If you're a video game publisher in need of a big hit, what's one surefire way to create a game with plenty of appeal and a ready-made audience? Well, you could always remake one of the most revered action games of the last decade. That's exactly what Konami (in collaboration with Nintendo and Silicon Knights) has done with Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes, which is a modern-day update of Hideo Kojima's seminal 1998 stealth action classic. You might think it hasty for these companies to remake a game that's scarcely five years old when there are other older games that are just as deserving of a makeover. Regardless, The Twin Snakes retains nearly all of the qualities that made its original incarnation so memorable. It's too bad the new version doesn't add more to the experience for fans who still retain a clear memory of the original, but those who never played the original Metal Gear Solid will be in for a great ride.
Solid Snake returns to Shadow Moses, once more, in Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes.
Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes takes place in the near-future, where the baddest superspy of all time, Solid Snake, is called out of retirement to infiltrate an Alaskan nuclear base. His mission is to save a couple of important old men and stop a group of genetically enhanced terrorists (who are being led by members of Snake's old squad) from launching a nuclear weapon. Actually, it's a lot more complicated than this. Along the way, Snake will uncover the existence of a new version of Metal Gear--the nuclear-equipped bipedal battle tank that's plagued his military career throughout the series--and will face off against some long-lost family he never knew he had.
The storyline takes too many twists and turns to mention, so fans of the original game will know exactly how complicated and interesting things get by the end of the game. Then again, this is part of the problem. If you've played the first game, you already know everything that's going to happen. No liberties were taken with the story, nor were any significant dialogue changes introduced in this remake. So unless you've never played Metal Gear Solid and don't know the details, none of the story sequences in The Twin Snakes will surprise you. If you're new to the series, you'll be struck by just how much story is in the game. You'll spend long stretches of time watching cutscenes and listening to dialogue instead of actually playing. The story can be long-winded, but it takes itself seriously and packs in a lot of action and drama. As a result, you'll probably really get into it if you give it half a chance to draw you in.
In fact, if you're familiar with Metal Gear Solid, you may be amazed at just how adherent this remake is to its source material. Pretty much all of the level layouts, enemy placements, dramatic interactions, and boss fights in the game are exactly as you remember them, which is both good and bad. This is good because it all worked the first time around, and it works just as well here. However, this is bad because if you were hoping for a significantly altered experience from the original game (such as what Capcom did with its Resident Evil remake), you'll be a little disappointed--even though this is still a great game.
As you'd expect by now, The Twin Snakes plays almost exactly like its PlayStation predecessor. Snake still has all of his old moves. He can back up against and can sidle along walls to avoid security cameras; he can peer around corners to detect searching guards (and can then sneak up behind them and break their necks); and he can use a vast arsenal of weapons, which includes a silenced SOCOM pistol, a FAMAS rifle, and guided Nikita missiles. All the old items you remember return as well, such as rations that restore your health and the unassuming cardboard box that lets Snake hide from guards. Alas, Snake's assortment of weapons hasn't really been beefed up much for this remake, so the only real additions are the M9 tranquilizer pistol and the PSG1-T sniper rifle, both of which first appeared in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. These added weapons aren't really new or flashy, but they provide you with a bloodless way of taking out enemy guards.
The gameplay improvements made by The Twin Snakes generally make MGS more entertaining to play.
All this is not to say everything in The Twin Snakes is old hat--or rather, at least it doesn't all come directly from the first game. For one thing, the developers have added the first-person shooting ability that made MGS2 a lot more fun to play than its predecessor. This gives the gameplay more depth, since the precision aiming lets you pull off feats that were impossible in the original game. You can score headshots when trying to eliminate guards (which obviously provide instant kills), or you can shoot security cameras to make your passage easier. Certain boss opponents also take more damage from shots to the head. Some lesser mechanics from MGS2 have made the transition here as well. The guards' bodies don't disappear like they did in MGS, so you'll have to hide them once you've killed or knocked them out. Interestingly, you can stuff them into empty lockers, or you can even hide in a locker yourself to escape roving enemies.
When MGS2 was released on the PS2 in late 2001, a lot of the prerelease hype was directed at the supposedly enhanced artificial intelligence of the enemy soldiers, and indeed, they were a lot harder to deal with thanks to their wider-ranging search patterns, increased ability to detect your passing, and better inter-area communications. This upgrade, too, has been rolled into The Twin Snakes, so you'll likely find the game a lot more challenging than the original MGS. When you take out a guard, some unseen commander will often radio in for a status report. If he fails to get a response, he'll dispatch a whole team of new guards to search the area to find out what's going on. This definitely keeps you on your toes, and it feels a lot more like you're fighting real soldiers than the mindless drones you choked by the dozens in the original game. Then again, the guards are still curiously unable to spot you when you're directly across the room from them. Apparently some things never change.