E3 2011: Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D Preview

Snake sneaks into the third dimension for this handheld version of the PS2 classic.

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When the original Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater arrived on the PlayStation 2, it was a remarkable technical achievement because it was the first time a Metal Gear Solid game not only took place primarily outdoors, but also featured richly detailed environments coupled with equally impressive character models. When you see screenshots and video of the Nintendo 3DS version of the game, it might not look all that different from its PS2 counterpart, but when you see it in person and view it in 3D, the surrounding jungle seems to spring to life more than it ever did before. The added depth and the way objects bounce off the camera produce a wonderful effect that will make you want to creep your way through the tall blades of glass even when there aren't any enemy soldiers around.

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If you've played Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker for the PSP, you'll find that the controls in Snake Eater for the 3DS are similar. You can move Snake around with the circle pad and then aim using the face buttons (each corresponding to a direction). When you want to perform a CQC move or ready your weapon, you can press the right shoulder button or left shoulder button, respectively. When you want to go prone or crouch, you simply press down on the D pad, and if you want to immediately select a weapon from your inventory, you can press right or left as well. Of course, what makes Snake Eater on the 3DS significantly different from its counterpart is the touch screen and how much of the menu navigation is now accessible through it. It's easier than ever to select specific items or weapons because they're only a few quick taps away.

Another innovation is the use of the 3DS camera to snap pictures that can then be used for camo patterns. Let's say Snake is in a muddy swamp and you happen to have a bowl of oatmeal in front of you. Simply point your camera down at the oatmeal, snap a picture, and you can immediately help Snake remain deliciously undetected. Of course, there are potential opportunities for laughs too--we wonder what would happen if you took a picture of a cat's face and used that as camo instead.

As for the rest of the game, it's nearly identical in terms of actual content. Kojima Productions wanted to make sure that people were able to play the game as it was on the PlayStation 2 as opposed to making changes to a classic game. Additionally, the team has worked hard to get the game to look as good as (if not slightly better than) the PlayStation 2 version because the 3DS version of the game actually has to render the scene twice in order to display the 3D effect.

When asked if the frame rate would go up with the 3D effect turned off (like in some 3DS fighting games), Kojima Production's Yoshikazu Matsuhana said that the frame rate stays the same, but that even if the frame rate were increased, there would still be image blurring (a problem with most small screens) to contend with. Finally, when asked why the team chose Metal Gear Solid 3 instead of something more recent like Peace Walker, Matsuhana said that since MGS3 is chronologically the first game in the series, it makes sense to use that as a starting point for people who may have never experienced a Metal Gear game before.

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Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D is scheduled for release later this year.

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