection of Raiden, his own man, no longer a tool for death.

Snake Eater

In the decades after World War II, the world was divided. Nations rallied in support of one of two political philosophies each with a different super power as its fountainhead – communist Russia to the East and the capitalist United States to the West. These two countries were equipped with enough nuclear technology to blow the Earth asunder at the smallest provocation – but neither side was completely ready to light the match. The stalemate between these former allies would go down in history as the Cold War.

Under the constant stress of annihilation, fear gripped the citizens of the U.S. Socially, the global rise of communism and paranoia of revolution or government infiltration by its ideology led to the Red Scare, the active hunt for sympathizers within American borders. With neighbor watching neighbor, no one was sure who was patriot and who was spy.

August 1964, above the Soviet Union – an AC-130H ‘Combat Talon’, acting as field command, soars through the sky. Its cargo bay opens and a sole figure jumps into the blazing sun of the breaking dawn. Landing among the lush forests of Tselinoyarsk, he removes his air mask, revealing a shaggy, familiar brown mullet. John Doe radios his ship. A member of the fledgling FOX unit, this master of infiltration and camouflage’s mission is to aid Dr. Nicholai Stephanovich Sokolov, Russian rocket scientist, in defecting to America. Caught in a power struggle for the Soviet Union between Premier Nikita Khrushchev and one of Leonid Brezhnev supporters, Colonel Yevgeny Volgin, Sokolov was building weapons. For this mission, John is appointed the codename Naked Snake.

Luckily, Snake has support. Among them, his former mentor, The Boss. Radiating confidence, ability and pride, The Boss is the legendary World War II soldier and mother of modern special ops. She taught Snake how to fight and developed Close Quarters Combat, a form of hand-to-hand combat. Their relationship exceeds intimacy. She was Snakes teacher in all the same ways Solid Snake was Raiden’s.

And then she committed treason. Defecting from the U.S., she captures Sokolov from Snake and delivers him, her Cobra Unit, and two Davy Crockett infantry-sized nuclear missiles to Volgin. As Snake tries to wrestle with the reality of the situation, The Boss breaks his arm and throws him into the river. The last thing John sees is one of Volgin’s new nuke decimating Sokolov’s Design Bureau.

Operation Snake Eater was born from desperation. In the aftermath of the detonation, Nikita Khrushchev, Premier of the Soviet Union was struggling to hold onto his power. Revolutionary factions within his country viewed the incident as a covert United States attack and were ready to use the incident to oust him from office and unleash World War III. Only by killing Volgin and assassinating The Boss could America prove its innocence and save the planet from disintegration. Snake once again infiltrates Tselinoyarsk.

But he lacks The Boss’ confidence because of the only lesson she never taught him- how to think like a soldier. John is naked, exposed to the world. He is a baby lost in the forest who must defeat the Cobra unit, a group of special Ops members that The Boss assembled during World War II based on the emotions that they carry into battle. Each member represent a different emotion derived from the experiences that a soldier feels on the battlefield as it shapes them into who they are. By defeating them, Snake is transcending them, growing.

The Pain of bullets tearing into flesh. Having endured the pain, the body becomes aware of it and aware that it could happen again. Scarred and disfigured, the body’s reluctance to experience it again creates-

The Fear of that pain and the emotional toll of a terror that stalks but can’t be seen; once it infects, its poisons run deep. Fear is invisible and when cloaked in its shroud (his camo) the strength and stamina of its wearer is sapped, which leads to-

The End of life as death comes, never seen. It lies in wait, slumbering until it must take its victims life. Its speed startling and its retreat, deafening. What it leaves in its wake is-

The Fury of having experienced death firsthand and the flaming rage that spurns destruction; the heat engulfing any that come before it. Eventually the fires extinguish, replaced by-

The Sorrow for those who have died by your hand or by your side. Only by facing them, accepting your actions and claiming responsibility for them can you move on. It is living viewing the past through the cracked lens of grief.

This is the course that emotions run through a man who must fight. They are experiences. Snake’s experiences.

And The Joy commands all emotion. It is the fulfillment of knowing what to believe in and what to fight for the rest of your life. But she’s known by another name – The Boss. As Snake stands opposite his mentor, the woman he loved, we know this is their last fight.

But something fascinating is happening. Snake’s mastery of infiltration and camouflage allow him to disappear into the thicket of flowers suffocating the battlefield, but when he reappears behind The Boss, he is engaging her with an expanded technical set he didn’t possess before that moment – he is attacking with new moves, countering ones that he hadn’t been able to before. He is holding his own against the woman who created CQC and had handily laid waste to him over and over since her defection.

And yet, those experiences are exactly why he’s winning now – he’s learned. That’s the theme at the center of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Scene. Most easily understood in its theatrical sense, the concept of scene is the information that is accumulated from interacting within the world, of acting on its stage. Every punch he took, every bullet he removed made him stronger and as Snake stands victorious over The Boss, pointing the gun she gave him at her head, the last experience you have is pulling the trigger. And for averting nuclear war between two super powers, Naked Snake is awarded a promotion – the title of Big Boss.

Big Boss was a soldier loyal to the mission, to the job he was given by his country, one he believed was virtuous. But a soldier is a tool for the government under its employ. Governments are social constructs and a society gains experiences. They grow. Their leaders come and go, generations replace generations and people die. A society’s policies are dictated by the times. But societies interact with others – they have friends, they have enemies and they learn from their dealings. But those, too, are dictated by the times.

Which makes The Boss’ sacrifice all the more tragic. As the medals are pinned to Big Boss’ chest, we learn the real history. The Boss was a true patriot. On orders, she infiltrated Volgin’s ranks to acquire the Philosopher’s Legacy; a $100 billion pool spread all over the world. She was supposed to bring it back to the coffers of the United States, a mission she thought would help lead to a unified world. But then Volgin fired the nuke. The strategy to reclaim the Legacy was revised. In order to settle the extremists in the Soviet Union, the U.S. government now needed to kill its soldier as she was carrying out their orders. But it had to look convincing so had to be done by her most loved disciple Naked Snake. From here we have a manufactured recording of history. The Boss will forever be hated around the world- as monster in Russia and as a traitor in her homeland. It is information manipulation condensed into plot. And few would know the truth, but John Doe would become stronger.

And it’s here we learn that we’ve been victims of the same affliction since before the first Metal Gear Solid and where the themes of the past two games provide us better understanding of Snake Eater. History is a record; of events and the people who influenced them. It can be manipulated. We know Big Boss, his genes and the stories of his villainy – we believe him to be a monster and terrorist. What is so surprising is that the figure standing tall before us is none of those things. He is a man loyal to his ideals and trying to work for a better world. We realize that he is the same as Solid Snake, they are born from the same mold. The Sons of Liberty taught us the nature of culture and how the stories that are passed on can change the perspective of humanity if the information is filtered and changed. Here we see it directly applied. For many people before Snake Eater’s release, the theories behind GW’s S3 engine had worked; it had corrupted their perception and colored their bias.

Ultimately, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is about the beginning; the beginning of the series of events that lead to the present – of the franchise, of the ‘Snakes,’ and of the world. We must not blindly hold onto ideals, must not simply adopt the beliefs of our friends and families, can’t take the values and actions of our country at face-value. Instead, we must form our own values based on how we see the world. That was what the Boss wanted for Snake, the witness to the tragedy of the Cobra Unit. Fight for what you believe in, in what the world should be, but fully understand what those beliefs are.

SOLIDARITY

Memes, genes, scene. MGS. Bodies build from a recipe of genetic information. The ingredients dictate not the absolute destiny of the organism but narrows down its potential one. Between the bookend events of its birth and death, it acts within the world and learns from doing so. It meets others, learns the stories of their experiences, discovers music and creates a history.

Many people settle together and form a society. The society propagates a culture and forms a political system to make rules about interacting within. It acts within the world and learns from doing so. Individuals die and the culture evolves. The society changes. It meets others, learns the stories of their experiences. They make friends and trade, they make enemies and fight. The society changes.

The Sons were born clones, but they are no longer duplicates. They are variations of an original – solid, liquid, and solidus objects are variations on matter as Solid, Liquid and Solidus are all variations on Big Boss. Even though his genes have been passed to them, their personalities developed in America, in Britain, in Africa with markedly different experiences. In the end, these men share fewer similarities than their genetic structure might lead to believe. This is precisely why John Doe’s’ heritage is of little importance. In his body were all the parts that made Solid and Liquid, just in a different combination.

That is a legacy. At its core, the Metal Gear Solid series is about what we pass on; the ideas we cultivate and the actions we take that affects the world of the future. Kojima’s plea comes from each successive Snake and to the next; from Naked to Solid, from Solid to Raiden; from our grandparents to our children – live life.

Continue to The Proxy Trilogy

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Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

North American cover art

Developer(s)Konami Computer Entertainment Japan
Publisher(s)Konami Corporation
Director(s)Hideo Kojima
Producer(s)Hideo Kojima
Designer(s)Hideo Kojima
Programmer(s)Kazunobu Uehara
Artist(s)Yoji Shinkawa
Writer(s)Hideo Kojima
Tomokazu Fukushima
Shuyo Murata
Composer(s)Harry Gregson-Williams
Norihiko Hibino
SeriesMetal Gear
Platform(s)
Release

November 17, 2004

  • MGS3: Snake Eater[1][2]
    PlayStation 2
    • NA: November 17, 2004
    • JP: December 16, 2004
    • EU: March 4, 2005
    • AU: March 17, 2005
    MGS3: Subsistence[3]
    PlayStation 2
    • JP: December 22, 2005
    • NA: March 14, 2006
    • EU: October 6, 2006
    • AU: October 13, 2006
    MGS HD Collection[4]
    PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360
    • NA: November 8, 2011
    • JP: November 23, 2011
    • EU: February 3, 2012
    • AU: February 16, 2012
    MGS: Snake Eater 3D
    Nintendo 3DS
    MGS HD Collection
    PlayStation Vita[9][10]
    • NA: June 12, 2012
    • JP: June 28, 2012
    • EU: June 29, 2012
    • AU: July 5, 2012
Genre(s)Action-adventure, stealth
Mode(s)Single-player

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater[a] is an action-adventurestealthvideo game produced by Konami Computer Entertainment Japan for the PlayStation 2.[11] It was released in late 2004 in North America and Japan, then in early 2005 in Europe and Australia. It was the fifth Metal Gear game written and directed by Hideo Kojima and serves as a prequel to the previous installments.[12]

Set in 1964 (thirty years before the events of the original Metal Gear), the story centers on FOX operative codenamed Naked Snake as he attempts to rescue a Russian rocket scientist by the name of Nikolai Stepanovich Sokolov, sabotage an experimental superweapon, and assassinate his defected former boss.[13] While previous games were set in a primarily urban environment, Snake Eater adopts a 1960s Sovietjungle setting,[1] with the high tech, near-future trappings of previous Metal Gear Solid games being replaced with the wilderness. While the setting has changed, the game's focus remains on stealth and infiltration, while retaining the series' self-referential, fourth-wall-breaking sense of humor.[13] The story of Snake Eater is told through numerous cutscenes and radio conversations.[14]

Considered one of the greatest video games of all time, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater received praise for its story, gameplay, graphics, setting, characters, and ending, as well as departing from the series' conventions. Snake Eater was a commercial success, having sold 4.2 million copies worldwide.[15]

Gameplay[edit]

The gameplay of Snake Eater is similar to that of previous games in the Metal Gear Solid series. Snake, controlled by the player, must move undetected through a hostile, enemy-filled environment. Although Snake acquires various weapons (ranging from handguns to rocket-propelled grenades), the emphasis is on using stealth to avoid confrontations. A number of objects and gadgets can be found along the way to aid in this, including motion detectors[16] to track hostile soldiers, and the Metal Gear series' trademark cardboard box, which Snake can hide under to avoid visual detection.[13]

Despite the fundamental similarities, Snake Eater introduces many new aspects of gameplay not present in previous Metal Gear games, including camouflage, a new hand-to-hand combat system called "close quarters combat" or "CQC", a stamina gauge, and an injury-and-treatment system.[13][17]

Approximately two-thirds of the game is set outdoors in a Soviet Unionrainforest,[18] and using this varied environment to its fullest potential is often the key to success. Of the new features, particular emphasis is placed on camouflage and using the jungle environment itself (for example, climbing trees or hiding in tall grass) to avoid being seen by the enemy.[13] The advanced radar from previous games has been removed in favor of a simple motion detector and sonar system more suitable for the game's time period.

A percentage value called the "camouflage index" gauges Snake's exposure, on a scale from negative values (highly visible and attracting attention) up to 100% (completely invisible to the enemy).[19] In order to minimize visibility, the player must switch between different camouflage uniforms and face paints to blend in with the environment; for example, wearing a bark-patterned uniform while leaning against a tree, or wearing striped face paint while hiding in tall grass.[17] Other devices for camouflage, such as a fake gavial head to decrease chances of being detected in water, are also available.

The basic close combat from previous installments has been heavily refined and expanded into the CQC system. When unarmed or using a one-handed weapon, Snake can grab opponents and put them in a chokehold,[17] at which point a variety of actions can be performed, such as choking the enemy unconscious, slitting the enemy's throat, or interrogating them at knifepoint to obtain information.[16][17] The context, the pressure applied to the button, and movement of the analog stick determine the action performed.

While previous games used only a simple life bar, Snake Eater also keeps track of injuries over the entire body.[17] For example, a long fall could fracture Snake's leg, slowing him down until the injury is properly treated with a splint and bandage. Unless these injuries are treated, Snake will not be able to fully recover his health for some time.[17]

The location brings in the need to rely upon native flora and fauna to survive.[17] This is manifested in a stamina gauge, which constantly depletes during gameplay.[14] Failure to restore the gauge by eating has detrimental effects on gameplay, such as decreasing Snake's ability to aim his weapon and being heard by the enemy due to Snake's loud stomach grumbles.[17] Food can be stored in the backpack until it is needed. However, some types of food rot over time, and consuming rotten foods may result in Snake developing a stomach ache, causing the stamina gauge to deplete faster.[13]

The PlayStation 2 versions of Snake Eater include a minigame titled "Snake vs. Monkey", in which Snake has to catch Ape Escape-style monkeys.[13][16] In addition to containing tongue-in-cheek humor,[20] bonus items usable in the main game can be unlocked by progressing through various stages.[16]

Plot[edit]

Characters[edit]

Main article: List of characters in the Metal Gear series

The protagonist of Snake Eater, Naked Snake (David Hayter/Akio Ōtsuka), known as Big Boss in subsequent games, is a young former Green Beret assigned to the CIA unit FOX. During his mission, Snake is assisted by fellow FOX members over his radio: Major Zero (Jim Piddock/Banjō Ginga), commander of FOX and a former member of the British Special Air Service, who provides Snake with mission advice and battle tactics; Para-Medic (Heather Halley/Houko Kuwashima), who provides medical information, as well as advice on flora and fauna; and Sigint (James C. Mathis III/Keiji Fujiwara), who provides weapon and equipment information.

The two primary antagonists of the game are Colonel Volgin (Neil Ross/Kenji Utsumi), an electricity-controlling GRU colonel and member of the extreme Brezhnev faction, who are attempting to overthrow Nikita Khrushchev to seize power for Leonid Brezhnev and Alexei Kosygin,[21] and The Boss (Lori Alan/Kikuko Inoue), former mentor to Naked Snake and co-founder of the FOX unit.[17] The Cobra Unit, a Special Forces unit led by The Boss, is composed of The End (J. Grant Albrecht/Osamu Saka), a venerable expert sniper credited as the "father of modern sniping";[22]The Fear (Michael Bell/Kazumi Tanaka), who has supernatural flexibility and agility; The Fury (Richard Doyle/Masato Hirano), a disfigured former cosmonaut armed with a flamethrower and a jetpack;[17]The Pain (Gregg Berger/Hisao Egawa), who can control hornets to both defend himself and attack his enemies;[17] and The Sorrow (David Thomas/Yukitoshi Hori), the spirit of a deceased medium.[23]

Other characters include Dr. Sokolov (Brian Cummings/Naoki Tatsuta), a rocket scientist whom Snake must rescue; EVA (Suzetta Miñet/Misa Watanabe), Snake's love interest, American defector, and KGB agent sent to assist him, and a young Ocelot (Josh Keaton/Takumi Yamazaki), commander of the elite Ocelot Unit within Volgin's GRU.[24]

Story[edit]

Virtuous Mission[edit]

Metal Gear Solid 3 is set before the events of first Metal Gear during the Cold War in 1964, where a CIA agent, codenamed "Naked Snake", is sent to the jungles of Tselinoyarsk, in the USSR.[17] Aided over the radio by Major Zero, Para-Medic, and his former mentor The Boss,[25] his mission is to rescue a defecting Soviet scientist named Sokolov who is secretly developing an advanced nuclear-equipped tank called the "Shagohod".[17][25] The mission goes smoothly until The Boss appears on the scene, who announces to Snake that she is defecting to the USSR, and provides her new benefactor, Colonel Volgin, with two Davy Crockett miniature nuclear shells.[26] Sokolov is captured by Cobra Unit and Snake is heavily injured and thrown off a bridge by The Boss, allowing Volgin and his cohorts to escape with Sokolov. Volgin detonates one of the nuclear shells to cover up its theft,[27] which is subsequently blamed on The Boss.[28] Snake is recovered using the Fulton Recovery System.

Operation Snake Eater[edit]

Having detected the U.S. aircraft which deployed Snake flying over Soviet soil, the Soviet Union declares the United States responsible for the nuclear attack, tipping both nations to the edge of a nuclear war. In a secret conference between U.S. PresidentLyndon B. Johnson and Soviet PremierNikita Khrushchev, a deal is hatched to prove the U.S.'s innocence and restore peace.[29] The United States agrees to stop Volgin's renegade faction, destroy the stolen Shagohod and eliminate the American defector, The Boss.[30]

A week after being rescued from the region, Snake is redeployed into the Soviet jungle as part of "Operation: Snake Eater",[30] to fulfill the United States' promises. During the mission, he gains the assistance of another American defector, ex-NSA agent EVA, who defected a few years earlier (though she is informed she would be helped by ADAM, who defected with her).[31] After numerous encounters with the elite Ocelot Unit (led by a young Revolver Ocelot), and defeating nearly every member of Cobra Unit, Snake succeeds in locating Sokolov and the stolen Shagohod, only to be captured in Volgin's military fortress, Groznyj Grad. After listening to Volgin brutally beat Sokolov to death, Snake is tortured by Volgin and loses his eye while protecting EVA from Ocelot, who was attempting to kill her upon suspecting her of being a spy; Snake ultimately escapes.

When he returns to the facility to destroy the Shagohod, Snake is once again confronted by Volgin and learns of "The Philosophers". Made up of the most powerful men in the United States, Soviet Union, and China, they were a secret organization who controlled the world behind the scenes.[32] However, after the end of World War II, they began to fight amongst themselves, and the organization broke down. The Philosopher's Legacy, a fund the organization had jointly amassed to finance their wars ($100 billion), was divided up and hidden in banks all over the world.[33] Volgin had illegally inherited this money,[34] and Snake learns that the U.S. is attempting to retrieve it.

Snake continues his mission, destroying the facility and the Shagohod tank, while engaging Volgin, who is killed by a bolt of lightning during the battle. Snake and EVA travel to a lake, where a WIG ground effect vehicle is hidden. Before they use it to escape the region, Snake confronts his old mentor, The Boss, whom he must assassinate to complete his mission.[30] After an emotional battle, The Boss gives Snake the microfilm containing the location of the Philosopher's Legacy and requests Snake to kill her. Soon after, Snake overcomes his feelings and kills The Boss, emerging victorious. He and EVA escape to Alaska and spend the night together as they make love. During the night, EVA disappears with the microfilm and leaves behind a tape revealing herself to be a Chinese spy sent to steal the Philosopher's Legacy for China.[35] The tape continues, and EVA reveals that The Boss did not defect to the Soviet Union; rather, she was under orders to pretend to defect so she could infiltrate Volgin's ranks and find the location of the Legacy, which could be brought back to America.[36] The final part of her mission was to sacrifice her honor and die at the hands of Snake, under the guise of a traitor, to prove the U.S.'s innocence in Volgin's nuclear attack during the Virtuous Mission.[37]

Snake is awarded the title of "Big Boss" and given the Distinguished Service Cross for his efforts by President Johnson in front of his FOX Unit and other officials; however Snake has become so distraught and demoralized after EVA's revelation that he leaves almost immediately after getting his medal, hardly acknowledging Major Zero, Para-Medic, and Sigint.[38] Later, he arrives at an anonymous grave, The Boss's, just one of thousands located in Arlington National Cemetery. Laying down The Boss's gun and a bouquet of lilies upon the nameless gravestone, he scans the endless rows before him, salutes, and sheds a single tear, knowing that The Boss will forever be seen by the world as a terrorist, and a traitor to her nation, and that her true patriotism will be known by only EVA, himself, and others who knew of her mission.

After the credits roll, Ocelot is heard talking to the KGB Chief Director over the telephone. After suggesting that the KGB use the knowledge of both the Virtuous Mission and Operation Snake Eater to blackmail the United States during future negotiations,[39] he then calls another, unidentified man. Ocelot informs him that the microfilm stolen by EVA was a fake and that half of the Philosopher's Legacy is now in America's hands, with the other half held by the KGB. It transpires that Ocelot has been triple-crossing everyone from the very beginning. He then reveals that he is, in fact, ADAM, that he is talking to the director of the CIA, and that he has been working for the said agency all this time.[40]

Development[edit]

Originally, the game was supposed to be developed for the PlayStation 3, but due to the long wait for the PlayStation 3, the game was developed for the PlayStation 2 instead.[41] From the outset, the game's director Hideo Kojima wished to drastically change the setting from previous games.[42] He stated that the jungle setting is what both his development team, and the Metal Gear fans, wanted.[42] However, he acknowledged that the elements of a jungle environment, such as the weather, landscape, and wildlife, were features that would present problems during the game's development.[42] Whereas in previous installments the player starts out close to, or even within, the enemy base, Kojima wished Snake Eater to be more realistic, with Snake starting out miles from civilization and having to work his way to the enemy encampment.[42]

Kojima commented that the outside environment was very difficult to create.[43] He explained that the reason previous games were primarily set indoors is that the current consoles were not powerful enough to portray a true jungle environment.[44] In contrast with urban environments, the jungle does not have a flat surface. The protagonist in Snake Eater has to cross uneven terrain, including rocks, dirt mounds, and tree stumps. As a result, the collision engine used in previous installments could not be used, and a new one had to be built from scratch.[44] Setting up the motion capture technology so players could walk over these mounds was a problem during development.[43]

Many fans wanted Snake Eater to use a 3D camera,[45] but this was ultimately not implemented in the game. Kojima views Metal Gear Solid, Sons of Liberty and Snake Eater as a trilogy, and wished to keep the camera the same as the previous two in order to keep the feel of the three games the same.[45] He did, however, acknowledge that the current trend for video games is to use the 3D camera.[45] The camera was later implemented in an updated version of Snake Eater titled Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence,[46] and further installments in the franchise.[45]

Kojima designed the boss battles of Snake Eater to be totally different from those in previous Metal Gear games, or any other games. He said that the boss battle with sniper The End best represented free, open gameplay in the game.[47] The battle takes place over a large area of dense jungle, and the player must search extensively for The End, who attacks over a long range from an unknown position. This battle of attrition can last for hours[47] and contrasts with other boss fights in which the enemy is right in front of the player and in view the whole time. In addition, the player has the ability to both avoid this boss battle altogether by killing The End earlier in the game; or save and quit during the fight, wait a week, and reload the game to find The End has died of old age. Kojima commented that features like this do not appear in other games.[47]

Music[edit]

Main article: Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater Original Soundtrack

The musical score of Snake Eater was composed by Harry Gregson-Williams and Norihiko Hibino,[48][49] who provided material for both cutscenes and the game itself. Hibino wrote the game's opening theme, "Snake Eater",[48] a distinctly Bond-like vocal track which also appears in the game proper, as performed by Cynthia Harrell.[13][50] Composer and lyricist Rika Muranaka provided a song called "Don't Be Afraid" which is played during the ending of the game.[51] The song is performed by Elisa Fiorillo.[52]

In a break from tradition, one of the ending themes of the game was not an in-house production, but Starsailor's "Way To Fall". Hideo Kojima later revealed in his blog that he originally wanted to use "Space Oddity" and "Ashes to Ashes" (by David Bowie) for the ending themes because of the space development theme of the game,[53] but during the game's development that theme lost its significance. One of his colleagues then advised him to listen to Stellastarr, but Kojima heard Starsailor. He liked the song "Way To Fall", and chose it as an ending theme.[54]

Reception[edit]

Snake Eater was a commercial success and sold 4.2 million copies worldwide.[15] Although this is considerably lower than Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, which has sold 7 million copies to date,[55] critics were pleased with the new protagonist,[14] Naked Snake—who strongly resembles the series protagonist Solid Snake—after fans were disappointed by Raiden in MGS2.[56] Some critics, who found the lengthy dialogues and the multitude of plot twists in Sons of Liberty to be detrimental to the game experience[57] found the storyline of Snake Eater a pleasing throwback to the original Metal Gear Solid, with less of the "philosophical babble"[14] present in Sons of Liberty.

Critical response[edit]

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater was critically acclaimed, and was given high scores by some of the most prominent gaming critics. On the review aggregator GameRankings, the game has an average score of 92% based on 86 reviews.[2] On Metacritic, the game had an average score of 91/100, based on 68 reviews.[58] Gaming website IGN awarded a 9.6/10[1] and Edge rated it 8/10.[65]GameSpot, who granted it an 8.7/10, commented that the game is "richly cinematic" and "a great achievement."[13]GameSpy hailed it as "probably the best Metal Gear Solid game yet",[12] and Eurogamer called it "overwhelmingly superior to MGS2: Sons of Liberty" in their review.[16]

Reviewers had mixed opinions about the game's camouflage system. Edge commented that "laying, camouflaged, in short grass inches away from a patrolling enemy is a gripping twist on stealth,"[65] while GameSpy criticized it as "just a number to monitor and not a terribly interesting one."[12] Out of the variety of new features, GameSpot called it "the most important and best implemented."[13] The game has also been criticized for its low frame rate, which has been reduced to 30 frames per second (compared to 60 frames per second in Sons of Liberty).[12]

The cut scenes of Snake Eater have been called "visually exciting and evocative, beautifully shot" by Edge.[65] However, they commented that the script "ranges from awkward to awful" and criticized David Hayter's performance as Snake, concluding that "Snake Eater's speech is not up to the standard of other games, let alone cinema."[65] GameSpot said that some of the humor "falls flat, as if lost in translation from Japanese" and "should appeal to... hardcore fans but... takes you out of the moment."[13]

Awards[edit]

Since its release in 2004, the game has received numerous awards. Notable ones include "best overall action game", "best overall story"[60] and "best PS2 use of sound"[61] in IGN's Best of 2004 awards, and "best story",[62] "best sound effects"[63] and "best new character"[64] in GameSpot's Game of the Year 2004 awards.

Snake Eater's theme song won the "Best Original Vocal Song - Pop" from the Game Audio Network Guild at the Game Developers Conference in August 2005, while the game itself won the award for "Best PS2 Game" at 2005's Game Convention in Germany.[17] David Hayter, the voice of Snake, was nominated for the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences award for "Outstanding Achievement in Character Performance."[66]

Legacy[edit]

Snake Eater was developed as a prequel to the entire Metal Gear series,[12] and was followed by several direct sequels: Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, and Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain. In 2011, Kojima revealed that he floated the idea of a Metal Gear Solid 5 set during the World War II invasion of Normandy, showing The Boss and Cobra Unit's assistance in the fight. However, the team was hesitant about such a big project and Kojima later felt that "simply dropping MGS5 on the younger staff members was a bit heavy."[67]

The game has since been listed on several "Best of ..." lists by video-gaming publications. In 2009, IGN placed Subsistence at number 3 on its "The Top 25 PS2 Games of All Time" list.[68]GamePro listed Snake Eater and Subsistence at 8th place on its list of "The 36 Best PS2 Games" in 2010.[69] That same year, IGN ranked Snake Eater 2nd on its list of the "Top 100 PlayStation 2 Games", and said that it had "the best story in the franchise."[70] In 2013, GamesRadar placed the game at number 22 on its "The 100 Best Games of All Time" list.[71] That same year, the game's story was ranked 10th place on GamesRadar's list of "The Best Videogame Stories Ever".[72] In 2015, the game placed 2nd on USgamer's "The 15 Best Games Since 2000" list.[73]

Releases[edit]

Snake Eater was first released in North America; the Japanese release was held back for almost a month after that.[11][74] The Japanese version featured several additional downloadable camouflage patterns that were not available for the North American version,[75][76] some which were only downloadable through data from Metal Gear Solid 3-related soundtrack CDs. A limited "premium package" edition of Snake Eater was released alongside the standard version in Japan. The premium package comes with a DVD disc featuring all the promotional trailers shown prior to the game's release (including a proof of concept video shown internally within Konami), two booklets and a painted 1/144-scale model of the Shagohod.[77] A special limited edition CD was given away to those who pre-ordered the Japanese version of Snake Eater, which included several tracks from the game's soundtrack, as well as computer screensavers and additional camouflage for the main game. The pre-order package allowed cell phone users to access a special site featuring image and music downloads.[78]

For the European release, Konami added several new features, including the "European Extreme" difficulty setting, a "demo theater" which allows players to view all cutscenes at any point after viewing them once during the main game, and a Duel Mode, where players can replay boss battles from the main game, in addition to extra facepaints based on European flags and two new "Snake vs. Monkey" levels.[79] Most of the downloadable camo patterns that were available for the Japanese version were also released for the European version, with only a few exceptions.[80]

Subsistence[edit]

Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence was released in Japan on December 22, 2005, later in North America on March 14, 2006,[1] in Europe on October 6, 2006, and in Australia on October 13, 2006.[88]Subsistence continues the Metal Gear Solid series tradition of follow-up expanded versions. While previous releases, such as Metal Gear Solid: Integral and Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance included skill challenge missions and/or side story missions, Subsistence eschews the extra single-player missions to include updated versions of the series' first two games, Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake,[46][89] a brand-new competitive online mode, and a fully 3D, user-controlled camera in the main portion of the game.[90] Because of all the additional content that was added, the Subsistence edition was split into two discs: the first disc contains the main game only (including the cutscenes viewer), while the second disc features the online multiplayer mode and all the other supplemental content.

Subsistence's online multiplayer component, titled Metal Gear Online, consists of five tournament-style game modes, each with a capacity of up to eight players.[91] This mode pits players, each playing as a generic soldier against each other in deathmatch battles and variations of capture the flag, using stages, items, maneuvers, and units (such as the KGB, GRU or Ocelot Unit) from the main game.[89] Depending on server settings, each round the highest-scoring player in each unit automatically assumes the role of one of the main characters (or Reiko Hinomoto from Rumble Roses), along with unique abilities and/or items. For example, the highest scoring player on the GRU team would assume the role of Major Raikov, leader of the GRU, next round.[92] Konami's Metal Gear Online service for the PlayStation 2 closed in Japan on December 26, 2006,[93] followed by in North America on April 2, 2007, and in Europe on October 30, 2007, although a fan community has revived it by emulating the servers.[94] As noted above, the online mode, after one of the players unlocks an animal codename, also allowed for the player to play as either Reiko Hinomoto or Rowdy Reiko from Rumble Roses (depending if the player in question was of red team or blue team, respectively). According to Metal Gear series creator Hideo Kojima, he added the characters into the game as secret characters in part due to opportunity: Kojima had earlier been offered a deal with Rumble Roses producer Akari Uchida to make a crossover between Metal Gear and Rumble Roses. However, the Metal Gear development team at the time refused to work with them. Kojima eventually accepted the offer when trying to decide on secret characters for the online mode for Subsistence to tie up loose ends. He also admitted that he originally considered offering Tomonobu Itagaki, at the time the producer of the Tecmo fighting game series Dead or Alive, the opportunity of using one of his characters as a secret character.[95]

In addition to the older games and the online mode, Subsistence includes many of the features that were introduced in the Japanese and European releases. It includes the downloadable extra camouflage and facepaint designs and "Snake vs. Monkey" stages previously exclusive to the European release, the European Extreme difficulty level,[89][96] parody cutscenes and trailers from the official website,[97] and connectivity with Metal Gear Acid 2.[98] The Japanese version also includes a URL for a hidden website that allows the download of OtaClock, a PC and Mac clock program that features Metal Gear Solid series recurring character Otacon.[99] This website is now publicly available.[100]

"Limited Edition" copies of Subsistence also include Existence, the game's cutscenes edited into a three-and-a-half-hour feature film with additional scenes and remastered sound.[46] The North American "Limited Edition" package was only available to consumers who pre-ordered it before the game's release.[101] The three-disc edition is the standard release of Subsistence in Europe to make up for its later release in the region.[102]

A bonus documentaryDVD video titled Metal Gear Saga Vol. 1 was bundled with pre-orders for Subsistence in North America and with the European Platinum reissue of Snake Eater released in Germany on March 23, 2006.[103][104] The disc includes a five-part, 30-minute featurette about the entire Metal Gear series interspersed with an interview of Hideo Kojima, as well as trailers for various current Metal Gear games.[103][105]

Subsistence received marginally higher review scores than the original Snake Eater, averaging 94% on Metacritic.[81] Reviewers commented that the introduction of the 3D camera removed the "only grade-A problem"[106] and makes the gameplay feel "less restrictive and more natural."[46] The online mode is considered "impressive for a PS2 game", though "[Snake Eater]'s distinctive gameplay conventions do not entirely lend themselves to the online action-gaming experience."[106]Subsistence received IGN's award for "best online game" for the PlayStation 2 in December 2006.[87]

20th Anniversary re-release[edit]

On July 2007, Konami re-released all the mainline Metal Gear Solid games from the PlayStation and PlayStation 2, along with the PSP game Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, individually and as part of a limited edition box set in Japan commemorating the 20th anniversary of the original Metal Gear. This edition of Metal Gear Solid 3 features the first disc from the Subsistence version and a new second disc containing only the MSX2 Metal Gear games, lacking Metal Gear Online (due to the discontinuation of its servers), as well as all the other content that was present in Subsistence's original second disc (Snake vs. Monkey, Duel Mode and Secret Theater).[107][108] A similar box set was released for the North American market on March 2008, titled Metal Gear Solid: The Essential Collection, which includes the first disc of Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence along with the original Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance, but lacks the second disc with the MSX2 games from the Japanese 20th Anniversary edition.

HD Edition[edit]

Main article: Metal Gear Solid HD Collection

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater - HD Edition was released on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles in late 2011.[109] It was released as part of the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, as well as a digital download on PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade.[110][111] The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions run in a resolution of 720p and aim for a target framerate of 60 frames per second, compared to the PlayStation 2 version's maximum of 30 FPS. The aspect ratio has also been increased from the original's 4:3 presentation to a wider 16:9 resolution, giving players a wider view of their surroundings.[112] The HD Edition features some of the content from the Subsistence version, such as the third-person camera and demo theater, but lacks the online multiplayer mode and the "Snake vs. Monkey" minigame (due to this version also being released on the Xbox 360). The two MSX2 Metal Gear games are also included in this version, both accessible from the main menu. A PlayStation Vita version of the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection on June 2012, which features Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3;[113][114][115] this version of Metal Gear Solid 3 features limited touch controls to take advantage of the Vita's touchscreen, and compared to the PlayStation 2 version, the framerate is a more consistent 30 FPS, with less screen tearing.[116]

Snake Eater 3D[edit]

At Electronic Entertainment Expo 2010, Konami displayed a technical demo for the Nintendo 3DS entitled Metal Gear Solid 3D: Snake Eater – The Naked Sample. The demo's subtitle "The Naked Sample" was meant to convey its purpose as just a sample of the 3DS hardware, with no plans to bring a game into production at that point.[121] Series producer Hideo Kojima stated at the time that if a Metal Gear game for the 3DS was actually made they would consider some elements from the PlayStation Portable title

Snake uses camouflage to remain undetected. The "camo index" can be seen in the top, right-hand corner.
Kojima at E3 2006 holding a Gameplay award for Best Story of the Year, 2005
The online mode in Subsistence. Here, the GRU team faces off against the KGB team
A screenshot of Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D, showing Snake restraining the enemy with CQC
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