Imagine if you'd made one of the best videogames ever. It'd be pretty cool, huh? Now imagine trying to make it even better. Nope, it wouldn't be easy, and we're sure it wasn't for creative legend Hideo Kojima. But that's exactly what he and his crack team of game-design masters have accomplished with Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence. It's like an extra-extra-special-edition director's cut of the original stealth action masterpiece.
Disc one of the set, Subsistence, is the previously existing Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater with a twist. This explosive, engrossing, amazing stealth action game is actually a prequel to the rest of the series. Set during the Cold War, it gives an intriguing look at the events leading up to the 21st century action of the first two MGS games.
The twist is that Subsistence defaults to an entirely new (to the MGS series, anyways) third-person behind-the-back camera view that literally puts a whole new perspective on the game. This new camera angle doesn't sound like much, but it makes it feel more natural to control Solid Snake's progenitor, Jack (a.k.a. Naked Snake - eww!), and more like other stealth games. It still retains the trademark gameplay fluidity of the series, however, with Snake effortlessly pressing against walls and stalking his enemies through lush outdoor settings. The original viewpoint, in which the camera is locked in place every time you enter a new area, is still there, both for purists and for those moments when it just works better than the new one.
Disc two is a treasure trove of bonus content, but it's not just concept art and commentaries. For starters, you get an entirely new, online Metal Gear, fittingly titled Metal Gear Online. This bonus is worth the reasonable price of admission alone. It offers competitive online play with a decidedly MGS style. Several modes are available beyond the typical deathmatch, including ones that have a lone player controlling Snake on missions to steal items while seven other human players hunt him. Trademark MGS items, weapons and characters make appearances. Hide in a box, greet someone with a friendly flamethrower to the face or grab the family jewels as pretty-boy Russian officer Raikov. Each of the lead characters have special attributes (Raikov is immune to being suckered by girly mags - go figure) and a couple of the lovely female wrestlers from Konami's Rumble Roses games even show up. It might look like a SOCOM copycat in still pictures, but playing it is something fresh and exciting. We can't wait to see how the gameplay tested in MGO is expanded on in MGS4.
This disc is also home to a boss battle mode (Duel Mode), a Secret Theater filled with hilarious gag reels made using the game engine, an expanded Snake-vs.-Monkey mode for the simian-hunter in all of us, and, as icing on a very tasty cake, English versions of the original Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. They're the original MSX home computer games, so don't expect flashy graphics, but they're great fun and have been updated with new portraits of MGS characters. This is also the first time MG2 has been released in the States.
For $10 more (and if you can find it) the Special Edition of Subsistence includes a third disc with all of Snake Eater's cinematics re-cut and re-edited into a three-hour movie, complete with new narration. It's an extra special bonus for an already extra-amazing game. No PS2 owner should be without it, even if you've already bought the original. You'll love it all over again.