Review by NeoTS
"Perfect Version This Is Not"
There is simply no denying that the original Metal Gear Solid is a masterpiece, and one of the most influential games to appear on the market. After Metal Gear Solid 2 was released, a lot of gamers felt a little let down, and some began to ponder what it would be like to play the original with all the cool additions and new features present in the sequel. Silicon Knights has answered the prayers of these fans, and they give us The Twin Snakes. This game has been billed as the perfect version, the way it was ''meant'' to be played. It has the best story, and the best gameplay. What could possibly go wrong. Well, several things, depending on what kind of a gamer you are. But still, there is just something about this game that makes me fall in love with it all over again. I couldn't put this game down if Solid Snake himself was holding a gun to my head.
If you've played the original, then you know the story, and it hasn't changed at all. But if you haven't, if you've waited 6 long years for this, then you're in for a real treat. A Nuclear Disposal Site on an Alaskan island has been attacked and captured by Next Generation Special Forces Unit FOXHOUND. They want 1 billion dollars, and the DNA from the dead body of the ''perfect'' soldier, Big Boss. If they don't get what they want, they'll launch a nuclear attack. What they plan to do with the DNA isn't known, but it must not be handed over to the terrorists. Acting quickly, the legendary Solid Snake is deployed to the site to rescue any hostages and disarm the terrorists using any means necessary. As his seemingly routine mission becomes more complex and the conspiracies pile up, he meets up with some of the best characters ever created in a game.
The terrorists members of Unit FOXHOUND are extremely original, and make for some insanely fun boss fights. There's Decoy Octopus, master of disguise; Vulcan Raven, a giant wielding a massive minigun, Psycho Mantis, with highly developed psychic powers; Sniper Wolf, the beautiful and deadly sharpshooter; Revolver Ocelot, a sadist with a penchant for torture, and their leader Liquid Snake, who is identical to Solid Snake. There is the mysterious Cyborg Ninja, carving a swath of destruction through the base. Solid Snake comes into contact with Meryl Silverburgh, a rookie soldier imprisoned during the takeover, and Hal Emmerich, the scientist in charge of designing a new weapon. All of these characters have amazing personalities, and all of them show emotion. The story that these characters convey is perhaps one of the greatest ever told.
In case you haven't figured it out, you'll sneak through the game as the stealthy Solid Snake. The point here is to sneak around your enemies, not to engage them in open combat. If you get spotted by a guard, they'll call in reinforcements, and unless you find a good hiding place, you'll be dead in no time. Of course, Snake has many methods to ensure the secrecy of his infiltration. He can put his back against the wall, crouch crawl, peer around corners and hang from ledges. A huge difference from the original game is the ability to shoot in first-person mode. In doing this, the player can easily take out guards from a far distance, something that was impossible in the original. This makes the game significantly easier, since enemy locations haven't changed much from the first game. Many of the rooms are rather large and wide open, which gives you clear shots at the enemy most of the time. It would have been nice to have seen some of the areas made a little more complex, like some of the areas in MGS2. Snake handles very well, with a few minor exceptions. I can't help but feel this game would have played better on the PS2 controller. The L/R buttons make it somewhat of a pain to do quick reloads, the Z button is hard to keep pressed in, and there's no pressure sensitivity, which would allow you to lower your weapon instead of switching to another one or wasting a shot.
Snake will have a rather large arsenal of weapons and items, all of which are unique. Snake can equip a gas mask, body armor, he can use cold medicine if he starts to sneeze, and he can even smoke a cigarette. Be careful though, because smoking gives you cancer. As for weapons, Snake can blow apart walls with C4, set Claymore mines in a guards path, guide a remote-controlled missile and let loose a barrage of gunfire with a machine gun. Chaff grenades disable electronic equipment, which makes getting past security cameras easier. One of the most incredible experiences in this game is fighting all the bosses. They are all wonderfully diverse, you won't find yourself using the same strategy to beat each boss. You'll go up against a gunfighter, an M1 tank, a ninja that can deflect bullets, a person who can read your every move (good luck trying to hit him), a sniper, and even an attack helicopter. These fights are extremely fun, and challenging as well for the most part.
If you compare the graphics of this game to the original, then they are of course much better. But comparing it to MGS2, it doesn't stand out much. I was expecting it to look a little better, but that isn't to say that they aren't good. In fact, several times throughout the game they're downright gorgeous. If you're out in the snow in first-person mode, the flakes will hit the screen and turn to water. The room in which you duel Ocelot has shadows bouncing everywhere, and creates a truly realistic and impressive effect. Where this game truly shines through is the cutscenes. They are beautiful, and even more importantly they are artistic and cool. In one scene in particular, Snake is forced into making a decision he'd rather not make, and the camera blurs and rotates as it zooms up on his face for his explosive reaction. Many have already criticized this game for the over-use of bullet-time, but what they have works. It may not be completely original, but it somehow manages to add itself to the games sense of style.
I'm somewhat conflicted about the sound in this game, both music and voices. While both are good, and well above normal standards, they don't come close to living up to the original. The thundering beat of the boss music has been replaced by a fast-paced techno-like beat that can barely be heard. The music simply isn't as exciting, and it does hurt the game a bit. As for the voices, they can hardly be called bad. But still, they seem to have lost some of the personality they had in the original. Gone are some of the most famous accents in the gaming world, replaced with plain old regular voices. It's very disappointing, but I can't really expect this game to be as good as the original. The action sounds great however, whether it be bullets ricocheting off the walls or a grenade exploding, all of the sound effects are very realistic.
With multiple difficulty levels to complete, several items to unlock, and plenty of dog tags to collect make this game worth going through more than a few times. There is no doubt in my mind that Metal Gear Solid is one of the best games ever created. However, I cannot tell you that The Twin Snakes is better than the original, or even better than MGS2 for that matter. This game would have been much more successful had it been completely redesigned instead of just given a graphical upgrade. MGS2 has all those fancy moves because they are needed to complete the game. The Twin Snakes simply throws them in their for fans to mess around with. If the game had been redesigned (something like the Resident Evil remake), then it would have been a much better game. The layout of the game is simply too old for such advanced gameplay. However, most fans would be up in arms if their favorite section of the game was changed, and I can't blame them for that. Maybe games like Metal Gear Solid should just be left alone, why mess with something that was already perfect to begin with?
But despite all that, it is still a masterpiece, especially if you haven't played the original. You'll gain a valuable lesson after completing this game if you've been paying attention. The Twin Snakes is one of the best games ever created brought to a new generation.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 03/16/04, Updated 03/16/04
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