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The Top 10 Most Memorable Moments in the Mass Effect Trilogy

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With the Mass Effect series blasting off to a new galaxy this week in the much-anticipated Mass Effect: Andromeda, it’s perhaps a good time to look back at what made us fall in love with the series in the first place. The original trilogy of games were three of the most beloved of the last generation of consoles, and the stories they told of Commander Shepard and the Reapers became some of the most popular in gaming history thanks to their often perfect blend of high-octane action, political intrigue, galactic exploration, alien romance and Lovecraftian death machines.

Not all storylines were created equal, however, and so with a new Mass Effect finding its way into the hands of gamers as we speak, it’s practically law that we celebrate with a list of our favourite moments in the original trilogy of space opera games while we’re waiting for Amazon to deliver our copy of Andomeda. We’ll be separating the wheat from the chaff, and the Kaidens from the Ashleys, all for your reading pleasure.

It should go without saying that there’s going to be spoilers for everything up to the ending of Mass Effect 3 here, so if you’re half-way through the series you should probably stop reading at this point. For everyone else, here’s our top ten most memorable moments in the Mass Effect trilogy for you to look over and then get mad about.

10. The Reapers Attack (Mass Effect 3)

The Reaper’s behaviour is, frankly, unacceptable.

Mass Effect 3’s opening didn’t generate quite as much hate as the much maligned ending did, but the death of the small boy that Shepard tries to save in the first minutes of the game was seen by a lot of people (including yours truly) as a cheap ploy Bioware used to try and instil a little more emotional gravitas into the proceedings right from the word go. While the death of the nameless boy has always felt a little exploitative, the rest of the opening to the third game is superb, with the much ballyhooed Reapers finally turning up on Earth and acting a damned fool.

After two games of politicians scoffing at Commander Shepard’s dire warnings about the impending arrival of a race of sentient, town-sized, intergalactic death robots, the Reapers landing on Earth and causing a scene made for the ultimate “I told you so” moment. Of course, Shepard had little time to be smug since (s)he was immediately thrown into a war against overwhelming odds for the very survival of all life in the galaxy, but hey, at least they could go into battle knowing they’d been right all along.

Explosive, action-packed, and surprisingly affective, the arrival of the Reapers on Earth marked an irreversible change for the Mass Effect series. From that point on, every race, every planet, every character that we’d grown to care about would be under threat, and they’d never be the same again.

9. Mordin Sings Gilbert & Sullivan (Mass Effect 2)

“And IIIIIIIIIIIIIIII-E-IIIIIIIIIIIIIII…”

Not all Mass Effect moments are about blowing things up real good. Some of the most memorable parts of the original trilogy were the quieter moments in which we got to know our various crew members and see what made them tick. Mass Effect 2 introduced a dirty dozen of lovable rogues for Commander Shepard to team up with in order to take down a race of evil aliens known as The Collectors, and the dubious moral integrity of the characters you’d be fighting alongside made for some compelling interactions.

Mordin Solus was a Salarian scientist that always acted for what he believed was the greater good. While he disliked the idea of taking a life for no reason, he had no qualms about murdering people or even condemning an entire race if he felt it was the more advantageous choice for galactic life going forward. Being a Salarian with a high metabolism and short life span, he also didn’t like to waste time, and this disinterest in meaningless small talk combined with his ruthless streak made the amphibious doctor seem a tad unapproachable when he first joined Shepard’s crew, but after a few conversations to butter him up we get to see his softer side.

After spending a little time talking about Salarian art and culture, Mordin reveals that in his youth he learned about human musicals, and ever since has had a penchant for the works of Gilbert & Sullivan. Keep pressing the matter and he’ll launch into an improvised rendition of The Major-General’s Song from The Pirates of Penzance, that is every bit as ridiculous as it sounds. The link to it is here, for your listening (dis)pleasure.

8. The Death of Kai Leng (Mass Effect 3)

He’s like a shit(ter) Raiden from Metal Gear Solid 4.

There are many memorable deaths in the Mass Effect series, but few are memorable because they’re so god-damned enjoyable.

Introduced in Mass Effect 3 as the primary henchman of the previously-morally-ambiguous-but-now-full-blown-Bond-villain The Illusive Man, Kai Leng seems like he was designed by a committee specifically to be the hopelessly generic, badass ninja villain that Bioware obviously felt the series was lacking. He has no discernible personality, no interesting character traits, and spends most of the game as an annoying, perennial thorn in the side for Shepard as he and his Cerberus forces completely arse everything up for no good reason over and over again.

Towards the end of the game, Kai Leng is finally cornered by Shepard and crew, and finds himself impaled on the business end of the good Commander’s omni-tool, saving us all from any more of his counterproductive, credulity-stretching shenanigans. Kai Leng fucking sucks.

7. The Quarian Conundrum (Mass Effect 3)

The mission on Rannoch can result in the loss of two of the best characters in the series – Legion and Tali.

We’re introduced to the Quarians in the original Mass Effect through Tali, the masked engineer who helps Shepard in tracking down Saren and Sovereign. Years before the start of the game, the Quarians created the Geth – an artificial intelligence species that inhabit robotic bodies – and were thrown off their own planet in an uprising, ever since surviving as a nomadic race. They live on huge spaceships and travel the galaxy, hoping one day to reclaim their home-world, Rannoch, from the robot overlords that evicted them years previous.

After discovering that not all of the Geth are hostile to organic life, and making friends with a representative of the friendly Geth, named Legion, Shepard leads a mission to reclaim Rannoch from the evil robots in an effort to broker peace between the two long-warring species. It’s a thought provoking narrative arc that touches on the very nature of what it means to be part of a species that was created by another, and an action packed conclusion to a long running storyline in the series.

Depending on how well prepared you are for the mission, it can either end with peace between the Quarians and the Geth, or it can end tragically with Legion sacrificing himself, and Tali committing suicide as the rest of her species is wiped out in orbit above the planet. Seriously, be prepared. It’s the Boy Scout motto for a reason.

6. Confronting the Shadow Broker (Mass Effect 2, Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC)

Lair of the Shadow Broker allows players to use fan favourite character, Liara T’Soni, who isn’t playable in the vanilla game.

The Shadow Broker is alluded to in the first Mass Effect game, but it’s not until a downloadable content mission for Mass Effect 2 that we actually get to meet him in person. The mission sees Shepard team up with Dr. Liara T’Soni to investigate the mysterious Broker, and after some light detective work and lots of people getting shot in the face, it’s revealed that the sinister information merchant lives aboard small ship held in stasis in the stormy atmosphere of the planet Hagalaz.

Upon infiltrating the base, Shepard and Liara wipe out many of the Shadow Broker’s forces and rescue an old acquaintance of the Asari doctor, before finally coming face to face with the nefarious head of the clandestine, hi-tech, mercenary operation. It’s revealed that the Shadow Broker is a Yahg – an aggressive, pre-spaceflight species – that must have been taken from his home-world by the original Broker as a pet, before usurping him and taking over the regime unbeknownst to the Broker’s clients who never met him face to face.

The Shadow Broker doesn’t take kindly to his guests throwing around accusations like that in his own office, and a massive fight ensues, ending with the Yahg villain’s demise, and Liara taking over his role as Shadow Broker to ensure a steady supply of intel for Shepard in the fight against the Reapers. As a little treat, once the Broker is defeated you can peruse his files on many of the characters from the Mass Effect series, learning secrets about them that you’d otherwise not know, including chat logs from Miranda Lawson’s dating site interactions to Legion’s online gaming history.

5. Sovereign Speaks (Mass Effect)

As far as genocidal machines hell bent on extinguishing all organic life go, Sovereign is a fairly decent conversationalist.

Much of the first Mass Effect game is spent in pursuit of a rogue Spectre agent named Saren, who is believed to be in league with the Geth as part of some sort of presumably evil plot to overthrow the Council. Saren is in command of an enormous spaceship of unknown origin, and everyone is a little worried.

Later in the story things go from bad to worse when it’s discovered that Saren isn’t in control of the massive spaceship at all – the massive spaceship is in control of him. It’s a living machine named Sovereign that can gain control of organic beings through an insidious technique known as indoctrination, and while he’s game for a little chat during a mission on the planet Virmire, he’s not exactly friendly. Sovereign’s race – the Reapers – are coming to the Milky Way to wipe out all organic life as part of a cycle they’ve been undertaking every 50,000 years going back millenia, and they’re not about to stop just because we asked them nicely.

The conversation with Sovereign marks a surprising shift in the narrative of Mass Effect. What started out as a simple mission to track down a traitor turns into a quest to save all life in the galaxy, and the chilling lack of empathy displayed by Sovereign in speaking on behalf of his genocidal, robotic brethren solidifies the Reapers as formidable and compelling villains.

4. The Final Hurrah (Mass Effect 3, Citadel DLC)

The Mass Effect series has given gaming a splendid array of characters.

The ending to Mass Effect 3 might have been the worst thing to ever happen to anyone ever if some corners of the Internet are to be believed, but Bioware nailed it in providing a final DLC mission to give characters a fitting send-off that was oddly lacking in the finale to the vanilla game.

The Citadel DLC sees Shepard and crew taking down a new villain in a mission that isn’t quite vintage Mass Effect, but is fortunately, mercifully brief, before the real crux of the episode kicks into gear. While Shepard’s ship is docked for repairs, the crew decide to throw a party to really let their hair down one last time before heading into the final battle against the Reapers.

Bioware expertly played with nostalgia, and with the affinity that fans had for many of the characters in the series, giving them a chance to shine in a funny, frequently touching series of scenes. There’s drunken banter, appalling flirting, and some emotional tributes to characters that couldn’t join in with the festivities thanks to being dead. It’s the perfect goodbye to a wonderful, memorable cast of characters, and a much-needed, crowd pleasing final hurrah for the Commander Shepard trilogy of games.

3. The Virmire Decision (Mass Effect)

Ashley sucks, btw, and if you save her on Virmire you are objectively wrong and a bastard.

The mission on the planet Virmire in the original Mass Effect is a humdinger. Not only does it include the aforementioned first meeting with the Reapers, but it’s also the home of the legendary sadistic choice imposed upon the player in which you must decide which of your squad-mates is going to be pushing up daisies in the very immediate future.

Kaiden and Ashley are the two human – and therefore, the two most boring – allies available to come on missions with Shepard in the first Mass Effect, and during the mission on Virmire they become separated from the rest of the squad. After a series of unfortunate events it quickly becomes apparent that Shepard only has enough time to save one of them, and the game leaves it up to the player to decide who’ll live, in what is one of the most famous examples of a morally grey conundrum in gaming history. There’s no right or wrong here – you just have to pick who lives and who dies and then live with the consequences.

Morality decisions in gaming far too often rely upon banal good and evil options that don’t give you much to think about unless you have severe issues, and so it was refreshing to see a game give us a decision in which there were simply no good options. The death of either Kaiden or Ashley haunts Shepard for the rest of the trilogy, and acts as a constant reminder that none of the cast of characters are safe going forward.

The correct choice is to save Kaiden, by the way. Ashley is awful.

2. The Fate of Tuchanka (Mass Effect 3)

Aw jeez. I think I’ve got something in my eye…

While there were numerous narrative mis-steps in Mass Effect 3, when Bioware got it right they got it really right. The story arc taking place on Tuchanka is one of those occasions, providing a satisfying, emotional conclusion to the Genophage story arc, and making sure that that you’ll be reaching for the tissues by the time it’s all said and done.

In order to secure the support of the Krogran people in the battle against the Reapers, Shepard must help cure them of a sterilising disease known as the Genophage, which was created by the Salarians as a counter-measure to quick Krogan breeding and a propensity for violence causing issues for the rest of the galaxy going forward. Understandably, the Krogan are none-too-pleased about the disease stopping them from making little Krogans as they see fit, and it’s up to Shepard and the Salarian scientist Mordin Solus to finally provide them with a cure.

After some explosive scenes and a little treachery involving the Salarian council member, Shepard and Mordin are about to free the Krogan homeworld of Tuchanka from the shackles of the Genophage when they discover that the spire they’re going to use to spread the cure is damaged, and the mission can only be completed by someone sacrificing themselves to disperse the cure manually. Mordin Solus, as the only person qualified for such a task, volunteers to give up his life for the good of the Krogan people, completing his mission while humming a little Gilbert & Sullivan before he’s engulfed in a massive explosion. There’s not a dry eye in the house.

Goodnight, sweet prince.

1. The Suicide Mission (Mass Effect 2)

Mass Effect 2’s final mission wouldn’t work as well as it does without the fantastic cast of characters in the game.

The final mission in Mass Effect 2 is the perfect encapsulation of everything that makes the series so enjoyable.

At the end of the game, Shepard and friends are tasked with travelling to the Collector home-world to rescue members of their crew, and wipe out the Collectors in order to strike a blow against their masters, the Reapers. Depending entirely upon your actions as Shepard throughout the game, and the decisions you make as to which squad members will perform various tasks throughout the mission, the characters you take with you may or may not make it out alive.

It’s a fantastically exciting mission, and while the end boss might be a tad silly upon reflection, the drama as your squad fights for their lives against an overwhelming enemy threat is palpable. Much loved characters can buy the farm one after another with little warning, and knowing that it’s all your fault when they do can be heartbreaking. With careful planning and ensuring that squad mates only do jobs that they’re perfectly suited for you can get everyone out alive, but not knowing whether you’ve got it right makes for an exhilarating ride.

The perfect blend of consequences for your actions within the game, bombastic action, and a villain you just want to punch squarely in the brow, the suicide mission is Mass Effect at its finest, and the greatest demonstration of why the series is so popular today.

What are your favourite Mass Effect moments? Let us know how wrong we are in the comments below.

John can generally be found wearing Cookie Monster pyjamas with a PlayStation controller in his hands, operating on a diet that consists largely of gin and pizza. His favourite things are Back to the Future, Persona 4 Golden, the soundtrack to Rocky IV, and imagining scenarios in which he's drinking space cocktails with Commander Shepard. You can follow John on Twitter at www.twitter.com/JohnDoesntDance

1 Comment

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  1. Jonathan Cashon

    March 23, 2017 at 5:50 pm

    Just in case it isn’t known, Kai Leng debuted in the novels.

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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.

max raid battles

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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