To call the game's sound effects and music a success however, really wouldn't be doing it justice. From bullets leaving barrels, casings hitting the ground, punches and kicks connecting with enemy flesh and rockets and grenades exploding, to the revamped Metal Gear theme and beautifully haunting melody accompanying the game's ending - through every scratch, bang and step along the way - Twin Snakes is an aural tour-de-force for the GameCube.
'Twin Snakes is an aural tour-de-force for the GameCube'
The cinematic ambitions of Metal Gear Solid, however, have never been in question, and Twin Snakes merely builds on these for the Matrix generation. Instead, much furore has surrounded the series' interactive elements and the way these mix with the decidedly non-interactive cutscene and codec moments. For Twin Snakes this is no less true; the watch-to-play ratio often being heavily weighted towards the former, yet the cosmetic changes of the game's cinematics are joined here by the gameplay options of MGS2, making the game a hybrid of new direction and elevated control that propels both the out-of-play and in-game experience.
On the surface, the gameplay additions work well. Control is mapped from the PlayStation pad to the GameCube with little fuss; the lack of two extra buttons is cleverly bypassed by pressing Start with either A or B to access the Codec screen and Pause menu respectively. The lack of the lock-on L1 button of PlayStation 2 MGS2, meanwhile, is not an issue, as Snake now locks onto guards automatically, while first person view is assigned (with some awkwardness) to the Z button. The control system does lack the fluidity of more recent titles in the genre (this is no Splinter Cell), and the camera is still stubbornly top-down, but it's all familiarly and unmistakably Metal Gear. MGS2's hiding in lockers, holding up guards and first-person firing only serves to reinforce this fact, as does the use of the latter of these in the game's ever-memorable boss fights. This is an update, not an overhaul.
Sadly, the effects of this ideology are double edged. The new additions are fun to play with, but these new gameplay options sit against the framework of this new old Metal Gear less convincingly than they do against its sequels. Areas originally designed without these new interactions in mind now face a new approach which skews the difficulty curve unfavourably towards the first time player, meaning the lower difficulty settings present less of a challenge than they did previously. Admittedly, increased enemy AI helps correct this somewhat, especially in Hard and Extreme modes, but the further lack of any reason to engage guards directly (Sons of Liberty's precious dog tags are little more than an easter egg here, and offer no hidden extras for they're collection) makes the option to resort to ranged sniping all too tempting. And in areas that were never designed with sniping in mind, with fewer enemies than now needed to make progress a challenge, and (by today's standards) relatively sparse environments, it takes a disciplined gamer or dedicated fan to wield these abilities in the gameworld the way Kojima would hope.
The Twin Snakes is, then, less balanced than both the original Metal Gear Solid and its other subtitled series brethren. Additionally, Bonus Theatre and Boss Survival modes ripped directly from MGS2 are nice enough additions in themselves, but serve also to remind GameCube owners that this is not a sequel, or even a remake of the old original 8bit Metal Gear games that started it all, as many had hoped upon announcement of a GameCube MGS title. As a remake instead of an old game, the question of developer laziness has to be raised, and the notion that Nintendo loyalists have once again been fobbed off in favour of the PlayStation brand is hard to shake.
Yet, looking past game-development politics, what Twin Snakes represents is important. More than just a lazy cash-in, it's a preservation of Hideo Kojima's own special art. It renders the Metal Gear Solid heritage - one of gaming's most important memories - timeless; to be enjoyed by an already adoring public, those that missed it the first time, those too young to play it then, or those not around then to remember. It's retro made modern, with a post-modern plot message that will still be relevant in a decade's time. Overall, Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes is an experience; comfortingly familiar for diehard fans and ready-made for today's more demanding generation. Though certain new additions sit uneasily against the seven year-old framework, and the genre may have evolved past the truncated structure of its original (and still-present) PlayStation base, at its height, very few titles in the genre can match this or any Metal Gear for sheer style and panache.
VideoGamer.com Score7 Score out of 10
- Controls and gameplay of MGS2
- Wonderful cinematic presentation
- Old design and new abilities create imbalance