Review by Bill Rizer

"PlayStation Classic Half-Heartedly Remade by Silicon Knights"

Introduction

Being a big fan of both Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid 2 Sons of Liberty, I was eagerly anticipating Konami's remake of what was easily the PlayStation's best game. Having downloaded many trailers while awaiting the game's impending release, I was convinced that this game would be a must have for any Gamecube owner. In this, I have erred gravely, for Metal Gear Solid The Twin Snakes would not turn out to be the game that I had hoped it to be…

Story

The story of The Twin Snakes is identical to that of the original PlayStation game. In the near future, Solid Snake, an elite soldier who excels in infiltration missions, is sent in to an Alaskan nuclear disposal facility to stop a terrorist group from launching a nuclear warhead.

The story of The Twin Snakes is as moving and enthralling as it ever was when first released on the PlayStation. It is without a doubt one of the best stories ever written for a video game. But with the release of Metal Gear Solid 2 Sons of Liberty, which introduces the Patriots, it may come as a disappointment for some to see Konami that did not bother to at least make mention of them in this remake.

Regardless, with or without the Patriots, the story of Metal Gear Solid is worth seeing and experiencing at least once.

Gameplay

Metal Gear Solid The Twin Snakes is marketed as the perfect fusion of Metal Gear Solid's story and Metal Gear Solid 2's gameplay. It is unfortunate to say however, that the game does not deliver on the latter claim. The implementation of gameplay elements from Metal Gear Solid 2 may have seemed like the perfect way to breath new life and improve on the now six year old game, but there are many factors that were not taken into consideration.

The much touted about enemy AI from MGS 2 have been, for the most part, faithfully recreated on the Gamecube. Enemy sentries now have increased hearing and vision, and often communicate with one another while patrolling an area. But herein lies the problem. The bolstered enemy AI works well enough in MGS 2's environments as they were specifically designed with that map layout in mind. But given the original MGS' relatively small environments (which have not been redesigned or modified save for the addition of lockers and railings), you'll often find yourself unexpectedly spotted by the enemy. For example, the enemy's patrol patterns are identical to those of the original MGS, except for the Canyon where there are now three guards. It is particularly difficult to stealth across the Canyon as there is no place to conceal yourself from the enemy, especially since you leave footprints behind in the snow. To make matters worse, once caught, the doors are locked and guards do not fall for the cardboard box trick anymore. Your only solution then is to kill all incoming enemy units and hide yourself as best you can while waiting for the doors to open (or you can rely on the cheap M9 tranquilizer gun). Other times, the inclusion of MGS 2 gameplay greatly simplifies things. The game's first boss is now ridiculously easy, as you can fire at him in first person view mode while he hardly ever moves (shooting at steam pipes also blinds him). Actually, the entire game's difficulty has been toned down considerably. These are just some examples of the many imbalance issues that arise as you play along the game.

Collecting Dog Tags from enemy soldiers was something that was first introduced in MGS 2 and that is also present in The Twin Snakes. Unlike MGS 2 however, collecting all Dog Tags in The Twin Snakes will not yield you any unlockables. Collecting the Dog Tags is only done for the “pleasure” of it and for completionist sake. The lack of any rewards for such efforts is without a doubt very disappointing.

As in MGS, you can still call support characters through the Codec. Certain minor problems can be noticed if you frequently make use of the Codec. For instance, Colonel Campbell has this annoying tendency to talk about how to fire Nikita missiles when you call him. And then there's Mei Ling. When saving a game, she would recite a vast number of interesting quotes in the old MGS. However, in The Twin Snakes, Mei Ling will often repeat the four or five same quotes.

Playing MGS The Twin Snakes could have been a much better experience had it been a proper remake. As it stands, this game is only decent and is hardly on par with Konami's, and more specifically, Kojima's standards.

Graphics

The Twin Snakes obviously has benefited from improved graphics. The character models and environments are comparable to those in MGS 2. And despite the fact that The Twin Snakes is running on the more powerful Gamecube, the environment often makes use of textures to simulate lighting effects. For instance, in the Cave area, the light bulbs hardly emit any light at all. And shooting the light bulbs above a snowy patch will reveal a yellowy texture area where the light was supposed to shine. This compared to the Tanker in MGS 2, where real lighting was used and where shooting out the lights darkened the environments.

Also, although Silicon Knights delayed the release of the game in order to create a better product, The Twin Snakes still lacks the amount of polish and attention to detail that Konami's MGS 2 has and sometimes even lacking details found in the original MGS. For instance, in the original version paper can be seen flying off the table in the Laboratory during the fight with the Ninja. This detail has not been included in The Twin Snakes. Only a few magazines can be knocked off the shelf in the bottom corner of the room. Also, whereas MGS 2 had an impressive lounge area with countless bottles to shoot, there are only a small number of bottles to shoot on the second floor of the Tank Hangar.

One aspect of the original MGS that would have benefited from an update is the Codec screen. Instead of displaying 3D character models like in MGS 2, Silicon Knights has opted to leave the hand drawn sprites. This is extremely disappointing given the amount of time you'll be spending staring at the green Codec screen.

As for the rest of the game's non-codec cut scenes, they are being directed by Japanese film director Ryuhei Kitamura. These scenes are the only aspect of The Twin Snakes that makes this game worth buying. Many will undoubtedly shun the cut scenes' similarities to The Matrix movies and granted, many of the scenes make abundant use of the “Bullet Time” effect. Still, it remains that these cinema scenes are Ryuhei's flamboyant and over the top interpretation of Solid Snake and MGS. I for one welcome his vision of Metal Gear Solid.

Nitpicking aside, The Twin Snakes' graphics and presentation is well done. In fact, it is the games graphics and remarkable cut scenes that make this remake stand out, as opposed to other Metal Gear games.

Music and Sound

The soundtrack for The Twin Snakes is similar to those of any Metal Gear game. The in-game music is suitably stealthy and moody while the music for the cut scenes complements the scene wonderfully. What's not so wonderful however is the absence of the classic Metal Gear theme in its entirety. It has been remixed so poorly that only the opening seconds of the track is recognizable. On the bright side, Rika Muranaka's The Best Is Yet To Come ending theme is still present at the end of the game. As for the game's sounds effects, they are sharp and crisp, especially the sound of gunfire.

As for voice acting, it is impressive to hear that almost the entire cast of MGS has returned to provide the voice of their respective characters. Unfortunately, some of the characters that previously had accents (Mei Ling, Naomi Hunter, and Nastasha Romanenko) no longer have them. These characters' accents gave them personality and charm, especially Naomi (she now sounds emotionless, lifeless and monotonous). It is a veritable shame that the accents have been left out.

As is the case with every Metal Gear Solid game, the voice acting is superbly acted. Although most of the script is the same as in the original game, a few lines have been changed, some for the better and others for the worse. As a whole however, The Twin Snakes' music and sound is still top notch.

Replay Value

This game has very little replay value for veteran Metal Gear Solid fans. Except for the unlockable sneaking suit for Meryl and a boss battle mode, The Twin Snakes does not feature any new unlockables whatsoever – although Silicon Knights' Denis Dyack would have you believe otherwise. Of course, for those new to the game, this game should provide for numerous replays.

Closing Comments

For fans of MGS and MGS 2 SoL, The Twin Snakes will likely disappoint, as it does not bring anything new to the series. Only hardcore Metal Gear fans and those who have not yet played the original Metal Gear solid should purchase this game. For those who have played or own the original game, a rental should be sufficient.

Grade

6/10


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 05/25/04


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