E3 2011: Metal Gear Solid Snake Eater 3D

QUICKTAKE: Metal Gear Solid Snake Eater 3D is a technical marvel, and one of the best-looking 3D games on Nintendo's new handheld. While the game is as quirky and as solid as ever, one has to wonder if porting one of the most complicated games in the Metal Gear franchise to a portable was a very good idea.

THE DEMO: The demo begins near the very beginning of Snake Eater, minus the lengthy opening cutscene. Snake must navigate the jungle, crawling through the high grass and wading through murky croc-infested waters. The demo offered a surprisingly complete experience, even including one of the franchise's lengthy radio chats.

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DETAILS: I think there's one reason why Kojima Productions wanted to port Metal Gear Solid 3, and not any other game in the franchise, to the 3DS. Simply put, it looks incredible in 3D. The jungle setting of Snake Eater provides a constant stream of beautiful made-for-3D imagery. Whenever you're crawling through the grass (and there's a lot of that), you'll see every blade of grass fly out of the screen. While the added depth of the 3D screen may not really help gameplay, it's hard to argue that it isn't impressive.

There are some genuinely cool tweaks being offered in the 3DS version. For example, there are moments where, as in the first Uncharted, you must use the system's gyroscope in order to balance Snake. The touch screen can be used to equip items quickly, without having to navigate through a cumbersome menu. Finally, the coolest feature of them all (which I didn't get to try): the "Photo Camo" system, which allows you to use the system's camera to take a picture of real-life objects and use them as active camo in the game. Undoubtedly, some players will give Naked Snake a whole new meaning!

While Kojima Productions have added a number of cute features that take advantage of the 3DS, the core game experience is essentially untouched. Snake Eater is definitely not a casual-friendly game, and I was reminded of how awkward of a game this will be play on a handheld while watching one of the game's many semi-interactive cinema sequences. This is a long game, with a lot of waiting, and a lot of narrative. PSP's Peace Walker managed to adapt the formula to quicker bursts of play, but Snake Eater demands much more patience, and much more time.

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