Review by EpinionsJunkie

"New Player, New Metal, New Gear"

Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes is an excellent blend of stealth and action. The only Metal Gear Solid that I had ever played was Sons of Liberty on the Playstation 2, which I liked a lot. Jumping in on the band wagon four games in wasn't exactly smart though, so I was eager to play the original Metal Gear Solid on the Playstation. Around the time when I was about to pick MGS up from the store, I read an article on the internet that revealed a new Metal Gear Solid remake for the Gamecube, developed by Nintendo owned Silicon Knights. So I decided to wait, and on release day, I finally booted up what would become one of my favorite games of all time.

Metal Gear Solid has one of the most captivating stories ever, told though various cut-scenes that will leave your mouth hanging open and your tongue dry. Metal Gear Solid isn't the first game of the series. It's actually the third, following the footsteps of Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Snake's Revenge, released in 1988 and early 90s, respectively. The story in MGS, now referred to as The Twin Snakes (TTS), brings back a lot of things from the first two games, most of which are returning characters. As a whole though, The Twin Snakes can be viewed as an independent story, which doesn't require any knowledge of the first two games.

Anyway, TTS is a story of love, deceit, and nuclear terrorism blended together into an emotional gripping adventure. After beating Gray Fox on Zanzibar Island in Metal Gear 2: Snake's Revenge, Snake went into retirement in Alaska's frozen tundra. Snake is called back to detail for a mission that will determine the fate of a nuclear war. A machine called Metal Gear Rex, which has been taken over by a bunch of terrorists, has the ability to launch a stealth nuclear war head anywhere in the world, without any kind of defensive radars picking it up. The president doesn't know about it, and a traitor in the Pentagon is in leagues with the terrorists. As snake, you must infiltrate the military base, and stop the terrorists from succeeding in their plans.

The gameplay in TTS cannot be denied of the greatness that it shows. Metal Gear Solid was the basis of Splinter Cell, and in another sense, is kind of a complete opposite of Splinter Cell. First of all, TTS is a remake. Possibly influenced by the Resident Evil remake and how great of a game it is, TTS is not a new game in the series. Konami handed over the Holy Grail to Denis Dyack and his team of (Silicon) Knights, and other than one minor set-back, they came through with an outstanding game (though I have nothing to compare it to other than MGS2). I've played a demo of the original Metal Gear Solid from a long time ago (back when Pizza Hut was giving out those demos, I think there was a short Final Fantasy VIII on one of them), and so judging from THAT experience, TTS is beautiful.

Instead of just making an update graphics wise and calling it a remake, Silicon Knights added a few of the features not seen until MGS2. Enemy AI is suppose to be tougher (which, on Normal difficulty even, seemed to be true), the first-person view was added, as well as the ability to hang from ledges and stuffing enemy guards in lockers. The dog tags from MGS2 return as well, though, unlike MGS2, they don't unlock anything. This left a few fans disgruntled, but for others it's not really that big of a deal. There are different difficulties to play the game on like Very Easy, Easy, Normal, and Hard, as well as a mode where if you alert any guard, one time, it's automatic game over.

The point of TTS is to infiltrate the enemy base unseen, though you'll be able to equip yourself with an automatic rifle and a sniper rifle to aid you in trivial experiences. You'll also have a suppressed hand gun, a tranquilizer gun, and a tranquilizer sniper rifle for those who want to keep things quiet. Granted, Metal Gear Solid is a little bit more action orientated than Splinter Cell is, stealth can be your best friend, especially since the gun fighting in third-person is kind of awkward due to the camera angles (my biggest gripe which still wasn't changed even in MGS 2). Even in first-person mode, when there is more than one guard, fighting is very difficult. So, the best way is to move around quietly, taking out guards from a distance with your tranquilizer gun or suppressed handgun.

The walls are your best friend, and when you come to a corner, you can peak around to see where an enemy is, and if you have a weapon equipped, you can do a quick turn and shoot. There aren't really any puzzles, so the game is pretty much straight forward. There can be a lot of back tracking if an item is forgotten, and there is one case where you'll get to a boss, and have to backtrack a 20-25 minute round trip to get a weapon. Other than that, TTS is a very straight forward action/stealth game.

The controls felt a little awkward at first, but after like 15-20 minutes they were a lot easier. TTS takes advantage of the Gamecube controllers sensitivity by using the L and R triggers. The L trigger allows you to browse items like key cards, rations, a gas mask, and the R trigger cycles through your weapons. You can equip and un-equip on the fly by slightly pressing the triggers in and letting go. This is especially helpful with the weapons that automatically go into first-person. That way, you can equip, shoot, un-equip, and move as quick as you can. The first person view is a welcomed addition due to the confusing third-person fighting ( and camera angles), though it made a couple bosses to easy. So I can imagine the difficulty of some bosses without the first-person in the original version. I found a solution to this. Simply don't use the first-person, it doesn't take rocket science to figure that out.

The Twin Snakes is a pretty short game, though it kept me entertained from beginning to end, even when someone decided to get long winded during a cut-scene. My first time was just over 10 hours on Normal, though I easily bested my time my next couple of times through. There is a completion screen at the end of the game that shows your time, number of continues, number of saves, and rations used, as well as a code that you can put on the Konami of Japan website to see how you rank against other players. Don't be ashamed.

Capcom did some interesting things with the Resident Evil remake, bringing it up three or four steps above the original. The Twin Snakes is pretty much the same way, though with some more development time, Silicon Knights could have outdone Metroid Prime or Resident Evil. Instead, TTS improves the graphics from the original, mainly just smoother textures, as well as a total overhaul on the cut-scenes. The graphics are good, but the cut-scenes are out of this world, including 2 that will leave your jaw open for a long time.

While it's not Resident Evil or Ninja Gaiden decapitation, TTS has a lot of gore, including a scene that actually made me a little queasy (near the end). It's rated M, but other than 2 or 3 certain cut-scenes, I recommend TTS for anybody over the age of 14. Hopefully they are mature enough by then to handle the content in the game.

In a game that's suppose to rely pretty heavily on stealth, sound is key. Running or walking over a metal grating could mean the different between an alert guard and a body full of bullets. Most of the sounds sound pretty much like they would in a real military base, including voices over the radios and intercoms, as well as the alert sirens. The enemy AI even clear certain areas when you've tripped an alarm, yelling ''Clear!'' to one another before moving on to the next area.

The music immerses you into the story, and the ending theme almost brought a tear to my eye(that or it was just because of my anticipation for Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater was so high I thought I was going to explode). Most cut-scenes have a background music, but it's usually just the big long and cool ones (some of the cut-scenes are pretty short, so there's really no point for music). I have nothing to compare the voice acting to, but they sounded pretty good. Snake's voice was low and gruff, Meryl's was soft and smooth, girls sound like girls, boys sound like boys. TTS feels like an epical movie at times, and the voice-acting helps support that feel.

Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes is a great game. Whether you've played the original or not, the awesome graphics, fun gameplay, and in your face stealth action (?) will be enough to last a month or so. Even though the Dog tags don't do anything this time around, it's still fun to try your skills on each difficulty. It would have been nice if you could sneak up behind someone to take hostage or to put to them to sleep ala Splinter Cell, but it's not really that big of a deal. If you've got a Gamecube, you need The Twin Snakes in your library.

happy gaming

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 03/18/04

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