Nintendo has been stiffed for nearly a decade; the last Kojima Productions game to appear on a Nintendo platform was , a remake of the original for the GameCube. Eight years later, Nintendo fans are finally getting another taste of Snake. It's a remake, but it's of arguably one of the best entries in the series. Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D is based on the PlayStation 2 original released in 2004. Much has changed since then, and Snake Eater has been updated to cater to contemporary expectations. It's very much the same game, but the updated controls and visuals make this remake on the 3DS the best version of the game to date.
Snake has a tendency to err on the side of caution.
For the uninitiated, you play the part of CIA operative Naked Snake (known as "Big Boss" in later games) on a covert mission in Soviet territory. Your mission is to destroy a mobile missile launcher, the Shagohod, capable of firing nuclear payloads at the United States from any terrain. As you maneuver Snake toward his goal, you infiltrate enemy territory using your environment to shield your presence from the watchful gaze of the enemy.
If you're stealthy enough, you can achieve a Zen-like state of sneakiness, for lack of a better word. Should you fail to move undetected, alerting the enemy to your presence initiates a chaotic scramble that destroys any semblance of focus you may have conjured. It's a rewarding and challenging experience that can be handled in numerous ways. Snake has a wide variety of tools at his disposal, and what you do with them defines your experience with Snake Eater. Whether you choose to tiptoe up to your enemies, slit their throats, and store them in lockers, or simply masquerade as a cardboard box on its way to the weapon hangar, is entirely up to you.
Snake Eater is less a clever subtitle than a literal description of the emphasis on survival. Your stamina meter depletes over time, decreasing your aiming capabilities and effectiveness in battle. You dine on flora and fauna to recharge said meter, including mushrooms, rats, fish, and snakes, among others. You're never too far away from food, and you can carry more than your fair share, so thankfully, the hunt is far from a dominant gameplay element. In the same vein, you have to treat wounds with a variety of medical supplies. Broken bones require different treatment than an infection does, so you need to keep track of how to treat the various types of maladies to avoid wasting precious resources. Scouring the environment for food and performing self-surgery keep you grounded in a survival frame of mind, but you perform these tasks within menus, sometimes in the middle of a gunfight. For as much realism as these elements evoke, their implementation ultimately holds them back.
The militaristic nature of the characters and setting might lead you to believe this is an action game, but it tends to lean farther into the adventure category. You do lots of exploring and sneaking, but there are times when these elements take you too far away from the act of engagement. These moments of stagnation are Snake Eater's biggest letdown. You often find yourself (particularly in the first half of the game) wondering when you'll get to do anything other than briefly avoid detection on your way to the next cutscene. In a lot of ways, the gameplay is often overshadowed by the storytelling segments. Due credit goes to the excellent cinematography and voice acting in the game, but the ratio feels lopsided at times. Boss fights are by far the most engaging sections of Snake Eater, melding action and the often comical exposition from your enemy in a beautiful way.
Snake Eater's controls are adequate. Overall, the game lacks the fluidity found in modern games. Snake's stiff nature is something that takes getting used to, but eventually, you will. Your instincts are reined in by these limitations, but the game calls for very deliberate actions on your part, so this makes sense from a design perspective.