Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes Updated Impressions, Part 3

The third installment in our in-depth look at The Twin Snakes answers your questions about this anticipated remake's gameplay.

Last week, we took you on an up-close-and-personal look at Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes, which is the soon-to-be-released GameCube-exclusive remake of 1998's classic tactical espionage action game. We invited you to send us any remaining questions that you had regarding how the game has finally shaped up. We've used all your questions to shape a series of updates, which, in a piecemeal fashion, address the main issues you all brought up. If you're a hardcore MGS fan, we've got all the dirt you really want to know. And if you're not a hardcore MGS fan, then approach with caution, because we'll occasionally discuss some of the specifics about the plot and characters here, which you may not want to have revealed.

Today, we'll take a look at the gameplay in this highly anticipated remake. Does The Twin Snakes play as well as the original game and the more-recent Sons of Liberty? Read on to find out. Stay tuned throughout the week for further impressions of Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes.

The GameCube controller doesn't have as many buttons as the PlayStation or PS2 controller, but don't worry, the controls translate over just fine.

The Gameplay
Many readers wanted to know, straight-up, if the GameCube controller was well suited for the game. Yes, it works fine. Metal Gear Solid and its sequel have always featured an unconventional control scheme, and this is true of The Twin Snakes. So, of course, the game takes some getting used to. However, fans of MGS shouldn't have any trouble adapting to the controls here in the long run.

Can the controls be customized? No, not really, but you can choose whether or not the Z button works to toggle the first-person perspective or whether or not you need to hold the button down. You can also invert the Y axis for first-person looking and shooting, if you prefer. Subtitles can also be toggled on or off, and blood can be toggled on or off as well. You may also choose different options for your radar, just as you could in MGS and MGS2.

What if you take aim but don't want to fire off a round? In MGS2, the analog-based fire button allowed you to keep from firing a shot. Here, when you're pressing and holding button A to take aim, you can press button Y to lower your weapon, which is perfect for when you're trying to relieve a guard of his dog tags. (The dog tag-collecting minigame in The Twin Snakes works exactly as it does in MGS2, where it originally appeared.)

Though Snake has all his abilities from MGS2 here, the environments haven't changed much from the original game, so the added abilities are optional rather than required.

What about some of Snake's new moves? Can he whip around from behind a wall to take aim just like in MGS2? Yes, he can. He can also vault over railings, do pull-ups, and fall face flat on a stairwell if you try to execute his barrel roll while he's running up or down steps--just like in MGS2. Also, Snake can walk as well as run if you gently apply the analog stick. However, his enemies cannot hear him running up behind them, for the most part. On noisy surfaces, though, walking is a new option if you're trying to keep quiet, and you can also try to barrel roll right over them. Or you can crawl, just as in Metal Gear Solid. Unlike in the original, however, you can shoot while crawling now.

Another big question is, since Snake has all these "new" abilities now, have the environments changed to force him to take advantage of them? The answer is no, not really. MGS fans will recognize most every square inch of the environments in The Twin Snakes. You can take advantage of some of Snake's new abilities in them, such as jumping over and hanging from a railing while enemy guards slip past, but these are merely options and are not requirements. The biggest change to the gameplay from the original is the same one that's found in MGS2: Now, you're going to be shooting almost exclusively from a first-person viewpoint (though you can't actually move from a first-person perspective). Consequently, you'll notice that headshots are more powerful against both guards and bosses. In the battles against foes like Revolver Ocelot, Psycho Mantis, and Sniper Wolf, shooting them in the head is much more damaging than shooting them in any other part of their body. The damage modeling is on par with MGS2, otherwise. Don't expect realistic damage here. Snake can take a serious beating and can also have up to five rations in his inventory, each of which recovers a large chunk of health.

Metal Gear Solid wasn't that difficult, but The Twin Snakes seems a bit easier overall. In addition to the easier torture sequence, other changes, like how Snake starts out with a full-length life bar and can carry five rations, make it somewhat easy to survive hostile encounters. Some of the boss battles seem a bit easier than before as well. When fighting Liquid's Hind chopper, it's possible to "see" the image of the helicopter even when it's obscured by terrain, thus making it a relative cinch to fire off a rocket as soon as it comes into view. Also, when fighting Sniper Wolf, it seems easier to draw a bead on her, as opposed to the previous game. Perhaps this is due in part to the higher resolution graphics that make it easier to spot her in the distance. Anyway, as mentioned, the game plays more like MGS2 overall than its predecessor.

Snake's arsenal features a couple of minor additions that are similar to those seen in Sons of Liberty.

Are there new weapons in the game? Kind of. The silenced M9 tranquilizer pistol from MGS2 can be found in the very first room of the game, and it works as expected. Also, the tranquilizer version of the PSG-1 sniper rifle can be found. Other than that, it's the same arsenal as in the original, so it again features the SOCOM pistol, the FAMAS submachine gun, the Nikita rocket launcher, and others. Chaff grenades still work to temporarily disable security cameras, though stun grenades don't seem as effective against personnel as they were in MGS. Furthermore, as in MGS2, you can now find "books," which are naughty magazines that will attract the attentions' of guards (those slackers).

Is the save system identical to that of Metal Gear Solid? Yes, it is. You contact Mei Ling via the codec, and she saves your progress for you. Additionally, she imparts a little Chinese wisdom for good measure.

Are there any noticeable loading times? No, there aren't, though the action fades in and out noticeably between main areas, as in MGS2.

How many discs will the game ship on? The answer is two discs. There's a point in the game at which you're prompted to switch over to disc two.

Is the codec different? No, it looks and functions exactly the same as in MGS. Even the codes for the characters you need to manually contact by codec are the same as before, and the handful of animated codec sequences (such as when Meryl removes her mask) are unchanged.

Is there a two-player co-op mode? Sorry, no. When Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes was first announced, some speculated that the new subtitle alluded to two-player gameplay, but they were mistaken.

That's it for today's installment. Come back on Friday for the final part of our Twin Snakes Q&A, when we'll talk about the storyline, cinemas, and extras you'll find in the game.

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