A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this game features torture and battles, though it's not as graphic as some others. The game -- which layers a fictional story over the real events of the early Cold War era of the 1960s -- sticks close to its time period by incorporating stereotypical treatment of women and Russians. The images of nuclear destruction will most likely resonate more intensely with parents than with children. The "hero" always carries a cigar and is shown smoking, and he's often criticized by allies and enemies alike for blindly following orders, not having guiding principles in his life, and resorting only to violence to solve problems.
What's it about?
METAL GEAR SOLID 3: SNAKE EATER is the latest entry in the long running and popular Metal Gear series. The year is 1964, and players control a CIA agent code-named Naked Snake, sent into the Soviet hinterlands to extract a famous scientist being forced to work on a super weapon that could change the balance of the Cold War. Snake is double-crossed and his mission fails; the scientist is spirited away by the menacing and seemingly supernatural Colonel Volgin, and a small nuclear device is detonated on Soviet soil along the way. Facing internal political pressure to respond to what looks like a hostile act by the U.S., Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev tells President Lyndon Johnson that the U.S. has one week to quietly remove his opposition and restore order within the Soviet empire -- or face a nuclear war.
Is it any good?
Wrapping amazing graphics, countless gadgets, top-quality voice acting, and hours of cut scenes around a complicated, history-based scenario, MSG3 looks as good as any Hollywood summer blockbuster. Too bad it is so weighted with realistic detail that it's almost a chore to play. Many younger players may simply give up after a couple hours of wrestling with the controls.
There are a handful of scary and complex themes that should send up a red flag for parents, including nuclear war, betrayal of friends and country, and a dark, imperfect protagonist who excels at violence. But all of these issues are addressed with respect and often restraint. There's a lot to be said for game's tone and approach toward subjects the video game industry often gratuitously exploits. But parents may find this a moot point: It's unlikely any child of an impressionable age will have the patience or interest to play this game.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about post-World War II Soviet-U.S. relations and cultural climate that era created. Why is this period such a popular setting for books, movies, and games? Families can also discuss whether Snake can really be seen as a hero. What are his flaws? What messages do those flaws send to players?
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