Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes Review

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Ah, The Twin Snakes. I have really been looking forward to playing this. One reason is because I’d like to see how it improves upon the original, if at all. And another reason is because it has fans divided. I’ve noticed players seem to either love it or hate it. The Twin Snakes is a remake of the first Metal Gear Solid which is considered one of the greatest games ever made so as you can probably imagine, fans are passionate about it. Developed by Konami Computer Entertainment Japan and Silicon Knights and published by Konami, Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes was released for GameCube in March, 2004. It comes with visual improvements, new cut scenes, re-recorded dialogue, and features from Metal Gear Solid 2. I’ve heard some players say it’s better than the original and is the definitive version of the game and I’ve heard others say it’s worse, soulless, and not worth playing. From what I understand, The Twin Snakes is not considered canon due to the original creators not being involved in the development even though it is a remake of a game that is canon and tells the same story.

The Twin Snakes tells the same story as the original Metal Gear Solid but with new cut scenes and re-recorded dialogue and one noticeable change is that certain characters lost their accents. The cut scenes showcase some changes in terms of how the story is presented. All of them have been re-done and I went into this expecting them to be more “over the top” because that’s something players frequently bring up when talking about this game. Actually, with how often this is brought up, I expected more crazy cut scenes than what’s actually on display here. Many of the more action-oriented cut scenes are certainly more ridiculous with Snake jumping around dodging bullets and one has him jumping off one of the missiles from the Hind, but I can’t say any of the cut scenes are badly directed or edited. As a result, Snake may seem a bit out of character in that regard but I felt this was a more entertaining watch.

As for the gameplay, I want to start off by saying I played on the Normal difficulty and compared to the original game on that same difficulty, I do feel The Twin Snakes is easier, overall. One reason is because of the changes and the new features but I think another reason is because I already had the knowledge on what to do and where to go. The Twin Snakes plays very much like Metal Gear Solid 2. However, I feel the controls here are more cumbersome if you can believe that. Despite the different controllers, the control schemes do feel similar but the developers managed to make the controls in The Twin Snakes feel more cumbersome. You have to press two buttons to perform certain actions now and I would frequently fumble around the controller and press the wrong buttons which became aggravating.

As cumbersome as I feel the controls are in Metal Gear Solid 2, I enjoyed having more control options or moves at my disposal when compared to the first game. And almost all those options have been implemented into The Twin Snakes. You can roll or somersault, aim and shoot in first-person, aim up and down, climb onto and over things, hang from ledges, and hold foes up. Enemies will even drop dog tags that you can collect but there’s no reward for collecting them which I think is a bummer. In my opinion, the biggest downside here is that the game does not seem to be designed or balanced around the new moveset and features. You’re given all these new moves and options when it comes to sneaking and navigating around the environments but with the same enemies and hazards as before. In fact, I would say it was made easier due to some of the enemy and camera placement changes.

In the original Metal Gear Solid, Snake’s health and carrying capacity would increase as you progressed. In The Twin Snakes, these are both maxed out from the start. This game does feature some items and weapons that were introduced in Metal Gear Solid 2 like the M9 and PSG1-T which means you can knock enemies out with tranquilizer rounds instead of kill them. This is a stealth game so you should try and evade enemies but when you are spotted, the alert system now works like it does in Metal Gear Solid 2. Lockers have been added, bodies do not immediately disappear, and you can now shoot cameras with any gun. One of my favorite things taken from Metal Gear Solid 2 is how key cards work. You don’t need to equip them to open doors anymore. Once you have them, you can simply walk through their associated doors.

When it comes the environmental changes and changes to the enemy and camera placements, I’m a little torn. Many areas feature the same layouts but others feature small changes like new or rearranged objects. As mentioned before, lockers have been added so you’ll see them in several areas in the game. I would say the bigger and memorable areas feel largely the same for the most part. Some include less cameras than they did before but now enemies can be found patrolling around, I guess as the replacement. But even if these areas were the same as their original counterparts, I think they would still be easier to get through here. You have more options when it comes to how you want to approach situations now, and because you can easily shoot down cameras and drop foes in first-person, I feel the new or rearranged enemy and camera placements don’t really make a big difference. It was unexpected at first but I can’t say any of the changes made the experience more challenging.

In my opinion, The Twin Snakes does change some things for the better. The biggest example being the PAL Key sequence. In the original game, you had to take the PAL Key to different areas so it would transform or augment and then you would have to run it back to a room in the underground base. I can’t say I had too much trouble with this but I did find it tedious. You can still do it this way in The Twin Snakes but a shorter method was added so now you don’t have to leave the underground base, reducing the trekking significantly.

One thing I really like about Metal Gear Solid is the boss battles. I won’t lie and say I enjoyed every battle but I admit most of them are creative. All the bosses return and some come with changes. Some noticeable, others not so much unless you played the original religously and knew every trick in the book. Overall, I feel the boss battles in The Twin Snakes are easier. I’m guessing some of the battles felt easier to me because of my experience with the original and due to the new control scheme and moveset. I’m convinced I was able to take down Metal Gear so easily this time around just because of how many times I attempted it in the original. Another boss that I felt was easier to take down is Sniper Wolf. For one thing, her shots don’t spin Snake’s body which is something that really drove me up a wall in the original. Another reason I think this battle is easier is because I feel aiming is a lot easier and smoother in The Twin Snakes.

Metal Gear is a series known for breaking the fourth wall and its little secrets and easter eggs. The original Metal Gear Solid is a game full of these things and they do remain intact in The Twin Snakes. However, some have been altered. In the room where you fight the Ninja, the PlayStation console has been replaced with a GameCube and now the room includes figures of Mario and Yoshi and a poster of Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner. Psycho Mantis’ dialogue was altered to mention GameCube games and while the battle is mostly the same, you will need to switch between multiple controller ports throughout the fight.

One thing I thought was disappointing about this remake is the lack of VR Missions. Not that they were the greatest thing ever but they did add more replay value to the game. The original game came with some but a separate disc was also released and sold in North America containing hundreds more. According my research, VR Missions were planned but the developers ran out of time. Nevertheless, much like the original game, even without the VR Missions, The Twin Snakes still gives you plenty of reasons to return including multiple endings, additional difficulty levels, the Boss Survival mode, and some other unlockable stuff.

Visually, I do think this remake looks better than the original, undoubtedly due to the more powerful hardware it’s running on. That said, I won’t say The Twin Snakes is the best looking GameCube game. Some textures look pretty bad when viewed up close but, overall, I feel the presentation does a good job at conveying the same type of aesthetic as the original. This is a sore point I’ve heard some players bring up, that the art style is off. But I disagree. It might not have the same what I’ll call “grittiness” and it certainly doesn’t have the warpy wobbly look of the original PlayStation game but I don’t see how this is a bad visual reflection of the original art style. However, I do agree that the music isn’t on the same level. But I still think the soundtrack here is good, adding to the game’s cinematic charm. On the technical side, the game ran pretty smooth from beginning to end. I think I noticed the frame rate dip only a few times but other than that, I encountered no major problems.

Ultimately, I prefer The Twin Snakes to the original. Despite the more cumbersome controls, I prefer the moves and features that were taken from Metal Gear Solid 2. Just like that game, once I got the hang of the controls, it was a real joy to play. This is one of those remakes where I really don’t get some of the intense backlash. A lot of players grew up and fell in love with certain games and are passionate about them, including myself, so I can understand if a remake comes along and is just a poor reflection of the original. But I honestly feel The Twin Snakes is not one of those games. However, I also don’t have any nostalgia for the original since I only played through it for the first time not too long ago and to be clear, I did enjoy it.

The Twin Snakes may not be properly balanced but it’s not broken. It is not a buggy unplayable mess. At least not in my experience. It tells the same tale with all the drama and twists intact. Personally, I think the re-recorded dialogue is mostly fine. Sure, I thought some lines were funnier or sounded better in the original but also vice versa. Then there’s the cut scenes. Again, it’s the same story but with redone cut scenes, some of which are certainly more over the top this time around. I found this resulted in a more entertaining watch but I guess for some players, it seems to be a sore point.

I think the biggest problem with The Twin Snakes is what I said before; it’s not properly balanced. It’s not balanced around all the changes and new features. It’s a lot easier to get through, at least in my experience playing on the Normal difficulty level. I would say to veterans of the original that never played this to start on a harder difficulty. Maxing out Snake’s health and carrying capacity from the get-go seemed unnecessary and some of the changes to enemy and camera placements is a bit bizarre because they don’t all result in the same type of challenges offered in the original game. But other than these things, I don’t mind most of the new stuff here. In fact, I prefer a lot of the changes. Not having to equip key cards to open doors and being able to aim and shoot in first-person, hold up enemies, and perform new maneuvers like rolling and climbing onto things and hanging from ledges is all great. The developers certainly didn’t balance the gameplay around all the new stuff but in the end, from a gameplay perspective, I prefer The Twin Snakes.

I would recommend Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes. I can understand some of the negative attitudes towards it that you may hear about but I do think it’s more entertaining than the original and also not balanced properly. That’s the real problem here. Some changes are certainly odd, others I prefer, and despite the cumbersome controls, I think The Twin Snakes is a more enjoyable game to actually play. Definitely check it out.

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