Right, let's dance. Lemme start by repeating a statement I declared back when the game released. "What The Twin Snakes boils down to is this: it tries to 'luxuriously fuse the story of MGS1 with the gameplay of MGS2,' but it doesn't do neither as well as the originals did." That's my thought behind much of TTS. But let's take these in turn.
Graphics. On first blush, the new coat of paint is comparatively slick, but when you step back and view the design as a whole, one finds that it lacks a lot of what makes the original so distinguished. Much of the gritty, cold feel of Alaska's Shadow Moses is wiped away by the brighter, cleaner, but more sterile-looking textures. I understand they had the best of intentions in trying to fit MGS1's locales into a MGS2 outfit, but the look worked better in MGS2 because of that game's inherent color palette.
Then there's the modeling and animation on some of the characters, which is hit and miss in a lot of places. It's subjective, but there were things that just didn't look or feel right. Otacon's face was too long. Snake looked much too clean in the face. The DARPA Chief had that weird fluctuation with his hair every time he turned his head. The most irksome bit was how STIFF Snake looked during some of the more dialogue-heavy movie sequences. And by "stiff", I mean his arms; they just sort of hang there like wet noodles, without any attempt at gesticulation. That seems like a nit-picking thing to say, but to me, it looked freakish and awful; a very sore point for a game that's trying to go for a realistic cinematic angle. By that count, I actually prefer the jerky movements and expressionless look of the original. Leaves more to the imagination.
The direction of the new cutscenes is another point of conviction. At the very least, I suspect a lot of folks enjoyed Ryuhei Kitamura's over-the-top take on MGS's classic cinematic sequences...... heck, I certainly did. But I also believe that most everyone would agree it's not canon. Snake's a genetic super soldier, but that doesn't mean he should be flamboyantly leaping off Hind D missiles, hurling grenades with pinpoint accuracy into tank gun turrets, and Matrix-twirling past sheets of concrete being tossed at him. It places a needlessly artificial vibe on what is, for the most part, a realistically told story. Some of the new takes seemed like odd choices and completely out of character, too - most glaring to the point of disturbance is the way Snake loses it and points the gun at Baker for forgetting Meryl's codec frequency. I mean, what in the world was that?
Next up is the sound design. Yet again we could come to subjective blows in regards to the new voice dub, but I personally thought TTS featured the far inferior one. It isn't even so much the change of accents that bothered me is the fact the the performances lacked the magnetism and emotional punch of the original. As much as I appreciated Hayter going the extra mile in rounding up most of the original cast, the direction they were given seemed horribly misplaced, with several pivotal sequences simply not having the same sort of resonance as the original. Some of the re-writes to make the game more 'Nintendo' friendly hurt the script; I rolled my eyes at the Jurassic Park reference, and mourned for the loss of Ocelot's "silver bullet in a well-greased chamber" analogy.
The sound effects, too, which were completely remastered, turned out for the worse. I don't claim to be a weapons expert by any means, but even I could tell the original featured more accurate gunshot sound samples. Why does it sound like a multi-turret cannon going off for the FA-MAS machine gun? Why is the SOCOM shot so muffled, even without a suppressor? Perhaps this has to do with the fact that sound director series mainstay Kazuki Muraoka wasn't involved, but the sound was definitely not up to the MGS standard of quality for this one. It's as if Silicon Knights decided to cull from a bank of exaggerated cartoon sound effects for their sound track. Try doing Snake's punch-punch kick combo on a foe, or have Snake himself get knocked down; I half-expected some hokey 60s Batman-style onamonopoeia blurbs to start flashing across the screen. This also extends to the use of voices. Try choking your enemy, and listen to the forced gagging. Or whenever you shoot Ocelot and he lets off that hilariously awful monosyllabic scream.
One more thing I miss in terms of the sound design was the original's use of the "echo" effect. From in-game sound effects to cutscenes and voices, the echo was strangely affecting in lending to the game's cold, desolate feel. The remastered soundtrack does away with the echo, which does result in a warmer, cleaner sound, but also robs the game of its intended feeling.
The newly composed music score was a general let-down. Don't get me wrong, it's a decent Metal Gear soundtrack on its own terms, but when you take away such defining pieces like the original Encounter, Escape, and Enclosure, as well as scaling back on every single thematic variation of The Best Is Yet To Come, then there's hell to be paid. I wept bitter tears when I was listening to that new drum 'n bass crap instead of the riveting "Duel" when battling Liquid.
Finally, we come to the gameplay, which is the make or break for this remake. It all sounds terrific on paper: MGS2's highly lauded gameplay, combined with MGS1's envelope-pushing game design. The problem was they literally superimposed MGS2's gameplay RIGHT ON TOP of the original MGS1 design, and as a result, things simply don't work in a lot of places. Environments are almost exactly the same in terms of exploratory size, so there's always a feeling of confinement. With little wiggle room comes few opportunities for the player to really make use of the MGS2 gameplay mechanics. Not only that, some bosses were made ridiculously easy, thanks to the new first person shooting. It robbed the innovative approaches one needed to take in the original fights.
All of this on a controller that is simply not apt for the Metal Gear Solid template. Actually, it could've been, had Silicon Knights attempted to take a decent stab at emulating the layout of the Playstation control scheme. Instead, they went ahead and completely remapped the Gamecube's face buttons in a nonsensical and confusing order. And the less said about the terrible placement of the 'Z' button for first-person, the better.
Now we come to the infamous slowdown and framerate drops, which not only look aesthetically awful, but they happen so frequently that they actually crippled the gameplay. It made first person shooting and even simple movement a painful, jittery chore. The programming reeked of beta testing, and frankly, the end result is shameful. Different console infrastructures or not, you don't go ahead with the idea of remaking a game as distinguished as MGS, and then go half-assed on it by not even getting it to run competently.
I know it sounds like I'm being overly harsh here, but as a diehard fan of the original and the series, The Twin Snakes just felt like a wasted opportunity. Having said this, I did play through the game a fair number of times, and even made top ranking on the online leaderboards at one point. The inclusion of dogtag collecting extended the replay value, and things like DPL-II and prog-scan support were nice little perks. I can't fault the game for at least being Metal Gear at its core, but as far as being the "overall superior version"? Not a chance in hell.