Have you ever been so enamored with a game that you rabidly waited for the sequel, only to have your beloved franchise ripped to shreds and defecated upon right before your very eyes as you played it? That pretty much sums up my experience of [i]Prince of Persia: Warrior Within.[/i]

Once again, you are the beloved and sexy Prince of Persia — only much more morose, dark, tattooed and… [b]EDGY[/b]! You saved the Sultan, Farah, Daddy and your army from certain doom by killing that conniving Vizier before he could betray you. But there’s a small catch: you were supposed to die along with Daddy and all your buddies when you released the Sands of Time. By going back and stopping the Sands from ever being released, you screwed with the Timeline.

So now, a few years later, you’ve got something called the Dahaka, a dark, [b]EDGY[/b] monster that looks like something from a bad yaoi-themed hentai, chasing after you to ensure your quick tentacle-involved death so you can’t screw with the Timeline.

A brief pow-wow session with an old seer at the beginning of the game sends you on a quest to the Isle of Time, where the Sands were created. You didn’t Get the Girl in [i]SoT[/i], but you did get her pendant, which has special powers. Maybe you can somehow use it to travel back in time and prevent the Sands from ever being created. Then you can go home, wrangle an arranged marriage with the Girl and live happily ever after.

The plan seems to be going well until a storm and some baddies from the Isle of Time ambush the Prince’s ship, killing everyone except the Prince. The bad guys are captained by Shahdee, who has a penchant for shopping at the local Middle Eastern S&M store and making sure the camera catches her barely-covered ass as much as possible. (The other primary female in this game is Kaileena, who wears more fabric than Shahdee, but still manages to show just as much skin.)

Yeah. Like I said: [b]EDGY[/b]!

After you dispatch the enemies, the Prince’s ship sinks and he washes up on the shores of the Isle of Time. And the fun begins.

The problems with this game become evident early on with the battle on the ship. In [i]SoT[/i], you were eased into the action with relatively simple puzzles and enemies. Here, you are dropped right into the battle, without the benefit of getting used to the controls before kicking some ass or climbing around like a monkey.

It obviously assumes that you’ve played [i]SoT[/i], since it glosses over single-weapon combat and leaps into dual-weapon combat. (More on that later.) Also, the traps at the beginning in [i]SoT[/i] were mostly navigating ledges and poles and running along walls. In [i]WW[/i], they drop you straight into the balance beams and bladed traps. And they make the traps even more heinously difficult as the game progesses, adding such things as horizontal spinning logs, stationary spinning logs, retracting squishy blocks and floor buzzsaws. Thank Allah that they gave Slow Time more teeth, allowing you to slow the traps down and get around them more easily.

The dreaded in-game camera causes a multitude of problems and is my main gripe with the game. So enemies pop up seemingly from out of nowhere and it screws with you more than once when navigating the traps. Frequently, the camera switched angles while I was navigating a trap, causing me to screw up because I wasn’t expecting it and overcompensated. It also hid ledges and other ways out of traps in its attempt to be more cinematic and [b]EDGY[/b]. I made a lot more leaps of faith than I should have.

I applaud UbiSoft for making use of the GameCube’s highly underrated graphics engine, but the game’s graphics are so dark and [b]EDGY[/b] that I often missed the solution to a puzzle, a way out of a trap or the next step in a dungeon because I simply couldn’t find it. It was usually hidden in plain sight because it looked no different from the rest of the landscape or was hidden by foliage. I ended up having to consult a walkthrough for some of the puzzles as a result.

And will someone tell the character and background designers that there are other colors aside from red and black, please? Sure, there were a few dashes of color to break up the monotony, but a lot of the landscape just seemed to bleed together. And I don’t think it’s because you’ll be backtracking several times through the game.

A big part of the game is jumping back and forth between the Past (before the Sands were created) and Present (where the Dahaka is trying to kill you). Some areas, like the Central Hall, you have to go through up to five times. The designers were merciful enough to vary the traps and obstacles enough between the two timelines to keep it from getting stale. Plus you gain either a new combat trick, a Sand Power, or Sand Tank to fuel the former two every time you use a portal.

But if the constant backtracking isn’t irritating enough, the game has another trick up its sleeve to make you tear your hair out. Every time you jump to the Present, the Dahaka eventually finds you and starts chasing you again like some homoerotic stalker. And if he catches you, you’re dead. So you have to remain at least two seconds ahead of him as you navigate obstacles through an [b]EDGY[/b] ’50s noir-like haze to the [b]EDGY[/b] guitar riffs of Godsmack’s “I Stand Alone.” The chases provide an interesting challenge and the obstacles you have to navigate through aren’t particularly difficult. Thankfully, the designers weren’t ass enough to put bladed traps in your way. Which is good. Because one wrong step or moment of hesitation costs your life.

But that didn’t make the chases any less irritating. And I looked forward to finally beating the crap out of him at the end… provided that I remembered to pick up the sword at the end that gave me that ending.

Speaking of swords, let’s talk about the combat, which was the only consistently good thing about the game. Since the Prince no longer has the Dagger of Time (having given it to Farah at the end of [i]SoT[/i]), what are we going to do with that Y button? Enter the new [b]EDGY[/b] dual-weapon system! All the ultra-cool acrobatics are there, but you can also pick up, attack with and throw secondary weapons. The secondary weapons have a limited shelf-life, but that never became an issue with me because I chucked them at enemies more often than I used them. It wasn’t like they weren’t lying all over the place.

There are some new moves added to the system, such as swinging around columns and both throwing and strangling your enemies until they die. They made vaulting (towards enemy, A, B) over enemies more difficult, in my opinion, since I kept rebounding off of them more often than I vaulted over them. However, they made the ever vital wall jump (you only have to press B while pressing toward a wall) and the ultra-cool Haste function (tap L while blocking) much easier to execute.

While they seem to shop at the same S&M store as their mistresses, the enemies are pretty varied and there are vastly different strategies to defeating them. Some are a sucker for the wall-jump. Some buy it after you throw them over a ledge. You can chuck your secondary weapon at them. You can carve them up until they suicide bomb their buddies and you laugh maniacally from the ledge you managed to scramble over. Some are so slow that the Slow Time function ruins them. You can even throw or lure them into traps and laugh sadistically as they get murdered by their own convoluted security system. Or you can just become a human Cuisinart and carve up the entire board for eight seconds. Any way you choose, they are sure to die in a gruesome and [b]EDGY[/b] fashion.

While the combat is great, it still has flaws. For example, some points in the game require you to lure jihading wolves over to a crumbling door or wall, carve’em up and get out of the way as they blow said door or wall open. They give you a busticating sword later on. So why not give it to you before any busticating became necessary? I guess that just isn’t [b]EDGY[/b] enough.

Why does the whole screen have to turn red when you utilize the Haste function? I found it hard to fight enemies wearing red, which coincidentally the harlequins wore. They, along with their invisible and S&M cousins, were the ones I used Haste on the most.

And why did UbiSoft think it necessary to add blood and gore to this one? True, you can turn the blood off in the options menu, but [i]SoT[/i] seemed to do just fine without blood. The enemies just bled… sand.

Ah, yes, sand. How do we get the sand to fuel our cool time powers now that we don’t have the Dagger of Time to suck it up from enemies? That’s where Farah’s amulet, which is implanted on the Prince’s armor, comes in. Apparently, the enemies still have suckable sand, which the amulet absorbs after you defeat them. It makes the blood and gore thing seem even more unnecessary, in my opinion. You can also find it in barrels and jars. Combined with the secondary weapons you find in the racks, it gives you a reason to bust stuff up in the game.

Another change here is that [i]WW[/i] makes you work for your health upgrades. [i]SoT[/i] gave you a beautiful hallway with shiny, happy music that lead to a pretty fountain. [i]WW[/i] makes you navigate a hallway of gritty, nasty, [b]EDGY[/b] traps to get your upgrades, ensuring that you’ll burn through a few sand tanks to get there. Mercifully, the traps deactivate afterwards, but it’s still a chore to get through those nightmarish traps.

Other than the upgrades, the only unlockables you get are some secondary weapons with special abilities and “artwork chests” that you break open to unlock [b]EDGY[/b] pictures. Ooh.

Some more miscellaneous bitching before I’m done here: The voice acting is horrible! Many times, the lips don’t match the words. The dialog isn’t much better, so I didn’t care one bit about any of the characters aside from the Prince. I missed Farah and the funny dialog she shared with the Prince in [i]SoT[/i]. And the enemies didn’t need [b]EDGY[/b] dialog. Just grunt and scream while I’m kicking your ass. That’s all I ask.

Not you, Prince! I don’t need to have the hero of my game sound like he’s taking a crap after eating a dozen cheese pizzas while he’s fighting for his life.

I am also trying to wrap my mind around why UbiSoft decided to pepper the game’s soundtrack with heavy metal. This is supposed to take place in the Middle East during the feudal ages. So what’s with all the S&M and guitar riffs? Oh, I know! It’s [b]EDGY[/b] ! I’m gonna go slit my wrists now.

It’s obvious that UbiSoft rushed this, because there are glitches galore in this game. I’ve seen the floor spikes stay up after I’ve run through them. Kaileena’s outfit blurs out several times during her time on the screen. The sound goes out on several occasions. Occasionally, a glitch in the game caused me to fall to my death and burn a sand tank. And the big boss battle in the end featured sand tornadoes, which didn’t seem to go away when they should have. (The screen still blurred and the sound still went a full thirty seconds after they disappeared.)

I don’t know whether or not the glitches are unique to the GameCube version (the red-headed stepchild for multi-platform games), but that doesn’t make them any less annoying.

All in all, the game was a very disappointing experience for me. While it was a mildly amusing romp and is mercifully short at around 10-15 hours of gameplay, I don’t think I could make myself pick it up again. Unless you are a die-hard [i]PoP[/i] fan, I suggest passing this atrocity by and picking up [i]The Two Thrones[/i]. But if you absolutely have to play it and have a spare weekend to kill, do yourself a favor and rent it from the rental place of your choice.

1999 just called. They want their game back. Yes Sega… you heard me. Give them their damn game back!

That’s right. [i]Sonic Aventure DX[/i] is the exact same game that was released on the Dreamcast back in ’99. Sure, it was a great game then, but for a game with the subtitle of “Director’s Cut,” it seemed like there was very little cutting or directing of this game. As I was playing it, I could not imagine how bad it really was. I was sitting there thinking to myself “When I played this in ’99, was this game REALLY this bad? Apparently it really was. I could not believe it.

Now… I’m not trying to say [i]Sonic Adventure[/i] for the Dreamcast was a horrible game. For it’s time, it was a good solid game, and certainly not bad for Sega’s first REAL 3D Sonic attempt(I don’t count Sonic 3D Blast any more than I count Super Mario RPG as being a 3D title). My gripe is not with the original game, but with the lack of updating, additions, and streamlining in this game. I should not die from an in game glitch that is well known and in the original Dreamcast version of the game. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ll explain.

The most major glitch that I am referring to had a habit of killing me frequently. It was in the first zone and you, as Sonic, would be running down a long narrow curve. There are some rings that I would tend to grab on the way down, but if you hit the wall at a certain point that the rings happened to direct you to, you would fall through the platform, end up in the water, and die. This happened to me 3 times during the same gaming session. I was QUITE annoyed. I tried to ignore this though and just assumed that the Director didn’t realize this flaw and forgot to Cut it.

Still, another flaw in the game was with speech. The voice acting was the same horrible garbage from before, but I was at least able to tolerate that. The problem was, and still is, that the music played louder than the voices at the time, so it made it difficult to understand what was being said without subtitles. For me this wasn’t a huge issue since I played the original Sonic Adventure and already knew the storyline, but for those who never owned a Dreamcast, this must have been a pain in the ass for them to have to deal with.

I don’t want to say nothing but bad things about this game, but all the good stuff is the same stuff that was good the last time around. Playing a 3D Sonic game is the biggest pro. The problem is, for an out of date game, this just doesn’t feel as special as it used to.

In conlusion, this is one of the worst games I have played on the Gamecube. It is just a straight port where no Director did any Cuts whatsoever. There were no upgrades, no improvements… nothing. Due to all the still existent game glitches and the fact that I originally beat the first [i]Sonic Adventure[/i] with all the characters, I couldn’t even bring myself to finish the game as Sonic. I got halfway through and just had to put it down for the sake of my sanity. Nothing has improved in this game whatsoever. There are no additional levels, mini-games, or add-ons of any kind as far as I could tell. I will never be able to get back the hours I wasted on this horrendous piece of trash, which saddens me immensely. I could have been playing a far better game with my time, but alas, I did not…

I’m sorry Sega. I love you like a sister, but this time around, you left me greatly disappointed.

F-Zero GX

February 5, 2006

This has been another speed-crazy episode of F-Zero TV…

…to put it mildly.

In reality, it would probably be more accurate to say “this has been another mind-meltingly fast series of some thirty hovercraft blurring over tracks clearly designed by people thrown out of the Roller Coaster Builders Association for being too reckless”.

[i]F-Zero GX[/i] is the latest in Nintendo’s “hovercraft from hell” racing series, this time on the GameCube — and more significantly, programmed by Sega’s Amusment Vision division (responsible for racing games like Daytona USA). They also had an arcade companion machine ([i]F-Zero AX[/i]), but I’ve never seen one, so let’s just stick to the console. [i]FGX[/i] is, at its most basic level, nearly identical to the N64 F-Zero X; it’s prettier, it’s faster, and above all insanely harder, but the basic forumla is the same: thirty hovercraft-style vehicles scream over incresingly twisted courses (in both senses of the word) in an attempt to become Grand Prix Champion.

In addition to the usual Grand Prix, Time Trial, Practice and Vs. modes, there are several new additions and one significant subtraction in [i]FGX[/i] when compared to [i]F-X[/i], not counting the “connectivity” with FAX. Cars beyond the original four (Blue Falcon, Golden Fox, Wild Goose, and Fire Stingray; unlike [i]F-X[/i], the White Cat and Red Gazelle aren’t available to you at the outset) can be purchsed wiht tickets that you win while completing other modes. In addition, those tickets can also buy you generic car parts (body, cockpit, and booster) that you can use to Frankenstein your own ride; you can even affix up to four custom emblems/logos that you can peck out on an editor similar to that found in Animal Crossing. What is missing from [i]FGX[/i] that I really liked in [i]F-X[/i] was Death Race (in which you tried to eliminate the other 29 contestants as quickly as possible); not a huge loss, but a fun way to kill fifteen minutes nonetheless.

In its place we find Story Mode. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think F-Zero needed a Story Mode, especially one this horrifically difficult. The first chapter (of nine) is simple enough — all you have to do is collect 25 capsules on a very basic track in less than 90 seconds — but the challenges quickly ramp up as soon as Chapter Two, which sees you racing against Samurai Goroh’s Fire Stingray through Red Canyon while huge freaking boulders fall onto the track. The challenges aren’t “outrace your opponent(s)” as often as you would expect, although Chapters Three, Seven, Eight, and Nine feature that as the primary objective. Chapter Four echoes back to the Death Race of old, Chapter Five has you escaping from a burning space station while blast doors inconveniently close in your path, and Chapter Six rips off Speed with a bomb that will detonate if you drop below 700 kph. Before and after each mission you get a nicely rendered (and less-nicely voice acted) cut scene explaining the situation/aftermath. Oh, and once you beat Chapter Nine you have the option of playing the entire thing in “HARD” mode (and I know there’s a “VERY HARD” mode too), but my masochism has very definite limits and the line is drawn well short of attempting that nightmare.

While a nice change of pace, the challenges presented to me in Story Mode are not really the kind of challenge I expect from my racing games; it’s a lot like having to beat up security guards and construction workers in Wrestlemania XIX, except not as completely horrendous. At least I finished [i]FGX[/i], which is more than I can say for WMXIX, but one or two times I’m sure I squeezed out a victory solely on luck and that just seems wrong. However, I did beat Chapter Nine’s ghost car with a good four seconds to spare, which anyone who’s ever played any F-Zero game can tell you is roughly equivalent to “an eternity”, so it’s not all random, but overall I could do without this mode in the next version of the series. I can’t help but think that the space taken up by Story Mode could have been better used by anything else, such as better endings in Grand Prix mode (even if I never see 29 of them).

The final significant mode is Grand Prix Mode, or “classic” F-Zero. Three cups of five courses in three difficulty classes eventually become four cups in four difficulty classes (I’m not sure if there’s an equivalent to the randomly-generated “X-Cup” we had in [i]F-X[/i]) as you triumph, and the courses don’t disappoint in their increasing insanity. All of the non-standard courses introduced in [i]F-X[/i] return: there are cylinders, tubes, and at least one half-pipe (which I hate with the heat of a thousand suns). If you finish in first place, a man in a hideous suit will “interview” your driver, allowing you to chose one of three (or four if you’ve unlocked Diamond Cup) questions each time; it keeps track of which question you’ve already been asked so you can hear them all, but Jody Summer’s (the pilot of the White Cat, my favorite vehicle) delivery was extremely wooden and generic, so don’t expect much from the rest of the pack. I’m curious to see how Gomar and Shioh (dual pilots of the Twin norita) answer their questions, but not enough to actually use that car. If you use a custom behicle in GP mode, you don’t get interviewed, sorry.

This game pushes the GameCube in ways no other game has before (or probably will). With speeds that typically flirt with 1200 kph (745.6 mph; I think my record is over 3000 kph while airborne), you’re hauling some serious ass more often than not, and adding twenty nine other cars on the track can’t help matters, but the game moves along at its supersonic speeds with nary a slowdown. If you’re dumb enough to take your eyes off the track, you’ll be treated to some nicely detailed backgrounds — probably as you fly off towards them on your way to fiery oblivion, you dumbass. In fact, the speed is so great that you may have trouble finding time to blink, and if you let yourself be distracted by any of the various heads-up displays on the screen you could find yourself a lump of twisted metal. If you’re a huge fan of stomach-wrenching vertigo, I recommend trying the first-person camera, but for the rest of us one of the three pull-back camera positions should be fine; it can be a problem occasionally on some of the more extreme tracks (especially on stupidly tight turns or impossibly steep hills), however, but these incidents are rare. More frequent were problems I had where my car would seemingly fall through a section of track and into the abyss (especially on that damned half-pipe track), but things move so fast it’s hard to tell if these were actual glitches or just gravity getting revenge for my outright defiance and grabbing me if so much as the nose of my car breached the rail.

As you might expect from a game that is about such unbridled speed, the controls are tight and responsive. As an added bonus, they’re also fully customizeable. One of the first things I did was to move the brake button from B to Z where it wouldn’t be in the way (who uses BRAKES in [i]F-Zero[/i]?!); I also moved the spin attack (originally on Z) to Y (formely boost, which went to its mnemonic home on B) although I didn’t use it often. The attack I did use more often was the slide attack (X, typically in conjunction with L or R as you lean into it) which was disturbingly efficient in sideswiping opponents off narrow tracks; unfortunately, it was equally efficient in creating reciol that sent ME off the track, so be careful with your aggression. Leaning into turns (“slide turns”) is still a vital skill, but I didn’t find much use for the new “drift turns”. Maybe if I used a heavier vehicle I would have, but I can’t say for certain.

Unlike most Nintendo games, [i]FGX[/i] has the potential to eat up a lot of memory on your card. At its most basic level (game data), it consumes a mere 4 blocks; however, adding garage data uses 18 blocks (which is good for four vehicles), ghost data another 3 per ghost, race replays anywhere from 3-13 per replay, and custom emblems 3 blocks per emblem. So if you want the full [i]FGX[/i] experience you’re looking at a big chunk of memory, but fortunately nothing but the Game Data is necessary.

In addition to the miscellaneous problems already mentioned, I think the overall difficulty deserves another mention here. You should expect Master Class Diamond Cup to be something of a teeth-grinding challenge, but the difficulty of some Story Mode missions are inexcuseable. I have a suspicion that the CPU cheats every now and then with unrealistic acceleration of certain rivals (the Fire Stingray and Black Bull especially), but my disgusting margin of victory in the final chapter has given me doubts. I also have mixed feelings about having to unlock each vehicle individually, but that may just be [i]F-X[/i] having spoiled me by unlocking six at a time. By the way, if (like me) you don’t like the original four cars, completing the first chapter of Story Mode should win you 15 tickets, which are more than enough to buy the car of your choice right off the bat; you won’t have to touch Story Mode again if you don’t want to.

As much as I like this game, it has three significant points against it. The first, as mentioned, is the insane difficulty. The second is the still-weak Vs. mode, which is the usual Nintendo two/four-way split screen nonsense; this game moves way too fast to be condensed into a quarter of the screen. I’d rather have no vs. mode than this, but with any luck the next version will be online (although I understand why this version wasn’t; lag would be UNTHINKABLE, and sadly [i]FGX[/i] came out before Nintendo thought that LAN play was a good idea). Finally, this game clearly isn’t for everyone. You need to be pretty hardcore to stick with this beyond Novice Class, and quite frankly the only reason I bothered to complete Story Mode was for this review. If this sounds like you, you’re going to love this game. If not, rent it first and see if your finges, eyes, and brain can keep up.


February 5, 2006

I bought [i]Pikmin[/i] thinking it would be an interesting new game by Shigeru Miyamoto. The man is a god when coming up with original ideas for video games and this is no different. You play as Captain Olimar who went on a vacation to ease the stresses of work. He goes on a little space vacation on his own and sets his ship, The Dolphin, on autopilot. He ends up being struck by an asteroid and blacks out during the impact. He then awakens to find himself on an earth-like planet. His ship is in bad shape and 30 parts of the ship are missing. He discovers that the planet he landed on is full of oxygen which is toxic and deadly to his people. His life support will only last him 30 days. Since there are 30 parts and you have 30 days, it’s good to have an average of one part per day in order to win this game. He can’t carry the parts alone, but he discovers an interesting creature that he calls a [i]Pikmin[/i].

[i]Pikmin[/i] are tiny little humanoid creatures that are generally known as common prey on this planet. Olimar is the size of a quarter and Pikmin are about the size of a dime. Olimar may have up to 100 pikmin on the field at the same time, and there is NO slowdown in the game at all from there being so many characters on the screen. There are 3 different types of pikmin and each have their own special abilities. While a couple of pikmin are near useless except for in the first area of the game, 25 or more is sufficient for most battles and chores, and 100 can take out most any enemy, even boss type enemies with ease.

[i]Pikmin[/i] is a great game. It is easy to learn, and the game pretty much teaches you how to play, but the difficulty in the game is the lack of time you have to accomplish your mission. Now, Olimar hints to you as the game goes that he may not need all the pieces to make it home, which may very well be true, but I got them all, so it really didn’t matter in my case. I did have to play through twice to get all the pieces though.

Now, overall the game is rather easy and simple, but there are points where you’ll do something stupid and lose 100 pikmin at once(like drowning them for instance). It CAN be a pain at some points, and a few of the parts do take a little thinking to get to, and that’s half the fun. Overall I think this is a great original game, and even if you fail to complete your mission at the end, there is a top 5 scoreboard that you get added to if you make the grade. This helps keep it from being such a disappointment if you lose. Overall, this game looks great and I have enjoyed it quite a bit. I find it rather addicting, and it has a neat little storyline to go along with it.

The biggest downside to [i]Pikmin[/i] is the days are short, and so is the game itself. The game can be beaten in just a few hours if you know what you’re doing. That’s why it’s probably better to rent this game, but it does have a top 5 chart that is good inspiration to play through again and again to try to beat your best high scores.

Still, even though the game is short, it’s a solid title. It’s quite unique and is the first great real time strategy game I’ve seen on a console. It looks great, there are no slowdowns, and there is virtually no learning curve.

[i]Metal Gear Solid[/i], released in 1998 on the Playstation, is praised for revolutionizing the stealth action series, not to mention the excellent storyline it had. The graphics were superb, although now they are extremely dated. In fact, after playing [i]Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty[/i], you might think they are downright ugly in this day and age.

Enter [i]Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes[/i] for the Gamecube. [i]The Twin Snakes[/i] is, in all truth, the same exact game we all played around six years ago. Although at the same time, it’s almost like a completely new game. Silicon Knights, a developer known for games such as [i]Eternal Darkness[/i] for the Gamecube, has teamed up with Konami to bring back Hideo Kojima’s masterpiece [i]Metal Gear Solid[/i], in the way we have all wanted to play since we first saw [i]Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty[/i].

The graphics are the biggest draw in [i]Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes[/i]. They resemble the graphics its sequel, [i]Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty[/i], showed off on the Playstation 2 in 2001. Actually, since the Gamecube has more graphical power than the Playstation 2, the graphics may actually be slightly better, although any change would be near unnoticeable. Of course, the graphics really only fuel the already incredible storyline in the form of brand new cutscenes.

It would probably be best for novice players to know little of [i]Metal Gear Solid[/i]’s storyline. The game series is known for its conspiracy and epic turns in the storyline. In fact, you play through most of the game knowing little of what is actually going on. To be frank, if you were to read the story from the manual or watch the opening cutscene, then you would be surprised when you enter latter parts of the game’s story at how much the story has changed. There’s also the fact that if anyone who hasn’t played the original were to hear any part of the game’s later story, it would probably wear some of the surprises out of the game.

But it is fairly safe to reveal at least some of [i]Metal Gear[/i]’s storyline. You play as the famous Solid Snake, the hero of the [i]Metal Gear[/i] series. You were once with the organization known as Foxhound, but since, Snake has moved to Alaska to lead a quiet, peaceful life. One day though, you are kidnapped, and brought to a submarine underwater in the Bering Sea, and informed of a national crisis. It seems Foxhound, the very organization you used to belong to, has captured a facility on the island Shadow Moses, and is now threatening to launch a nuclear missile if their demands are not met. So now it’s up to Snake to infiltrate the base and stop the terrorists from going through with the launch, as well as rescue hostages being held at the facility.

People who have played the original [i]Metal Gear Solid[/i] will know exactly what’s going on, and will know every twist and turn the ever-changing storyline takes. That’s where one of [i]The Twin Snake[/i]’s first problems comes into play. The fact is, almost everything about this game is the same, save for updated graphics, cutscenes, and a few other newer game mechanics. While most of the game’s cutscenes look amazing, you have to play through the game again just to see them. Although that may not be a problem, as many people who have played the original MGS for the first time have played it over and over again on the Playstation, solely because the gameplay and story are so satisfying. As long as you don’t expect huge changes in the game, and want to experience [i]Metal Gear Solid[/i] in a new way, then you should have no problem with [i]The Twin Snakes[/i].

Of course, you might also have to look at [i]The Twin Snakes[/i] from the viewpoint of one who has never played [i]Metal Gear Solid[i/]. If you have never played the original, then this will be a completely new game experience for you. In fact, while the game gets a lowered score for being the same game from 1998, for a person who has never experienced [i]Metal Gear Solid[/i], this game would get much higher marks. Not only will you get to play the gameplay of the original for the first time, but you will also be in for many unexpected surprises from the storyline.

While mentioned earlier that [i]The Twin Snakes[/i] game is, for the most part, the exact game from 1998, there are some changes besides the graphics and cutscenes. In fact, [i]The Twin Snakes[/i] takes many mechanics from its sequel (or perhaps prequel in some ways), [i]Sons of Liberty[/i]. While in the original [i]Metal Gear Solid[/i], a soldier’s body would disappear after death, [i]Sons of Liberty[/i] eliminated that, requiring you to hide a dead body to prevent other soldiers from finding it. This has been added into [i]The Twin Snakes[/i] as well. Another thing taken from [i]Sons of Liberty[/i] is the first person viewpoint, where you can press Z to get a first-hand perspective of your surroundings, as well as aim your weapons to get in a headshot, which kills guards instantly and deals heavy damage to bosses, as well as disable cameras.

Snake’s arsenal hasn’t really seen much change. You have a SOCOM handgun, as well as stinger missiles, guided Nikita missiles, C4 explosives, and more. You also have items like rations which restore health, and mine detectors. Along with that, you have items which help you sneak up on enemies or avoid detection. For instance, if you find a book which pictures of women in it, you can lay it on the ground and wait for solders to take notice, and while they are looking at the book, you can take the opportunity to sneak up and attack. There are also boxes that you can hide in to avoid guards. There are two new additions to Snake’s arsenal; both which appeared in [i]Sons of Liberty[/i]. The M9 tranquilizer gun, which can put guards to sleep, and the PSG1-T sniper rifle are both found in the game.

The guard’s A.I. has been upped to the quality of the A.I. in [i]Sons of Liberty[/i]. A lot of newer detection methods have been placed in the game. There are several times in [i]The Twin Snakes[/i] when you have to keep in mind that killing a guard could lead to you being detected. For instance, like mentioned earlier, since the bodies of soldiers don’t disappear, if a guard finds a dead body lying around, he will raise the alert and more guards will be sent into the area. Some guards also radio in to guards who are not in the area. If you kill one of these guards and the unseen guard radios in and gets no response, he will send troops in to investigate. Even so, the guard’s A.I. isn’t on par with that of an actual human being. Even though the A.I. is good for a video game, it seems strange that you can walk right by an enemy or be right on the other side of the room without them noticing. Still, this doesn’t mean the A.I. is horrible by any means; just don’t expect a perfect transition of real life intelligence to a video game in [i]The Twin Snakes[/i].

[i]The Twin Snakes[/i] also brings back the faithful Codec device. In fact, the Codec takes over a good part of [i]Metal Gear Solid[/i] and [i]The Twin Snakes[/i]’ storyline, by having characters speak to each other through text with pictures of each character talking. These aren’t graphically impressive, and the still Codec images are still from the old MGS (versus MGS2’s 3-D avatars), but they help to fuel the story along. The Codec also provides you with helpful hints, by contacting people who will give you advice on the given situation. The radar also makes its return appearance, although you can have the option of having it off (which makes things MUCH harder). The radar will show the enemies in an area, as well as their field of vision. Of course, it has its flaws, and won’t work in tight areas and gets jammed just as easily as any other kind of radar. Still, it’s a helpful asset to the mission.

The voiceovers in [i]Metal Gear Solid[/i] were great. For the most part, all of the voices for each character return in [i]The Twin Snakes[/i]. David Hayter still voices Solid Snake, so hardcore fans can rest easy. Some characters though have suffered a bit in the transition, but for the most part, all the voices in the game are enjoyable in their own merit.

In it’s entirety, if you watch every cutscene (which you should, at least the first time through), you will probably spend a lot of time with your controller on the ground. Be aware that there is probably just as much movie as there is game to [i]The Twin Snakes[/i], but thanks to the enjoyable storyline, most will enjoy the sometimes long-winded cutscenes. Speaking of the cutscenes, they are probably the things that make [i]The Twin Snakes[/i] great enough to play through again. You’ll most likely drop your jaw at certain cutscenes with a certain cyber ninja, and most of the cutscenes just look downright amazing. Of course, it was inevitable that with the creation of [i]The Matrix[/i], many movie and game companies would use the bullet time effect. [i]The Twin Snakes[/i] doesn’t disappoint, and in the end, it really uses it a little too much. Most of the bullet time scenes are ridiculous as well, with Snake dodging seemingly impossible to dodge bullets while strafing at times. Still, they look really nice, even if they are way too over the top.

In the end, [i]The Twin Snakes[/i] is just a rehash of [i]Metal Gear Solid[/i] with a few new features and much better looking graphics and cutscenes, but considering that many people played through the original over and over again, this is a welcome update. If you don’t want to shell out the money to play the same game from 1998, at least give it a rent or borrow. If you have no problem with playing through again, and realize that there is no significant change in the gameplay, then by all means get [i]The Twin Snakes[/i]. Just be sure to note that what you’re playing is essentially what you might have played years ago.