Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes
MARK: Measured against all other games, Metal Gear Solid absolutely holds up—it has an emotional, twisting story; rock-solid controls; and intense hide-and-sneak gameplay that launched a genre. If you missed the stealth-action classic on PS1, you absolutely must play this version. But judged as a remake, Twin Snakes’ lack of major changes, as well as troubles with some tweaks, left me feeling just a bit disappointed.
In terms of controls, Twin Snakes faithfully reproduces Metal Gear’s excellent setup and feel and adds handy new moves (hanging from ledges, stuffing guards in lockers, etc.) from MGS2. The game looks decent, like a sharper version of the original, but thanks in part to its limited color palette, Twin Snakes is far from the best we’ve seen on the Cube. Luckily, the revamped cut-scenes add some spice to the visuals—filled with Fight Club–esque zooms and, of course, Matrix-y slow-mo 360s, they inject new excitement and even a sight gag or two into Metal Gear’s already gripping story.
But sometimes you can see the stitches where new elements were grafted on. Evading guards is tougher—they call for backup, clear rooms, and leave corpses behind when they die (for other guards to find), adding importance to staying hidden and covering your tracks. Trouble is, the levels were designed around the old A.I.; the relatively small rooms and lack of hiding places make getting away overly difficult. The ability to shoot in first-person view is another welcome feature, but it spoils the challenge of a few sections and completely ruins at least one boss battle.
Don’t misunderstand me, though—this is still a good version of a great game. I just can’t help thinking what might have been had Metal Gear Solid been more thoroughly reworked.
SHAWN: The price of a clandestine affair with Solid Snake: five years spent sneaking through lesser, stealth-obsessed Metal Gear knockoffs. Splinter Cell notwithstanding, no other game offers so many nuanced ways to remain unnoticed. Still, there’s more to Metal Gear Solid than hide-and-seek, something most copycats missed. Equipped with everything from camera-guided missiles to a ketchup bottle used to fool guards in the event that he’s captured, Snake’s got plenty to do when he’s not playing hard to get.
The guys (and gals!) who first made the game knew they were onto something groundbreaking and, from the brilliant boss battles to the suspenseful story, spared no expense. The folks who remade it knew better than to fix what wasn’t broken—everything old isn’t exactly new, but it doesn’t need to be. Adding anything other than a face-lift, smarter foes, and fresh cut-scenes would’ve been sacrilege.
GMR—ANDREW: Well, if you’re going to play a version of Metal Gear Solid, then this is definitely the one. Granted, that may not sound enthusiastic enough considering the excellent job developer Silicon Knights did, partly because despite all of the wonderful new additions to the game—and there are many—it still feels like you’re playing the original MGS. Then again, the original was fantastic, so it only follows that The Twin Snakes would be at least the same. But with each new feature comes a downside: First-person aiming makes regular combat easier...but it also makes boss battles far too easy; the new cut-scenes are brilliantly produced...when they’re not overdosing on painfully clichéd bullet-time effects (though Mark liked ’em all right); and the graphical overhaul is nice…but we know GameCube is capable of even better.
Good: Same great MGS gameplay, awesome revamped cut-scenes
Bad: Very few other additions or changes
Bonus: Dog-tag collection à la MGS2
A good example of how one “improvement” in this Metal Gear remake ends up backfiring is the first boss battle against Revolver “Shalashaska” Ocelot. In the original, you had to use timing and quick reflexes to hit the wily Russian as he ran around corners without getting shot yourself. But with Twin Snakes’ new first-person-shooting mode, you don’t even need to move. Just sit back and pick him off with a few quick shots.
Ah, the famous Psycho Mantis scene, in which he “reads your mind” and analyzes your personality by scanning your memory card. Now you get a different message depending on what Nintendo game saves you have, including Eternal Darkness, Twin Snakes developer Silicon Knights’ previous game. Also, obsessive types take note: The portraits in the room have changed. They are (left to right) cut-scene director Ryuhei Kitamura, MGS creator Hideo Kojima, and Silicon Knights head Denis Dyack.
Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in Electronic Gaming Monthly.