Removing series hero Solid Snake from the military and scientific installations that have formed the backdrops to his previous missions, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is a jungle-based adventure, allowing creator Hideo Kojima and his talented Konami Computer Entertainment Japan team a free reign to add new gameplay elements and to further push back the aesthetic boundaries that have elevated the Metal Gear series above its contemporaries.
Set in the 60s and using the Cold War as its inspiration, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater forces the player to adopt a number of new skills to survive in Snake's new jungle environment. Danger lurks everywhere as Snake explores the beautifully-realised forests, encampments and rivers, with guards patrolling key routes, dangerous animals to contend with, and the uneven terrain and noisy foliage making the silent approaches the Metal Gear hero is famed for virtually impossible.
However, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater's lush locale can also be used to Snake's advantage, and the free-roaming gameplay allows the player to approach problems laterally. He can now climb trees to avoid detection and hang from branches with one arm while picking off assailants with his gun, or simply by dropping onto them. Similarly, the noise of guards crunching through fallen leaves can alter Snake to their presence, while the long grasses and collapsed trees provide additional cover.
In addition to the jungle setting, which gives way to confrontations atop a waterfall and a top-secret military base, series creator and Director Hideo Kojima has added a number of key additions to make the most of the outdoor locations. Enemy guards are now more intelligent and work as a group, utilising SAS-style search and destroy patterns as they hunt, while the open spaces of the jungle exterior afford little in the way of hiding places at times.
Kojima-san and KCEJ have also ensured that the weapons available during the Cold War period are authentically recreated, with Snake given access to automatic weapons used in the 60s, but none of the more futuristic guns seen in Snake Eater's predecessors. Such is the attention to detail that event he camouflage seen in the game is authentic to the period, as are the vehicles and communications devices on show.
Another key addition to the Metal Gear mythos is a level of fallibility to Solid Snake. As the developing team look to continually evolve and develop the character, Snake is now prone to more human failings than in the past. His energy levels will flag faster depending on the terrain, with harsh climbs, lengthy fights and steep inclines rapidly depleting his reserves. In order to keep him at optimum performance, the player must kill and eat animals within the jungle, with Snake tucking into snakes, birds and fish during the course of the game. In a typically clever piece of Kojima logic, however, some animals will have an adverse affect on him, temporarily poisoning Snake and weakening him. However, if the player perseveres and continues to eat said creatures, he will gain a growing immunity to its effects and become hardier as a result.
The PAL versions of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater will thus feature a new 'DUEL MODE' which allows players to play through the game's 'Boss Fights' independently, showcasing the rich variety of adversaries Snake faces during the course of the game. A 'DEMO THEATRE' has also been created, and can be used to play the game's stunning link sequences in order to enjoy the many dramatic plot twists in order.