Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes review
A classic reinvented
The original Metal Gear Solid (MGS) is regarded as one of the greatest video games ever made. Solid Snakes adventure through the nuclear storage outpost located on Shadow Moses Island turned the former 8 bit star into a true video game icon. MGS became credited with the establishment of the modern stealth genre and synonymous with superior cinematic storytelling. To put it simply Snakes conflict with the renegade special force group FOXHOUND became the stuff of video game legend.
Sadly to paraphrase the titles protagonist, the game is no match for the legend. The 5th generation of consoles to put it nicely did not age like a fine wine, but rather like a bottle of malt liquor. Titles like Goldenye, Final Fantasy 7, Crash Bandicoot, Wave Race, Banjo & Kazooie, Ocarina of Time, Resident Evil, and MGS will be hailed as classics by those who played them in their prime, but younger gamers who didn’t get to experience them when they were cutting edge will never be able to fully appreciate them.
State of the Art
As it turns out Konami and Nintendo realized this before HD collections were all the rage and Silicon Knights was assigned to remake MGS, no easy task considering the expectations that would go along with reinventing one of the most acclaimed titles in history. In 2004 about six years after millions of gamers were first introduced to the world of Metal Gear, the Twin Snakes released exclusively for the Gamecube. Just as when Sons of Liberty had dropped 3 years earlier the fanbase was divided.
The biggest change present is the facelift that Silicon Knights implemented. Gone are the jagged polygons and undefined character faces that were once considered to be state of the art. The graphics are of about the same quality as SOLs , although I experienced a few dips in the frame rate, and the facial animations don’t match up to their PS2 predecessors.
The cut scenes have also received a facelift, although it may be more accurate to say that they were completely retooled. An additional hours worth of footage has made its way into the game as a result of this, as several moments have been given more of an action movie feel; compete with impossible acrobatics and bullet time. This produces mixed results.
The Cyborg Ninjas butchering of the genome soldiers is now shown in all its glory and I feel confident saying it more than matches up against whatever your imagination came up with back in 1998. However others; such as Snakes evasion of Ocelots shot, or his face to face with Liquid before the REX battle, tread into over the top territory and serve to undermine the grounding in reality that the original title possessed. Snake isn’t a superhero; he shouldn’t be back flipping away from bullets. Yet I can’t even type that sentence without being hypocritical as his face-offs with the Ninja are serious showstoppers that had me staring in awe. Gamers might disagree with the direction that the cut scenes have taken but it is impossible to argue against their quality.
Something that’s quality can be argued is the re-recorded voice acting. David Hayter knocks it out of the park as always and his vocal work as Snake is probably just as synonymous with the series as its longstanding tagline Tactical Espionage Action. Christopher Randolph also hits just the right note of pathos to gain pity for Otacon; while accomplishing the difficult task of not making him come off as pathetic. Cam Clarkes performance as Liquid Snake can often threaten to become campy but it fits right in given the heightened sense of everything, and Liquid is a prime example for why the English make good villains.
Others don’t make it through the transition quite as unscathed. The Colonel now delivers most of his lines as if he’s half asleep. Mantis suffers from the opposite and does the video game equivalent of chewing the scenery; though to be fair it’s in a Val Kilmer in Tombstone kind of way (which is to say it’s sorta awesome). I wouldn’t describe the actress who voiced Meryl as doing a bad job, but when the comparison to the original is made it can’t help but to be noticed that Debi Mae West is guilty of being a “try hard” as the kids would say. A lot of her lines just come off as being a little forced in Twin Snakes.
Enough has probably already been said about Mei Ling and Naomis vocal alterations, but since their Twin Snakes counterpart matches up a lot better with Guns of The Patriots, I’m just gonna say the director at Kojima Productions must have preferred how they sounded on the purple lunchbox (full disclosure; mines actually a silver lunchbox).
The score has become a bit more bombastic as several tracks have been remixed, while others are replaced altogether. While not the series best soundtrack for sure, I'm personally a fan of it, though many have voiced their displeasure of the changes. Different strokes for different folks.
One thing that Twin Snakes doesn't do away with is the tactical gameplay that Metal Gear is famous for. Making it through the environment undetected is still the best course of action, and it is likely by the time you're mission is complete that a good portion of the genome army will have suffered from broken necks or... explosions if you're a fan of C4 like I am. Don't fret though as the boys and girls at Silicon Knights did tweak things a little.
Twin Snakes borrows many features from Sons of Liberty to go along with the updated look, though most are much less pronounced. Somersaults and hanging don’t really add as many dimensions as the developers might want you to believe. Lockers are now scattered about the environment although it’s entirely possible to go through the game without using one, or even taking notice of their presence. The main addition to the gameplay is the introduction of first person mode, and it’s sort of a double edged sword.
Taking out enemy guards is easier than ever since you are no longer forced to rely soley on Snakes auto aim. Headshots and crotch shots are now possible allowing you to take out your assailants with one bullet. Boss fights are impaired by this as unlike the Genome Soldiers the members of FOXHOUND have not been outfitted with updated AI. Granted the sheer brilliance of their original design still shines through and the Mantis encounter in particular still stands out as one of gamings greatest.
Holding up the enemy has also been added but they only drop dog tags this time around, and since there is no reward for doing so it turns out to be a fruitless endeavor. Smaller alterations such as the addition of the M9, the more convenient placement of a new tranq sniper, and an easier solution to the keycard dilemma iron out a few of the rough edges from the original.
One of the Gamecubes greatest overlooked gems, the Twin Snakes is the definitive way to experience Solid Snakes most famous outing. Hideo Kojimas masterpiece is given new life and should be played by all those who’ve been curious about the original MGS but never gotten around to trying it out. I give Metal Gear Solid The Twin Snakes 4 and a half cardboard boxes out of 5.
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