Gamestyle Archive intro: another classic revived in the form of Metal Gear Solid 2. This is the preview from 2001, little did we know that this game was raising the bar yet again for the franchise. Hopefully we can revive the review itself in due course when we reach 2002 although currently its not within the resources the archive contains. Now the MGS2 release date was one stores were itching to break.
Format: Playstation 2
Published: February 2001
GENRE: Stealth Adventure
ACCESSORIES: memory, vibration
RELEASE: autumn (Japan) winter (Rest of World)
Easily the most anticipated release on any format since its show stopping debut at E3. Perhaps this is because Metal Gear Solid 2 (MGS2) is the first title which really uses the supposed power of the PS2. Hideo Kojima has assembled a talented team for the project, but the reason for MGS2 being so far ahead of anything else yet seen on the format, is the team had to create their own development tools.
The ultimate weapon, Metal Gear Ray (which is amphibious) has been built to seek out and destroy the rogue Metal Gears that exist throughout the world. The weapon is being secretly transported by cargo ship when a squad of troops from the Sons of Liberty terrorist group boards by helicopter and promptly takes control. Unknown to the group, Snake is already on board, jumping from a nearby bridge in an almost Terminator style entrance. Your mission is then to infiltrate the ship and prevent Metal Gear Ray falling into the wrong hands.
Kojima has kept the actual plot to himself as not to spoil the experience for those playing the game. What we do know is to expect the return of several familiar faces such as Liquid Snake, Mei Ling, Revolver Ocelot and Otacon. Expect several subplots such as a love interest and a conflict of interest to detract your focus from the main mission.
While the graphics in MGS2 are very much the next level, the sense of realism is conveyed through the lighting, water, wind and particle effects such as glass. This realism adds depth to the game play, as now you need to use the shadows, avoid running through puddles and hide blood trails as they could lead enemy soldiers to their fallen comrades or to you. The AI is set to be much more comprehensive than the already impressive intelligence of the previous game. It is reported that the AI currently uses 30% of the PS2 processing power making it a realistic challenge for any would be Snake. The enemy will again re-act to sound and will now hunt in packs often carrying bulletproof shields. The soldiers will also be more aware of their surroundings, suspicious items or debris from perhaps an earlier encounter. When you confront a soldier they could react in several different ways, for instance standing and fighting (you may be very low on health or ammo), stand paralysed with fear (similar to the effect used in Alien Vs Predator) or retreat and alert others to your position. The troops also have weak points and where you shoot them will affect their ability i.e. leg makes it hard to follow, arm hard to shoot and so on. The first person view is available throughout the game and will prove invaluable when setting up the ammo saving headshot.
Kojima has created MGS2 with suggestions from the fans very much in his plans. Snake will be able to do much more in an attempt to even up the odds – hang from railings, dive, punch, roll, glancing around corners and much more. The cardboard box also makes a welcome return in the game. As the scenery throughout is interactive and destructible you will need to select your confrontations. Enjoyed shooting the lights in Goldeneye? Do it here and strap those binoculars on.
With many plot twists and details of the game remaining behind Konami doors until the release we can expect many more surprises. MGS2 is not only shaping up to be the best PS2 release but the nearest yet to a film experience. Kojima makes no secret of how influential films are on his work and with Harry Gregson-Williams (Enemy Of The State) providing the musical score this may just be that emotional engine in effect.
While no official release dates have been announced we expect autumn in Japan and Europe for Christmas. If you can’t wait that long then Zone Of Enders will ship with a playable demo in March hopefully.