I once saw a man throw a rat through the passenger window of a Nissan Micra and, in the ensuing panic, reach into the car and grab a woman's handbag before vanishing into the exhaust fumes like a scandalous Dracula. She was so hepped up on rat-fear chemicals that she pretty much handed the bag to him out of confusion, believing she'd just successfully exchanged it for the rat, which was now biting her shins. The experience taught me two things: one: never leave your windows rolled down in Dublin city centre and two: animals can be thrown at people for ill-gotten gain.
Such vital information served me well in Metal Gear Solid 3D. One of many tactics in the jungle-based stealth adventure is to capture an animal alive using a trap or a tranquiliser dart (which places it in a cage in your inventory) before equipping it as a weapon and throwing it at an unsuspecting guard. This works best with dangerous animals: poisonous snakes, scorpions, venomous spiders and, yes, rats. You can even release friendly animals such as birds to act as a fluttery distraction, just like that crazy woman at Michael Jackson's trial.
Where The Wild Things Are
Such animal buffoonery is just one tiny aspect of Snake Eater's option-riddled, jungle world. At its most basic, the game is about traversing dense forest environments without being spotted by patrolling guards.
These guys are intelligent and will investigate strange sounds, rustling grass and curious items left in their way, responding to things in a way that makes them endlessly manipulable and, for videogame enemies, highly interactive. They can be held up at gunpoint, for example, or grabbed from behind and interrogated at the point of a knife.
They'll divulge the locations of nearby ammo caches, or give you new frequencies to tune your radio into. They can be stunned, killed or put to sleep. If they spot you, they'll go through several alert phases, pursuing and attacking until you can break line of sight, then probing nearby hiding spots until they get bored and relax again. Most units have a designated radio operator who'll call in reinforcements, unless you can silence him first.
It's easy to spin off down wild tangents when talking about this series' super-reactive artificial intelligence, because there's so much fun depth to it. Toying with guards is Snake Eater's bread and butter, and the steadily growing collection of weapons and tools provided, most of which are entirely optional, ensures that you're unlikely to experience everything even after several playthroughs.
Snake Eater is a unique game that is absolutely full of secrets, diversions and some lost-in-translation humour. It's utterly unlike anything else on 3DS right now, heavily atmospheric, and tense beyond what you'd expect from a handheld game.
The arboreal setting offers a constantly changing challenge as the game progresses from jungles to jungle-bound labs, warehouses, caves and mountain fortresses. Protagonist Snake (or 'Naked Snake', to give him his fuller, weirder codename) can adapt to these environments by slipping into different camouflage gear, which affects his camo-index (a percentage readout in the corner of the screen that tells you how well you've hidden yourself).
If you wear bright pink and stand next to a brick wall, for example, your camo-index will plummet to zero and you'll be spotted a mile off, but change into some tiger-stripe gear and lie down in long grass and that number will rise.