Review by mahovlich

"Metal Gear Solid storms onto the Gamecube!"

--METAL GEAR SOLID: THE TWIN SNAKES--

Before I begin my review of what may very well be the greatest game currently available for the Nintendo Gamecube, I should make sure you are aware of the fact that I am completely new to the Metal Gear Solid series and did not play the original on the Sony Playstation.

--INTRODUCTION--

Aside from a brief playing of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty on the Sony Playstation 2 at a friend's house, I am completely new to the Metal Gear Solid scene. When this game was first mentioned last year, I quickly became interested. I am not sure why I became so interested in the game because I had never been interested in Metal Gear Solid prior to the introduction of The Twin Snakes. When I took a glance at the first screens of the game, I knew this title would contain a variety of gameplay elements, excellent visuals, and a certain style that separates this gem from other games available for the Gamecube.

--PRESENTATION--

Slick. Cool. Stylish.

If you are new to Metal Gear Solid like me, you will be completely blown away by the introductory sequences in The Twin Snakes. The opening cut-scene features Snake's infiltration of a terrorist base in Alaska and also gives all the details of your mission. Once this sequence is finished, you will be taken to a very slick starting screen and menu, with some intense music playing in the background. Initially, there are four difficulty modes available -- Very Easy, Easy, Normal, and Hard (Extreme Mode is unlocked after beating the game on any of those difficulties) -- and a fair amount of options including Dolby Pro Logic II and Progressive Scan options. When creating a new game, you are given two different radar options to choose from or the option of no radar, which is recommended for advanced players. Once you choose the ''Yes'' option when the final confirmation question pops up when creating a new game, you will be taken on a journey you certainly will not forget.

--GAMEPLAY--

Prior to to the release of The Twin Snakes, Gamecube owners did not have a great selection of titles when it came to stealth/action games. Splinter Cell is probably the only other half-decent game available for the console when it comes to the stealth genre. Having played and having a fairly good time with Splinter Cell, I somewhat expected this game to be similar to it in the gameplay department. Although both titles can be considered stealth games, it seems as if you can choose to turn The Twin Snakes into more of an action game if you prefer (well, at least in the easier difficulties) and cause much havoc and destruction as you move throughout the game.

You will begin The Twin Snakes in the Cargo Dock of a terrorist base in arctic conditions of Alaska. The first room in the game forces players to use a variety of gameplay elements in order to be successful. Pressing the ''X'' button while standing will place Solid Snake, the main character in The Twin Snakes, in a crouching position. Pushing the control stick in the direction you intend to move while crouching in will place Snake on his stomach as he uses his arms to move about. You will not be able to progress at all in the game unless you use this technique as it is required as soon as you begin the game.

I will not stress on all gameplay elements like I did above, but the point I was trying to get across was this: every gameplay element or option is there for a reason and will be used at one point or another during the game. Pressing the ''Z'' button will give players a first-person perspective, which allows Snake to get a good view of his surroundings (the camera is in a fixed position while in the third-person view -- unlike Splinter Cell) and, while holding the ''A'' button, will allow Snake to pick of enemies with great precision.

Snake can also strafe along walls, peer from corners, and can quickly jump from cover (and return to cover) in order to pick off an enemy -- that is, if you take the action rather than stealth approach. Snake can also perform some unique and stylistic moves such as a somersault-like motion and hanging over ledges, and he even has the ability to knock on a wall to distract an enemy while strafing. The Codec communication system is completely unique to the Metal Gear Solid series and allows Snake to keep in contact with several contacts during his mission in Alaska. The Codec is not just there for show either. Some very useful information can be aqcuired from your Codec contacts when stuck and the communication system is also used to save progress.

The Twin Snakes includes a variety of weapons and items. Players taking a stealthier approach will most likely find themselves using the M9 tranquilizer gun, stun grenades, or good old hand-to-hand tactics. Players taking the action-oriented approach will be able to use the SOCOM pistol, FAMAS automatic rifle, and even guided missiles! While playing The Twin Snakes, I came across some very interesting and unique items. Early in the game, a cardboard box, which Snake can use to elude guards and sneek around the Alaskan base, can be found. Books, full of adult content, can be used to distract guards. Of course, thermal goggles and night vision goggles can also be obtained.

Even though Snake has a variety of items and weapons, it is important to understand when to use a weapon or item and when not to use a weapon or item. The AI in The Twin Snakes is quite intelligent and will respond to any noises within their hearing range by performing a quick search of nearby areas or calling in backup, if necessary. Once spotted by a guard, an Alert will be raised and you will be approached by a handful of guards. In the lower difficulties, you should be able to fend off the guards in combat, but in Hard and Extreme modes, running and hiding is the best option. Lockers tend to be one of the best hiding places available, but a cardboard box often produces a suitable elusion in emergency situations. If you do choose to kill a guard rather than eluding him, it would be a good idea to hide the body because if another guard sees a fallen comrade, an Alert will be risen. If you are playing with the intuitive radar included in The Twin Snakes, it is fairly easily to elude guards and cameras as their 'fields of vision' are displayed on the radar. However, playing on the Extreme difficulty with no radar is quite challenging.

The inclusion of all the gameplay elements from Sons of Liberty on the Playstation 2 has created a control scheme that may be awkward for some players -- even though they fit like a glove for me -- because every single button on the Dual Shock Controller was used and the Gamecube controller does not contain as many buttons. Although it may be a little frustrating to move Snake around at first, a little practice will certainly eliminate all worries. The Twin Snakes is action and stealth at its finest and should appeal to all fans of those genres.

--VISUALS--

The visuals in The Twin Snakes are very good and even stunning at moments. I am still finding it hard to believe that every single cut-scene in the game uses the in game engine -- they are not pre-rendered as in games like Splinter Cell and James Bond 007: Nightfire. The character models are very well done and the environments look really good most of the time. The particle effects are impressive. Blood splatters realistically and explosions and smoke effects look great. Some people claim to have experienced a lot of slowdown while playing The Twin Snakes, but during my playing of the game, I experienced very little, if not, none whatsoever. However, there are a few minor flaws, which I wish could have been worked out before the game's release. Some textures do not look very good when viewing them close up and the water, although not terrible, is somewhat disappointing. A lot of the lip syncing is off in the cut-scenes -- the only problem with them in my opinion -- but it is not off by that much and is really not that big of a deal. A little more polish would have gotten the game a perfect score in this department.

--SOUND--

The sound is spectacular in The Twin Snakes. Everything sounds like it should and if you are lucky enough to have a surround sound setup, this game will really reel you in. The music is excellent as well, and fits the mood of the game perfectly. When an Alert is risen, the music will change to a track that really gets the adrenaline pumping. During the cut-scenes and Codec sequences, the music only heightens the drama as parts of the story unfold. The voice acting, which is probably the strongest part in the sound department, is stellar. None of the voice work seems forced and the actors involved certainly pulled off great performances.

--REPLAY VALUE--

Although The Twin Snakes is somewhat short (10-15 hours for those that did not play the original), you will find yourself coming back to the game to unlock some cool features and collect dog tags from soldiers, as in Sons of Liberty. It is a game that you will want to master. It is also a game that you may just want to fool around and have fun with every once in a while. It is certainly a title that you will want to show off to your friends and the story never gets old. There could have been a lot more replay options in this game, but for a person that did not play the original, I think I will be able to get by just find with what's been offered.

--FINAL THOUGHTS--

The Twin Snakes is game that should be in every Gamecube owner's collection and is a rare game that offers an intense story with first-rate gameplay and graphics. This is one title you are not going to want to miss.

--SCORES--
-Presentation- 10/10
-Gameplay- 10/10
-Visuals- 9.5/10
-Sound- 10/10
-Replay Value- High

Final Score - 10/10 (Not an average)


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 03/18/04


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