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Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is the follow up to Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. It is the first prequel in the series, taking the series to the year 1964. The player takes the role as the series' original antagonist, Big Boss, then known as Naked Snake.
MGS3 is the first game in the series to take place in a jungle. This unique setting created an opportunity for new mechanics. The player can adapt to the environment by swapping Snake's camouflage, hunt animals and gather plants for food. This iteration in the series introduced a new feature in which the player must apply medicine and perform medical procedures on Snake if he is damaged in combat. Apart from the survival themed features, the controls and gameplay of the game are very similar to Metal Gear Solid 2. Like other Metal Gear games, the focus is on stealth, but the player can go through the entire game like a shooter if they choose to. Throughout the game Snake acquires weapons of all types; non-lethal firearms, handguns, sniper rifles, machine guns, shotguns, sub-machine guns, and explosives.
Metal Gear Solid 3 was the first game to implement the CQC (close quarters combat) system. CQC allowed Snake to beat enemies down to knock them out, or put them in a chokehold to knock them out, kill them, or and/or question them.
Metal Gear Solid 3's health system required the player to occasionally pause the game and treat Snake's ailments. When Snake is shot, there is a chance that the bullet didn't pass through him, requiring the player to use a knife to remove the bullet, apply disinfectant, apply styptic and bandage the wound. This was done through a submenu in the pause screen. Other ailments the player must treat Snake for include: leeches, broken bones, burns, cut, arrow/bolts/needles, stomach sickness, colds, and food/venom poisoning.
Adding to the survival elements of the game, Snake Eater lives up to its name by requiring the player to scavenge food for Snake. Under the life bar there is stamina bar. If Snake does not eat any food the bar depletes, causing various effects. When the stamina bar is low, the player's ability to aim is severely handicapped, Snake's hands will shake in the first person aiming mode. Just like real life, Snake's stomach can also rumble, enemy soldiers can hear this, and will be alerted to Snake's presence.