Since the early days of the PSOne, it has been almost customary for owners to be anxiously awaiting one franchise. Sure, plenty of games come out for Sony's machines, seemingly on a daily basis. But the majority of these titles merely provide only a brief diversion for PlayStation owners anxiously awaiting their next fix of the franchise. Whilst it's hard to imagine Hideo Kojima, creator of said franchise, standing on a street corner in a shady trench coat dealing smack, it's easy to predict that his the next title of his franchise, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater will sell absolute truckloads. Why? Because the Metal Gear Solid franchise invented the stealth 'em up genre - and still does it the best.
Little is known about the story in Snake Eater at present, and with good reason. The story has been arguably the biggest motivation for progression in the previous titles (although many will argue that there was far too much progression for the games own good), so it's always best to experience it first hand during the game. But what is known is that the events in the game take place before its prequels - in the swingin' sixties, to be exact. There is believed to be a fair sprinkling of cold war throughout the story as well. And, unlike Sons of Liberty, the game's story will follow a continuous path from start to finish.
The biggest departure from the previous games in the Metal Gear Solid series at this stage looks to be the change in scenery. This time you will for the most part, anyway - not help sneak Solid Snake through the cramped areas and dark corridors of shady military organizations - this time you will predominately be stealthily creeping your way through a jungle environment.
The jungle environment will open up a myriad of new gameplay opportunities, and make the game far less linear - something which the game definitely needs. To an extent, you will be able to choose the route you follow through the jungle. You will even be able to climb trees to silently evade would be attackers - or drop down and snap their necks, which ever you prefer. Kojima has also stated that vehicles will somehow play a part. Excellent. The jungle however is believed to be a lead up to infiltrating a top secret military base, presumably towards the end of the game. Again though, the lateral thinking aspect of the game is apparent, as you will be able to choose how you sneak into the base.
Snake shoots up. Aheheheh.
As you would expect, the enemies are smarter this time around. Enemies will work together to eliminate Snake, employing alleged SAS hunting patterns. Snake will also have to watch his step, because stepping in a pile of leaves will attract attention from any nearby guards. Plus, Snake will have the ability to interrogate guards with his hunting knife. Via the Dual Shock 2's analogue buttons, you will be able to push the knife to progressively further into their throat so that they talk, or end up with a punctured windpipe. Marvelous. In addition to troops, Snake will also have to fend off tracking dogs, whom will relentlessly pursue Snake through the wilderness. Dogs won't be the only animal Snake will find in the jungle though, as there will be some wild animals who think Snake might be a tasty treat.
Testing that knife to throat theory.
Speaking of tasty treats, Snake is going to get awfully hungry on his jungle adventure. So much so, that he will resort to snacking on local wildlife in order to survive. Yup, that's right - the title of Snake Eater is quite literal. Snake's performance will be affected by how much energy he has - for example, fighting will tire him quickly. As a result, you will need to snack on whatever is handy in order to keep energy levels up. Your hunting knife will aid you in grabbing tasty birds, snakes and whatever else is lying around in order to keep Snake at peak performance. Not all things will be particularly good for Snake, and some will make him sick. However, he can build tolerance to such things, and ultimately become better for it. Some foods will also positively or negatively effect Snake's other attributes, such as speed, aiming and so forth, adding a great RPG like element to the game.
Sorry, but that guy is dead. But so pretty.
This next thing can only mean great things for the game. Gamers really hated the excessive use of the Codec in Sons of Liberty. But we won't have that worry anymore. That's right - the codec is gone! Rejoice! Hopefully this means more gameplay time, and less time on grandpa's knee listening to story telling. And what storytelling will be told through cut scenes will be interactive - but how this works is unknown. Hopefully this leads to several different endings. The radar will be entirely optional this time around, too.
One slightly worrying fact is that the same control system from Sons of Libery is in place. Whilst it is a good system, at times it is entirely too clumsy - hopefully Kojima and his team refine it to a more precise level whilst they implement the other new features.
However, it looks as though Snake Eater will fix the two biggest problems from the first two games - excessive story and nowhere near enough length - and add some significant gameplay additions that will once again have games queuing up around the block on release day to exchange their cash for Snake's latest adventure.
But when will that day be exactly? Erm, 2004. Hopefully sooner than later. Until then though, it's safe to say that Konami will release a whole lot of information at E3 in May. If you can't wait that long, perhaps The Twin Snakes on GameCube will take your fancy?