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Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D - An unsuccessful mission for Snake?

Slithering onto the Nintendo 3DS...

The first Metal Gear game for 3DS is a port of PS2 title Snake Eater, in which Snake must rescue a defecting Soviet scientist during the Cold War who has the skinny on a new nuclear weapon.

The classic game has been rejigged to take advantage of the 3DS's unique capabilities. At least, that's Konami's pitch - the reality is slightly different.

Let's start with the good stuff. The game's lush Soviet Union rainforest setting looks gorgeous in 3D: tree branches poke out of the screen, as swarms of bees party in the shade and snakes roam the leafy ground (though if we were a snake, we'd probably avoid turning up in a game called Snake Eater).

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Gyro support is sparingly implemented so as not to get annoying - you don't need to swing your 3DS around to move or any such nonsense; and, while we haven't seen it yet, a camouflage function uses the 3DS camera to take a photo of your real-world surroundings and then map these on to sneaky Snake's clothes.

Also, having a map and touch controls on the second screen is pretty sweet - you can toggle your gun's silencer on and off, for example, so you don't have to fiddle around with inventory buttons in the middle of a mission.

But there's one bad point - and it's so bad as to render the game extremely frustrating. The camera control is mapped to the face buttons, just like in Peace Walker on PSP, and it sucks every bit as much now as it did then.

Find yourself surrounded by enemies and you'll be dead before you've had a chance to turn around. In a stealth game, turning around is actually quite important, and shoddy camera control hampers the entire experience.

In a similar vein, you have three aiming options,activated when you draw your weapon: third-person (the camera remains behind Snake), first-person (the screen zooms in behind the gun sights) and auto-aim (an automated version of third-person). We'd hoped that auto-aim might at least resolve the camera problem during a fire-fight, but in fact we found Snake would aim in the opposite direction from an incoming baddie every time.

Snake Eater 3D will support Nintendo's Slide Pad Expansion, so the extra right thumbpad may well fix the camera problem, if you don't mind spending the extra money and making your 3DS, well, massive. But add to all of this a cutscene frame rate so choppy you can almost see each frame individually, and Snake Eater 3D so far feels like a letdown.

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Still, we're not writing it off yet: the game's epic story and inventive gameplay may well be enough to encourage players to persevere with the pesky control scheme.

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