Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes Does Not Live Up to the 1998 Original
by Ravi Singh, Posted on November 30, 2008
This summarizes what's new about The Twin Snakes.
Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes is an odd title out of the Metal Gear series. It's the first and, so far, the only remake of a Metal Gear title that has been approved by Hideo Kojima. It's the second remake, and forth title in general, out of the Metal Gear series to be on a Nintendo platform. It is the first Metal Gear title developed by a developer not affiliated with Konami, and the first to have any involvement from an actual motion picture director.
A hot topic for most Metal Gear fans is debating that The Twin Snakes sucks or is the best game ever. It's quite the interesting topic because you can never tell what side someone is going to take simply based on his or her opinions on what makes a good game good. Of course, wither or not any of these people have even played the game, the Nintendo fanboy will probably say that The Twin Snakes was fucking awesome, the anti-Nintendo guy will say that it sucked because it's on the GayCube, and the person who is insecure about their sexuality will state that it's at least better than Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty just because you get to play as Solid Snake instead of Raiden.
Simply put, we rarely see an intelligent view on the issue, both positive or negative. If we do, it gets drowned out by idiots using caps lock. The thing is, The Twin Snakes is actually not that bad of a game. The cutscenes are very movie-like, the graphics are decent, and the gameplay is, well, kind of like Sons of Liberty.
However, not only was it released years after Sons of Liberty, but it's a remake of a game that was considered one of the best PlayStation releases ever. The Twin Snakes simply doesn't hold up to the original. It's a remake that is not all that could have been, especially considering all of the talent that was involved in this project.
Inconsistency Between Gameplay and Cutscene
The typical argument against The Twin Snakes involves the cutscenes that were directed by Ryuhei Kitamura, who's batshit crazy. Scenes in the original in which Snake would peek around a corner, hide behind something, or put his hands up end up looking like this:
Which is fine, except when you play the game, Snake can't jump. Which, once again, is fine, but what the fuck?
Let's also not forget that he has the slouched look from Sons of Liberty, in which he's supposed to have aged a lot since the Shadow Moses incident. Snake never acts like he's so damn flexible during gameplay. Which is why we get the problem: Why make Kitamura director when you're just going to make the gameplay be exactly like that of Sons of Liberty? They had to have watched Kitamura's previous works, right? I mean, Hideo Kojima is apparently a huge fan so… what the fuck? Why didn't they tell Silicon Knights that Snake should pretty much be Dante from Devil May Cry? Or at least younger than he is in Sons of Liberty?
"Konami JPN's polygon demo team incorporate in the game Mr. Kitamura's extreme directions…" EXTREME. How extreme? How about Solid Snake backflipping onto a missile to jump up and fire a Stinger missile in mid-air at the Hind D? Or Snake getting so pissed off that an old guy can't remember a codec frequency that he actually puts his SOCOM to his head?
Before everyone tries to blame Kitamrua for single handedly "ruining" The Twin Snakes, keep in mind that he did what he was told to do.
As fun as Kitamura's direction of the script was, it was not consistent with the game. The scenes with Gray Fox, for example, make sense for his character considering the boss fight with him. It's too bad that they didn't have Silicon Knights make Snake NOT look like he was from Metal Gear Solid 2. It's just weird to see someone look so damn out-of-shape be so damn flexible during certain moments. Otherwise, the cutscenes are really not that bad. They're just over the top considering the gameplay.
Sub-par Voice Acting
While the cutscenes are actually good aside from the over-the-top visuals, a lot of the voice acting simply falls flat. How can this be true if The Twin Snakes practically recast the same voice actors? That's what I'd like to know. Dropping the accents of the characters already brought down a few points. While Mei Ling was from the United States, it's possible that, being raised in China Town, she acquired an accent. Naomi Hunter doesn't even know where the fuck she popped out, and Nastasha Romanenko was from fucking Ukraine.
However, it's not just that. A lot of the voice actors delivered a weak performance. Jennifer Hale was notably the worst, which is sad considering her performances in the original, Sons of Liberty, and even Guns of the Patriots. What the fuck gives?
Anyone who claims that The Twin Snakes looks better than the original Metal Gear Solid is correct. That was one of the selling points of the remake. What you have to take into consideration though is the different hardware both titles were using.
In that aspect, Metal Gear Solid is a beautiful game for what can be done on the PlayStation console. Sure, the graphics are mostly composed of blues, greens, and grays but the way KCEJ designed the look and the filters allowed for one to catch the gritty feeling the low-polygon count environments were supposed to give. Sure, nobody had eyes, but you kind of got the idea that they did. Just the cutscenes themselves being done in real-time were impressive as it is.
Comparing it with anything on the GameCube, even The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time port, would be unfair due to the drastic differences between the hardware. Even comparing the high-resolution PC port and Dreamcast emulation of Metal Gear Solid to anything on the GameCube would be unfair since the port and the emulation do not look like what the development team intended the original game to look like.
However, looking at The Twin Snakes and comparing it to other GameCube titles is fair game and it's in this aspects that it fails especially in comparison to the original. I mean, let's use another remake as an example. The first Resident Evil for the PlayStation was remade on the GameCube. Now I'm not going to compare The Twin Snakes with a game that uses 90% prerendered graphics for backgrounds, but the game could have easily looked worse and still be recognized. Capcom did the best they could making it look as good as it does. Before the remake, Code: Veronica for the Dreamcast was arguably the best-looking Resident Evil game out there. Comparing the two titles has the remake of the first one stand out–although to be fair, Code: Veronica uses polygonal backdrops rather than pre-rendered ones–which is no surprise if you compare the Dreamcast hardware with that of the GameCube's. So what have Silicon Knights done in regards to Metal Gear?
At the time, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was the best looking Metal Gear game out there. Considering the GameCube's superior hardware, I think it would even be fair to use Snake Eater–which was in development around the same time as The Twin Snakes was–as an example, but fuck it, I'll be nice and stick with Sons of Liberty.
See the problem? The Twin Snakes looks like Sons of Liberty. Fuck, it looks worse sometimes. Why do character eyeballs in Sons of Liberty look more real than they do in The Twin Snakes? Ironically, those cutscenes everyone bashes end up being the best looking parts of the game.
Instead of ripping the maps from the original PlayStation game and then throwing in edited polygonal models from Sons of Liberty, why didn't they just, I dunno, work from scratch? Too much time and money, right? Well then, why bother making a remake?
Modern Gameplay, Dated Environment
Solid Snake enters a room. This room has some decent places to crawl under, hide behind, and there are even some lockers Snake can hide in now. What to do?
Considering how much ammunition is available for your tranquilizer gun, you'll probably go into first-person mode and pop all of them in the head and go to the next area. While shooting them in the arm with a silenced SOCOM will actually have them look for cover and then call for some help — instead of going "Hm?" and ignoring the fact that they just got shot as they do in the original — you still can just aim for the head. I know, you could make the game harder and closer to the original by abstaining from using first-person mode but… why? It's true that the absence of first-person shooting was annoying in the original Metal Gear Solid. It's also true that this feature was a great addition to Sons of Liberty. So what the fuck is my issue with it?
It's like getting a huge television set in a room where you're going to be sitting close to the television anyways. If the maps remain the same, albeit a few lockers here and there, then this makes things easier. Even boss fights remain unchanged, causing the Revolver Ocelot boss fight to be easily won by staying in first person, using the triggers to sway left and right while Ocelot fires, and then firing your gun when you get a clear shot. As opposed to the original, where you had to chase down the nutjob and figure out a way to avoid his ricocheting bullets.
In fact, the only location and boss fight that changed enough to qualify as an adaptation of the current gameplay is the M1 Tank in the Snowfield. However, even that gets bogged down by something else I'll discuss later. Besides this area's slight change, nearly every location is the same as it was in the original. Fine, but the Sons of Liberty gameplay mechanics don't work well here. In the original, Snake would simply hide or run away from an Alert and Caution. Sons of Liberty added an Evasion mode in which heavily-armed guards will actually look for you everywhere. Including those oh-so-helpful lockers that they added to, I guess, spice up this remake.
The original Metal Gear Solid had one issue: a lack of extras. I mean, sure, beating what's essentially an hour-long game thrice grants you a tuxedo, the ability to see Gray Fox randomly dress up as Spider-Man, and possibly see both endings to the same fucking story, each of which gives you an unlockable item. Three hours later, you're fucking done. For a two-disc game, that was kind of a joke.
Seeing as how The Twin Snakes is a remake, surely they addressed this issue? Well, we still get two endings with their respective unlockable items, but the only thing thrown in that adds any incentive to go through the game multiple times is the dogtag collection and collecting each and every dog tag available in the game gives you… nothing.
Well at least we got ten VR Missi… oh wait, no, those got cut out.
Even Silicon Knights' Denis Dyack believes that a Metal Gear game lacking extras would be a disappointment… or at least he thought so before the game's release.
I understand that the GameCube controller is not like the PlayStation 2 controller. So of course it's not going to control like Sons of Liberty. But come on, couldn't they have at least allowed players to have some customization over the controls?
The default layout is fine. However if you want to do some complicated things it gets irritating. For example, the GameCube controller buttons are not pressure sensitive. Fuck. So how can you hold someone up using an automatic rifle without blowing your load? Well, you would have to hold "Y" while holding the weapon button which is "A." You are going to have to hold it like that and release "Y" if you want to fire a bullet. Even more annoying is if you're aiming with a handgun and realize you don't want to fire a bullet. So you have to then hold "Y" while holding "A" and then release "A" and "Y" in that exact order.
Why didn't they have the "Y" button, which they called the "Weapon Lock" button be toggled on and off? Or am I just more nuts than Kojima on acid watching Zeitgeist? Weapon lock, being a quick fix, does not address the lack of pressure sensitivity when it comes to throwing grenades. So that M1 Tank battle is harder than it should be because you have to hold the "A" button long enough to be able to throw it farther… but not for too long or else you'll blow the fuck up.
Why Remake Metal Gear Solid?
Metal Gear Solid was released in 1998 for the PlayStation. Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes was released in 2003 on the GameCube. Based on the logic that the 1998 game was due for a remake in 2003 for what was then considered to be "next-gen," Sons of Liberty should have already been remade for the PlayStation 3 in 2006, and we should be expecting a remake of Snake Eater sometime in 2009, possibly for the PlayStation 3. Fuck, Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake apparently could have been remade around three times and Metal Gear Solid should have another remake! Of course, considering the random decision of making a remake exclusively for GameCube while it's sequels are developed for an alternative console, these additional remakes should probably be on the Xbox 360 or Wii.
Which makes you wonder, why the fuck was The Twin Snakes developed by Silicon Knights, effectively making it's rights exclusive to Nintendo? This question isn't necessarily one that should provoke any bullshit from fanboys because on a logical level, it's quite unexpected. If a remake was necessary, why did Konami outsource the development of this title, let alone outsource it to a second-party developer; especially one that has contracts with Nintendo? If you think about it, fans of Metal Gear Solid most likely bought a PlayStation 2 for Sons of Liberty. Sure, I already had a GameCube for The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, but I highly doubt that fans of the original Metal Gear Solid who planned on only getting one console decided to invest their money in a GameCube, especially for a Zelda title.
Nonetheless, even if this was a PlayStation 2 title, it obviously wasn't necessary and the outsourcing of development ultimately proves this. If the remake of the title that gave Hideo Kojima the attention he has now was really that important, there is no way Konami would have trusted anyone but themselves to make it. Now I'm not going to claim that this game would have been better if it was on the PlayStation 2 or developed solely by Kojima Productions (then known as KCEJ). What I will say is that these actions reveal that the game was made probably because of some sort of deal between Nintendo and Konami. Meaning it might have been mostly business that was driving the development.
The Original Stood Out For It's Time
This is the tragedy of The Twin Snakes. Silicon Knights, Kitamura, and Konami did a lot of work to rush in this title. Unlike Portable Ops, this title is actually not bad. However, perhaps because of the rush and the involvement of too many money hungry corporations, we got something that is a decent game to kill a few hours with. On it's own, The Twin Snakes does not stand out. Would it, had this been an original non-canon story with the same quality? Maybe the fact that we're used to the original makes what would have been considered fuck-win be "decent"?
While the story might have been considered phenomenal, I don't think anything else would have stood out. As a GameCube game, this game doesn't stand out visually amongst titles such as the 2002 build of Resident Evil 4, Metroid Prime, and even the launch title Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader. The gameplay itself, being taken from Sons of Liberty — a 2001 video game — isn't much to brag about either, especially when the gameplay on the more powerful gameing platform suffers from issues such as slowdown. Ultimately, there's a lot to ponder about in regards to how a remake of Metal Gear Solid could have turned out had it surpassed the original in almost every way possible.