Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence
Game Info
Playstation 2
Kojima Productions
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Language, Sexual Themes
The Good

• Visually amazing
• The story is top notch
• Online mode, boss duels and cutscene viewers are excellent
• MSX versions of first two Metal Gears are great
• Improved controllable camera

The Bad

• Limited Edition movie is oddly executed


It seems to have become a standard practice that when a great game gets released, some time down the line, an improved, bonus-filled version of the same game is sure to arrive some time later. I'm sure that Hideo Kojima's release of MGS2: Substance really established this as a viable practice. Because of that, we've managed to get wonderful games like Ninja Gaiden Black and Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition. It was just a matter of time until Metal Gear Solid 3 was going to get the same treatment and producer/creator Kojima was certainly going to raise the bar for bonus editions.

This prequel managed to refine the series' gameplay to a point where one had to wonder where else it could go. Of course, one of the outstanding complaints with the original release was the camera, which provided more challenge than some of the enemies. So, when I heard that the in-game camera would be fixed, I was interested to see what effect it would have.

I won't get into details on the gameplay or story here as the core of the game has not changed since the original release of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. If you want details, check out the original review. Just know that the gameplay is well executed with a lot of choices given to the player on how they achieve their goals. Visually, this game pushes the PS2 to its limits and the audio package is well refined. Honestly, MGS3 is in a rare category at the top of the quality pile in terms of games available on the PS2.

The first disc, named Subsistence, comes with the original Metal Gear Solid 3 game, albeit with some noticeable revisions, and a nice Demo Theater. While the story and core gameplay remain unchanged, a newly implemented third person camera makes it's debut. For those used to fully controllable cameras in their third person shooter, this is a nice change which actually puts a different view on the game. While the original was played with a more fixed, over-the-head view, your ability to switch between views with the click of the R3 allows you to really get a fine look at your locations without having to go into the first person mode. While the new camera isn't completely perfect (this shows up when you're sneaking in tight places) its a nice improvement that's long overdue. Also new to MGS3 is new Camouflage and Face Paint, most of which seem nice for show rather than being more useful. Really, how useful is painting the American flag on your face in terms for stealth purposes? Finally, this version of MGS3 features the European Extreme difficulty for those who really want a hard challenge. And, man does that really offer a challenge.

The Demo Theater available on disc one is a nice feature that allows you to view in-game cutscenes, even without having played the game. Also, there are unlockable extra scenes and you can even change the way Snake looks in the scenes from the menu. If you get the Limited Edition with the bonus DVD, this might not be as much of a perk, but it's still a pleasant addition for those wanting complete access.

The second disc, Persistence, is where fans of the original release are going to get their money's worth. First is the Duel Mode, where you can play out the many boss fights either regularly or with special limitations to make it harder. Because the boss fights in the original game were so great, players may want to break this out on occasion just to fight the bosses at the leisure. The Snake vs. Monkey mode returns, including new stages which make this odd collaboration between Metal Gear Solid and Ape Escape oddly fun and addicting. There's also a Secret Theater which features game engine rendered joke cutscenes that were available only on the website before now.

Also available on the second disc are ports of the original MSX Metal Gear games: Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. This is a wonderful treat for those who started the series with the original Metal Gear Solid, especially considering that MG2 never saw the light of day in North America. The original Metal Gear is interesting in that it feels a lot like a maze with stealth elements. There are familiar Metal Gear touches to the game, but the narrative and mood are simply secondary to the maze-like aspect of the gameplay. Visually, the game lacks depth and the audio is a bit annoying. In comparison, Metal Gear 2 is light-years ahead and really shows the series maturing in presentation. The visuals, audio and all-around implementation of the gameplay in MG2 is better and more enjoyable.

One can not talk about the second disc without mentioning the online mode, which is what I would call an "about time" addition. While the Deathmatch modes (team and solo) are good brainless fun, the real fun is to be had in the modes that are certainly tooled for MGS's style of gameplay. Sneaking, Capture and Rescue modes all present elements that make the player really do some thinking before acting. In this mode, there are locations built specifically to make the best of multiplayer action, all of which look great.

For those who picked up the Limited Edition, they get the third disc, Existence, which features the cutscenes from the game reedited into a three-plus hour long movie for those who just want to watch the story play out. While this is a really cool idea, it's execution is not so great. Switching from cutscenes to gameplay footage and back is a bit distracting and the addition of a narrator to fill in story gaps is a bit disappointing. Still, it's a unique watch, but don't expect it to completely wow people new to the story. As an added bonus, the trailer for Metal Gear Solid 4 is on this disc as well.

So, should you buy this game? If you didn't get the original or couldn't play it because of the camera - Yes. I can't say that loud enough. This is the best offering of gameplay, extras and multiplayer that has come out in some time. If you're a hardcore Metal Gear Solid fan, this is certainly worth the investment. In fact, I'd suggest this game to just about anyone who enjoys games as this really is hard to beat in terms of quality.

- - Vane

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