Six years ago, Metal Gear Solid revolutionized the stealth action genre, establishing itself as one of PlayStation's most critically acclaimed successes. Its rich storyline, intuitive controls, and talented cast of voice actors delivered an unprecedented, epic gaming experience. And in essence, it set the bar for future tactical espionage action titles.
Although Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes doesn't attain a new standard of innovation, it does offer fans and newcomers alike a riveting, wholly entertaining experience quite unlike anything they've encountered before in this genre. Emerging on the GameCube as a bolder, refined hybrid, Twin Snakes captures the essence of the original classic and combines it with the acclaimed gameplay nuances of its sequel, Sons of Liberty. The end result is simply remarkable, thanks to the collective talents of Silicon Knights and Konami Entertainment of Japan (KCEJ), who introduce a distinct dimension that couldn't possibly be achieved six years ago. Unfortunately, this achievement comes at a high price that mars its potential for perfection.
"This is a top-secret black op. Don't expect any official support."
I won't divulge too much of the story in order to avoid any spoilers. At this point in time, I am sure many gamers have played the original and are aware of how the events unfold. But for the sake of newcomers and persons whose interests have been piqued, I'll go over the basics.
The story takes place at an Alaskan nuclear disposal facility on Shadow Moses Island. The hero, Solid Snake, is coercively brought back into duty to infiltrate the area and prevent a terrorist takeover from escalating into a nuclear war. During his debriefing, Snake learns that the terrorists are in fact former comrades from his old military outfit, FOXHOUND. Naturally, things end up a lot more complicated then they appear. Snake is issued two mission objectives: rescue the DARPA Chief, Donald Anderson, and the President of ArmsTech, Kenneth Baker; both who are being held hostage. And secondly, determine the severity of the terrorist threat. However, Snake quickly discovers his objectives will involve more than just nuclear weapons and saving a couple of old men. As you progress throughout the game, you'll become entangled with a series of political riddles, plot twists, and the inevitable encounter with the devastatingly powerful battle tank itself, Metal Gear.
Let's get the nitpicking out of the way. The controls could benefit from a bit more polish. For the record, I am very fond of the GameCube controller. However, it's no substitute for the Dual Shock, which I basically consider to be better suited for this type of game. Perhaps I wouldn't feel so awkward with simple tactics like disengaging the first-person view during gunfights or holstering my weapon if it weren't for the relative degree of hand gymnastics required.
"I am NOT a rookie!"
Certain commands that were originally executed by one button have been inexplicably replaced by a combination of two (or three) buttons at once, essentially creating a very disorienting gameplay experience. I realize this is minor, but having to press the Start button in conjunction with the B or A button for simple codec transmissions or those vital moments when you need to pause the game for bathroom breaks is just wrong. Despite the option to configure the first-person view, I would've preferred a custom configuration setting to map the buttons according to my tastes. It left me to wonder if critical aspects like this are actually screened during the QA process.