Review by BoyLover X
Excellent game, but not enough updates were made to this remake
Metal Gear Solid was originally released for the PlayStation in 1998. Critics ate it up, praising it as one of the best games ever made. It was the first game in the series to really gain attention in America, as the first Metal Gear was downgraded for an NES release, and the only sequel that America saw was a generic spin-off game called "Snake's Revenge", which completely threw out the Metal Gear gameplay.
MGS2 was released for the PS2, and featured much-enhanced gameplay, earning the MGS series even more respect from reviewers. Shigeru Miyamoto (one of the key figures of Nintendo) was eating lunch with Hideo Kojima (Metal Gear series creator) and asked him to make a MGS game on the GameCube. Kojima had apparently been thinking about remaking MGS, and decided that the GameCube would be the right system to do it on. After all, PlayStation owners already had MGS, and Xbox was a joke to Japan (especially since the Xbox version of MGS2 was a flop).
Work on the remake was handed over to Silicon Knights, a fairly untalented developer that hadn't made a good game since Blood Omen, although they had some development experience with the GameCube (they made Eternal Darkness). I just knew that they wouldn't be able to do justice to the game, but it still ended up being great.
Solid Snake is a legend on the battlefield. He's one of the greatest soldiers in the world. You take control of him to sneak into a military base in Alaska, with the goal of rescuing some hostages that were taken by a group of soldiers called "FOX-HOUND". You also are to investigate whether or not FOX-HOUND has the ability to launch nuclear missiles, and stop them if they do.
This is just the very basic story, but it is told through several hours of dialogue and is filled with memorable characters and plot twists. Hopefully you won't mind sitting through cinematics, because otherwise you'll miss out on one of the best stories in any game. It's a deep story about love, war, and the dangers of nuclear weapons.
Although much of the script is either the same as the original, or slightly changed but still good, one of my favorite lines of dialogue was changed for the worse. I can't discuss it here since it would be spoilers, but those who played the original will definitely notice it (HINT: it's a Ninja line).
The graphics are on par with MGS2. In fact, there are some things that were simply ported from MGS2, such as fire (which looks terrible) and water effects, a few weapon graphics, and the animations for Snake and enemy soldiers. Character models look noticeably jagged (especially during the frequent cutscenes when you can see them up close), like all MGS games. Although the PS2 was able to get away with this since it was a weaker console, the GameCube can certainly do better.
Also, this game's frame rate jumps around depending on how much action is happening. The game is supposed to run at 60 frames per second but drops a noticeable amount during hectic battles. Since the graphics are mostly just PS2 quality, there's no reason why this game shouldn't run smoothly: it was just badly coded. I'm also sad that there is no widescreen support, which seems odd considering how cinematic the game is supposed to be.
Sound effects are well done, and music is excellent. There are many tracks from the original that were redone and sound good. I like the fact that more music for boss battles was added. In the original, there were only 2 songs for boss fights. In this remake, some bosses have their own music.
There is a lot of dialogue in the game, and all of it has voice acting. The original cast has returned for the remake, and since they've had more experience since the original MGS, they were able to mostly do a better job and convey more emotion (especially the main characters). Strangely, some characters lost their accents: Naomi, Mei Ling, and Nastasha all sound American now. Although I like Naomi's new voice better (or maybe she just does a better acting job this time), the other 2 characters sounded better with their accents and seemed to have more personality. They are minor characters though, so it's not a huge deal.
MGS is unique (or at least, it was before knock-offs like Splinter Cell came out) because the main goal is not to fight enemies head on, but rather to avoid being seen. You'll have to sneak around enemies and traps (infrared lasers, landmines, security cameras, etc.) by using a variety of moves and avoiding making noise or leaving behind traces of evidence that you were there. There are some intense action sequences and great boss battles to keep the game from getting boring.
One of the things about MGS that leaves you the feeling that you just played something unlike any other game is the way it breaks through the "fourth wall": that is, the game interacts with the real world in a number of creative ways, which I don't want to spoil here.
The gameplay engine is the same as MGS2, but uses mostly the same level design as MGS1. There are some changes, but not enough. I would have liked some new areas, and there are some things that should have been changed to take into the account that you have more moves at your disposal. The mostly unchanged level design makes some areas easier, but the upgraded enemy AI keeps things from getting too easy, and you will need the new moves to survive on the harder difficulty levels.
There are some control issues, since the GameCube has less buttons than the PS2 controller, yet tries to pack in all the same moves. The GameCube's face buttons don't have any pressure sensitivity either. The controls work well enough to get the job done, but the comfort of your fingers is sacrificed when trying to pull off complicated actions (like aiming the machine gun in first-person without actually firing it, which requires you to hold 3 buttons at once) and the sensitivity of the analog stick in first-person aiming is awful and can't be adjusted.
Play Time & Replayability: 5/10
This game will take newcomers 8 to 10 hours to finish their first time, but those with experience with the original version may finish it faster. There is a good deal of game time taken up by all the dialogue, and the game can be run through quickly if you skip cutscenes.
Besides playing again on a higher difficulty level, there are a few things to do after you've beaten the game to make up for the game's short length. You can collect dog tags (which is done by sneaking up on soldiers), although they don't unlock any extras like MGS2 so it's kind of pointless. There's a boss rush mode where you fight all the bosses in a row, but the game doesn't save your best times so that's also kind of pointless unless you write them down on a piece of paper.....
The game does feature 2 different endings, and each ending unlocks a different bonus item to play with the next time you play through. Those are cool, but they were in the original game too.
I'm sad that nothing cool was added as an extra, despite promises by Silicon Knights prior to the game's release. How about the HF Blade from MGS2? That would've been awesome. Or some VR missions? They could've ported a bunch of VR missions from MGS2, and also added some new missions using MGS: TTS' environments. I guess Silicon Knights is all hype.
Metal Gear Solid stands as one of the best games ever made. This remake is definitely better, so I can't give it a bad score, but it's not better by the amount I was hoping for and did end up being a slight disappointment. The graphics aren't up to GameCube quality, the level design needs a few changes, and there are no substantial extras besides what the original already had.
The verdict? Buy it. Metal Gear Solid is a game that should be played by everyone. I'm not a fanboy of any console manufacturer, I have all consoles, and so having bought the original version of the game back in the day for the PlayStation, and doing a thorough comparison of the two versions, I can say without bias that this is the better version. The original version feels almost unplayable after enjoying the enhancements that MGS2 brought to the series. It seems that the people here on GameFAQs who think the original is better are either: a) delusional from nostalgia or b) Sony fanboys / anti-Nintendo.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes (US, 03/09/04)
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