BY KONAMI & SILICON KNIGHTS, 2004
25 WORDS OR LESS:
A souped-up retelling of the original Metal Gear Solid with graphical and gameplay upgrades.
Hideo Kojima is like the Adrian Monk of game design; he’s good at what he does because he can’t stop paying attention to detail. Ignore the longwinded codec conversations for a moment and concentrate on gameplay necessities like realistic wolf pee and ice that melts in realtime and the man shows all the signs of an obsessive genius. Combining Kojima with Silicon Knights and Shigeru Miyamoto, you’d think that a flawless Metal Gear Solid remake would be a sure thing.
And you’d mostly be right! Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes is great fun for fans of the original. The graphics have been suitabley updated, and the vastly superior control scheme of MGS2 has been adequately adapted for the GameCube. What, then, keeps the game from being a perfect retelling of the Shadow Moses incident?
If Kojima and company’s aim was to deliver a unique variation on the original Metal Gear Solid, they’ve succeeded. In judging whether or not they’ve delivered a better game, on the other hand, we need to go back to the original and look at some of the things that didn’t make the cut. The dramatic music during key cutscenes? Gone! Witty, memorable lines? They’re MIA! I was left beffudled when Snake neglected to accuse Vulcan Raven of being a real threat in the muktuk-eating competition, or when Otacon forgot to mention Meryl’s shapely posterior. It’s the little things like Snake’s smartass remarks that made me love the game back on the PSone, and while the absence of some of the cooler ones doesn’t make Twin Snakes a bad game, it leaves me asking why. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
But aside from niggling fanboyish complaints like the above, Twin Snakes is mostly a better game than the original MGS. Cinematically, the game is leagues beyond its predecessor. The action cutscenes have been further Kitamurafied — each one’s got an additional slow-motion backflip or two — but the results are still cool to watch. Camera angles, dramatic pans, sweeps, and character gestures will keep players glued to the action regardless of how many times they may have sat through them back in 1998. And reflecting on the game’s subtitle, any cutscenes occurring while les enfants terribles are in the same room become ultra-dramatic, even moreso than in the original.
Regarding gameplay, carryovers from MGS2’s control scheme like the ability to hang from rails and peek around corners go mostly unused. It’s the first-person shooting that really stands out as affecting the original’s classic strategies. Save your chaff grenades by shooting out the security cameras for good, or breeze through the Ocelot battle by capping the moustached gunslinger when you see him move from behind a pillar. Being able to shoot in first person was a desired ability even when the original came out, and having it finally added to the game helps expand its depth even slightly to what fans knew it could be.
The control scheme has been catching a lot of flak from fans of MGS2’s near-flawless setup, but the GameCube controller supplies a perfectly useable scheme. Aside from the few minutes it may take to initially become adjusted, you’ll be chucking grenades and strangling pissing guards like you did back in the day in no time. The puzzling exception is the Start + A combo required to bring up the codec. Partially explained by Start + B’s map function, but there’s no reason to not simply include codec and map submenus beneath a standard "Start" pause.
If you’re in it for the extras, you may be disappointed. All the old unlockables are back, but only one additional prize has been added to the remake: the Boss Survival Mode lets you tackle each major fight in succession. Snake can now hold up guards to obtain their dog tags, but unlike MGS2, there’s nothing to be gained from it other than bragging rights.
Let’s be fair here. Recapturing the original flavor of Metal Gear Solid is a difficult task, and for what it is, Twin Snakes does a very good job of it and even manages to improve on a few things. But it’s a tradeoff; for every cool new thing added to the game, there’s another cool thing that’s been inexplicably dumped in favor of a bland alternative. Regardless, the game comes highly recommended for the simple fact that it’s fun, it’s cool, and it’s $10 less than most other new games. So suit up, bitch! We’re calling you back out of retirement… again. —Alex Fraioli