Ah, Metal Gear. This NES classic, released in 1987, is known around the gaming community as bringing the whole stealth genre into the limelight. Most of the time it was better and easier to simply avoid your opponents instead of gunning them down. In addition, this title had an excellent story (for the time), albeit filled with such classic lines as “The truck have started to move!” and the infamous “I getting sleepy!! I feel asleep!!”
Now, before you purists start yelling at me, I do have to say that, yes, there was a Metal Gear title on the Sega Master System before the NES hit. However, it was with the NES title that the series became the classic that it is today.
In 1990, there was a sequel to Metal Gear, also on the NES. Unlike the original, this title wasn’t received well at all by the gaming press or gamers in general. It’s too bad that most gamers don’t remember this game, as the plot of this title references back to it constantly.
Changing gears entirely, to those who don’t know, Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes is a remake of the hit Metal Gear Solid on the original Playstation. Why did they do this? Hideo Kojima felt that his creation needed a remake to keep it in line with current technology. In short, as it’s described on the back of the box, “For the first time ever, experience Metal Gear Solid in the way it was always meant to be played.”
Was the remake successful? Keep reading to find out.
To be very blunt – Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes looks fantastic. Not only has the game been given an extreme graphical makeover at the hands of the Silicon Knights team, but every in-game cinema scene has been redone by cut scene director Ryuhei Kitamura. Their combined efforts turn this once great looking game on the old PS into a graphical masterpiece.
For starters, every character in the game is a high polygon model, capable of moving a single finger or eye in an attempt to show realism realistic body movements during the cinemas. Overlaid with a high detail texture map, this allows players to see the gritty realism of this world – rough or smooth skin, individual folds on clothing, realistic looking parts on the many metal objects you run across, etc. These people look far more real than anybody you’ve seen on the videogame screen before.
Going even further, Ryuhei Kitamura turns the cinema scenes into something taken directly out of a movie. Characters will realistically pace back and forth as they discuss the latest plot point, and their facial features will show concern, worry, and even a touch of fear. They also pull off moves that a ranked ninja would be envious of, as Snake will dodge attacks like he just came out of The Matrix or Max Payne.
Here’s some of the excitement you can expect from one of the later cinemas: A chopper launches a pair of missiles straight towards Snake. He hurriedly does a series of back flips to avoid the first one as it strikes into the ground. As the second nears, Snake launches into the air, bouncing off the missile to get additional height. Arcing through the air, he pulls out a Stinger Missile and fires it. As the helicopter’s missile explodes behind him, his own makes a perfect line towards its target.
The best part about all of this? It’s all done without the use of FMV. Short of the occasional movie, every cinema scene is done using the in game engine. The dramatic camera angles, the rapid switching of scenes, the impressive close up…all of this belongs in a movie, not a video game.
Are they any downsides? Yes. Not all the textures in the game are as impressive as those shown on the players. Frankly, some of them look like they’ve been pulled from the PS1 title. Thankfully it tends to not be all that noticeable, short of the sequence at the very end of the game. In addition, during the cinemas, you will see the occasional bit of slowdown from the normally locked 60fps. As it only happens there, in my opinion, it really doesn’t affect the otherwise fantastic game.
In the future, when somebody looks for an example of fantastic voice acting, you have two choices: Knights of the Old Republic (on the Xbox) and this game. All the voice actors of the original Metal Gear Solid were brought back to completely rerecord their lines. Short of some of the actors not using the same accents they had before (for reasons I can’t understand), everybody sounds as good as they did before, if not better. In short, they sound realistic and like they’re actually performing their lines instead of simply saying them for a paycheck.
This title also supports Dolby Pro Logic II Surround, and the developers use it impressively. While it isn’t noticeable too much in the standard game, during the cinema scenes it’s used very well. Mainly it’s there to tell the viewer where the voice is coming from; left, right, behind, whatever. The interesting part is when the camera shifts to inside someone’s head. At that point, it’s heard via all speakers, just like it would be in real life.
The music is basically the same as it was – an upbeat soundtrack that quickly draws you into the game. While purists might complain at how the main ‘theme’ has been modified somewhat, it’s even catchier than the original. Where’s my music CD of this game?
One final note – the negatives. There are none, short of when you die. The most common line you’ll hear upon your death is, “Snake? Snake! SNAKE!!!!!!” It gets very annoying very quickly. And until you get the firepower to properly deal with the opposition, it’s something you’ll be hearing time and time again. Unless you’re rather good at this game.
Also, to those with Dolby Pro Logic II receivers, make sure you go into the Options screen each and every time you load the game. Why? The game stupidly does not save the Options menu onto your memory card, and by default, Dolby Pro Logic is turned off. An annoyance if you don’t know this, as there’s no way to turn this on inside the game itself.
With all this stealth action, one could hope for really good controls, right? Well, let me be blunt – while the control scheme works, it doesn’t work all that well. Why? A simple lack of controller buttons.
That’s right – for the first time in ages, you’ll actually have to press a combination of buttons to access a relatively common control. However, what is given to you works rather well. Let me explain.
The analog stick moves you around. A is the main action button, while B punches. X makes you duck/stand, and is generally used to move down. Y is your use button – open lockers, doors, climb ladders, and is used to grab/flip over railings and such. Pushing L makes you equip/unequip items (except in the alternate control scheme below) while holding L in allows you to select your item. R does the same thing, but with weapons. Pushing and holding Z (changeable in options) goes into first person mode. The C-Stick is only used when guiding a remote controlled missile.
Now for the oddities – pushing Start AND A opens up the Codec (your communication device thingy). Start and B pauses the game (and pulls up a near-useless map). Why they couldn’t just use Start to bring up the Codec (which also pauses the game) and have you push another button for the map is beyond me.
Why is this an issue? Well, the A button shoots your gun. In most places of the game, shooting your gun unless it’s actually aimed at somebody is a bad thing, as your opponents will notice the sound it makes. In short, make sure you’re holding the Start button before you bring up your Codec.
There’s an alternate control scheme that changes the weapons and items around to switch between two different weapons and items, but I found that in practice it was utterly useless. In short, it got me killed more often than not.
Why does this section score so high then? Because the controls work. Once you play for 10 minutes or so, the controls become second nature. You’ll be sniping people’s heads in first person view with ease, then quickly duck into a cardboard box to avoid detection with ease. Short of my recommendations above, there’s simply no better way to configure the controller.
From the manual: “The nuclear weapons disposal facility on Shadow Moses Island in Alaska’s Fox Archipelago was being used to train the next generation special forces unit FOXHOUND when the unit suddenly revolted and captured the island.
The terrorists have secured hundreds of nuclear warheads and are demanding that the government turn over the remains of Big Boss. They’ll warn that if their demands are not met within 24 hours, they’ll launch a nuclear weapon.”
So, instead of sending in the national guard, a series of trained commandos, or just outright bombing the place back to next Tuesday, they send in you – Solid Snake. Your goal? Determine if the threat is real, rescue a few people held captive, and generally save the world.
All in a day’s work.
In the original game, it was just you verses anybody you happened to come across as you try to protect the world from destruction. It was heralded as not only the game of the year from multiple sources when it came out so long ago, but some called it the best game on the PS1. Personally I feel, it was one of the best titles that the console had to offer.
But what exactly do you do in this game? You, as Solid Snake, need to venture into this hardened military bunker in the middle of Alaska, seek out a pair of extremely important people, try to neutralize the terrorist threat, and simply stay alive. Not too long after you begin your journey however, you discover that not all is as it seems.
In the process, you’ll sneak into this base by underground waterway, acquire weapons and items on the fly, and incapacitate or kill any Genome Soldiers that cross your path. Oh, and like any game like this, you’ll encounter a few bosses in the way as well.
You’ll enter the base without any weapons or items (short of some cigarettes which Snake smuggled via methods you just don’t want to think about), and be forced to use your intelligence and wits to progress forward. Thankfully Snake is anything but powerless in this situation. Not only does he have his Sneaky Suit (seriously, it’s named that), which helps him sneak around, but he’s a powerful hand-to-hand combatant. His blows will drop an enemy in seconds, and he can put just about anybody into a deadly chokehold.
Not too long after landing, you’ll come across a pistol. Unfortunately, it’s far from effective, as it’s not silenced. You’ll drop one guard, only to have the rest of the room hear the noise. At that point it’s basically a last resort weapon. However, you’ll quickly upgrade your firepower to not only a pistol that’s silenced, but weapons ranging from a FA-MAS, to a PSG1 Sniper Rifle, to Stinger Missiles, and even fun stuff like C4 and books of pron to attract the guard’s attention.
Even armed with all this firepower, your opponents are no slouches. While they normally just wander around, hoping to basically stumble into you, once you’ve been spotted, they become very aggressive foes. They’ll wait for backup before engaging you, they’ll search and clear every corner of a room, search lockers, and even toss grenades your way if they have you cornered.
But they’re no threat at all compared to the bosses.
From Revolver Ocelot, master of the pistol, to Vulcan Raven, a guy who carries enough ammo to devastate a small army, to Sniper Wolf, the most deadly of snipers, you’ll face opposition in every turn. While every one of them is a severe threat to your mission, and your life, none of them compare to your final battle. Especially what he’s guarding.
This game is also wrapped up in what some would find a very confusing story, one rife with betrayals and more ‘need to know’ lines than seen in the White House itself. It’s an excellent storythat also refers to the older NES games for some of the background. For those who haven’t played those classic titles, there’s a full debriefing of the games available from the title screen.
Unfortunately, there are some issues. First off, the game is short. Very short. The average gamer will finish this game in six hours or so. Half of that are the outstanding cinema scenes. On successive run-throughs, if you skip everything important, the game can easily be finished in about two hours. For that matter, the second CD is almost nothing but either boss fights or cinemas.
However, it will be the best six gaming hours you’ve ever played.
Keep one thing in mind when you play this game – you’ll be only actively playing it for about 3 hours or so the first time through. Less if you’ve played the game before. During that time, expect about 3 hours or so of nothing but cinema scenes.
Is that too short for a $39.99 game? No. It’s the best six hours of your gaming life. You’ll be stunned during every action-packed cinema scene, and you’ll be smiling with glee as the guards desperately search for you, as you pick them off one by one with your sniper rifle. If you even remotely like the action/stealth genre, you will love this game.
On top of that you’ll get 5 difficulty levels, including an option where if a guard or camera spots you, it’s instant game over. You’ll also get a helpful item the first time you beat the game, making your next journeys through even easier. In addition, if you enjoy doing everything there is to offer, there’s a series of Dog Tags you can collect from your opponents, each detailing a bit of life about them. Kinda fun if you’re bored.