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‘Inside’ Story — How Playdead’s Latest Indie Hit Subverts Gaming Tropes

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Since their inception, video games have had an obsession with monsters. We’ve mindlessly stomped on them in Super Mario Bros, endlessly farmed them for loot in World of Warcraft, and repeatedly been obliterated by them in Dark Souls, and while there’s nothing wrong with making the conflict between the player and their opposition so clear-cut, it’s always refreshing to have another perspective. In Playdead’s follow-up to their twisted, 2010 2D puzzle-platformer Limbo, the developers have thematically and mechanically improved their game in almost every conceivable way. With a new 2.5D perspective, more engrossing visual and sound design and an incredibly immersive world, Inside is the industry’s current indie darling, garnering acclaim from critics and audiences alike.

As the game was released a week early on Xbox One, I heard a massive amount of buzz about it before finally getting the chance to experience it for myself when it came to Steam on July 7th. While I initially found the game to be slightly disappointing, in the face of the ridiculous amount of hype surrounding it from critics and my own unrealistic expectations set by Limbo’s excellence, the final moments of the game completely changed my opinion of the entire experience and made me realize why it had cultivated such a large following. SPOILERS AHEAD.

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Before examining the game’s ending, it’s important to set the stage with the main game. Building on nearly every aspect of Limbo, Inside uses similar thematic and gameplay elements such as an omnipresent darkness and focus on environmental puzzles to relentlessly push the player forward. In addition to an equally great sense of pacing and mystery when compared to Limbo, Inside greatly benefits from a more fully realized world design. While I personally prefer the striking, monochromatic graphics of Playdead’s previous game on a purely aesthetic level, the realistic character and sound design of Inside make for a much more visceral experience overall. The brutal snapping of bear traps or impaling strike of a giant spider’s leg in Limbo are completely serviceable and terrifying in their own cartoonish setting, but pale in comparison to the gruesome sight of fully animated death sequences where a young boy is mercilessly drowned by government agents or ripped to shreds by a pack of hounds.

Although a few bland laboratory segments mishandle Playdead’s “less is more” approach to storytelling, the advent of a completely 3D rendered world allows the implementation of more complex background actions, creative lighting setups and dramatic camera angles that simply couldn’t be done outside of a 2.5D perspective. Additionally, this newfound depth lets the developers improve their level and world design, offering inventive new puzzles and sweeping vistas that Limbo couldn’t dream of. Areas that make use of the background, such as avoiding the soldiers in the opening forest or taking shelter from incoming shockwaves make for some of the most inspired segments of any platformer I’ve played in years. As great as these levels are however, the real star of this game is the incredibly complex story seamlessly woven in to the gameplay.

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Similar to other indie games such as Journey and even big name titles such as Dark Souls, Inside refrains from directly telling players a story, allowing the world and gameplay to speak for themselves. Although the hints that the game gives the player into the inter-workings of the narrative are brief, most audiences will construct a basic idea of what’s going on by the finale. Opening in a dark forest, the player assumes the role of an unnamed child avoiding capture from soldiers. After making his way through a seemingly post-apocalyptic world that is nearly devoid of all life, the boy infiltrates what appears to be humanity’s last bastion of civilization. Here, an Orwellian, fascist government/corporation is using mind-control to enforce complete authority over the remaining population and create mindless slaves. As the boy gradually ventures further and further into the scientists’ main complex, he discovers a slew of abandoned labs, old technology, and deadly, failed experiments. Things escalate quickly as more outlandish sci-fi elements are repeatedly introduced, such as mind-control devices, anti-gravity environments, and underwater creatures. These complicate things further and provide unique gameplay experiences.

Upon reaching the center of the organization’s facilities, the player comes face to face (or whatever the hell the thing has) with the guiding project of their operations, a nightmarish lump of flesh and limbs suspended in a spherical containment chamber that acts as a hive mind for the brain-washed masses. However, when he tries to free the beast, the boy is pulled inside of it, and is assimilated into it as it breaks free of its prison. In one of the most stomach churning moment of the year, the game then shifts to the beast’s perspective, as it runs rampant throughout the lab, screaming in agony and frantically looking for an exit before eventually escaping and dying peacefully outside in a beam of light. While a basic idea of the story can be understood, the threads that lead there are thin enough that the game is mostly open to interpretation.

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Without uttering a word of dialogue, Inside manages to convey a staggering amount of themes and ideas to the player over its concise 3-4 hour length. By showing all of the government’s heinous experiments first-hand, the game questions the effectiveness and ethics of technology such as telekinetic devices and genetic modifications to make the player skeptical of its own world. Early elements of the story such as the complacently fascist society and the mysterious underwater creatures come with their own ideas and criticisms of things like government authority and the limits of scientific research, but the narrative is primarily concerned with the implications of mind-control and the nature of free will itself. This comes to a head in the game’s final segments, where the innocent protagonist is replaced by a hideously deformed beast that looks as if it came straight out of the third act of Akira. Taken at face value, the ending is incredibly horrific, but extremely simplistic thematically. The concept of a scientific experiment going horribly wrong and creating chaos is done expertly here, but it’s obviously been explored in other mediums, such as David Cronenberg’s film, The Fly, or even Mary Shelley’s classic, Frankenstein. Similar to stories such as these, the base ending appears to have the monster breaking out of his captivity and causing widespread destruction before becoming truly free.

Originally, I was severely let down by the ending, as the image of the tortured creature dying peacefully in the outside world portrayed a strict black-and-white morality that simply didn’t fit with the rest of the game. Luckily, upon replaying the ending (and fervently googling what I had missed) there was a wealth of elements that subverted the typical “science goes too far and creates a monster that causes destruction” trope that I feared was the backbone of the narrative. The one major clue that reveals the truth behind the finale is actually right in front of the player’s face: the diorama that the beast crashes through in its escape. Though I thought it was simply a model of nearby terrain at first, under further inspection, it is actually the exact area that the beast breaks out into in the game’s ending, down to the weather, water and placement of the heavenly sunlight that it lands in. This indicates that the entire “escape” that just occurred was predetermined by the higher-ups. Several other elements hint at this revelation, such as the scientists’ indifference to the child’s presence during the beast’s awakening, and the overt trap that players fall into when the creature is being baited (rather obviously) into another containment unit. The ramifications for this secret are significant thematically, and are even expanded upon in the secret ending, but what really elevates this game to the next level is its use of mechanics to tell a story.

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The perspective change from the boy to the blob is more than just a gruesome transformation thematically. From a gameplay viewpoint, it is one of the most jarring mechanical transitions in gaming. Consider the time that the player spent as the protagonist. For roughly 3 hours, gamers controlled a defenseless child with limited movement options, no intrinsic powers and no way to defend himself, naturally causing a strange relationship to form. Players have to protect this kid and work around his limits to progress through the game and see the story through to its ending.

From the second that the hive mind is reached, the developers begin to work against player expectations. Even before its actual escape, the game shocks the player by luring them into a false sense of security, having the creature consume the protagonist in the midst of unshackling the monstrosity; not on the first or final lock, but in the middle, right before the last mechanism. Suddenly, this relationship is completely destroyed, as the perspective switches to that of the creature that Inside has secretly revolved around. In an instant, the player is introduced to characteristics that directly contrast all prior experience with the game, such as invincibility, the size to effortlessly destroy the environment, increased strength, and the power to kill. The tone is completely altered, as quite slow and methodical stealth/puzzle sections are replaced by scenes of the player blazing through the complex to the screams of the innocent people that comprise their own character, while obliterating everything in their path.

Uninterested audiences could be forgiven for thinking that a completely different title was being played, as the slow and calculated maneuvers of the boy are replaced by the unsettlingly quick and fluid movements of a monstrosity that can traverse the environment with ease. All of the rules imposed on the boy are completely altered, and the player’s mindset must rapidly change accordingly, beautifully mirroring the thoughts of the child as he becomes part of the hive mind. Although the experience is somewhat terrifying, it is almost cathartic to break free of the prior constraints that the game had put on the player.

This freedom is exemplified in the cafeteria and office segments, in which the player enters what looks to be more of a 3D space with destructible elements, and kills the director of the facility. Although these sections don’t actually offer the player any more freedom then the rest of the game, they appear to empower the player, and serve to fit the overall narrative, especially when considering the secret ending. Playdead also managed to incorporate certain aspects of the main game into this finale (such as puzzle solving) by reframing them from the perspective of a hulking beast. At several points in the escape sequence, the player will have to hide from, intimidate, or threaten humans to solve puzzles that are very simple objectively, but feel very fresh in context. Games such as Left 4 Dead and Evolve may advertise that they allow players to assume the role of “the monster,” but none have as much narrative weight behind them. The final puzzle has the creature brute force its way through a wall, sending itself hurtling down a cliff towards its first feeling of “freedom” while ironically taking all control away from the player and ignoring their input. However, this freedom may not be what it seems.

Inside5Inside’s alternate ending is a huge part of the story, but is likely to be missed by most players. By deactivating the mysterious mind-control orbs that are hidden throughout the world, the boy can enter a secret bunker in the opening farm that changes everything we know about him. At the end of a dark, lonely hallway, a mind-control headset is hung from the ceiling, attached to a swarm of cables. By unplugging a nearby set of wires, the machine goes dark, causing the protagonist to go limp, assuming the position of the mindless drones that plague the rest of the world. While it seemed suspicious that the boy’s motives were left completely vague, this is a common trope for video games, as even Playdead’s prior project had a main character that started with no backstory. By showing that the boy is yet another pawn of the hive mind, the game essentially breaks the fourth wall and questions player agency itself, asking why gamers are so willing to embark on any mission given its context as “a game.” Having the boy under the monster’s control actually accounts for a few unexplained components of the game, demonstrating why the boy was being hunted to begin with and why the water creature eventually assisted the boy as he grew closer to the hive mind.

This ending also reinforces the idea that the “escape” in the normal ending is actually pre-planned by the people in charge of the experiment, and possibly implies that this whole process has a cyclical nature, in which cognizant humans repeatedly venture inside the complex to join the hive mind. Just as in the rest of the game, whether these people are doing it willingly or against their wills is open to interpretation, but this ending suggests that the only true form of freedom comes from not participating in the undesired action at all, whether that be the hive mind’s involvement in humanity’s oppression or the gamer’s role in the linear entertainment we consume. With a perfect marriage of gameplay and story, Playdead created an awe-inspiring ending that recontextualizes the entire game and turns the typical role of “the monster” on its head to subvert player expectations.

****

Thomas Loughney wrote a crazy article about how Inside relates to Marxism on Gameinformer, but I like that this game can inspire such weird discussion:

http://www.gameinformer.com/blogs/members/b/666musicman_blog/archive/2016/06/30/inside-explained-spoiler-review-plot-analysis.aspx

Delta Bot’s video on the alternate ending showcases the idea that the game takes place in the same world as Limbo better than any other piece I’ve seen:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GT9jAv-fo6E

 

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‘New Super Lucky’s Tale’ is Polished, Pleasing Platforming

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Streamlined, focused, and tons of fun, New Super Lucky’s Tale is a fantastic reworking for the Switch that absolutely nails the lighter side of Nintendo-style 3D platforming. Tight controls and a nearly flawless camera support running and jumping challenges which more often than not emphasize creativity over complexity, and it’s all set against a colorful, pun-filled, charming world full of quirky characters and light satire. Though the experience is not as epic or razzle-dazzle as something like Super Mario Odyssey, developer Playful has wisely trimmed the collect-a-thon fat that so many others in the genre employ in order to pad play time. The result lasts long enough to satisfy, yet also instills a fervent desire to see more adventures from its fearless, furry hero.

New Super Lucky's Tale carnival

In the fine tradition of its gaming ancestors dating back to the N64 days, the basics of New Super Lucky’s Tale revolve around acquiring arbitrary objects sprinkled through various stages in order to unlock doors and move on to the next area. This time it’s pages from the mystical Book of Ages, which contains the power to travel between worlds, and is the endgame of an nefarious cat sorcerer named Jinx and his gang of cartoonish thugs, the Kitty Litter. As part of a secret organization sworn to defending this kiddie-friendly Necronomicon knockoff, it’s up to Lucky to track down as many of these clover-embossed pages as he possibly can, and hopefully complete the book before his nemesis can get his claws on it.

It’s doubtful that the story will be what compels most players to keep going, and to that end, New Super Lucky’s Tale‘s simple setup also fits right in with its genre brethren. Still, Lucky is an amiable and upbeat fox to follow around, and Playful does an excellent job of surrounding him with a cast of gibberish-spouting weirdo goofballs that includes hayseed grub worms, supremely zen Yetis, loyal rock golems, and slick carny ghosts. Though their dialogue does little to drive any sort of narrative, it is endlessly amusing and often witty in its cheesy wordplay. In other words, the writing has a very Nintendo-like feel in its eccentricities that adds to the overall fun.

New Super Lucky's Tale factory

Those jokes would be less endearing without fantastic gameplay, but New Super Lucky’s Tale delivers some of the best running and jumping this side of Mario. Though this fabulous fox can’t quite match the plumber’s precision, Lucky does feel extremely responsive, and has a nice sense of weight and momentum that never feels out of control. He also comes out of the den with a well-rounded moveset, including a nifty double jump, a swishy tail (a la Mario’s spin punch), and the ability to burrow under ground. These moves can be chained together to create a satisfying flow both when exploring 3D stages and side-scrolling ones alike, and will surely inspire players to use them in creative ways in order to access seemingly out-of-reach spots.

And they’ll have to if they want to find all four pages hidden in each stage. New Super Lucky’s Tale requires a bare minimum of these leaflets to be found (and simply beating the stage merits one as a reward), but it’s in rooting around those nooks and crannies where much of the fun lies, and it gives the developer a chance to squeeze every ounce out of the unique mixture of environments they’ve created. From the assorted carnival games of a haunted amusement park to a beach party dance-off, there are a surprising amount of different things for Lucky (and players) to do here, with hardly any two stages ever feeling alike. One 3D level might task Lucky with casually exploring a farm as he gathers up the members of country jug band, while a side-scrolling obstacle course sees him dodging canon fire from an airship piloted by a feline Napolean. Some stages have a platforming bent, while others emphasize searching out secrets tucked away in mini puzzles.

New Super Lucky's Tale farm

It’s an absolutely delightful mix, and that sheer variety keeps New Super Lucky’s Tale fresh all the way through to the epic battle with fat cat Jinx himself. And though platforming veterans might find the overall challenge a bit too much on the friendly side, a few of the later bosses and and bonus stages may make that 100% goal a little tougher than it at first seems. And yet, it’s hard not to want to go back to incomplete stages or that block-pushing puzzle that stumped the first time around; the brisk pace and clever design will likely compel many players to find every scrap of paper out there.

No, Lucky isn’t the second coming of Mario, but there are few 3D platformers that offer such a polished, concise, joyful experience as New Super Lucky’s Tale. It may have taken a couple of efforts to get there (and for those who have played the original Super Lucky’s Tale, levels and bosses have been reworked here), but Playful has nailed a balance between creativity and efficiency that begs for more. 

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How Do ‘Pokemon Sword and Shield’s’ Max Raid Battles Measure Up?

Max Raid Battles are one of Pokemon Sword and Shield’s premier new features. Do they live up to their full potential? Let’s find out.

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max raid battles

One of the most heavily promoted new features of Pokémon Sword and Shield have been their Max Raid Battles. These gargantuan fights are both a key part of the online experience and likely the first taste most players will get of Dynamaxed Pokémon in-game. So, how’d this take on Pokémon Go’s raid system pan out in the series’ first mainline entry on console?

Well, on the plus side, getting into the thick of a raid is super straightforward. After the opening hour or two, players are introduced to the Wild Area and can access Max Raid Battles straight away by walking up to a pillar of red light on the field. From there you can invite others, challenge the raid with NPCs, and choose which Pokémon you want to use.

Real Friends Raid Together

Playing with friends online, though, is a bit more convoluted. There’s no “Invite Friends” option to be seen. Instead, all social features are handled through the Y-comm (literally accessed by pressing the Y button). It’s here that players can Link Trade, Link Battle, exchange player cards, and more.

After actively connecting to the internet–which has to be done each play session and each time the Switch is put into sleep mode–it’s up to the host of the match to find a portal and send an invitation to everyone. A notification will pop for friends on the side of the screen, and then it’s up to everyone to join the match directly through the Y-comm interface.

If players want real people to fill in any remaining slots (all raids are four-person affairs), they’ll need to join before the room fills up. Setting a Link Code avoids this hassle by creating a room but, unlike Salmon Run in Splatoon 2, only computer players can fill remaining spots after friends finish joining this way.

After some experimenting and fudding about, my buddy and I were able to hop into matches fairly quickly without much issue. Nonetheless, it’s hard to shake the feeling that creating friend lobbies is only such a headache because it had to be tied to the Y-comm. Pair this with the fact that battling while waiting for a friend to create a room can cause the notification not to pop, and getting a group together is a bit more painful than it should be.

Max Raid Battle Rundown

The raids themselves are a surprisingly engaging twist on the classic Pokémon battle formula. Groups of four challengers work together to take on a Dynamaxed raid boss. Each raid boss has a different star rating, and even the 1-star battles are no joke the first few times around. These boss Pokémon are merciless, and regularly one-shot lower leveled ‘mons with ease.

To combat these monstrous foes, one random trainer in every group is granted the ability to Dynamax their chosen Pokémon and lead the charge. The Dynamaxed Pokémon gets the benefit of having extra-powerful moves and increased HP, though it’s rather disappointing that there only seems to be one Max Move per move type (one Grass move, one Dark move, and so on). Each of these has a secondary effect on the battlefield; some trigger sandstorms, others trigger a health regeneration field that heals everyone a bit each turn. Regular moves with type advantages deal a significant chunk of damage, but it’s Max Moves that can truly turn the tide of battle.

If one of the group’s Pokémon faints, that trainer has to sit out for a turn before it automatically gets revived (a smart design choice to keep all trainers actively involved). However, the fainting of each Pokémon triggers the storm above to become more and more vicious. After four faints or ten turns, everyone is booted out of the raid sans rewards.

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The Fruits of Victory

Two of the easiest ways to better your odds are 1) Choose a Pokémon with a type advantage going into battle, and 2) Manage who Dynamaxes when. Each trainer’s Dynamax meter grows periodically and, though only one trainer can use it at a time, multiple players can activate it over the course of a raid. It also seems like each raid’s star rating is tied directly to the raid boss’ level, so bringing a generally powerful Pokémon to a lower-level raid is another viable strategy for success.

Aside from the chance to capture the raid boss itself (and some Pokémon are Max Raid Battle-exclusive), winning a raid nets players some very worthwhile rewards. These include everything from EXP candies and berries to nuggets and TMs. It’s not so much of a haul that it hurts the overall balance of the game, but there’s enough to make getting a few friends together and grinding raids for a couple of hours worth it.

max raid battles

Though Max Raid Battles are just a small part of the overall Sword and Shield package, they’ve ended up being a rather fun take on Pokémon’s traditional multiplayer offerings. For as unnecessarily complicated as playing with friends is, there are also a few cool ideas here, like being able to join a raid from anywhere on the map as long as the host is at the raid pillar. There’s some good fun to be had here if you prefer to battle alongside your friends instead of against them.

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15 Years Later: ‘Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater’ Is Kojima’s Espionage Love Letter

On November 17th, 2004, ‘Metal Gear Solid 3’ was released, marking the first entry in what would become a major part of the Metal Gear Saga.

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Metal Gear Solid 3

“After the end of World War II, the world was split into two — East and West. This marked the beginning of the era called the Cold War.”

On November 17th, 2004, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater released in North America and Japan marking the first entry in what would later become a line of prequel games within the Metal Gear Saga. Big Boss’s story would finally be expanded upon in the Hollywood action game that forever changed the course of video game storytelling.

The legendary mercenary’s journey began in Kojima’s espionage love letter to the ’60s that broke the primordial gaming standards of both interactive design and visual storytelling through immeasurable gameplay depth piled onto a mind-boggling top-notch origin story. Snake Eater was only the beginning of a tale of how one of gaming’s greatest heroes descended into a villain through what is not only arguably the most compact and well-executed Metal Gear story, but Kojima Productions story ever conjured up to date.

Taking the Narrative Back

Metal Gear Solid 3
“Snake, try and remember some of the basics of CQC.”

Snake Eater ditched Solid Snake and Raiden’s current predicaments in a postmodern world to provide audiences with background knowledge and explanations for the previous chapters that came before it in what was intended to be Hideo Kojima’s final Metal Gear game at the time. Cold War political fiction and espionage thrillers from the game’s time period such as the Sean Connery and Roger Moore James Bond 007 films became the foundation for this entry’s story and tone; a balance of both goofiness and seriousness that is simply unmatched when compared to the rest of the series.

Metal Gear Solid 3 marked the beginning of a prequel series of games that would later proceed to continue after Solid Snake’s story had concluded in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the PatriotsSnake Eater threw players back in time to tackle the story of Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake villain Big Boss, who was formerly referred to as three different names being John, Jack, and of course the iconic codename Naked Snake — the first character to take on the reptilian infiltration name.

Revolver Ocelot’s gun-slinging pre-boss cutscene was completely animated through motion capture footage.

Whereas Metal Gear Solid and Sons of Liberty questioned the fantasy aspects of the story, Snake Eater fully embraced the campiness that it provided. A gun-slinging, cat-growling GRU Major or a man who is able to manipulate bees are never questioned by the game’s characters. Nothing feels out of place due to how accepting everyone is of what is going on in their interpretation of history. The first fantasy aspect that players encounter is during the opening 5 minutes of the game when Naked Snake makes the HALO jump. The location the game takes place, Tselinoyarsk, is not the actual name of the location and isn’t an area of the world that has jungles.

Political fiction often comes into play during the story by incorporating real figures and the game’s characters into events that actually happened during the height of the Cold War. For example, Eva and Ocelot are depicted as the two NSA codebreakers, Martin and Mitchell, who defected to the Soviet Union. Weapons and designs featured in the game such as the hybrid screw-propelled metal gear, the Shagohod, are based on real blueprints for military weapons of the time period. While the story incorporates science fiction and fantasy aspects, the story still remains grounded and has its own limits even in gameplay.

A Whole New Meaning to Survival

When Hideo Kojima and Yoji Shinkawa saw the 1987 movie Predator, one concept from the film that stuck with them was how the technologically advanced alien Predator used camouflage within the jungle setting to stealthily take out a military rescue team lead by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Camouflage became part of the foundation for Snake Eater‘s gameplay that delved into the realism and campy side of the series. Players could swap outfits and face paints at any given moment to adapt to their current surroundings. The top right-hand corner has a camouflage index that constantly keeps track of how well-hidden you are in the environment.

Just as gadgets are a critical part of James Bond’s arsenal of weapons, Snake Eater saw the Metal Gear Solid series expand on the variety and utilization of items. The number of different ways to tackle standard environmental obstacles and boss battles was exponentially increased due to how many ways one could actually use their equipment. Grenades, lethal firearms, night-vision goggles, cigarettes, and even cardboard boxes all inherited a multi-functional philosophy that most players would never even discover unless they had experimented during their playthrough or were told to do a specific action. Even food became a weapon of war that could be used to poison and distract guards if it had gone spoiled.

On the topic of food, alongside the standard health bar, Snake has a stamina meter that must be ministered to constantly by eating foods found on-site and administering proper medical treatment. Animals, fruit, medicinal items, and various packaged resources must be collected and watched over throughout the game. All food items ran on a real-time clock leaving food to go unsanitary and rotten after a matter of real-time days.

The Beginning of Product Placement

Fun Fact: Kojima has gone on record saying that Naked Snake’s favorite CalorieMate Block is the chocolate-flavored line (rightfully for promotional reasons!).

The Metal Gear Solid series kickstarted Hideo Kojima’s constant usage of product placements within his games that are still ongoing today. These products include but are certainly not limited to clothing, accessories, toys, household items, and of course, food. Snake Eater began a trend of future Kojima Production games featuring real-life items that are purchasable in many small scale and large retail stores throughout Japan through the brand of nutritional energy bars and gels, CalorieMate.

The chocolate-flavored CalorieMate Block appeared in the original version of Snake Eater, while the maple-flavored kind replaced it in the HD Collection due to it being the latest flavor release at the time. Advertisements for CalorieMate during the game’s release showed Naked Snake holding a chocolate-flavored Block saying “If you wanna survive in the jungle, your going to need one of these.”

When initiating a Codec call with Paramedic after eating a CalorieMate Block, the character will question the legitimacy of the food. In reality, CalorieMate first released in 1983, contradicting the 1960’s setting of the story, therefore, making its placement in the game an anachronism; an object or person that is displaced in time.

A Legacy Worthy of The Big Boss Rank

At the time of Snake Eater’s release, although the game garnered a completely positive reception from critics with a 91 Metacritic score, it was highly debated whether the sequel-prequel was superior to the entries that came before it. Critics commonly praised the graphics and cinematics the game had to offer but questioned whether the gameplay was too complex for its own good. Snake Eater also had to ride the coattails of unsatisfied audiences originating from the previous entry’s lack of Solid Snake being the protagonist which ultimately lead to sales of the game being significantly lower than the previous Solid entries.

Over time, Snake Eater became the fan-favorite entry of the series and would go on to receive the most re-releases out of all the Metal Gear games to date. Most notably, in 2006 Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence expanded upon the online mode in the game and added a completely new third-person controlled camera system that enhanced the overall experience and became the right analog stick standard for future entries. Buyers of this version were also treated with the original two MSX Metal Gear games found on the main menu- the first time the original Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake had ever been localized outside of Japan.

Snake Eater 3D Limited Edition Bundle included a ‘Snake Skin’ themed standard 3DS (only released in Japan).

2011 saw the release of the Metal Gear Solid HD Collectiona compilation title that included an updated version of Subsistence — arguably the best way to play Snake Eater today. In 2012 the game also saw a release on the Nintendo 3DS dubbed Metal Gear Solid 3D: Snake Eater which included a new real-life camera camouflage system and multiple gameplay changes inherited from Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker to accommodate the 3DS’s lack of dual analog sticks.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is a true patriot that definitively holds its ground against the rest of the series today due to its creative liberties that the series never quite revisited in complete depth. Hideo Kojima and his team of masterminds behind Kojima Productions are well deserved of a salute for the tremendous efforts they put into creating a groundbreaking title that forever changed what it meant to be a cinematic video game. From its action-packed plot to its cinematic orchestra inspired-score, even after 15 years the pure indigenous nature of creativity from the studio never ceases to amaze audiences.

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