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MARK: The setup is nothing new--every Metal Gear plops you in the middle of nowhere with only your wits (and maybe a few smokes) to get by. But Snake Eater delivers on the survive-and-conquer premise like never before. Staying hidden via stealth and camo, picking off the enemy one by one, living on captured snakes and fish, prying bullets out of your body before sewing up your wounds--John J. Rambo would be proud.
One thing I cannot stress enough: Patience is absolutely required to appreciate MGS3's unique new features. For example, almost any time you get hurt, you need to stop the game and head to the cure subscreen to spread ointment on burns, stitch up cuts, or mend broken bones. Innovative and definitely realistic, but when you're hurrying or in a boss fight, constantly switching to a menu can be jarring and annoying. Likewise, swapping different uniforms and face paints to camouflage yourself is great fun--lying in wait for an enemy perfectly hidden in the tall grass is what it's all about--but it also requires switching to a subscreen.
Luckily, developer Konami added a great reward for staying stealthy--my favorite new feature, the close quarters combat (CQC) system. Get close enough to grab any enemy and your options are astounding: Slam him to the ground, interrogate …