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NGC Review - 'Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes'

by The Cookie Snatcher on April 3, 2004 @ 1:24 a.m. PST

Solid Snake debuts on Nintendo's GameCube in Metal Gear Solid The Twin Snakes. After achieving worldwide sales success and awards for both the original Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid2: Sons Of Liberty, series creator, Hideo Kojima combines the essence of both games into one unique experience. Read more for the full review ...

Genre: Stealth/Action
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Silicon Knights
Release Date: March 09, 2004

Nintendo’s newest second-party development studio, Silicon Knights (of Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain and Eternal Darkness fame), have teamed up with Konami’s most valuable developer Hideo Kojima to create an updated version of Metal Gear Solid exclusively for the GameCube. That’s good news for everyone, but great news to anyone who can’t relate to the following paragraph…

1998. Konami reinvents the landscape of the “stealth/action” genre in America with the national retail release of Metal Gear Solid; an interactive counter-terrorist spy novella created for use with Sony’s Playstation console. It is remembered as one of the most unique gaming experiences of its time.

Indeed, the benefits of owning a Playstation back then was great. But what of today’s target demographic? You know, the ones whose first experience with a controller occurred in the new millennium. Well, Konami is apparently thinking of the children with the release of Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes because, and not to say that it isn’t a great game, but if you’ve played it then you’ve played it. The game’s existence does make sense from a business standpoint. There have been quite a lot of newcomers to join the fold in the last couple of hardware generations, after all.

If you want to know the story of The Twin Snakes then read any review of Metal Gear Solid. It’s the same exact plot this time around. Suffice to say, it revolves around a genetically engineered yet more-human-than-human ex-FOXHOUND undercover government agent named Solid Snake, who has saved the world from hopeless devastation in the last 50 years more times than most people have saved up enough money to buy a car. Then there is some stuff about bi-pedal mechs that are capable of launching nuclear weapons, high-level government conspiracies, psychic controller ports, and a badass ninja with stealth camouflage. And as any expert on classic literature will tell you; the threat of worldwide obliteration, the inevitable corruption of power, supernatural phenomenon, and sick-witted assassination via ancient Japanese martial arts makes for an extremely entertaining story.

The Twin Snakes is nearly identical to its predecessor, except for a few slight differences. First off, obviously, the graphics engine – it has been redone from the ground up, and the result is a graphical presentation right on par with Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. A large portion of the cutscenes have been completely re-choreographed, as well. Infusing the proceedings with an enhanced sense of cinematic style and flair, the games’ newly-realized action sequences are not to be missed. All the dialogue has been re-recorded, though this was one element of the original game that should have been left untouched. Most of the original voice-talent returned to reprise their respective roles, so you’re basically getting a fairly accurate emulation of what you already heard five years ago. Except that now, Snake’s lines are delivered with a heaping serving of over-the-top gruffness. Lastly, and most importantly, Snake can now do everything he could in Sons of Liberty. Specifically, players can now hang from ledges, use lockers to hide in or to conceal dead or unconscious guards, and shoot from a first-person perspective.

Ultimately, the attraction of the game is the same as it’s ever been. Tiptoeing around a well-guarded Alaskan military installation, retrieving vital information, rescuing hostages, and preventing the launch of a nuclear strike while contending with the threat of enemy detection are what you’ll spend the majority of your time doing. There are five different levels of difficulty to choose from in the game. Supposedly, the enemy AI has been enhanced on the more challenging modes, but it’s been too long since we’ve played through the original Metal Gear Solid for us to tell much of a difference. Word on the street is that The Twin Snakes utilizes roughly the same AI system as Sons of Liberty. So, there you go.

As mentioned, the visuals in The Twin Snakes have undergone a dramatic makeover from what was seen in the Playstation game. The environments have a clean, cohesive, and uniform military installation style look to them that is vastly more impressive than we remember them being. Character models benefit from substantially higher polygon counts and advanced texturing techniques add considerably to the game’s level of graphical realism. The Twin Snakes shines brightest during intense cutscene fights, though. When you witness Snake dodge a flurry of bullets with the style and finesse of Neo, or scope out the impressively intricate and cinematic initial fight sequence between Snake and the mysterious cyborg ninja, don’t be surprised if you’re blown away. We were.

Everything about the sound is great, even if the new voice work isn’t quite on par with what was featured in the original. No use crying over a missing accent here and there or a few annoyingly exaggerated protagonist inflections now and then. Although it is surprising that they decided to fix something that wasn’t even broken to begin with. Outside of the aforementioned cutscenes, there really isn’t much of a soundtrack to speak of. What little music there is, is appropriately subtle and cinematic sounding.

Putting aside the extreme enthusiasm that I have for anything with the name “Silicon Knights” or “Hideo Kojima” slapped on it, Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes is still an amazing game in its own right. The affect of aging on the game hasn’t exactly been akin to that of a fine wine, but the assortment of improvements made to it are reason enough to play through the game all over again. Slap on some lipstick and a new dress and the same old girl is suddenly attractive again. Integrate a few enhancements and pile on a coat of polish and the same game seems fun again. If, however, you haven’t played Metal Gear Solid yet, then kick yourself in the pants, add an additional point to the overall score, and put buying this game at the top of your to-do list.

Score: 8.4/10

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