Reviews: Metal Gear Solid

Style vs. Substance

Yeah, pretty much everyone's praising the original third-person stealth masterpice to high heaven for about two decades now, so it seems like a bit of a waste of time to chuck another unadulterated gushfest in there. So you know what I'm gon' do? Compare the original PSX to the GCN remake, that's what! HAHA! Is that a swerve worthy of Kojima himself, or what?!? (I will say this, though... Snake Eater's got this beat, and The Phantom Pain has all the potential in the world to do the same at time of writing.)

So yeah, basically it's the same game. Same epic story, with a bunch of plot threads going on at the same time, though not to the unmanageable extents of subsequent titles. Heck, you can even play through the GCN version almost the exact same way as the original, gameplay additions bedamned! But that's on the surface. The re-recorded dialogue doesn't sound as passionate and invested in the story as the original, and generally the presentation is just a little too bombastic for its own good. Oh, did I say "just a little"? Okay, so basically The Twin Snakes is the Michael Bay version of the original... but that's not inherently a bad thing.

For the original game's many virtues and indeed those found in the series throughout, for all his flair, Kojima knows precious little about how to put together a narrative that flows the way a movie should. His—ahem—rough grasp of cinematography, particularly in the original, often render in-game cutscenes only slightly more engaging than looking at a Codec/radio call screen, especially considering how goddamn long they are. Kojima's cinematography skills have grown over the years, and though it seems increasingly unlikely, a new remake helmed by him could easily remedy these problems. If nothing else, Silicon Knights managed to turn the game into something more stylistically pleasing.

Basically, for me it comes down to this. Gameplay-wise, the original has nothing that the remake didn't improve upon. So if you're gonna play it as a game, the remake's the ticket. But in order to enjoy the story as originally envisioned, warts and all, you should play the original. So it basically comes down to the path of style vs. the path of substance. Both have their merits, and it's nice to have a choice in the matter.