Metal Gear Solid – The Twin Snakes GameCube Review

“It’s been a long time Snake…”

Way back in 1998 Hideo Kojima’s gave birth to a classic, a classic with a new exciting breed of gameplay, a classic with a vast story that through every twist and turn of the polygon world unwove in front of your eyes, a classic which at the time offered, extraordinary graphics pushing the boundaries of the PlayStation console. It sold millions, it made Hideo Kojima a well know name to everyone whole plays games and it made a lot of gamers extremely glad they bought a PlayStation. The game got rave reviews all over the gaming world, as high as 9.8 from many a gaming site and even 10’s or 100% from many a gaming magazine. It did its part to bring a new side to what people saw and wanted in games back then, it offered different new worlds to be explored and new aspects for gamers to mess around with….

… But now!

The year is 2004, Nintendo and Silicon Knights have joined the team and Snake comes into sight, he emerges from the shadows and finds himself back on a Nintendo console, he now finds himself on the GameCube. The world may seem familiar, he will encounter a few friends and foe he met a few years previously, it is time to relive one of Solid Snake’s greatest adventures. It is time to experience The Twin Snakes.

“I’ve been waiting for you, Solid Snake. Now we’ll see if the man can live up to the legend!”

Graphics

Visually the game is beautiful, as one would expect the polygon-count has shot up from what you experienced in the PlayStation version; it is now on par, and at times superior to the style seen in Sons of Liberty. It really does look like a next gen game, not just a remake made for the next-gen system. But it is not just the graphics that got the next-gen treatment, the game uses better lighting and textures than ever before, places where the developer’s work really jumps out at you and slaps you in the face are the areas right before the Ocelot and Mantis fights, other areas are good too but these were areas that really caught my attention.

Sadly, there are some noticeable framerate problems in a few areas, one of the most noticeable being during the first 10 minutes of the game. All the snow, heavy lighting effects, textures and bump-mapping seems like too much for the little Cube to handle. Other areas have slight slowdown issues as well but none are as evident as the ones you experience at the start. The slowdown, though, doesn’t happen enough to take away enjoyment from the game and only the most vigilant gamers will probably let it get to them. I believe it could easily have been cleared up with another few weeks development time.

Anyone that has played the original will still remember the cut-scenes to this day, not because there are so many of them, but because they were so well done, at the time they set a new standard. This time the bar may have been raised again, the cut-scenes manage to make the original one’s look downright bad and make 95% of this gens developers look like they haven’t even tried when they did theirs. The scenes are directed and choreographed under the watchful eye of Ryukei Kitamura. All of the scenes have been completely reworked and most of them have been lengthened by at least a few minutes. Bullet-time has been used, slow-mo can been seen in there too. Yes! Ryukei Kitamura is god! Now that is no light statement, from the opening scene right to the ending his class shines through in the game, his unique style suits the game very well and the slightly over the top cut- scenes enhance the game more than one would think. Alaska has never looked so impressive.

Gameplay

For those of you who will be new to the game I will bring you up to speed and tell you what you should expect. That the game is all about stealth, or to give it it’s full title; Tactical Espionage Action, this basically means that each area of the game is based with stealth in mind, you can shoot and kill people in the game if you wish but it is much more satisfying to sneak past them, infact the game has been made so you can finish it without actually killing a single soul. Now On with the review…

First things first, how does it control? Well, for the most part it is pretty good. The “analog stick” could get a name change for this game though as the game has it set to operate digitally, it is limited to just walking and running, nothing in-between. Some of the other moves such as accessing the codec are now a slight hassle to get to, to open the codec you have to press start and the “A” button at the same time, while this may seem awkward you will probably get used to it after the first few times you use it, the first person view is used by pressing the “Z” button. This seems the obvious choice of button for the feature but some people complain about the position Nintendo chose for the button on the pad. If you are one of those people, then it may take a while before you get used to it, most of the other features are controlled the same way as they did on the PlayStation version as the buttons are mostly in the same position. If you were able to appreciate the way the older game controlled you should appreciate this, if you are new you should get used to the controls after about 10 minutes play.

Twin Snakes embraces all the new features contained within Sons of Liberty and integrates them with the ones for 1998’s much loved game. You might think this would just change gameplay on a cosmetic level, if you think this would be wrong. You can not fully experience the new touches until you can get the controller in your hand, the inclusion of the First Person mode flips the game on it’s head and changes the way you experience the game. Throughout the game you will have the chance to operate all the weapons such as the M9, SOCOM .45 pistol, FA-MAS assault rifle, the new views adds a extra perspective to battles and take away very little of the exhilaration and fun of them, and this first-person view is just one of the extras, with the inclusion of lockers, being able to move the enemies, able to flip over rails and many more, you could technically say you have a completely new game to experience.

Well that enough about the weapons, stealth is after all what the game is about, Snake will have to tiptoe past guards, inch his way through tight air ducts, and hide from view in enemy lockers. The enemy AI is considerably superior to that of the original, and one could argue it betters that of Sons of Liberty. Anyone that chooses to play the game on extreme may find it too much of a challenge, I bet it has humbled many a gamer and I find it a huge challenge myself. Without spoiling the story I will just say I am stuck at the second boss at the moment and it took me a lot of playtime to get there. Even on the lower difficulty levels the soldiers certainly do seem smarter than any other games in the series.

To cut a long story short, the main purpose of the game is to infiltrate an Alaskan nuclear missile disposal complex occupied by a terrorist organization know as Foxhound. Each associate of this radical organization has their own motivation of what they expect out of this war, each of them has their own motive to back up their hate for you. Each of them has their own motive why they don’t want you involved with what you are doing and each of them has a reason why they want you dead. It is these reasons that make the game special, it is these reason why you will remember the game for years to come and it is these reasons that make the game a classic.

Thorugh every twist and turn the game throws something new at you, in the original it was a new, innovative and exciting experience, it is now a fresh and exhilarating experience for GameCube owners. It’s fantastic!!

Sound

Metal Gear Solid games have always been superior when it comes to sound and Twin Snakes does nothing to break the trend. Although you will notice many of the same sounds from the original all of them have been re-sampled, from the footsteps to punches, from the voice acting to the soundtrack everything is new, and dare I say it better! The soundtrack has been tinkered with and remixed; it now has a more epic feel and when a significant moment is happening or about to happen in the game the new music really does help make it feel a lot more meaningful.

When important plot moments kick in, or you are in a battle the music does add to the intensity and really makes the battle feel better. I cant stress enough how much the music in Twin Snakes adds the same dynamic feel of the game, you could compare it to a movie soundtrack, imagine one of your favorite movies with the music ripped away. It doesn’t feel right does it? Well that is why so much work as been done to get the music just right in this game. Twin Snakes needs its music to make it the game that it is.

The original cast of voice actors return to once again lend there vocals to the game, the whole script has been re-recorded and the cast now seem more experienced and all of them better their original efforts. If you liked what they did with the original you will love this. Hayter does an especially great job with reprising Snake and never seems to be under-toned or over the top at any point during the game. Mei Ling, and Naomi have lost there accents for reasons I do not know but this should not bother many gamers.

Lifespan

The weird thing about MGS:TTS is that if you skip all the cut-scenes, you will notice how really short the actual gameplay time is, but you are definitely not going to want to go and skip them on your first (and maybe second) play. They are fantastic, they are there to push the heavily scripted game forward. If you are new to the game it will probably take about 15-18 hours to finish and then a few hours less each time you decide you want to play it again.

But why would I want to play it again you may ask? Well here is your answer. SK/Konami has included 2 different ending to the game and lots of unlockable extras to tempt you to play a second, third and fourth time! Some people may say the game has a short lifespan, technically they may be right but if you want to unlock everything you will have to play the game lots of times on all the difficulties which ends up with you getting lots of hours of play for your money.

Overall

If you played the original you will already know of it’s legendary greatness and your mind will be made up on whether you want to relive the same story again, but there is really enough new features and little extras in there to make it a worthwhile buy. If you were a N64 only gamer during the duration of the last gen and did not play the game the first time around then there is no excuse for you not to run out to you local game shop and grab your copy right now.

Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes undoubtedly is a high-quality “Triple A” title. It lives up to the original game’s legacy and at times improves, outperforms and outshines it. It contains high-quality gameplay and a superb, brilliantly told story that unweaves in front of your eyes with every polygon that passes you by.

9.2 out of 10

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