Preview: Metal Gear Solid 3D (3DS)

With a new installment of the Metal Gear Solid series – in the form of Revengenanance (or whatever the heck they’ve called it) – looking both far off and potentially disappointing, it’s no surprise that many of us will be depending on remakes of the earlier games in the series to get our gravelly voiced kicks.  It seems that Konami is adopting a “no console left behind” policy with the remastered Metal Gear Solid games; the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection  (already available for 360 and PS3) is wending its way to the PS Vita, and even the 3DS is getting a look-in with Metal Gear Solid 3D – the demo for which has just been released on the 3DS eShop.

Developer: Kojima Productions
Publisher: Konami
Previewed on: Nintendo 3DS
Release Date: Feb 21st 2012 (US) / March 3rd 2012 (Europe)

The first thing that will likely come to mind – especially if you’re a listener of BRB Boom – is the copious amounts of juvenile humour that can be gleaned by virtue of you playing with Snake in a handheld fashion from the comfort of your own porcelain throne.  Har de har.  But Metal Gear Solid 3, thanks to the fact that the game world is essentially split into a series of foliage-filled rooms, should suit the “pick up for 5 minutes” play style that is increasingly essential for a mobile game.  Possibly with the exception of The End; that sniper battle lasts for ages.  You’d lose all feeling in your legs if you sat on the throne for that long.

Anyway, I’ve talked far too much about playing games on the crapper.  What you really want to know – and what I really should be talking about – is how Metal Gear Solid 3D plays on the 3DS.

Like Resident Evil: Revelations, Metal Gear Solid 3D supports the Circle Pad Pro, and, like Revelations, slapping your 3DS into the Circle Pad Pro greatly enhances how the game plays thanks to making the controls a virtual carbon copy of how they were on the PS2.  Without a Circle Pad Pro, Metal Gear Solid 3D uses the same control mechanic as Peace Walker did on the PSP – with the face buttons (A, B, X, Y) taking care of camera control.  As was the case with Peace Walker, this solution is less than ideal and makes aiming at anything that’s smaller than a house frustrating.

The demo is very short – no more than 10 minutes – and is a small section from the sequence where you’re rescuing Sokolov from the disused factory right at the beginning of the game.  It’s not the most action-packed sequence to be found in Metal Gear Solid 3, so it makes judging whether the controls will hold up in a firefight somewhat tricky.  But the essentials of Metal Gear Solid 3 appear to be there in the 3DS incarnation – and it even looks like you’ll be able to take a photo of something and paste it on Snake to use as camo.  Whilst that’s a feature that’s unlikely to actually be useful in the game, that’s still pretty cool.

Visually, Metal Gear Solid 3D looks pretty good, with the 3D effect of the 3DS really adding some great depth to the jungle scenes in the demo.  From memory, the polygon count and texture resolution seems to have got a considerable bump from the PS2 version; Kojima Productions even seems to have chucked in improved realtime shadows, depth of field effects and enhanced lighting in as well.

But all that comes at a bit of a price: the frame rate is far from stellar and there’s a lot of close-range pop-in with some of the environmental elements (such as the ubiquitous tall grass found in the locales of MGS3).  To my eyes, the frame rate seemed way under 30 fps and was sufficiently jerky to end up detracting from the gameplay experience of the demo.  On the bright side, the layout of the inventory and the map on the touch-sensitive bottom screen of the 3DS is very clear and easy to use and will certainly reduce the amount of time that you spend stuck in the menus.

I hope that the demo of Metal Gear Solid 3D is based off early pre-release code, as the problems with frame rate could be a real deal-breaker from a playability point of view.  However, at the end of the day, Metal Gear Solid 3 is a fantastic game – and hopefully not too much of that will be lost as a result of porting it to the 3DS.

If you want to check it out for yourself, head on over to the Nintendo 3DS eShop. It’s available to download now.

Metal Gear Solid 3D – Official Site (English)


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  1. Diarmuid

    I found the controls for the camera atrocious. A CirclePad Pro is practically a must for this game.

    But after already getting the HD Collection for the PS3, I can’t see myself buying this as well.

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