Review by bbears

"Not quite as good as the original"

INTRO: Metal Gear Solid is personally my favorite game of all time. I know quite a few people who agree with me on this too. So naturally I am very excited about it. For any of you who have not played the original it is definitely worth buying or bumming off of a friend. If you don't even know what this game is (then you have been living underneath a rock for the last 6 years) MGS:TS is a stealth action game, with a heavy emphasis on story telling. I am not joking when I say there is nothing like at all, be prepared to sit through hours of FMVs and CODEC scenes. If you are the impatient gamer expect to change your ways, or go insane. But I do think it is somewhat odd that it is an exclusive to the Gamecube considering the original was for a Sony console only. In fact this is the sole reason alone that made me break down and buy a Gamecube. And I will say that I am not disappointed. Still it is kinda stupid to buy a system for one game right? Yeah, anyways, on with the review.

GRAPHICS: The biggest motivation to redo this game is the graphics. So you should expect them to be exceptional right? So are they? Yes! The game very closely resembles the Metal Gear Solid 2 for the PS2. In fact I think the graphics engine might be the exact same as MGS2. Which is a very good thing considering MGS2 is the best looking game for the PS2. First off, the character models are very well done. Characters now have real faces, and you can see for the first time the parallel likeness between Solid Snake and Liquid Snake. All of the characters and NPCs are all detailed extraordinarily well. Facial expressions now also contribute to the atmosphere, something that couldn't be done on the PS1. Character animations are all very fluid and put well together. The enemies actually work quite well together in their search to root you out. The framerate and resolution also have high production values. The backgrounds are interactive and blend in well with the tone of the games. Some cool effects are you will leave snow tracks and wet footprints for enemies to follow. And the cutscenes of course are remarkable. This is the trademark of the MGS franchise, and the principal reason for this remake. All of the cutscenes are completely redone. And although they tell the same story, it does give the game a slightly different feel. They have taken on a much more Hong Kong style action, instead of the realistic action of the original. This does heighten the style in the scenes with the Cyborg Ninja. Also they butchered the scene where Gray Fox and Rex fight. But regardless they are flawless and unrivaled.

SOUND: Quality sound has also always been another staple for the franchise. MGS is widely regarded as one of, if not the best voice acted games ever. The game has completely redone all of the voice acting, but only two of the characters are different, Gray Fox and Vulcan Raven. Even though it is all redone there are only minor changes in dialogue. Even though there are returning actors some sound different, like their accents. All of the music is also new too. This is probably the biggest letdown of the game. The only song kept is the end credits. Although there are only minor differences from the original it still feels slightly different, and not as intense. Still this is a technically superior game. The sound effects are also top notch. I am detracting only one point from the score because the soundtrack (one of the best parts of the original) is completely redone.

CONTROLS: This is the one area where the remake falters a little. The transfer from Playstation controls to Gamecube controls is somewhat lost in translation. First off the Gamecube controller does not have as many buttons as the Playstation. So to pause or enter the codec you have press two buttons. Not to mention the button mapping is also kinda of haphazard. During gameplay I constantly confused myself between the action and roll/crouch buttons. A first person view is also added to the mix. It is placed on the only forward shoulder button. The weapon and item menus are right where you would expect them to be though, the back shoulder buttons. Also when peeking you have to use the same buttons as the menus. This leads to frustrating slips that can expose you to the enemy. Despite not being created for this type of controller, for the most part everything stays responsive. The only buttons that are overly sensitive were the menus and the first person view.

STORY: The story remains exactly the same as the original. The CODEC scenes are taken right out of the original. And with only slightly different voice acting it gives the game a sense of nostalgia. The dialogue is different in some cases but it sends the same message. The cutscenes although completely new do not falter from the MGS story, only making it more stylized. The basic premise for the story is you are a retired undercover operative of FOXHOUND reactivated to combat a new threat unwillingly. FOXHOUND is kind of a superhuman special ops task force for the U.S. It turns out it is actually FOXHOUND that is the threat. They have taken over a nuclear research facility that also is the training ground for the genome army and the new metal gear. They say their going to launch a nuke if their demands are not met. The demands are of course money, and genes to perfect the genome army. It is your job to infiltrate and disable them single handily. You can find out all of the background story in the game where it outlines Snake's history and briefing tapes about the mission, which are quite interesting. As you proceed through the game the story will take many unexpected twists and turns that will require at least two playthroughs to gain the full experience. Overall this is one of the best stories in any form of media experienced, I am taking a point off for the change in the Gray Fox and Rex fight, it has lost a lot of its punch this way.

GAMEPLAY: Probably the biggest reason for MGS success was the innovative gameplay. No one else has since been able to copy it. In fact MGS pretty much invented the stealth genre. Another twist that they have added to this version is gameplay features from MGS2. Such as the roll, peeking, pop out shooting, first person view shooting, hold ups, ledge hanging, tranquilizer weapons, and a more interactive environment. But these things did little to change the actual gameplay. If anything it only made the game easier. The big idea for the entire game is that it is better to be stealthy and not kill as oppose to run around and waste everyone. Besides if you do try to run around all kamikaze like, then you're probably going to die. You progress the game by completing a wide array of objectives followed by either a cutscene or CODEC conversation. Objectives include find people, boss fights, and bypassing advanced security modes. The boss fights are the core of the game. The sniper fights are very fun as is the second fight with Vulcan Raven. Unlike MGS2 skirmishes with the guards is awkward and not in your best interest. The cool thing is there are many ways to defeat a given boss. Some of the tricks border on cheating but are fun and cool. The AI is very intelligent, sometimes. If you play the game on or at Normal, then the AI will be very forgiving and seem stupid. But put the game on Hard and it will be rewarding. Try it out on Extreme and prepare to be challenged. But not quite as hard as the original, but still very challenging. You will likely have to come up with different strategies for this level of difficulty. You can engage your enemies with stealth kills, three hit combos, and weapons. Some of the weapons are silenced. You can also take enemies out silently by knocking then out or choking them. You can also use most guns to strike the guards down with. I am docking one point because you can use the tranq gun too easily, even on extreme mode.

REPLAY: The VR missions are gone from the original which is another disappointment. But this is one I can live with because MGS2 has nearly 600 or something like that. Anyways, instead of VR missions we are given the boss survival mode, which was in MGS2. You are given one life bar and must beat all of the bosses in their order of appearance without dying. Sounds hard right? Incredibly. But once you have mastered the skills to beat the game on extreme then you might appreciate the challenge this mode brings. This is not available until you beat the game once. There is also a lot of back-story to explore if you want, I suggest you do. There are also several easter eggs, such as infinite ammo and stealth. All of these bonuses have to be earned. You can collect all of the dog tags of the soldiers or get photographs of all the “ghosts”. These ghosts don't have any real bearing on the gameplay and you probably won't even notice them unless you try to. As far as the core game itself, your first play through will last 10 to 15 hours. After that if you skip the story sequences it can done in 7 hours. The game has 5 difficulty settings. The extreme mode isn't as “extreme” as the original but is still challenging. The tranq weapons also bring some new strategies. Point off for no VR missions.

THE BOTTOM LINE: If you liked Metal Gear Solid and you own a Gamecube (maybe even if you don't) buy this game. If you have ever played and like any game in this series in any form, buy this game. If not definitely rent first because it is unique. The combination stealth, boss battles, and great story telling make this a classic. However, the accumulation of the minor issues, such as controls and tranq weapons, bring this one down a little. And if you think I am being a little strict it is only because I hold the first one in such high regard. In the end this is still a must have for the Gamecube system.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 12/07/04

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