Review by Sheky

"More Snakes, but less bite"

I really don't think this game needs any introduction. It is the grand daddy of contemporary sneaking games. The game that popularized and put stealth genre on consoles originally released on the Playstation, is now remade for the Nintendo Gamecube. You play as the one man army secret operative Solid Snake who is assigned to rescue important hostages and to stop a group of terrorists from launching a nuclear attack.

The game mainly consists of two things, sneaking around the base to complete your objectives and watching the interesting story unfold via real time cut scenes and codec. The majority of the gameplay involves Snake moving silently around the base in completing his goals and objectives.

You can locate a wide range of weapons and gadgets in helping you to accomplish your task. Everything from the basic hand pistols and cardboard boxes(yes, for those new to this game, cardboard boxes are quite helpful)to the more exotic remote controlled missiles and stealth camouflage.

While fighting is an option, but in all instances, stealth and silence is the way to go as this is at core a stealth game. If you raise a ruckus, you'll likely get hurt and just cause yourself more trouble. The new AI routine from MGS2 Sons of Liberty has been implemented into this remake so anytime they see a dead comrade or you kill or knock out a guard who is suppose to report, their supervising officer will send reinforcement to that area to investigate. Moreover, hiding often won't help you as guards are programmed to systematically flush out a room when they've spotted you. They search from corner to corner, and open lockers, look under tables. And escape from the search is quite difficult in the confined areas of the levels.

But that's not to say there's isn't room for improvement. The guards are still overall quite handicapped. They are still myopically challenged and lacks short term memory, a hallmark staple that's in all stealth games which attempts to balance gameplay with realism. But this game provides one of the better representation of realism as guards are sensitive to sound and the environment. You leave footprints, they get suspicious. Run on metallic vents and make noise, they'll investigate. Personally, I would have liked to see the guard's view of vision get a bit bigger to compensate for the greater advantage you have due to the first person view. But I suppose that'll have to wait until MGS3.

The action takes place mostly at a over the top 3/4 birds eye view. And as mentioned, there's a first person mode which allows you to aim and fire you weapons with more precision. Yet another features implemented from MGS2 SOL. While every game play features from MGS2 is here, the execution is far more cumbersome given the layout of the GC pad. There's just not enough triggers to make the game feel comfortable. You're forced to use the Z button to go into FPS mode which feels awkward and cumbersome giving the layout of the right trigger. And the weapon switching and quick reload option using the top triggers are not quite responsive in the heat of battle.

Graphics: 7
The graphically, the game is a mixed bag. For the most part, the game does run in 60 FPS, but when the action gets hectic, the framerate does dip. But it does not drastically detract from the gameplay. While some of the textures of the characters and environment are vastly superior to MGS2:SOL on the PS2, some of the models themselves are not quite up to par. Snake, Ocelot, and the ninja are by far the best looking characters in the game. The hair, the skin, the metallic like helmet are all look impressive and detailed. And combined that with the real time lighting they're a sight to behold. While I still prefer the style of the models in MGS2: SOL, but technically the aforementioned models are vastly superior to the PS2's counterpart.

On the other hand characters like Sniper Wolf, Meryl, and Otacon have left much to be desired. The hair on these three, in particular the females, are utterly laughable as they look like a pile of polygon mess with little textures giving them the ''helmet hair'' look. In particular Meryl's arms, torso, clothing, and Otacon's face are so blocking looking that even a first generation PS2 game like Dead or Alive 2 Hard Core looks far superior to this game. Moreover, compare the character textures, models, and facial expression of Silent Hill 3 to this game and one could see how vastly under developed this title is given the fact that SH3 is an older game running on inferior hardware. The facial expression in this game looks awkward, and mechanical and some characters' skin textures look mannequin like under the lighting. I cannot help but think that if Konami had developed Twin Snakes themselves in house it would of turned out a lot better.

The sound effects of the game are fantastic. The gunfire, the explosions, the sound of boots stepping on the environment are quite realistic. A vast majority of the story in this game is told via cutscenes and codec communication which has voice acting. For the most part, the acting is on par but the newly recorded tracks have much less emotion and flavour to them. Characters that had an accent before were re-recorded. Some changes were for the better, others just turned out dry and flat with the delivery. Overall, the original voice track was superior to this one as was the original score which was far more fitting, especially the boss battle theme. I somehow got the feeling that some aspects were changed for the sake of changing it and not necessary for the betterment of the game. On the plus side, the game does support Dolby Pro Logic II.

While TS is a decent game, it does not have the impact of the original or other remakes like Resident Evil. The skeleton of the original game is still here and the gameplay has been enhanced with the features of MGS2:SOL but the playability of the game is hampered by the controls. Moreover, the re-choreographed cutscenes directed by Ryuhei Kitamura is impressive to look at but yet they're overtly over the top and saturated with slow motion which cinematically detracts from some of the scenes.

The game has decent replay value with its two endings and extras to unlock. Unfortunately, the VR missions from the original is not in the game but given the 15 to 20 hours of fun that could be had, I would recommend this game to old and new fans alike despite its flaws as a title of this sort does not come by often.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 03/14/04

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