Having played Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain for roughly 100 hours, I think I’m ready to make an assessment of it in terms of how it relates to the rest of the franchise. While it’s definitely up there, it’s far from my favorite in the series, and likely won’t crack my top five. That’s not because Phantom Pain is a lackluster game — far from it, as it’s better than the vast majority of AAA releases these days — but the other titles in the series are so phenomenal that they overshadow it.
Snake Eater is one such game.
The Metal Gear games are often chastised for going off-the-wall (Guns of the Patriots is the worst offender), but Snake Eater is rather down to earth, once you get past the enemies that spit bees and shoot lightning. It’s a tried and true James Bond experience, from the catchy theme song to the “Bond Girl” Eva, and the mustache-twirling Volgin. Of course there’s a lot of nuance here with cast members like The Boss, who is one of the more interesting characters in the entire series.
It’s also the perfect jumping off point for new fans, as it takes place before every other title in the series, and requires no previous knowledge of the inner machinations of Metal Gear to comprehend. It also bumps up the emphasis on stealth with newly minted camouflage options, and features a survival aspect that requires you to hunt for your own food, and patch up your wounds. It’s just enough to add an element of simulation without going overboard. Nic knows exactly what I’m talking about.
That’s not even taking Subsistence into account, which may be the best re-release of all time. Not only did it completely rework the camera to be more like Splinter Cell, a mechanic that would be used in future releases, but it also implemented the first-ever iteration of Metal Gear Online, on top of an Ape Escape tie-in minigame, and fully playable versions of the first two MSX Metal Gear games. I still have fond memories to this day of hooking up the network adapter on my PS2 and playing online.
If you haven’t played Snake Eater yet, go do so, by way of the fantastic HD re-release on 360, PS3 or Vita (I don’t recommend the 3DS version as it lacks the aforementioned extras, though it plays well enough — then again, the HD re-release lacks Snake vs. Monkey, so try to track down a used copy of Subsistence over everything). You won’t regret it.