Review by AegisKnight2000

"A Must-Play Remake for Anyone Who Enjoyed the Original, Or Just Someone Looking For a Stealth Shooter on GameCube."

-A spectacular blend of innovative game-play from the Ps2 MGS2 with the more cohesive and pragmatic story-line of Ps1 MGS1
-Updated sound further suits the climate of the action
-Updated and expanded cut-scenes make this feel slightly less like a remake than it would have otherwise
-First-Person Shooting ability will make you wonder how you ever tolerated the shooting mechanic for the Ps1 version
-AI gets a much needed boost on more difficult settings

-Limited replayability options, like no VR missions
-Nothing is done to eliminate the "preachiness" of the dialogue, making this game a chore at times
-While some minor measures are taken to add to the novelty of this version of MGS1, nothing is ever expanded enough to make you feel like this is a unique experience
-For a realistically-based game, some concepts are wholly unbelievable

As a long-time supporter of the Metal Gear Solid series, when I learned about the re-release of an updated version available on GameCube I needed to check it out. While my initial play of this game was 2 years ago, I recently replayed on the most difficult setting to re-experience everything. My impressions of MGS:TTS are largely positive, but tempered with some objections.

***Aspect Summary***
The graphics of the original MGS, much like many other Ps1 titles of that era(read: Final Fantasy 7 among others), did not age well one bit. As such, MGS:TTS does an excellent job of bringing the graphical quality of MGS1 into the 21st century. All the environments and settings you remember from the MGS for Ps1 are brought to life, and with stunning detail and accuracy. Enemy soldiers, while still looking painfully homogenous, are well animated and their movements are fluid and believable. Cut-scenes are a bonus to look at, and aside from some slightly smudged textures for characters and slightly 'off' lip-syncing, look really believable and are generally a treat. Recoils, careening tracer bullets, and that classic wind-swept bandana all animate quite well and really add to an immersive and highly believable feel that is contributed by the graphics. The level of detail for some particular areas are incredibly high. Aside from the few slight areas of sloppiness I mentioned, this game is excellent, visually. The graphical update alone almost makes this worth some consideration to buy as a re-make, due to the quality.

I believe that musical quality received a huge boost for this installation. That is not to say that the music of the first was poor, by any means. And obviously the same great voice-acting has been retained(but strangely, re-voiced by the same actors). Therefore, I can give this area nothing but a 10/10. Some particularly memorable music themes are those involving boss fights, like Psycho Mantis and Deepthroat. The Psycho Mantis fight has an eerie, yet high energy, modern beat. Enclosed sneaking areas always have an appropriate and unintrusive ambient sound playing. You may not notice it sometimes, but when you think about it, this appropriately-themed sneaking music really adds to the experience, and anybody taking note will most likely appreciate the attention to this detail. Some hardcore MGS fans might be non-plussed that you won't hear a modern remix of the 'Encounter' theme and some other deviations from the original, but I honestly believe this soundtrack is better, and that you'll eventually forget the original themes once you are accustomed to these. Aside from all that, the sound of weapons, voices, and classic, signature Metal Gear noises all return and with high quality. Sound is a serious strength for MGS:TTS.

Being that this is a re-make, I won't get into much detail on the story. It remains intact, with very little if any noticeable expansion or manipulation. This is both good and bad. On one hand, you'll appreciate that the integrity and continuity of the story has been retained. On the other hand, the exposition, while mostly appreciated, got to be a bit too much the first time around, with regard to Metal Gear Solid on the original Playstation. Going through it all again this time around could prove to be a bit of chore for even the most hard-core MGS diehards, especially on replays at higher difficulty. Fortunately you can skip past dialogue and cut-scenes rather readily, but even this still takes some time.

Speaking of cut-scenes, some excitement and originality is added to the game by way of expanded cut-scenes, which make things a little more exciting occasionally, such as any time you encounter Deepthroat. However, very few chances are taken here, most probably on purpose, and the expanded events that do transpire of little lasting impact on the progression of the game itself. It serves more as a high intensity reprieve from what can be monotonous exposition. Don't get me wrong, I'm appreciative of the depth of thought going into the story. But it does warrant mentioning that the pacing may be a bit off at times.

Sound, Graphics and Gameplay probably underwent the biggest re-working for this installation. Of those, the gameplay changes are probably the most significant. Now, Snake can hang off ledges, go into First-Person view, tranquilize opponents and drag them, and anything else you could think to do in MGS2. As such, neat layers and wrinkles are added into the game, which will make you wonder how you ever did without these elements in the first place. Especially first-person shooting. Computer intelligence also improved quite a bit, however it still appropriate, but it's enough to make things challenging, particularly on extreme. Unfortunately, amping up the toughness makes certain bosses way more annoying than they should be.

So, not everything in gameplay was a huge improvement. Replayability is diminished by a lack of VR mode, or any real rewards or replayable options upon completion. You can increase mode difficulty and do things like remove radar capability, but there is really very little reason or incentive to do so other than for your own satisfaction. This was disappointing to be honest, especially considering this was a remake that should have focused on providing some extra options, bonuses, and replayability to a moderately short game. Being able to view the stylistic cut-scenes is great, but without an expansive theater selection option(such as what was available in MGS3: Subsistence) this feature really suffers to the point of being almost unusable. It might be nice to try this out if you haven't played either version of the original version of MGS in years, and you want to recap the whole series before you play MGS3, or MGS4 whenever it gets released. I can't see it being terribly useful, otherwise. This was a missed opportunity, in my opinion.

So, to conclude, game-play undergoes some big improvements by allowing you to do much of what you could do in MGS2. However, not enough was done to make this feel like much more than a simple remake with updated game-play and aesthetics. Added challenge is welcome, but they probably didn't do quite enough here, either. Replayability really suffers. In spite of those negatives, the additions that are made DO create a "solid" experience. What they did update and change, they seemed to do right. Using Solid Snake really does feel good with these updates. So, I suppose it is better that they remained conservative, and didn't take too many chances, rather than giving the game a complete face-lift and possibly altering or ruining the premise of the game. All is well that ends well.

Much like the original, MGS1 retains a great and isolating atmosphere that really puts the gamer in the mind-set of a stealth hero with a daunting challenge set before him. Everything about the environment in which you operate is convincing, from the manner and nature in which you communicate with your team members, to the architecture of the building and realistic weather effects. Almost everything sets you into the environment of an isolated, modern facility in a desolate Alaska region. The only knock that could really be leveled against this game is the fact that it pushes the envelope on "suspension of disbelief", which is something that seems to be an increasing issue with MGS titles. This issue is raised a little more by some excessively Matrix-style action cut-scenes, which are made a little more ridiculous by the fact that Snake's hand-to-hand fighting skills are so pathetic in-game. However, the action scenes are also pure fun, and while over-the-top, do add more than they detract, in my opinion. Ultimately, the strains on your suspension of disbelief will never be overwhelmed and most gamers should be able to accept this great and relatively unique gaming atmosphere for what it is worth. MGS:TTS does an excellent job of retaining what always was an effective stealth action atmosphere.

*Extra Thought*
I had always wondered why this was re-released on Nintendo. Now, 2 years later, I wonder if this decision had anything to do with licensing, and legitimately getting Solid Snake in as a character on Super Smash Brothers Brawl for Wii?

***End Summary***

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 10/19/06

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