Review by El Greco

"A well-done remake of the PlayStation classic."

Introduction

Announced last May, slightly before E3, Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes has finally arrived in our GameCubes. This game was not hyped nearly as much as the first or second game was but it still received some pretty heavy attention in comparison to other games. It was said to be the greatest game of the year and so on… the standard spiel that comes with any Metal Gear Solid game (we expect no less, right?). Who could think otherwise? I certainly expected it to be top-notch and nothing less but not the best game of the year. Did it exceed or fall below my expectations? Well… read on and you will find out.

Let me first explain the basic premise of the game. The creators of Metal Gear Solid (Konami JPN) and a third-party Nintendo developer (Silicon Knights) decided to recreate what was perhaps the ultimate classic PlayStation game. They upgraded the graphics, re-did all the music and voice acting, tweaked some of the gameplay areas, introduced all the gameplay features from the other smash-hit game Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, and they also took the liberty of re-creating all of the cinematics in the game from the ground up. Some of these were an improvement but some of these fell behind the standards set by the original game.

Story

Let me start out here, seeing as how it is my favorite element of the game. Here is the basic story:

Solid Snake has been pulled out of retirement by his former FoxHound commander Roy Campbell. Apparently, a group of FoxHound members, with the aid of Next-Generation Special Forces, have violently taken control of a small nuclear weapons disposal facility on Shadow Moses Island, in the Fox Archipelago of Alaska. They are demanding that the government turn over the remains of the 20th centuries greatest soldier Big Boss, which are being held in a government storage facility. They also demand that the government pay them the sum of $1 billion. If the government does not accede to their demands they will launch a nuclear weapon. Snake reluctantly agrees to carry out this mission. He is taken near the disposal facility by sub, where he then is launched in an SDV (Swimmer Delivery Vehicle) to get in undetected through the base's radar system from there on he has to swim through the frigid Alaskan waters to the underground dock in the facility. The gameplay starts once Snake has successfully infiltrated the sea dock in the disposal facility.

Once inside the disposal facility… the feces hit the metaphorical fan. There are plot twists and betrayals that will leave you stunned and wanting more and more until the very end. But there is a problem if you have played the original game… you already know what happens and there has been nothing added in terms of story this time around. But if you are new to the series then you will be amazed by the story and just how much of it there is in this game.

The characters are ripe with creativity and fascination. Revolver Ocelot is the cool and precise sharp-shooting sadist from Russia. Psycho Mantis is the mysterious and incredibly weird, telekinesis expert of FoxHound. Vulcan Raven, the muscular and mystical medicine-man figure. They all add another sense of depth and emotion into the game that you won’t find in most other games.

Sound

In case you were wondering, Snake still is the same badass infiltrating mercenary that you remember from previous games. David Hayter still provides his gruff voice and does as good job with this game as he did with previous games. But most of the rest of the voice acting is kind of sub-par. Naomi has lost her usual enthusiasm and cheerfulness and just seems bored with this voice acting. Mei Ling has lost her accent but even so she still retains good charm with me. Nastasha has also lost her accent but I can accept this change because I couldn’t understand a word she said in the original game.

I must commend Cam Clarke on his supreme voice acting job for Liquid Snake and Master Miller. Yes. I am separating this to a whole new paragraph because I liked it that much.

There were some voice actor changes in this game; the Cyborg Ninja has a new voice actor as well as Vulcan Raven. In my opinion these two characters sound much better than they did in the first game.

Taking into account all the changes and whatnot from the previous game I must say that, overall, it was a disappointment. Most characters lost that “thing” that made them special in the previous game. All throughout the game I was constantly disappointed by Naomi’s bored and monotonous voice acting job and a few other things that I have mentioned before. The voice acting even brought down some of the parts in the original game that brought me close to tears.

As for the music… most of it pretty bland, mainly your standard clichéd rock/pop type music, but there are a few tracks that I got a kick out of. They completely redid the Mantis theme and all the boss battle music. Most of the music from the original game has been taken out, actually all of it except for three tracks. If you remember the ending theme from the original The Best is Yet to Come that has been left in as well as Mantis’s Theme and the Metal Gear Solid Main Theme (not the one from MGS2).

Some of the sounds are quite amusing, for example when Snake is spotted by an enemy a big exclamation point will form over the enemy’s head and a loud ‘discovered’ sound will play. There is a somewhat similar thing when a guard becomes suspicious of something, a big question mark will form and a typical ‘huh?’ noise will play.

Graphics

This is pretty much on par with Metal Gear Solid 2 in terms of graphics. Had this game come out a couple of years ago its graphics would have been “top-notch” but now they’re just expected to be at that level.

Gameplay

For those of you who don’t know yet, Metal Gear Solid is a stealth game. This means that you must avoid your enemies instead of the typical Rambo action style games. You must use your head and when necessary your weapons to make your way through the enemy base and accomplish your mission. If you happen to be found the enemy will surround and attack you and if you have hidden yourself they will search for you. Stealth is your best option since the odds are greatly stacked up against you if you are found or choose to disregard the necessity of stealth.

But the gameplay is disappointing. In most areas you can just go into First Person View and take out all the guards with the newly added M9 or the silenced SOCOM pistol. It really does make the game that much easier to play. Of course, if you choose not to do it the game will still be the infiltrate and avoid game you remember from before except that it is even harder than before.

This game lacks difficulty even on the highest difficulty (Extreme is still pretty tough but nowhere near as hard as in Sons of Liberty or even the original game). Some people have completed the game in just over an hour on Extreme! It should take longer than a few weeks to reach that level of perfection when playing through the game, you must say, but no it doesn’t. With all the new gameplay additions from Sons of Liberty the game is so much easier.

By no means will this game take you only one hour your first time through though. On my first play through (on Hard Mode mind you…) the game took me a full 13 hours to complete. I found it challenging and (most of the time) enjoyable. But once you get past that first play through you are probably going to be taking much, much less time to complete the game. Maybe 5 or 6 hours? But that’s if you are watching the cut-scenes. They take up about 3 hours of time in the game. If you are skipping the storyline then you will be able to zip through the game in about 2.5 hours.

The enemy AI has been significantly improved over Metal Gear Solid and even in some respects, Metal Gear Solid 2. For example, now enemies have better hearing, seemingly better eyesight, they are more accurate and deadly, they conduct wider sweeps of indoor areas during a clearing, and they even know to back each other up and take cover. Now they can even do clearings outside. This makes the game challenging at first but once you know how to outwit and outmaneuver the guards the game will be a piece of cake (not literally… of course).

Cinematics

For the remake, Konami turned to the expertise of Japanese film director Ryuhei Kitamura. He brought in a whole new flair and style to the series that caused uproar in the gaming community. Many of his changes and additions include bullet-time sequences, fancy acrobatics, and a lot of other flashy moves. Of course this is just a matter of opinion but I rather liked all of these new additions. The scenes do get a bit over-the-top and outrageous at times but for the most part they just did the same things as in the original game except with a few new flashy moves and camera techniques.

Most fans will say, “What the hell was he thinking!? He ruined the game!” He ruined the game? Certainly not. Just because the scenes aren’t as realistic as they used to be doesn’t mean that they have ruined the game. And also, think about how realistic the series is to begin with… Walking nuclear bi-pedal robots, villains that never die after being shot down in a helicopter and falling 60 feet to a concrete floor, a cyborg ninja that can deflect bullets and move around at incredibly high speeds, a virus that causes heart attacks? None of those things are especially realistic are they? No of course not.

Pros
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- amazing story
- improved graphics
- entertaining cinematic scenes

Cons
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- little change to the story (no surprises for veterans)
- overly easy gameplay
- sub-par voice acting
- some of the music is pretty bland

Final Word

If you haven’t already done so go out and rent the game. You will probably be able to figure out from that rental whether or not you want to proceed with the purchase. It is $40 so you will save $10 if you buy this game over any other new game. If you are a big fan of the series then I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t buy this game other than the fact that you may be a little let down by the voice acting and some of the music. Considering that I spent $139 on this game (yes, I bought a GameCube just for this game!) I am happy, for the most part, with my purchase. It hink that the only reason I gave this game an 88 is becaue I enjoyed the cinematic scenes so much. Otherwise it would have been a 7 (maybe a 6?)!


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 04/08/04


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