Video Game Reviews – April 2012

Metal Gear Solid 3D: Snake Eater
Nintendo 3DS
MGS 3: Snake Eater was released onto the Playstation 2 during its golden age, and a large following gathered around the game. Snake Eater pushed the limits of the platform with expansive and emergent survival-based gameplay. Following the pattern of strange code names and encounters with eccentric foes, Snake Eater turned its eye to the Cold War for its setting. The story was simple, but filled with memorable characters with complex motives, and its visual design was inspired by the human, expressive style of ’60s action films. You could use the environment to your advantage, using creativity and free tactical roam to experiment, and occasionally triumph. This remake for the 3DS follows that same tradition, and the enhanced graphics certainly add to the experience. The 3D option will be a sticking point for some people, as it makes the frame rate seem slower, and the cutscene graphics start looking choppy. During gameplay, however, 3D can help you gauge distances and more accurately time your precise, stealthy maneuvers. It makes up for the lack of a full console by immersing you in the environment. With or without it, the gameplay is pristine and tweaked well for the 3DS, but the controls can be somewhat weird unless you find the configuration that works for you. Accessing everything quickly makes this game much more viable for playing in short spells, because you can accomplish quite a lot in a very short period of time. The game is simple and organized in its approach, and its portable nature doesn’t seem to detract from its better qualities. It’s pretty pricey for an experience that you can essentially get on a home console with two other games at the same cost, but it’s still an impressive game for the platform. –Henry Glasheen

Uncharted: The Golden Abyss
PSP Vita
Uncharted: The Golden Abyss is the reason to own a Vita. There are a few others I can think of, but none as compelling as this game. You (as Nathan Drake) begin the game helping an “old friend” search out another lost Spanish treasure—thank goodness they had so many of them, or the writers at Bend studios wouldn’t have had a game to make. Joined by the necessarily attractive companion, Marissa Chase, and the villain/friend who always screws you over, Dante, you head into the jungle to uncover the secrets of another lost civilization. If you’ve played previous installments of Uncharted, you’ll settle into the gameplay without a second thought. The dual analog sticks of the Vita give you a perfect translation of the PS3 controller, and just like the console versions, the accelerometer can be used to lock in those perfect headshots. No game is totally perfect, of course, and the one place this game loses ground is the story. Uncharted is supposed to be packed with plot twists and betrayal, but the recipe used for all four games has hit the overused point. Plot twists no longer feel surprising—instead they feel like expected story elements begrudgingly included to fit the mold. The visually stunning world has you forgetting that you’re playing on a handheld, and the soundtrack is as beautifully orchestrated as you’d expect from a AAA title. Start to finish in eight straight hours, I was enthralled with every moment of the game. Even being forced to take charcoal rubbings of statue engravings with the touch screen wasn’t too much of a frustration. If you own a Vita, do yourself a favor and buy this game. What else do you have to do anyway? –Thomas Winkley