Review by Tenshi No Shi
Hey! Did you just get your Playstation in my GameCube?!
Who saw this one coming? Take one of the best (easily in the top three) games ever released for the original Playstation, completely overhaul the graphics and add all the features of the latest game in the series then surprise everyone by throwing it on the GameCube. Developed in conjunction with Silicon Knights, Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes had all the makings of being every Solid Snake fan's dream...
Plot-wise, nothing has changed from the Playstation version- A terrorist organization has taken control of an island that harbors a government secret: Metal Gear. The terrorist organization is led by none other than Liquid Snake, Solid Snake's twin and heir of the Big Boss. With ex-members of FoxHound among his ranks, Liquid wants nothing less than total world domination and with the latest Metal Gear (a mobile long-range nuclear platform) in his possession, he may have the means to accomplish his goal. Enter Solid Snake, retired but called back in to duty to revisit a mission he had completed far in his past... Despite having already played Metal Gear Solid several times on the Playstation, I still found the story to be just as gripping.
There are those games that either have passable graphics or great graphics. Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes, on the other hand, is one of those games that leaves your jaw on the floor as you wonder if you're still playing a GameCube game. Everything from the sharp, detailed textures to the generous helping of polygons makes for an impressive gaming experience you won't soon forget. Even the animation has a certain grace to it (though it still suffers, like all Metal Gear Solid games, from a lack of any kind of inertia or momentum animations). Story progression takes place with a series of cut-scenes that use the in-game engine, so you never feel like you've "left" the game. All in all it's an impressive eye-candy showcase for Nintendo's little underdog of a console.
I don't know what it is, but to this day the soundtracks of the Metal Gear Solid series stand out vividly in my mind. There's something memorable about the theme song despite its obvious, almost- sterile, computer synthed composition. All that much more impressive for me since my favorite game soundtracks consist mainly of fantasy- based games. Fortunately, Twin Snakes retains the wonderful soundtrack of the series (though updated from the first Metal Gear Solid game for obvious reasons) while still somehow remaining its own uniqueness. The voice acting is, as always, top notch with many of same actors who portrayed characters in other games in the series reprising their roles here. Lastly, I feel I should note the audio effects. While not as spot on as one would hope, they are nonetheless effective for the situation and are more than enough to please all but the most discerning of audiophiles.
If you've played Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty then you should be familiar with the slightly modified (due to the controller design) control scheme implemented in Twin Snakes. Along with all the stealthy, sneaking, box-hiding, 3-hit combo throwing maneuvers that are staples of the series (and "borrowed" for use in other games like Splinter Cell), the first-person camera/aiming mechanism from the second Solid game has been thrown in to the mix. Add to that the ability to stuff bodies inside the now accessible lockers and you've got a game that plays a lot like it's sequel, but without the sixth dimension plot and the prissy pretty boy bait-n-switch. Just as intuitive and responsive as the Dual Shock controls, the GameCube version sports the same easy to pick-up-and-play attitude as the version before it.
Since it's a remake of a Metal Gear Solid game that I've already praised so highly, it should come as no surprise that I would also think highly of the remake's design since it uses the original game as a template to build upon. In fact, I would go so far as to say this represents the absolute perfect gameplay design...if the play mechanics from Metal Gear Solid 2 didn't throw a wrench in the gears (pardon the pun). You see, some of those tense boss battles (which bordered on being puzzle-like) were such memorable experiences because you couldn't really see what was going on half the time, so the fights had an elements of suspense and mystery to them. Not so when you can easily whip the camera into first-person perspective and see exactly where the enemy is and the best position to take up in fighting him. I won't say this completely busts things, but there were a few battles that became anti-climatic because of this.
Naturally it wouldn't be a Metal Gear Solid game without a few unlockables to keep you entertained. The key moment that determines who survives at the end of the game is still there along with the same rewards (an infinite ammo bandana or a stealth suit) but there are also extra rewards for beating the game multiple times like the crimson ninja suit, a James Bond-esqe tuxedo for Snake to wear, an alternate ending theme and a Boss Survival Mode. It doesn't end there either- the game is packed with Easter Eggs that range from Konami to Nintendo to even Silicon Knights references. All in all, there's a lot to see and do in Twin Snakes and the game rewards you for your curiosity.
While lines are sure to be drawn and sides taken over which version is better- the GameCube remake or the Playstation original- there's no denying that Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes is a good game. While the original may have been more difficult, the new graphics and features (not to mention the extended ending stage) more than make it worthy of the same score.
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Product Release: Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes (US, 03/09/04)
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