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Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes (GameCube) artwork

Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes (GameCube) review

"With the exception of a crate here and a computer there, not a single aspect of the original's outdated design has been altered; you can execute far more complex maneuvers now than you could during MGS1 Snake's hide-and-seek antics, but does it matter?"

Solid remakes are great. They can take an experience whose value is largely nostalgic, one that's been topped by its sequels or that simply hasn't aged well, and turn it into a game that's actually worth playing today, providing both veterans and neophytes alike with a product worthy of their cash. Metroid Zero Mission, for instance, was a remake done right. It gave the boot to many of the original's archaic play mechanics, updated old levels with new segments while retaining the classic Metroid's feel, and even added some entirely new stuff to the mix that jived well with what came before; it wasn't perfect, not by a long shot, but it was an impressive retooling nonetheless.

Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes, to put it bluntly, is not such a remake. In fact, I don't even know why it's considered a remake at all. With the exception of a crate here and a computer there, not a single aspect of the original's outdated design has been altered; you can execute far more complex maneuvers now than you could during MGS1 Snake's hide-and-seek antics, but does it matter? Is there any point to being able to hang from rails when there are five rails in the entire game? Is there any point to being able to stuff bodies into a locker or shoot steam pipes as a distraction when almost every area in the game is comprised of empty space and rectangular architecture?

No, not really, but that might be a good thing, as the few enhancements that you can employ make the game ridiculously easy. Picture the tank hangar, a rather expansive area "packed" with three guards (the most you'll ever get). How might you approach it? Would you sprint about the upper level's metallic walkways, hide in a corner when one of the soldiers decides to investigate the sound, and then snap the poor sap's neck? Would you toss a few dirty books amidst the lower level's parked vehicles, wait for your foes to discover the stimulating literature, and then sneak past while they were entranced? Would you hide in the series' trademark cardboard box and only move around when nobody was looking, eliciting nothing more than a humorous "It's just a box!" whenever they were?

You might, yes. But it'd be a lot easier for you to just use the spiffy new first person view and shoot them all in the head. In fact, it's almost encouraged; while enemies are almost superhuman in their ability to perceive you at short range, they devolve into something only vaguely self-aware the moment you're a fair distance away. Sure makes the silenced pistol you get dozens upon dozens of bullets for (there are only about fifty sentries in the game) seem mighty appealing...

Sadly, the game's bosses also don't put up much of a fight. Consider Revolver Ocelot, a gunslinger extraordinaire who sports a tacky-yet-cool pair of cowboy boots. Your duel against him in the original was exhilarating, classic. The middle of the already claustrophobic battlefield was rigged with C4, forcing both of you to dash about the room's edges and trade shots as best you could without tripping the explosives. The odds were certainly stacked against you; you had but a pathetic peashooter with which to combat a dual-magnum wielding marksman so proficient that he could aim the ricochets of his silver bullets. Every villain has an Achilles' heel, however, and this guy was no exception: he took damn near forever to reload his guns. Despite this glaring weakness, though, you could only claim victory if you had both the reflexes to dodge Ocelot's shots and the mental prowess to keep an eye on his ammo gauge and strike whenever its emptiness left him vulnerable.

This time around, all you have to do is go into first person view and shoot him in the head four times. That whole "moving" thing just isn't in style any more. This isn't an isolated incident, either. Whether you're being ambushed by a Russian helicopter whose puny armaments can barely scratch your clothes or a chaingun-wielding shaman who's powerless against the "tactic" of leaning around corners and taking potshots, the bosses in this game are consistently and disappointingly pathetic.

Yet despite its underwhelming design, Twin Snakes is a frustratingly difficult game to actually play thanks to its uncomfortable, counterintuitive controls; you'll need to contort your hand in the most unnatural of ways just to hold a machinegun at the ready without firing it, God forbid you should ever have to aim the bloody thing in first-person view. Equally jarring is the problematically longwinded story that remake developer Silicon Knights has done nothing to fix, something that induces "barely a game" remarks from many people, myself included. Don't get me wrong, I kind of like the tale itself. I'm just annoyed that not a single scene involving whiny nerd Otacon blabbering on about "love blooming on the battlefield" is gone, that not a single one of the many frustratingly aimless radio conversations has been cut.

I will admit, however, that the new cutscenes are ridiculously awesome. It may be over the top, but what's not to like about Snake throwing a grenade at a piece of speeding rubble in order to dodge it instead of, you know, stepping aside? And what's wrong with an ethereal cyborg ninja running about the walls of a massive cargo elevator, attempting to hack an enormous mech to bits with just his sword? Well, everything, but that's exactly why I love it.

Enjoyably cheesy cinematics aren't enough to elevate this game above (or even to) the bar of competence, though. All that the developers really did in making this game was gracelessly slap MGS2's play mechanics onto MGS1's levels, and boy does it ever show. The resulting concoction controls horribly, bores me with its ridiculous ease, and disgusts me with the sheer amount of potential it wastes. Even if you're going to play it for the story, the original is better--the handful of things that have been cut were cool, like the aforementioned shaman comparing your fighting style to that of a demon. Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes is an atrocious remake that wouldn't have been worth trying five years ago, let alone today.

bluberry's avatar
Staff review by John L (May 04, 2005)

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