Defending Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes
Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes was a remade version of the original Metal Gear Solid released exclusively for the Nintendo Gamecube in 2004. It was developed by Hideo Kojima’s team at Konami as well as Silicon Knights, the same guys behind Eternal Darkness and Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain. The game featured the same old Shadow Moses we all know and love, but running on the same graphical and physics engine from Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, released for the PS2 a few years prior.
Despite receiving great scores at launch, Twin Snakes is often considered by many to be the black sheep of the franchise and a game that “ruined the original”. I am one of the few who disagrees with this. I’ve been playing this game for almost fifteen years and it is still my favorite Metal Gear Solid game of all time. I definitely don’t understand the hatred towards it. Here is a list of a huge amount of elements featured in Twin Snakes that might have generated a little bit of controversy and we will discuss whether or not there’s a logical reason for them to deserve such hatred.
Tranquilizer weapons and stamina bars
The developers decided to add two more weapons to your arsenal in Twin Snakes. Both the M9 pistol and PSG1T rifle allowed for you to knock enemies down without actually killing them and the same could be done to bosses. The game now featured a stamina bar for you to fully finish the game while killing less people than in the original Metal Gear Solid. That wasn’t a bad addition at all. It didn’t disrupt the flow of the original game, all it did was add a completely new way to play it in a more “pacifist” way.
No more gradually increasing health bars
If there was one thing I despised from the original MGS, it was the fact that you started off with a minuscule health bar and the only way you could increase them would be by defeating bosses. That feature was removed in Twin Snakes, as well as pretty much every single other Metal Gear game since. Good riddance.
First person view
One of the most controversial additions in Twin Snakes was the inclusion of MGS 2‘s first person view aiming. That allowed for you to carefully aim at an enemy’s head or limb and get a specific response from him. That also meant that some boss fights, such as Ocelot’s and the second brawl with Raven, became a lot easier by being able to properly aim at them, instead of relying on the game’s top-down perspective. I don’t agree with the complaints. In no moment did the developers decide to change the boss fights and force you to beat them with this new perspective. If you are a purist, you can simply play those sections just like the good old times. If you’re having a hard time aiming at Ocelot properly however, you have a brand new gadget at your disposal. Player’s choice above anything else.
Another major criticism directed at Twin Snakes is how over-the-top and ridiculous its cutscenes are. It is clear that Kojima and Silicon Knights watched a ton of The Matrix while developing the game, as the cutscenes featured a ton of acrobatics, slow-motion, and bullet dodging. People actually complained that they were too cheesy and over-the-top. Yes. People complained that a Metal Gear Solid game was over-the-top. A gigantic ship crashing on Manhattan, a flamboyant vampire who walks on the surface water, cyborg ninjas, a soldier who uses bees as weapons, a parasite that specifically kills people who speak English, a girl who doesn’t wear many clothes because she breathes through her skin, those are apparently all fine. A few Matrix-inspired cutscenes are a no-no, apparently…
Jim Houseman’s absence
…does anyone really care about this one?
“You seem to like Wind Waker / Smash Bros / Eternal Darkness, don’t you?”
I love it. That will never get old.
Brand new soundtrack
Instead of using the classic Metal Gear Solid soundtrack, Twin Snakes opted for a brand new electronic-infused soundtrack inspired by the works of Harry Gregson-Williams on both MGS 2 and 3. This is one element I agree that the original game did a lot better. The original Metal Gear Solid soundtrack was a lot more dramatic and impactful than the electronic beats featured in Twin Snakes. The absence of the Metal Gear Solid theme song and its usage on the Game Over screen is one of my biggest gripes with Twin Snakes, without a doubt.
No VR missions
The more than three hundred VR missions from the original Metal Gear Solid weren’t included in Twin Snakes due to time constraints. I do agree that their absence is a tremendous bummer.
Reworked voice acting
Twin Snakes didn’t reuse any single line of recorded dialogue from the original Metal Gear Solid. The developers have decided to bring nearly the entire original cast back to re-record their lines for the remake. This meant that, unlike MGS‘s echoey and sometimes unprofessional sound quality, Twin Snakes featured much cleaner and audible lines of dialogue, especially during in-game cutscenes. The developers have also decided for Naomi and Mei Ling to stop using forced foreign accents, unlike the original game. Given the fact that they continued not to use those forced accents in subsequent games, such as Guns of the Patriots, and the fact that they were born in America to begin with, I really can’t complain about this decision. People might complain that the voice acting might not be the same as the one they grew up with, but they can’t deny that it sounds a lot more professional in Twin Snakes.
Darkness and blur
Another major point of criticism directed at Twin Snakes was the fact that it was a lot darker and blurrier than the original. Despite the much smoother animations and framerate, you can clearly notice a lot of blur at many points, especially when you’re outside the base’s buildings. The lighting effects have also drawn a ton of criticism and I wholeheartedly agree. Twin Snakes is one of the very few games I have to bump up my TV’s brightness settings to the absolute maximum just so I can figure out where to go whenever I’m inside a ventilation shaft. The original Metal Gear Solid was a lot easier to see, despite the stupidly grainy and poorly aged visuals.
New stealth methods and environmental additions
Twin Snakes added a ton of stealth mechanics originally featured in MGS 2, such as the possibility to peek out over corners, hang on ledges, and the inclusion of lockers for Snake to hide inside. While some complained about these additions making the game a lot easier, the fact that the original Metal Gear Solid level design remained intact meant that you don’t actually need to use any of these new stealth mechanics for you to complete the game. Unlike the cleaning facilities in Sons of Liberty, there isn’t a single section in Shadow Moses that forces you to hang on a ledge in order to get past an enemy or obstacle. If you want to go full purist on your gameplay, you can ignore that this feature exists.
The game is supposedly “easier”
Thanks to the addition of the aforementioned new stealth mechanics and tranquilizers, many have argued that Twin Snakes is a much easier game than its predecessor. I don’t fully agree with that. While there are new ways for you to get rid or get past your foes, and while there is a chance for you to defeat an enemy who spotted you before calling for backup (a-la Sons of Liberty), I honestly think that the addition of a much smarter AI, the fact Snake now bleeds, plus some harder difficulty settings, such as the option of getting a Game Over whenever an enemy spots you, more than make up for the new perks at your disposal.
Every iconic Metal Gear Solid moment that remains intact in Twin Snakes
Being forced to look at the back of the box in order to learn Meryl’s CODEC frequency. Being forced to constantly change controller ports on your Gamecube in order to beat Psycho Mantis. The Meryl Easter Egg. “Just call me Deepthroat”. Snake and Mei Ling discussing philosophy. Sigint shouting “La-Li-Lu-Le-Lo”, making us scratch our heads thinking what on Earth was he talking about. Two different endings. The tuxedo and infinite ammo headband. Miller not being Miller. Everything is still intact in Twin Snakes. Not a single story aspect has been changed or added. This is still the same Metal Gear Solid we’ve been playing since 1998. It did get a much deserved face lift and it got a few new gameplay additions, but at its core, Twin Snakes is still Metal Gear Solid and nobody can deny that.