Review by discoinferno84

"Did you ever know that you're my hero?"

I took a look at my Gamecube collection earlier this year. There was a noticeable gap in the number of first and third person shooting games present. So, I did some searching, and came across the previews for Metal Gear Solid: the Twin Snakes. At that time, I was a little wary of stealth games. After a big disappointment with Splinter Cell, I wondered if I should give the stealth genre another chance. Thankfully, Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes gave me a great gaming experience.

I’m no fan of the Metal Gear series. I know absolutely nothing about the intricacies of each character or the history of Metal Gear. However, I felt right at home as the game proceeded. This game this game has an excellent storyline that can appeal to gamers both new and old to the series. You play as Solid Snake, a former covert operator of the Foxhound organization. Members of Foxhound have turned rogue and taken control of a nuclear weapons facility in Alaska. The terrorists threaten to launch a nuclear weapon. Their main demand is that the American government surrenders the remains of Big Boss, the former commander of Foxhound. Solid Snake is recruited to infiltrate the nuclear weapons facility, save two hostages, and stop the impending launch of the nuclear weapon. It sounds like a clichéd spy movie, doesn’t it? But the story of The Twin Snakes has more memorable characters and plot twists than the average television soap opera. Snake plays a tough guy role, but his confusion over his past and destiny becomes apparent. Snake may be going in alone, but that doesn’t mean he won’t get help. Help can come from the most unlikely places. Snake’s mission is to stop a nuclear launch. At least, that’s what he’s told…

This game is all about stealth. You need to be able to evade guards, hide, and use your arsenal effectively. I admit that I was horrendous when I started playing. I spent about an hour or so on the Helipad, trying to get into that exhaust vent without getting noticed. I must have died at least thirty times. But what I didn’t get was the element of stealth and how to implement it into my gameplay. I’m more of a direct-combat type of gamer; the countless hours playing Goldeneye conditioned me into being completely devoid of stealth tactics. This emphasis on the stealth can make or break the experience of a gamer. The plain truth is that you need to be able to learn stealth in order to progress through this game. Unless you’re ridiculously lucky, you won’t get far until you’ve learned to make yourself scarce. This game requires a certain amount of patience. If you get spotted by a security camera and shot to death, you can rethink your approach strategy and try the infiltration again. If you’re new to stealth games, The Twin Snakes will make you grind your teeth in frustration. The key is to not give up and try again until you’ve learned how to use stealth effectively.

And Snake can certainly use stealth; it’s just a matter of learning his moves in different environments. Snake can climb and hang over certain objects, ease up against walls to see around corners, hide behind or inside certain objects, etc. The nuclear facility is riddled with dozens of soldiers just waiting to annihilate you. Since there’s so many foes and only one Solid Snake, avoidance becomes much more beneficial than confrontation. Sure, Snake has as Stinger missiles and an assault rifle, but sometimes the best thing to do is to sneak up behind an unsuspecting guard and apply a chokehold. While a choke may not be the most exciting way to kill off a foe, it is much more tactical than creating a loud noise and attracting more enemies. Soldiers can hear your movements, follow footprints and see you move just out of the corner of their field of vision. In order to ensure your survival as you continue throughout the game, you need to stay away from confrontation. That means staying out of enemy’s field of vision, hiding in enclosed spaces, and disabling surveillance. That can also mean destroying every guard that crosses your path, but in a stealthy manner. Your goal is to make progress unnoticed by the enemy. How you proceed is up to you.

But there is one snag in the Twin Snakes gameplay. This game features a toggle between third and first person perspective. For a Goldeneye veteran like me, I thought the first person perspective would be a godsend. Unfortunately, using the first person can be quite cumbersome. You need to be able to hold down the Z button in order to stay in first person. Sounds simple, but looking around, cycling through weapons, and attacking become a complicated juggle between buttons. I didn’t even know there was a first person perspective until wandering around the armory for the first time. I thought I’d use it more, but in the end I stuck with mostly third person perspective. I’m still trying to perfect my first person tactics as I play this game the second time through. The change between the two perspectives isn’t necessarily bad, but the bad controls make the change a daunting, less rewarding task.

The graphics of Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes is definitely above average, but there is something lacking, considering the Gamecube’s graphical abilities. Maybe it’s just my television screen, be the backgrounds seemed just a little bit out of focus…In any case, the character models are done well. Snake has a somewhat detailed sneaking suit, the soldiers all have decent looking fatigues and weapons. The buildings are built geometrically and proportionally accurate to each other. You don’t feel like you’re moving from level to level; you feel like you’re actually moving within a single facility.

But the really spectacular graphics come with the various cut scenes as the game progresses. Do you know who’s in charge these cut scenes? If you do know, good for you. I have no idea. All I know is that these cut scenes make for an amazing cinematic experience. You can feel the drama of the individual characters. You can see the viciousness of Vulcan Raven and the seductive allure of Sniper Wolf. You can see the physical and emotional struggles of Snake as he tries to stop the madness of the evil Liquid Snake. It’s these scenes that bring out the characters’ personalities and make them more appealing to the gamer. Of course, there is the occasional over the top action sequence, like the Ninja battles or the Hind D attack. All of these cut scenes are executed perfectly, with the possible exception of the pre-Psycho Mantis battle scene. That Nintendo memory card Easter Egg made me laugh instead of being impressed with the awesome “powers” of Psycho Mantis. Overall, the cut scenes were done with plenty of talent. I’m starting to wonder if the success of this game relies more with the gameplay or with the cinematic aspects. While I love the gameplay more than the cut scenes, these brief interludes make for a rewarding experience.

Also, the sound of this game was executed well. There is a gloomy, dark theme as you make your progress through the facility. The music just adds to the overall atmosphere and surroundings. Of course, the fast-paced cut scenes are complemented with fast-paced music to keep the mood right. But you can hear Snake’s footsteps as he walks along a catwalk. You can hear the realistic explosions as Snake detonates some explosives. I like how the volume of guards’ voices depends on the distance they are from you. If they’re farther away, the softer the voice. If they’re right in front of you, you get to hear a deeply voiced “Hey you!” and then get blown away. Of course, the best sound effect is the sudden exclamation sound when a guard discovers your presence. That sudden jolt of sound can literally startle you after you’ve become accustomed to the quiet gameplay. The voice performances of the individual characters are excellent. Snake has a low, almost seething voice. Liquid has a strong accent that oozes with arrogance. Sniper wolf has amazingly thick accent that adds so much more personality to her character. Overall, excellent job in the sound department.

Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes is a great game. It has a wonderful story, great gameplay tactics, and exemplary graphics. This game suffers from a few control shortcomings, but it is enjoyable nevertheless. If you’re interested in this game, I urge that you be interested in the quality of gameplay and presentation, not the franchise name. This game is not for everyone; it may take a little time and patience on the part of the gamer to become accustomed to this style of gameplay. I highly suggest that you rent this game first and get a feel for how you perceive its features and how they apply to your gaming references.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 04/13/04

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