Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is as close to perfection as a video game can get and a big part of why it’s so good are its boss fights. Every boss in this game tests the player’s various skills and knowledge of the game’s items in a unique way. Any player of this game can recall exactly what strategies they used to defeat each boss and then proceed to be shocked once they learn they could have used another tool. From using grenades to break The Pain’s bee shields to using poisoned food to lure out The Fear, Metal Gear Solid 3 encourages players to try whatever they can to defeat each boss.
Perhaps no boss fight in this game is more iconic than The End, people have written entire essays and longer than normal length Youtube videos about The End and how perfectly designed his fight is. However, very few people talk about the boss that is a mere four rooms after The End: The Fury. I believe that these two bosses are both complete opposites from each other while also perfectly complimenting each other because of how close they are. In this article I will compare and contrast both fights and how they test the player in different ways.
First let’s talk about where you fight them. Being a sniper based fight, The End’s battle arena is, by far, the largest in the game. It is three entire rooms that are each very wide open and have several hills to walk up and around. Both Snake and The End have infinite places to hide just from the sheer size of this arena. Because of this the player’s tracking abilities and sense of sight are tested as you need to keep track of his footprints and look out for the shine of his scope on the sunlight. Every single second of the fight you need to constantly look out for The End and hope to catch him off guard.
By contrast, the Fury’s boss arena is very closed off, with four tight hallways that leave next to no room for running away if he sees you. The room even has a large hole that can instantly kill the player if they aren’t careful. The darkness of the room is the player’s friend and enemy here as you need to hide around corners, listen closely to The Fury’s footsteps and hope to catch him off guard or from behind. Unlike The End where you can safely stay still after hitting him, the player must run away as fast as they can after hitting The Fury. The small size of this room means that if he has a second to strike back, he will hit you.
Now let’s get into the real meat of things, the boss fights themselves and the tools which you’ll use to defeat them. One of the greatest parts of Metal Gear Solid 3, in contrast to the games that came before it, is that each boss is drastically different depending on if you’re going for a lethal or non lethal takedown. I’ll be sure to mention these differences as we discuss the fights.
As mentioned before, the boss fight against The End makes use of the player’s ability to track down a near-invisible enemy in a gigantic arena. Aside from basic tracking skills we mentioned before, the player has several tools at their disposal to help find this rival. From using the directional microphone to hear his breathing or his parrot, to using the thermal goggles to look for a trace of his body heat in the wilderness, the player has no shortage of options to find The End, and may use these tools as they please.
In contrast, the boss fight against The Fury has the player take advantage of tools such as the motion detector and the thermal goggles, but over use of these tools can lead to dangerous consequences. Using the thermal goggles to initially find The Fury and get a few shots in the dark is fine, but once you have progressed the boss fight enough you better take them off quickly or you won’t be able to see the man through the flames.
It’s important to remember how much more physically capable the player is than The End. In a normal lethal playthrough where you’re sniping him as intended one may forget that their opponent is nearly 100 years old. However, in a non-lethal playthrough, or one where you decide to use lethal weapons other than the sniper rifle, you quickly realize how weak this man is as you sneak behind him and unload your bullets into him. You can easily outgun The End from a close distance and he knows that, constantly running away and using stun grenades on you to try and hide his tracks.
Players who try to outgun The Fury, however, will be slapped in the face as he uses his flame thrower to eat through most of their health bar within seconds. There is no way to go into this fight, guns ablaze unless you want to waste your precious life medicine on a fool’s gambit. No, this is a stealth game after all. There is no rushing in, you must get a good distance from him and be ready to take whatever potshots you can off him.
The sheer contrast of these two fights always catches me off guard when I play Metal Gear Solid 3. I always try to fight The Fury the same way I fought The End and I am almost always punished for my arrogance. The purpose of this fight’s placement is to keep the player on the edge of their seat and show the game can still surprise them. If the fight were placed anywhere else in the game I do not believe it would work as well. The End and The Fury just compliment each other way too much to be placed anywhere else in the game.
That in of itself is a microcosm of Metal Gear Solid 3’s design. This game is full of tiny individual pieces that come together to make one of the greatest gaming experiences of all time. Altering even one of them could have a domino effect that changes the whole game. I can only hope that the upcoming Delta remake of the game doesn’t alter it for the worse.