The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Metal Gear’s story weaves through eight canonical games and has many surprising twists. Clones, sentient computers, and nanomachines occasionally take the plot in incomprehensible directions, making the series daunting to approach for first-timers. The fact that Snake Eater’s story stands well on its own was probably the major reason Kojima Productions decided to bring it to the 3DS, but gamers who want to play Snake Eater are better off leaving this 3D incarnation on the shelf in favor of another version.
The core game hasn’t changed; you are still Snake, a top-secret operative infiltrating the Soviet Union during the Cold War. You sneak through jungles, eat local wildlife to survive, and unravel a plot that threatens the safety of the world. The story is cool, and the way it serves as the genesis for the rest of the series’ events makes it a great place to start.
Unfortunately, the unique features of this 3DS port do more to hinder the experience than enhance it. The tilt sensor gimmicks (like balancing as you cross a bridge) feel out of place, and using the buttons to control the camera and aim is awful – especially during boss fights. The touchscreen interface is functional but clumsy; I quickly stopped using it in favor of d-pad menu navigation, which still isn’t as elegant as previous versions. Some people may say it’s unfair to compare handheld titles to those on console, but given that Snake Eater 3D is essentially the same game as its console-based brothers, the comparison is inevitable.
The visuals look good, and the 3D effect works fine – though the chuggy framerate doesn’t stack up to the 60 fps of the HD Collection version. The only substantial improvement here is the addition of MGS 4’s crouch walk, which allows Snake to retain a degree of cover while moving and aiming.
I’m not saying that Snake Eater is an inferior game; it’s my favorite in the series. However, this version is only worthwhile for people who have no other choice. Even then, with the $40 you’d spend on Snake Eater 3D, you could probably buy an old PS2 and the original game, or the HD Collection on 360 and PS3. If you want the real Snake Eater experience, those are far better options.
Email the author Joe Juba, or follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Game Informer.