Anyone who has been playing games for the last couple of years can tell you that 1998 was the greatest year in videogame history, thanks largely to the release of several ultra high quality titles such as Gran Turismo, Half-Life, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and Metal Gear Solid. All of these titles saw great commercial and critical success, and spawned sequels. Now, there's a new game in town - the remake, and Metal Gear Solid is the first of the big 1998 hits to receive that treatment with the Nintendo/Konami collaboration of Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes. Can you combine the enhancements from Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty into the original game to make it better? Read on to find out.
I'm You! I'm Your Shadow!
Legendary FOXHOUND soldier Solid Snake went into retirement after causing the fall of the Zanzibar Land by defeating Big Boss and his giant mech, Metal Gear. Snake's retirement has been cut short, as his friend and former commanding officer, Colonel Roy Campbell has been recruited to convince Snake into accepting a high priority mission. Six members of FOXHOUND; Psycho Mantis, Vulcan Raven, Decoy Octopus, Sniper Wolf, Revolver Ocelot and Liquid Snake, and the Next Generation Forces were on a training exercise on Shadow Moses Island, a nuclear disposal facility in the Fox Islands. FOXHOUND and the army have rebelled, taking control of the facility, as well as taking several hostages. They want $1 billion dollars and the body of former FOXHOUND commander Big Boss, or they will launch a nuclear weapon. Snake must infiltrate the facility and investigate whether the terrorists have the ability to launch a nuclear weapon, and rescue the DARPA Chief Donald Anderson and the president of ArmsTech, Kenneth Baker. In true Snake style, he's going in alone.
Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes is a remake of the first Metal Gear Solid utilizing several of Metal Gear Solid 2's enhancements. All of the game's cutscenes have been re-done, this time by popular Japanese director Ryuhei Kitamura (he made Alive and is working on a new Godzilla movie), and all of the voices have been re-recorded. Other than that, it's pretty much the same Metal Gear Solid we saw back in 1998.
Kitamura's direction has a much more high energy feel in comparison to the way Hideo Kojima does things, and this gives Metal Gear Solid a slightly different feel. In fact, Kitamura loves to go over the top and likes to draw on a few Hollywood action films, and this is apparent through the more action packed cutscenes, such as the Ocelot fight and the first encounter with the Ninja. Most people should enjoy the new direction, which will more than likely be the main draw for those who've already played the game.
The Metal Gear Solid 2 elements have been grafted into the original game, and it's quite handy having things such as first person aiming, but those of you who played Metal Gear Solid in 1998 are going to find that this makes the game a lot easier. Also, some of the finer additions from MGS2 are actually unnecessary in The Twin Snakes, due to the game maintaining the same map structure of the original game - being able to hang over rails and hide in lockers is a nice touch, but you don't ever have to use these things the way you did in the sequel. The AI of the soldiers has been enhanced beyond the level of MGS2, which should make for some more interesting situations, given the vastly different settings of the two games.
The main problem with Metal Gear Solid was the length of the game, but The Twin Snakes does a few things to rectify the situation, such as adding extra difficulty modes, the boss battle mode, and the dog tag side mission. The main game will take you no more than 10 hours the first time through, but be weary that a large portion of this time is occupied by the game's lengthy cinemas and codec sequences.
Why Are You Calling Me Brother?
The Twin Snakes main advantage over the original release of Metal Gear Solid is the more advanced graphics engine. While it essentially looks like MGS2, The Twin Snakes boasts some slightly nicer lighting and shadowing features. The character models look just as good, if not slightly better than those in MGS2, featuring pretty much the same level of animation that we saw in the sequel. Not everything is flawless, however, as The Twin Snakes does suffer some occasional slowdown, but this won't interfere with the gameplay, which is very fortunate.
Metal Gear Solid's soundtrack is regarded as one of the best musical pieces in videogame history. There have been a few changes to the soundtrack for this remake - some fans of the first may be angered that some of their favourite songs have been cut, but some of the new additions are good in their own right (such as the remixed version of the MGS2 theme during evasion mode). The Twin Snakes has left the game script relatively unchanged, though the voices have been re-recorded by the original cast, who managed to recreate the same level of quality witnessed in the original release.
Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes is a very solid remake of one of the best releases of 1998. Those of you who played it back when it was originally released may not be satisfied with the new additions, but you should at least rent it to view Kitamura's take on the MGS story. Big fans of the series are more than likely to buy it, no matter what I say, but you won't be disappointed. Anyone who hasn't played the original MGS should snap this up immediately, as it is one of the best action/narrative titles on the market, and the Gamecube version makes the game that bit more digestable, especially if you've only played the second game on the series.