Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater Impressions

Konami reveals new details on and footage of the game at its pre-E3 press event.

At Konami's pre-E3 press conference in Los Angeles this afternoon, we caught a lengthy new movie of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, the next in the company's wildly popular stealth action series. The movie was quite a bit longer than the trailer that leaked onto the Internet last week, and after series creator Hideo Kojima finished a brief Q&A session following the movie, we have a clearer understanding of what kind of game Snake Eater is going to be.

The bulk of the movie focused on scenes of Snake sneaking around and fighting in the jungle. No indoor scenes were shown, and Kojima confirmed later that the game does emphasize outdoor combat, although you'll also enter buildings occasionally. We saw a lot of Solid Snake offing enemy soldiers in the jungle--from slashing throats to busting caps, Snake was a veritable killing machine in the demo. The game seemed substantially bloodier than Metal Gear Solid 2 as well. Snake showed off a few interesting moves, like hanging from a tree branch by one arm while firing his silenced pistol at enemy soldiers with the other. It seems like the sneaking and stealth that is the series' trademark will be adapted to a 3D jungle environment.

The trailer showed no dialogue or cinematic sequences whatsoever, instead focusing entirely on gameplay and combat scenes. The presentation did go out of its way to emphasize that Snake is the only hero in the game, so any Raiden fans out there can give up hope of seeing the blonde one's return. When prompted to expound on the game's story afterward, Kojima was mum and said only that more would be revealed next year. Further, when GameSpot's Giancarlo Varanini asked Kojima where on the timeline this new Metal Gear game falls, Kojima would answer only that we should use our imagination. This, coupled with briefly glimpsed phrases during the trailer such as "Back to the origin!" and "1960s" has led to speculation that Snake Eater may in fact be a prequel to the series. Indeed, Solid Snake's age has been called into question, as some members of the GameSpot staff believe he is far too young to appear in a game set in the 1960s. Of course, this depends on the game being set in the 1960s, which itself is a fairly large assumption to make. If we've learned anything from MGS2, it's that we should expect the unexpected from Kojima. Only time will tell if we've made an accurate assessment of the situation.

Further clues to the game's story were revealed in some of the trailer's transitions, which featured a reference to a clash of ideologies and multiple instances of the hammer and sickle, well known as a symbol of the Soviet Union. Couple this with the map seen in the game's teaser image that revealed a portion of Russia, and one wonders: Could Metal Gear Solid 3 involve some sort of Cold War-era political intrigue? Again, this is just speculation, and more information will surely be revealed later on.

Kojima let a few more details slip before he exited the stage. For one, MGS3 will indeed let you hunt and eat animals, as you may have gathered from the previous footage. Further, Snake will develop likes and dislikes over the course of the game, and having him eat his favorite foods will yield extra benefits. In fact, much of the gameplay revolves around surviving in the wild, and the hunting will be just one component of this. Kojima also said that MGS3 does not use the MGS2 engine, but rather an entirely new one. This is primarily because the previous engine was designed for sneaking around on flat surfaces and pressing up against flat walls with right angles--of course, natural terrain is much more random and varied, and the new engine will facilitate its re-creation in the game. In an offhand and very surprising admission, Kojima said the other reason for the new technology is that Konami is planning on creating Metal Gear Online, and the dev team wanted a more generalized engine for use with that upcoming game. Whether or not this comment actually holds water will remain to be seen, but it's quite interesting nonetheless.

Metal Gear Solid 3 is certainly shaping up to be a unique game, and we're very excited to find out more. Stay tuned.

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