Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater – Retro Review

In the wake of some of the Metal Gear games getting remastered in the Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection, it seems like a good time to take a look back at the originals. This review will go over one of the classic titles, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater


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Created back in 2004 and is heavily inspired by the James Bond franchise, Snake Eater shows how Big Boss gained that codename as well as flushing out more history with characters like Ocelot and Eva. 

At IGN’s ‘Best of’ awards in 2004 Snake Eater won: Best PS2 Use of Sound and Best Overall Story as well as Best Story, Best Sound Effects, and Best New Character at Gamespots 2004 Game of the Year Awards. The opening theme of the game even won Best Original Vocal Song from the Game Audio Network in 2005. 

There are also two original versions of this game, the other is called Subsistence. The only difference is that background audio keeps playing on radio calls as well as some changes to the cameras and controls. 


Set back in the era of unrest during the Cold War, you play as Snake, given initially the codename of Naked Snake, and is the clone donor of Solid/Liquid/Solidus snake and walks you through how he gained the title of Big Boss. Below will walk you through the story beats and areas rather than a full walkthrough, as this game is ripe for exploration.

The Virtuous Mission

You meet Snake as well as Major Tom/Zero discussing the creation of the CIA Special Forces Unit known as FOX, the mission is simple perform a H.A.L.O (High Altitude Low Opening) jump into enemy territory, extract a soviet scientist who has requested asylum in the West, without leaving a trace and being discovered preventing any international incidents. 

Once on the ground you realize you have lost, you’re your equipment up a tree and receive a call on your radio or Codec. At this point, codenames are given out and you are introduced to your support team, this being Major Tom (who is only called Tom for the first part of the game), Para-Medic who handles all of your medical needs as well as being reintroduced to your mentor known as The Boss, who is in a submarine in the arctic circle. 

The scientist in question is Nikolai Sokolov who is more than happy to see Naked Snake for extraction. To get to Sokolov you get what is essentially a tutorial mission, all the controls are taught to you as well as the hunting mechanic in the game. You are even taught things about how you can utilize the environment to your advantage, the example used is shooting a beehive down to fall on a guard and have them leave their position. 

After acquiring Sokolov you are surrounded by Russian soldiers before being confronted by a young Revolver Ocelot and some of his unit, who take out the other Russian soldiers. Ocelot starts to mock Snake for his stance and goes to shoot him but his pistol jams and Snake pounces using CQC and takes out the whole unit with tranq darts and CQC. After schooling Ocelot on his error in combat, Snake spares him, telling him that he seems to be a revolver guy rather than an automatic weapon. 

Young Revolver Ocelot

Not too much else to talk about in this first part of the game other than as you are crossing a bridge with Sokolov you are cut off by a helicopter containing the members of the legendary Cobra Unit, a GRU officer called Colonel Volkin, Revolver Ocelot and Eva, all of who you will get to know in great detail throughout the game…oh and syke The Boss is actually on the helicopter not in the arctic circle as she has rejoined her old unit and defected to Russia. 

A small cutscene fight happens between Snake and The Boss where your arm is broken, you are thrown off the bridge into a river, only being able to grab what is now the iconic bandana from The Boss. As Snake drifts down the river, he eventually washes up on a shore and is talked through healing his injuries via Para-Medic, which acts as your tutorial for the health/medical system in the game. 

The camera then cuts to Volgin testing out his new Davy Crocket missile launchers (essentially a bazooka for small nuclear warheads) which The Boss stole from the United States as a gift to the Colonel. 

This level as it were ends as Snake is preparing for extraction, a really good tutorial and introduction to the game which can be completed in any play style (stealth/run and gun) quite easily. Now on to the main chunk of the game which I will try to keep concise, but this is a Metal Gear game, so the story is long.

Cobra Unit

Operation Snake Eater

The launching of American nuclear warheads onto Russian territory has obviously sparked an international incident (I wonder how many times those two words were said during the Cold War), and it is up to FOX to clean up its mess to prevent war. 

Snake is sent back into the same area as before, but this time Russia partially sanctions the mission. This is because Volgin is part of an extremist faction in Russia that wants to escalate war whereas the current president of Russia is trying to negotiate peace. 

You are in the same area from the first part of the game but in a different starting point and now at night, after moving a few feet you encounter The Boss, in cutscene Snake tries to find out why she did it until The Boss cute the conversation short and disarms you. So, this part of the mission will rely on stealth as all you have now is a tranquillizer pistol.

To learn more about this tranquillizer pistol hop on your Codec and speak to your new contact Sigint (short for Signal Intelligence) for equipment information, Para-Medic is back for this mission too to provide medical support, and Major Tom is now referred to as Major Zero. 

Pick your way through the enemy patrols and you find yourself back at the same building compound where you rescued Sokolov to meet your contact ADAM. However, you are instead met by another mysterious agent on a motorbike called EVA.


She provides you with a new weapon as well as a disguise for an area later in the game as well as some intel but needs to hurry back early in the morning before she is found to be missing. 

Upon waking, you find yourself surrounded by members of the Ocelot Unit. EVA escapes through a basement hatch while Snake offers to keep them busy. After neutralizing the enemy in anyway you like you are met in a cutscene by a returning Revolver Ocelot holding EVA as a hostage, this time armed with an ornate revolver (at Snake’s recommendation)  but is not used to the smaller capacity and runs out of ammo when attempting to fire at Snake. EVA uses this opportunity to get away from Ocelot, escaping on her bike. Snake spares Ocelot again. 

Moving forward into a swamp area, If you keep an eye out for a rope to climb across you can find a ‘Croc Cap’ allowing you to sit on the surface of the water and not be spotted by human enemies. Once at the other side of the swamp, check for patrols and check the injury menu for leeches. You can prevent this by applying any bug juice you may have picked up. 

You will then come up to an electric fence, there is a small gap under the fence you can sneak through, making sure to equip your thermal goggles to spot any claymores lying around. There is a guard dog at this fence which you will need to put to sleep before moving through. There are multiple paths to move through, but all lead to the Bolshaya Base. 

The base itself is optional to infiltrate but does hold some new camo patterns as well as ammo and other equipment, and as it’s on the way, you may as well. Just be sure to take out the guard in the turret emplacement to make your life a lot easier. 

Once through the base, you will make your way to a ravine where, once again, you are confronted by Ocelot. Ocelot is now equipped with two revolvers with no ornate designs after the criticisms from Snake and forces you into a duel. A typical boss battle occurs now with you hitting any shot you can while he hides and the occasional Ocelot Unit soldier getting involved, make sure to remove your suppressor to prevent damage when not needed. At the point of defeat, another cutscene plays with a swarm of hornets descending on the ravine, taking out some of Ocelot’s men and causing Snake to jump into the ravine. 

Snake finds himself injured and in a pitch-black ravine. Depending on the difficulty you are playing the game has an effect on the equipment you can find your way around with. Best case scenario, you will have night-vision goggles, middle case, you have sonar, worst case, you have the light of Snake’s cigar. There are things to hunt and eat in the cave, like frogs, bats, and mushrooms. There are areas to enter via crawling prone, so be sure to keep your eyes open and scan the whole screen…if you’re lucky, you will find an emergency torch left in the cave system.  

You will also find that eating the luminescent mushrooms will recharge your batteries…a fact that, when mentioned to Para-Medic, causes hushed voices between the team, thinking you have broken under stress. 

Eventually, you will see the light in the tunnel for safety, only to be met with the first boss fight from the legendary Cobra Unit, a soldier known as The Pain. The Cobra unit all have special abilities brought on by the emotion they carry with them into battle. The Pain has the ability to control swarms of hornets (like the ones that made you have to jump in the ravine) and gains more power the more damage that Snake inflicts. Utilise diving underwater to neutralize any hornets swarming you and try and aim for his back (weak spot). When defeated, The Pain erupts into a massive explosion and now you can make your way out of the cave system. 

Follow the path through the mangrove swamp, possibly peeling off to the left to find an encampment with a few enemies and a sniper rifle to pick, and you will arrive across from a warehouse. In the following cutscene, you watch as Volgin tortures Sokolov’s wife Tanya as well as two members of the Cobra Unit, The Fear, who will be standing there invisible, as well as a seemingly dead old man in a wheelchair called The End.  

It is actually possible to kill The End at this point, if you pick up the sniper, then at the end of the cutscene, equip it, and you can aim at some explosive battles while he is being wheeled back in and take out the legendary sniper. 

Either way, you then need to work your way through the warehouse, acquiring whatever items you find before returning to the next jungle section. This next jungle section is riddled with traps, your thermal goggles will help you spot them. 

Once through this area, Snake finds himself at Graniny Gorki, a lab previously described by EVA. There are multiple ways in but if you equip your scientist disguise and remove any face camo, you should be able to walk straight in. As well, when you’re inside, don’t bump into anyone, and your disguise will hold. Inside the lab is the ‘Cig Gas Spray,’ an incognito weapon that will shoot gas into an enemy’s face and render them unconscious.

At the end of the lab Snake enters a room where he is confronted by a weapon scientist called Granin. Granin knows who Snake is and tells him that Sokolov has already been moved and is being forced to work on a bi-pedal tank called the Shagohod, this tank is the missing link between artillery and infantry, you could describe it as the metal gear of the military. Granin also talks of how Sokolov has inherited something called the Philosopher’s Legacy, and the vast wealth is being used to fund the creation of the Shagohod.

Granin will tell you how to get into Graznyj Grad, the facility now holding Sokolov as well as give you a key to a locked door in the warehouse you previously went through. After this, you need to leave the lab and head back towards the warehouse. 

In the area with all of the traps on the way back through, Snake is confronted by the Cobra member known as The Fear. 

After a quick chat, the battle will commence, first of the bat, you need to head into the injury menu to treat the crossbow bolt The Fear shot into Snake in the cutscene. Thermal goggles are a must for finding this invisible boss jumping through the trees. He is probably the easiest boss to take down non-lethally as his abilities drain his stamina quickly, causing him to kill and eat animals in the area, which means you can drop poisoned food to help you. In much the same way The Pain did The Fear will explode upon his defeat, leaving you to head back into the warehouse and through the previously locked door. 

 Once through the door, EVA contacts Snake asking him to hurry and that Sokolov is in the finishing stages of building the Shagohod. She also tells Snake that in the jungle ahead, the Cobra Units legendary sniper known as The End is waiting for you (if you killed The End earlier on, you will instead have a team of soldiers of the Ocelot unit waiting for you). Pass through another couple of command posts and then you are met with a cutscene of a man seemingly dead in the grass, with bugs crawling over him until a parakeet lands, waking the man known as The End. He declares that Snake will be his final hunt, and so begins a game of cat and mouse in a large area of forest. 

This can be a long boss battle. Never go for the quick and easy shot, as it won’t play to your advantage. You can see his scope as a glint, and you will do well to take out the parakeet to stop it from relaying information back to its owner. After each hit either to Snake or himself, The End will retreat to a different location. The Mosin-nagant that The End uses will drain your stamina, and if you run out will wake up in a prison cell at the lab you previously went through and you will have to move your way back through to take him on again. 

Upon his death, The End has a moment to come to terms with his long life and seemingly holds no regret or anger towards Snake. Like the rest of the Cobra Unit, The End explodes on his death, and the way through the jungle opens up. 

Then comes the long climb…literally. You climb an impressively long ladder up into the mountains while a cappella version of the game’s theme song plays in the background. A surprisingly iconic moment. 

The two real life minute ladder climb

Mountain Range and Groznyj Grad

At the top of the ladder, you find yourself on a mountain range overlooking Groznyj Grad, the area has numerous patrols, gun emplacements, and even a patrolling helicopter. At the end of this location is a small shack where, once again, you meet with EVA. She tells Snake that Kruschev is planning to confront Volgin so security is higher than normal, as well as some details of Volgin’s closest ally whom she can disguise herself. This ally, known as Raikov, is a similar-looking character to Raiden from Metal Gear Solid 2. 

After this cutscene, Snake makes his way back through the mountain against enemies now upgraded with flamethrowers before finding the tunnel entrance into Groznyj Grad. 

This subterranean area is the location of your next boss battle, with Cobra Unit’s hottest (literally) member, The Fury. Wearing a flame-retardant suit, space helmet, and jetpack all while wielding a flamethrower, makes this a battle that will eat through your burn ointment and bandages. 

Fairly bog standard as boss battles go in this game with a high damage, high health charging enemy. Upon defeat, The Fury will become an inferno and open up the next area for Snake before exploding like the rest of his team. 

After defeating The Fury you arrive inside Groznyj Grad, where you need to sneak into the lab, equip the scientist to disguise again, and start your search for Raikov. Find him, neutralize him, and put on your disguise. This disguise gives you nearly enough free reign to make your way to Sokolov. 

Snake’s reunion with Sokolov is cut short when Volgin enters the room, Volgin realizes that this version of Raikov isn’t the true one, Snake takes Volgin down and The Boss enters the room and neutralizes Snake allowing him to be beaten by Volgin. 

Snake then wakes up with his face covered and is able to hear the sounds of Sokolov being beaten to death before Volgin turns his rage on Snake. If I haven’t mentioned before, Volgin has electric powers…it is a Metal Gear game, after all.  

The Boss steps in and tells Volgin that Snake will never break and even takes the blame for a transmitter found on Snake. The Boss is asked to prove her loyalty by taking Snake’s eye. The spy Tatyana (EVA) will step in, arousing suspicion from Ocelot, who will question her and aim his revolver at her. As he goes to shoot, Snake lashes out and takes a bullet to his right eye for the trouble. 

Everyone starts to vacate the room and The Boss will shoot Snake in the leg but let him keep the Revolver. (If you get into a first-person mode in this scene, you will see The Sorrow holding up a sign with the frequency 144.75 on it). The Boss leaves and Tatyana reveals herself to be EVA and tells Snake the best way out of the base. 

The next scene has Snake in a prison cell. There are multiple ways out. You can use frequency 144.75 to open the cell door, you can use the fork given to you to eat to dig out the ‘fake death pill’ shot into your leg by the boss or you can enter the survival menu and spin Snake’s character model round and round until Snake is sick causing the guard to enter the cell to check on you and which point you can overpower him and escape. 

At this point, you have no camo, very little health, and the only weapons you have is an empty revolver and a fork. Pick your way through the base to the manhole cover on the map and enter the sewers. Once down there, EVA contacts you and warns you that Volgin knows you have escaped and has sealed off the sewers, as well as sending a team of dogs down there. 

Keep making your way through and eventually, a cutscene will start showing Snake being chased by guards and Revolver Ocelot, until you have nowhere to run but down a giant waterfall. With the choice of being shot by Ocelot and taking a leap, Snake jumps and awakens in a burning jungle and swamp. 

This next section is the boss ‘fight’ with the already dead member of Cobra known as The Sorrow. Snake walks through the swamp surrounded by fire. The Sorrow introduces himself and tells Snake he will experience the sorrow of the lives he has ended. Not a proper boss fight but more of an interactive experience; the purpose of this level is to get to the end rather than beat the enemy. The difficulty will entirely depend on your playstyle, if you went on a few rampages and murdered hundreds of enemies, you will have to avoid hundreds of enemies, as well as having to avoid any animals you have killed. 

Metal Gear Informer

Once through the swamp, you will come upon The Sorrow’s body, and after a jumpscare, Snake will die and hear a conversation between The Boss and The Sorrow where he asks The Boss to kill him to be able to fully use his powers. It is also even more alluded to that The Boss and The Sorrow were together, The Boss also being known as The Joy. 

This death is part of the story, and all you need to do is use your revival pill to be bought back, Snake will then contact Zero to fill him in before making his way behind a waterfall, where Snake sees EVA again. 

After this scene, you end up sneaking up another long ladder back into Grozynj Grad, following much the same path you took last time. However, this time you are there to find and destroy the Shagohod, as well as kill The Boss. 

After planting all the explosives, you are once again ambushed by Volgin, Ocelot, and The Boss, they also have EVA, who The Boss says she will dispose of. Ocelot pulls guns on both Volgin and Ocelot before tossing Snake his gun and knife back before walking away, and so begins the boss battle between Snake and Volgin. 

Volgin with the Davy Crockett Launcher

While dodging lighting attacks, Snake will receive equipment from Ocelot for the first half of the fight before eventually leaving. This fight also has a timer of 5 minutes. 

After defeating this boss Snake leaves only to be reunited with EVA on her motorcycle, who explains The Boss let her go and is waiting for Snake at the extraction site. The Shagohod, piloted by Volgin then makes an appearance and in a sequence similar to the end of Metal Gear Solid 1 you have to fight off and escape in a high-speed chase. 

After a few chase sequences, a battle with the Shagohod and another showdown with Volgin, a motorbike crash, and an escort mission Snake arrives at the lake where a plane is waiting. EVA heads off to prepare the plane while Snake heads to a nearby flower meadow to face The Boss. 

A battle with years of history and emotion, The Boss tells Snake he must kill her to prove his loyalty, to himself, to the USA, and to her. By far the most challenging boss battle in the game, and when defeated, Snake stands over The Boss. She gives Snake the Philosopher’s Legacy before he takes the shot, turning the white flowers red. 

Snake then escapes on the plane after another small confrontation with Ocelot where you find out he was actually the mysterious agent known as ADAM. 

Then the final cutscene, which I won’t spoil here, rolls, and the game ends. 


The gameplay has a lot of the same features of every Metal Gear game, with the option for full stealth or to run and gun your way through. There is also a lovely amount of weirdness throughout with the characters and bosses that the series is known for. 

Similarly, to the first game, when you can use aspects of the real world to defeat Psycho-Mantis, there are points in this game where the real world can impact the game too. For instance, when you come into contact with the elite sniper The End, if you close the game, set the time forward by around a week and return you will be treated to a cut scene where The End has died of very very old age. 

A big difference in this game compared to the others is the inclusion of a light survival mechanic. There is the option of hunting throughout the game to help replenish your health or if you eat the wrong thing poisoning yourself. When you have a moment in the game, you call Para-Medic who gives you information about hunting opportunities in the area as well as some background about the food you have in your inventory.

All in all the game is extensive in the differences in gameplay, there are moments when you are hiding around corners of buildings, and the next second you are holding down in some long grass to conceal yourself from both enemy combatants and crocodiles. 

One thing to remember about this game is that it is still a Metal Gear Solid, with large sometimes confusing stories and, in some cases, very…very long cutscenes, so if you’re looking for a quick shooter, you can pick up for 15 minutes maybe don’t boot this game up. 

Graphics and Sound

Difference in graphics in the propsed remake-Playstation

The graphics are still good-ish. The game was created at a time when everything almost looked like it was made of plastic; however, with the massive level of detail put into the game, it really does hold up well. The number of different locations is also impressive.

The sound is also impressive in the game and, as mentioned earlier, did win awards for it. For instance, in the jungle sections of the game, there is a huge overlay of background actuality that is then mixed in with weapon noises, footsteps, and enemy combatants talking to each other revealing secret information. 

The feeling behind this game was to be reminiscent of the James Bond franchise, which explains the title song for the game called ‘Snake Eater’ performed by Cynthia Harrell, who also sang ‘I am the Wind’ in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. 


Metal Gear Games have a focus on big, long storylines as well as multiple ways of playing. Snake Eater offers a new game+ mode with weapons and camouflages unlocked either throughout the story or via in-game challenges. 

If, when fighting the bosses in the game, you knockout/tranquilize the bosses, you are awarded a unique, almost supernatural camo. 

For the boss battle with The Sorrow, the difficulty changes to how bloodthirsty you were during the game. The more people and animals you kill will affect the battle. 

With the in-game challenges and alternative ways to play, as well as a simply fascinating story, make this game one that you can play again and again.


In conclusion, this Metal Gear game still holds up as far as gameplay, story, and graphics are concerned, and this being a prequel game makes it the perfect starting point for those new to the series. 


  • Wide variety of enemies and playstyles
  • Possibly the best game in the series
  • Interesting story
  • Gives valuable background information to the characters in the series


  • Requires a good chunk of time to play, can’t just boot the game up for ten minutes
  • Although interesting like every Metal Gear game the plot can be confusing

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater


Great story, great gameplay, loads of fun, a TRUE classic and in my opinion to holy grail of an open stealth game.

Matthew Evans
PS2 version reviewed