You probably know that I'm quite a fan of Metal Gear Solid. I've played the games, I've bought into the spinoffs, I've read the graphic novels. But I draw the line at having the buy an entirely different console to play a remake in the form of Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes.
Emerging onto the GameCube in 2004, this remake slapped Metal Gear Solid onto the bones of MGS2, allowing for a greater degree of control, updated mechanics, and graphics you could actually see. Look! These people have faces!
As great as MGS was, however, in 2004, I was playing Snake Eater on my console of choice, the PlayStation 2. I wasn't bothered about The Twin Snakes, mostly because it wasn't available to me. I was aware of it, and it's noticeable differences, but I was in no need to play it.
Did I miss out? Is this the game we've all been waiting for? It's finally time for me to find out.
These days I do have a GameCube, but I've not gotten my hands on The Twin Snakes itself yet, so don't tell anyone I'm emulating this for the time being, yeah?
It starts off underwater, as the original game, but quickly makes it clear that this is going to be different. The cutscenes are already doing their own thing, portraying the story in their own way, to the point of giving Naomi and Campbell models.
It's the same story, of course, but it has been freshened up by the developers.
For the most part, things are very much the same. The dialogue is as you remember it, the voice actors are the same, even the codec images are on point. Everything about The Twin Snakes seems to suggest it was remade for fans, by fans, and that's great.
Until I fumbled with the controls.
Hands up how many people have crawled under that pipe and immediately alerted the guard? It can't be that many. He even yawns and stops looking for a moment, but no, I had to poke my head out and cause him to raise the alarm, didn't I?
Thankfully, ducking into the water for a moment solved my problems, and I was able to get through this section rather quickly, come to think of it. By the time I was at the top, the lift was descending.
There are now some lockers at the top for you to hide in. I was about to be caught by one of the guards, so I tried opening the middle locker. It was locked. I was about to be discovered for the second time. A guard was already alerted to something I'd done, maybe noise, I don't know. The lift arrived, and I somehow ran into it without its occupant seeing me.
The controls were definitely more MGS2 than MGS1, but with buttons all over the place on the Xbox controller attempting to be a GameCube one, I wasn't happy with them.
Nor was I happy with the changes in the cutscenes, which were really hammering home the point that Liquid Snake - who we only caught glimpses of in the original game by this point - was Solid Snakes' twin. They practically had a staring competition here. If MGS1 was Con Air, The Twin Snakes seems more Snakes on a Plane.
That was a terrible analogy. It's a movie with more style than substance. Flashy for the sake of being flashy. I'll have to work on that.
Oh, Naomi and Mei Ling have lost their accents too. That was almost startling.
Further Fun Times
When the cutscenes stop, though, and the gameplay gets going once more, The Twin Snakes looks like an excellent remake. The graphics are great, those searchlights especially. Are you safe? Are you out of sight? The edges are fuzzy, I can't tell!
I don't know if it was rust or control issues, but I was almost spotted getting into the truck, almost spotted getting out of it, definitely spotted diving for the air vent... Naomi says that the Genome Soldiers in this place have a heightened sense of vision and hearing, and in MGS1, you'd laugh because they have a vision cone and responded to loud clangs. You could skirt them with relative ease.
In The Twin Snakes, they're on to me in no time at all. Is my sneaking suit squeaking? Am I accidentally wearing my tap dancing shoes? I'm worried about how well these guys can sense that something is amiss, partly because it's more realistic, but mostly because it means I actually need to be on my toes, and I'm in no way prepared for that.
Case in point, my exit from the other end of the air vent. Out I crawl. Oh, shit, what's the button to stand up again? Is that... no, damn, oh shit. I've been spotted. I'm glad I picked up the Socom.
Yes, the guards are alerted, I know, stop calling me! Jesus. It's a nightmare to push Start and A on any controller to accept a call when all is calm, and you want me to interrupt a fight to state the obvious?
Long story short, I died. Let's try to at least get to the Darpa chief again.
Excellent. So far, so Metal Gear. This is doing an alright job. Looks good, sounds good, probably plays well if you aren't an idiot. One to look into if you're interested. And then, once more, an overly elaborate cutscene caused me to think twice.
The original was tense. Meryle with a gun pointed to Snake's head, Snake using his words to cause doubt and coerce her into action. You couldn't see any of it, what with ten pixels making up a face, but you could sense it.
Here, Snake and Meryl one-up each other, circle around, yell 'rookie' a lot, and make it painfully evident that Johnny the guard is butt naked because haha, look at Johnny. But then we're broken up by the fight scene.
Within seconds, I run out of ammo, and it's mostly downhill from there. I run to the safety of cover, only to find none. I punch punch kick with all my might, only for the guards to get up and keep shooting. This is awful. This is embarrassing.
It ends, with Meryl's help. I need to up my game and then some if I'm to get anywhere in this one. After the fight, Meryl runs off, and we catch a glimpse of Psycho Mantis. Initially, the developers took the route of a straight-up remake, but Kojima said they should make the cutscenes their own. So they did. Seemingly inspired by The Matrix, mostly.
And it only gets wackier from here. Snake is as bouncy in The Twin Snakes as Cyborg Ninja was in the original, and that's saying something. Mix in an awful load of slow motion, and you've got yourself a Metal Gear Solid that looks like one of your Japanese anime more than your Western action movies.
Maybe that's what you want. My reaction was much like Snakes: bewilderment.
That's where I stopped. Like Metal Gear Solid before it, however, I wanted to keep going because it was so easy to go from one thing to the next. It had me hooked. I know the story, but I wanted to see it. The only problem was that it was reimagined as some kind of John Woo film, and I couldn't control anything with any degree of confidence.
Were I to overcome my difficulties, change my setup, practice and not moan, could I see myself enjoying The Twin Snakes? Yes, I think I could. I'd moan that 'It's not the same', but then it wasn't made to be the same. It was made to be different, and it is a different take on it.
You can play MGS1, you can play The Twin Snakes, you can read the novelisation, you can read the graphic novel, you can even watch the graphic novel adaptation of Metal Gear Solid. There are so many takes on the story that you can find the one you enjoy the most and stick with it.
For me, that's not The Twin Snakes, but I can't ignore that it is a solid (pun intended) game for those who do find it to be the best version.
Voice of Snake himself, David Hayter, persuaded Konami to gather up the gang and rerecord the audio in better quality.
Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes, developed by Silicon Knights, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan, first released in 2004.
Version played: GameCube, 2004, via emulation.