Review: Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes
Posted 29 Mar 2004 at 04:23 by Bas Oosterveld
Nintendo, Konami and Silicon Knights developing a remake of what many consider one of the best games ever made. On beforehand you can't go wrong with such a line up, others might say it is a cheap move for a company in dying need of a quick hit. Either way, this is without a doubt the most anticipated third party title for the gamecube ever. Let us find out if all the hype has been worth it.
Story wise, this is as good as it can get folks, and the immense amount of movies will make sure of that. It all revolves around the so called Metal Gear project, a device that has the capability of launching nuclear missiles from any terrain. Unfortunately the base where the project is developed has been hi-jacked by terrorists. This is where Solid Snake comes in, the main character of the game.
Solid Snake is your typical silent and lethal warrior who always works alone and gets the job done by any means necessary. Throughout the game we get to know a little more about him and his past, and without really reveal any spoilers, his list of enemies has grown quite large over the years. Although Snake isn't the most unique character in the game, his ghastly monotone voice is a sure sign of that, the whole realistic story behind it makes him very convincing. The same goes for all the other personages in the game.
The amount of movies used in the game are truly impressive. Long, heavy cut scenes full of political intrigues and personal stories (some of them a bit overdone though), and there is even authentic film material. Of course all the visuals have been polished to GameCube standards with additional bullet time effects here and there, but still it's not the best the cube can render. Most of the FMV's as well as the real-time graphics have this artistic film-noir type of atmosphere, which is caused due to an overuse of dark and gloomy colours. It has become a trademark style for the Metal Gear series.
Armed to the teeth:
Snake's arsenal of weapons and gadgets is quite impressive. The weapons he can use range from his trusty COMON hand weapon to five types of grenades, heat seeking missile launchers, machine guns or his bare fists if it really comes down to that. Or what about thermal goggles, a mine detector, body armour, a gas mask, or even a carton box were he can stealth his way through a room.
You most likely won't notice it while playing, but the codec communication system plays a key role in the game. This device allows Snake to communicate with other support characters that can provide him with insides of various objectives. There are some really practical tips your allies can give you if you talk to the right person. This way you might never really get stuck in the game.
Another useful device is the AP sensor; a radar that detects enemies and functions as a mini map. This is especially handy because the camera angle won't allow you to see more than a few metres up ahead.
Stealth and Combat:
Twin Snakes uses pretty much the same control system as Sons of Liberty, the sequel of the original Metal Gear Solid. So Snake has more moves at his disposal then in the Playstation version. But still there are some frustrating aspects of controlling your character. Particularly when it comes to battles, there is nothing more annoying when you can't see your enemies while they shoot shiploads of bullets at your battered body.
Perhaps this is because of the angle of the camera, which is fixed thus cannot be manually controlled. Now you have the option to switch to first person mode to look around and gun enemies down, but it's just not practical enough as you cannot manoeuvre in first person.
What strikes me the most with stealth games in general is that the athleticism of the characters comes closer to a senior with bad knees than the killer machines that they're supposed to be. And in Snake's case even worse, he cannot jump and has no analog sensitivity while manoeuvring so he can only walk or run with nothing in between, no subtle jogging or ultra slow sneaking. Maybe they wanted to stay true to the original this way but it's definitely taking away some appeal of the game.
The terrorist group that took over the base is called Foxhound, led by the dangerous Liquid Snake who claims to be the brother of Solid. The core of the group consist of genetically manipulated personages who want nothing more then to confront Snake in a man to man battle. Probably the most bizarre character is Psycho Mantis who has the ability to read people's minds. A tough customer to say the least, as he can read every move that you make.
A unique part of the game is that the Foxhound group are not portrayed as your stereotype bad guys, it is not a matter of black and white. Each character has their own reason to fight in this war, and the story reveals why each Foxhound member has become the lunatic slaughter that they are now as Solid have to take them out one by one.
And speaking of confrontations, what about the AI? A vital element for stealth games. Well, it will not disappoint you as the AI is hard and ruthless to the point that one little mistake leads to getting half of the Foxhound troops on your back. Take them out quickly or they have time to call reinforcements. Don't come too close to a guard or make a loud noise or they will spot you, guaranteed. Even if you take shelter in a closet or something, they will simply look anywhere. Or what about when you shoot a guard in his trigger arm, does he run to mommy do you think? Wrong, the tough bastard simply injects some morphine or something similar in his injured arm so he can carry on. No, the artificial intelligence has been well taken care of.
Despite the fact that the game is 6 year old it still holds up in the present and a lot of this has to do with the storyline. As a matter of fact, many insiders regard the original Metal Gear as the best because of its tension and atmosphere. The control system however leaves you in the dark at times as it could be a bit more practical and intuitive.
Nonetheless we should thank guru Miyamoto for convincing Hideo Kojima, creator of Metal Gear Solid, to release a title on the GameCube. Hopefully this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
N-Europe Final Verdict
We want more Snake..Snake?!..SNAAAAKE!!!