…and then there’s Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.
Kojima describes MGS3 as the third in the Solid trilogy, which concludes it; while there may be future Metal Gear games (such as the announced Metal Gear: Acid on PSP, which was not mentioned at the pre-show event), they will not be Metal Gear Solid games. MGS3 may or may not use the hard drive, and the team’s current plans are to provide online functionality in the form of downloadable camo patterns and score rankings.
The overarching themes of MGS continue in the third game, which is set in an isolated jungle within a Russian province, not long after the Cuban Missile Crisis. A Russian scientist, who has recently invented a new kind of nuclear weapon, wishes to defect. Snake’s mission, after he goes on the first recorded HALO (High Altitude, Low Opening) jump, is to infilitrate Russian territory, contact the scientist, and escape with him.
As is usual, the game has a distinct anti-war, anti-nuclear-weapon stance. According to Kojima, MGS was about memes, and how culture and language spread via language, while MGS2 concerned the inheritance of traits via genetics. MGS3 is about “scene” – history and our actions, and how they influence future generations. Meme, gene, scene; MGS; Metal Gear Solid.
The interactive opening sequence to MGS3, featuring a headline that explodes out at the viewer as well as many writhing snake skeletons and a bizarre, James-Bondian title theme, was animated by Kyle Cooper. Cooper is a Hollywood director who did the opening sequence to MGS2, as well as films like Se7en, Twister, and the 2004 Dawn of the Dead. It has to be seen to be believed, really.
Speaking of gnawed snake bones, Snake Eater features a distinct survivalist element. Snake not only has to worry about concealing himself and avoiding detection in MGS3, but also has to find food to replenish his stamina. When his stamina’s high, Snake heals faster; when it’s low, Snake’s gun will shake from hunger, and the growl of his stomach may alert enemies.
You can track down animals to hunt and eat in the forest, such as snakes, crocodiles, birds, and fish. Alternatively, you can subsist on mushrooms (Kojima hunted down a few of these first in the demo, “because I respect Mr. Miyamoto”) and fruit, instead opting to tranquilize animals and leave them alone, or leave them in a more healthful environment. (Kojima stressed this option, but a few minutes later, he blew up a crocodile with a hand grenade, so perhaps this is another one of those pesky mixed messages.) If you take an animal alive, you’ll carry it around in a cage, and can use it as a weapon against enemy soldiers; otherwise, it’ll turn into canned meat. The time of day, which is story-triggered, and the weather, which is not, may also affect the number and type of wildlife you’ll find in the wilderness.
While stalking animals, or people, you’ll want to make use of camoflauge. MGS3 is all about blending into your environment, as convenient corners and cardboard boxes aren’t as readily available in the jungle. Snake will have access to a variety of camo outfits, each of which will help him stay concealed in a different type of environment. (Kojima also made note of a contest, open as of May 12th, which would allow entrants to design a camo pattern that might actually make it into the game.) Your current motion, appropriate camo, and face paint will all contribute to the degree of your concealment. Lying down, in the right outfit, with his face painted, Snake will be almost invisible.
(Kojima also showed off the first of MGS3’s weird little “Easter eggs,” involving the inventory screen’s camo viewer. If you spin the 3D model of Snake enough in that screen, then return to the game, Snake will throw up. This was obviously meant to be played for laughs, but more importantly, if Snake eats some bad meat or poisoned fruit, you can make him throw up to stop the poison.)
When you’re discovered, the game places a new focus on close-quarters combat. While unarmed, or holding a knife or pistol, Snake has access to a new variety of restriction moves keyed to a single button. You can now slap a chokehold on an enemy Sam Fisher-style, from which position you can hold a man, throw him, kill him (Kojima asked us all to not do that too often), or use him as a human shield.
Snake can also use gun turrets and other “gadgets” to help kill or drive off the enemy. His personal arsenal includes a shotgun, sniper rifle, silenced pistol, and survival knife.
The long trailer Kojima showed at the end of his demo, which he said he edited together himself, shows a lot of things to get MGS fans excited: a young Revolver Ocelot, a rookie Spetznaz officer who does not yet use a revolver; Snake fighting a helicopter using a mounted chaingun; an American spy wearing an open jumpsuit, who seems to specialize in seduction; a female spy in white who quite enjoyed trading both punches and musings about the meaning of being a soldier with Snake; a giant electrical cyborg, who just might be the main boss of the game; Snake shooting it out with a full team of men with flamethrowers; a man who appeared to be Raiden, wearing military formal garb; and the scientist, watching as a giant machine – a Metal Gear -- is carried away by helicopter.
The game is currently set to be released in November 2004.