“Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes” is a fascinating remake of “Metal Gear Solid”. All the voice acting has been re-recorded (although, interestingly, Solid Snake actor David Hayter went to great pains to ensure all the original voice actors were re-hired, going so far as to give up half of his paycheck to do so), the game runs on a new platform and a new engine, and there are new gameplay elements introduced…yet none of that is the reason why the remake stands out. No, it’s the extraordinary sense of silliness and camp the remake added that really sets it apart – and I for one, loved that.
[Note: This review focuses specifically on the game as a remake, so any returning elements from the original game – the writing, the story, the characters, and so on – aren’t discussed in any detail except if they’ve been altered in some way. All my thoughts on the actual story of the game can be found here, in my review for “Metal Gear Solid”.
Another note: This review is generally spoiler-free. There’s a clearly marked-off section at the end for spoilers, that is easy to avoid for those avoiding them.]
To illustrate my point about the remake adding much silliness, I’ll compare some screenshots and videos.
The intro to the original 1998 “Metal Gear Solid” (relevant section starts at 8:23):
The intro to this, the 2004 remake “Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes”:
The laughably over-the-top editing, intercutting between protaganist Solid Snake and atangost Liquid Snake, certainly backs up the added subtitle of the remake (“The Twin Snakes”). The music is much less lowkey, instead a lot more camp and cheesy. I find the whole thing absolutely delightful; it’s hilarious self-aware shlock. It seems it was the direction series director Hideo Kojima himself requested for the remake, as he oversaw the hiring of cutscene director Ryuhei Kitamura (a famed Japanesse director in his own right) for his specific style, and apparently even sent back early cutscenes with instructions to make them further over-the-top (this Wikia page says so, but the reference link is broken, so I’d take that latter point with a grain more salt than the confirmed former).
The more modern engine is much more visually appealing, the mere inclusion of facial expressions alone a huge upgrade over the original game. Observe the difference between a scene between the DAARPA chief Donald Anderson, and Solid Snake, between the two versions.
“Metal Gear Solid”:
“Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes”:
The improved graphics mesh very well with the already very cinematic nature of the game. The cutscenes are all notably more ludcirious than in the original game – I can understand why some would be irritated by this, but as I personally took the game as a complement to the original, rather than a replacement, I found them tremdonous fun).
Furthermore, there are two fan theories that do wonders for explaining why such a heightened version of the story would exist – one being that it’s a VR simulation of the original game and thus includes various exaggerations and inaccuricies, and another being that it’s self-proclaimed anime fan character Otacon’s retelling of the story. In fact, both theories could even be combined, in proposing it’s a VR simulation based off Otacon’s direction.
In any case, there are many delightfully silly moments in the game. As part of the above scene with the DAARPA chief, Solid Snake seemingly dissapears when a guard walks past the door. A moment later, we find him…
…clinging to the roof, Spider-Man style!
Another such moment takes place during the glorious boss battle with Psycho Mantis. When Mantis breaks the fourth wall and tells the player to place their controller on the ground, the camera abruptly zooms into Solid Snake’s face in a style very resmincent of how cameras treats straight man characters on mockumentary-style shows, such as Jim Halpert on the American version of “The Office”.
In terms of gameplay, I found some of the new gameplay features of the remake made some sections of the game notably easy. For instance, combat was much easier using the newly-introduced first-person view – a boss battle with Revolver Ocelot, in particular, was a piece of cake compared to the more frustrating encounter I found it to be in the original game.
Overall, I found “Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes” a delightfully campy remake, and a very enjoyable experience. I’d hesistate before recommending it over the original game – the improvements are significant, but some of the re-recorded dialogue lacks the charm of the original, and the cutscenes do tell the story in a notably different way – but I’d certainly recommend it as a complementary experience. I give it four backflips, and a regretfully less memorable soundtrack.
[End of the non-spoiler section of the review.]
I’ll add a load of paragraph breaks here, to prevent accidentally seeing the spoiler section – you’ll have to intentionally scroll down to see it!
[Beginning of the spoiler section of the review.]
In terms of theme, the remake adds a lot more focus on the duality between Liquid and Solid Snake, as befitting the title. I believe this makes the ending reveal about Liquid actually having the superior genes all along work a tad better, as more groundwork about their relationship, differences, and duality had been laid.
Liquid’s death scene is also changed to reflect their bolstered relationship – in the original he falls and dies in a fairly standard way, but in the remake he dramatically falls, dramatically rises back up, dramatically meets Snake’s eyes for a moment, then dramatically falls down for good.
While fascinating, I don’t believe this added focus benefits the story to such a point I’d recommend completely forgoing the original and playing the remake instead. Again, I think it works best as an extra, complementary experience, and I give it four backflips, and a regretfully less memorable soundtrack