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Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes

Score: 85%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Silicon Knights
Media: GCD/2
Players: 1
Genre: Stealth

Graphics & Sound:

With the PlayStation 2 getting Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, and the PlayStation 2 and Xbox getting Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance, Gamecube owners have pretty much been left in the dust as far as the Metal Gear franchise goes. I mean, the last Metal Gear game on a Nintendo system was the original Metal Gear for the NES, well, until now. Nintendo fans will finally get their chance at seeing a little Solid Snake action with the remake of the old PlayStation classic Metal Gear Solid, now dubbed Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes.

Put simply, MGS: Twin Snakes takes the story and setting of MGS and combines it with the graphic quality and gameplay mechanics of MGS2. That said, it should be pretty obvious that the graphics of The Twin Snakes blows the original Metal Gear Solid out of the water. There's really no comparison. Emotions are portrayed better now that characters have actual faces, and Solid Snake and Liquid Snake now actually 'do' look similar, rather than just having to take their word for it. Many of the cutscenes have been expanded with a bit more action in them. Though I think they went a little overboard at times with some of the 'Matrix-esque' conventions they used. Solid Snake is still just a man, not an omnipotent messiah.

While the graphics are a clear winner over the original, the sound is rather touch and go by comparison. The quality of the general library of sound effects sounds more or less the same to me, though now you can get it in surround sound now and stuff. The music is, on the whole, much better, although I do have one issue. You know that nifty little theme that played whenever you got seen or were fighting a boss in the original? Yeah, they changed that; it's gone. The replacement is ok, but I much preferred the old music; it was one of my favorite things in the game.

Another aspect I really preferred in the original was the voice acting. While I understand their reasoning for redoing all the voice acting, I feel it was, on the whole, better in the original. It's not that the quality of the voice acting is really all that much worse, but it just feels like many of the lines were delivered better in the original game. I dunno, maybe it's just that it's what I'm used to hearing. The codec, where you can call and talk to various people for help, support, or to progress the story, is identical to the original. It still has the 2-D pictures rather than the 3-D type we saw in MGS 2. I always thought the 2-D ones were much more expressive so I'm happy about that decision.


Gameplay:

The original idea behind Metal Gear was a game where you don't go around mindlessly killing all the bad guys. Rather, you would try to avoid being seen, and you'd sneak your way around the enemies. This basic concept is still key in the latest installments of Metal Gear, including Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes. You tend to have small guns and limited ammo, while the bad guys have huge machine guns and riot shields. You're not gonna wanna go toe-to-toe with them for the most part. Of course, you single-handedly destroy military helicopters and tanks, so...

Anyways, the basic premise of the game is that a highly specialized group of US special forces, one that the protagonist, Solid Snake, was once a member of, have gone terrorist and taken over a nuclear weapons storage facility on an Alaskan island. They play the usual terrorist game, 'give us what we want or we start blowing crap up'. The plot itself goes a bit deeper than that of course, and a major theme of the entire game is genes and what they really determine about a person. The story of this game is generally considered the best of the entire Metal Gear series.

Aside from the abilities Snake had from the original Metal Gear Solid: crawling, pressing up against walls to see around corners, distracting guards, etc..., The Twin Snakes adds all the additional gameplay functionality players got in Metal Gear Solid 2. This includes shooting in first person perspective, walking, rolling, using magazines, hanging from rails, you get the picture. It even includes the 'no killing' element from MGS 2 where you can use tranquilizer versions of weapons to kill enemies and bosses.

There are also some other differences to be found between The Twin Snakes and the original. In the original Metal Gear Solid, you started off with a mere sliver of health and the ability to hold very few items and ammunition. As you defeated bosses, these would increase. In The Twin Snakes, however, you begin with your full life gauge and the ability to hold all your ammo. They also changed the briefing you can watch before you actually play the game. It's now fully 3-D and you have more control over the camera. Oddly enough, I still prefer the older briefing. Maybe it's got something to do with the pictures, documents, and maps they showed in the original that don't appear in the newer version, or maybe it's just nostalgia. They also seem to take more liberties with explaining the details of Big Boss' background. Maybe that doesn't mean anything, or maybe it's in preparation for Metal Gear Solid 3. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.


Difficulty:

With five different difficulty settings, everyone should be able to find a level they are comfortable with. Since the basic idea of the game is not to be seen, you're going to have a very tough time of it if you try to shoot your way through every situation. They have bigger guns than you, and there's a lot more of them.

One of the most glaring issues with the game is the enemy AI. The enemy soldiers in Twin Snakes more or less mimic the AI from Metal Gear Solid 2, and it's far more advanced than the AI from the original Metal Gear Solid. In MGS if you went into a hiding spot without an enemy looking right at you, you generally got away. In MGS 2 they will actually look for you, looking inside lockers and into hiding spots. Commanders will also radio in for status reports, so you can't just clear the area of enemies and have free reign. The problem that arises is that the environment and layout of The Twin Snakes is pretty much identical to the original. However, this environment was built with the original AI in mind.

The environments are much, much smaller than Metal Gear Solid 2, and there's just no place to hide from these guys. Sure, they added some lockers to a few areas, but unless you have a pretty big lead on them, which is unlikely considering the very small environments, they will always look inside them. The two do not mesh well together. Thankfully, unlike Metal Gear Solid 2, the enemies will not keep hunting you when you move into a different area of the complex. So what you generally end up having to do is just leaving the area when you get seen. It works, but it's not nearly as fun as actually hiding, and feels pretty lame in comparison.


Game Mechanics:

Along with the new voice acting, they've also rewritten a bit of the dialogue here and there. It's nothing major, but if you're familiar with the original, you'll notice the differences. This wouldn't be a bad thing except some of it gets way too explanatory and doesn't feel like natural dialogue at all. It feels bloated and gets boring really fast, fairly reminiscent of some of the scenes near the end of Metal Gear Solid 2. It feels even worse in Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes however, because we've heard this stuff before but delivered in a more concise manner.

Another small but noticeable change is the lack of the VR missions that were found in the original game. It's not a big deal, but they were a good way to warm up if you hadn't played in quite some time. They probably decided their time would be better spent elsewhere. I got the feeling Silicon Knights would have been able to put in quite a few more Easter eggs and extras if they had been given more time. Yes, Mario is in the game.

There are a few little quirks in the game that hinder the gameplay somewhat. I had a very hard time getting the 'wall sticking' mechanic to work. It felt much more natural and easier to control on the PlayStation versions. They also decided to make you press Start and A together to go to the codec and Start and B together to go to an overall map of the complex. It's actually pretty irritating and very unnecessary. As I recall there wasn't even an overall map of the complex in the original. Why add it when it just makes the codec harder to get to, and you'll be going back and forth from the codec a lot.

Another minor qualm I had was the Z button. You have to press the Z button to go into first person perspective. The problem is you generally have to keep it pressed really, really hard. I can't tell you how many times I missed a shot in first person perspective because I let up a little bit when I pressed the shoot button and screwed it all up. They do give you the option so that the Z button just switches in and out of first person mode rather than having to keep it pressed, so I guess I can't really fault them too much.

To a big Metal Gear fan like myself, Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes was a bit of a disappointment. You expect them to shake things up a bit when they remake a game, but most of the alterations were a step back rather than a step forward. However, that doesn't change the fact that this is still one amazing game. If you've never had the chance to lead Snake through Shadow Moses Island before, I highly recommend picking this game up. But if you're already a big fan of the original Metal Gear Solid, this game really doesn't offer enough to warrant paying full price for it unless the graphical upgrade really makes it worthwhile for you. Otherwise, a rental will probably suffice.


-Alucard, GameVortex Communications
AKA Stephen Triche

Windows Tropico 2: Pirate Cove Sony PlayStation 2 Driv3r

 
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