Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

Gamestyle Archive Intro: earlier this year we brought you the Metal Gear Solid 2 preview and now we’re pleased to complete the journey with the review from Dan Kelly. This dates from November 2001.

Metalgear2boxart

For many, this would’ve been the game that first made them purchase Sony’s little black box, and it was also one of the deciders for me as well. With the first trailers of Hideo Kojima’s masterpiece causing waves of interest and excitement throughout the gaming world, it was hard for anyone not to get engulfed within the hype surrounding what was, and is one of the most eagerly anticipated titles of all time. But there are many amongst us who feel that during the games development it has been somewhat over hyped, and overexposed, with newer, more plot revealing trailers arriving free with other Konami titles and on magazine dvd’s, I myself also found it hard trying not to lose interest over the 1 and a half year gap between the release of the first trailer and the release of the game.

Now the big question…was it all worth it? Read on. At the time I got this game, I also had Final Fantasy X to deal with, so unfortunately MGS2 had to take a back seat. Arriving at a rather difficult point in the new Squaresoft epic, I thought it was about time to take a break and try another game, and decided to delve into MGS2. The first hour or so didn’t seem all that astounding at first, yes it was very pretty, and the rain was nice etc. etc. but we had seen and played most of this early part of the game months before, in the form of trailers and Zone of Enders’ playable demo. But as soon as you start playing parts of the game that weren’t in the demo, it all gets interesting, and from then on never ceases to hold ones attention. It was at this point that FFX had to take the back seat.

Anyone who has played the previous incarnation in a series that will last for a long time no doubt, will most likely agree with me, that although not the longest title ever produced, showed the signs of a true espionage masterpiece. Stealth, precision aim, button mashing, and puzzle solving played large roles in the game. But it wasn’t a straight through all out killing affair, there were more than enough opportunities to enjoy oneself, like sneaking up on the urinating guard in the toilet and strapping C4 to his back, standing in front of a guard in the stealth suit, and suddenly revealing yourself before once again disappearing into thin air. These opportunities to mock the highly trained enemy still lurk around, shooting him in the head with a tranquilliser gun many times, then taking a photo for your own personal album, touching the posters of ladies in perverse ways, alerting any nearby enemies, as well as many others which I have undoubtedly been unable to find thus far. But amongst all this tomfoolery lurked a deep engrossing storyline, with more twists than lasts years Levi’s dealers. Friends turn out to be enemies, and enemies turn out to be friends.

Metal Gear Solid, set in Alaska, has you out in the freezing weather as Solid Snake. On a mission to rescue important people, and to stop whoever gets in your goddam way. As it turned out, you had to stop a large mechanic monster, save potential love interests, all the stuff you’d expect in everyday life for a man with immense rubber pectorals. Back once again is the renegade master… Yup, MGS2 heralds the return of Mr. Rubber pecs ’98, after another metallic monstrosity. You start off on what appears to be an ordinary oil tanker cruising along one of America’s seaboards, but hidden deep within its steel shell is a newly developed nuclear weapon. Along the way you’ll meet some new characters as well as loved, and not so loved old ones such as Ocelot and Otacon. But as incredibly hard and styly Snake is, you spend most of the entirety of the game as Raiden, the nu kid on da block. But Snake is never far from the action. Alas I could sit here and tell you about the storyline until you knew all the monologues and mushy love chat as well as I, but I’d hate to spoil such a game as this for anyone, go out and check it out yourself.

Graphically, well what else can you say other than breathtaking? No detail has been spared, everything is how you would want it to be, bottles smash as bullets fly, fire hydrants spew out there contents when ruptured, wet footprints, everything is there. But by far one of the greatest inclusions, and a fairly surprising one when discovered, is plummeting to your death, after accidentally slipping on bird faeces. Rain drops glisten on the floor, swimming fast under water causes air bubbles to get trapped against the screen, cold causes Raiden/Snake to sneeze. I could go on about the graphical detail, and amount of scenery interaction all day, but ill summarise by saying that it is simply superb, (simply superb: somewhat of an oxymoron wouldn’t you say?)

The music has been composed by Mr. Gregson Williams, of Enemy of the State fame, it adds atmosphere with a military touch. Suitably heroic at such times, and tear jerkingly saddening at others. The voiceovers, as you’d expect have returned, and like FFX’s, add another dimension to the characters, a true sense of realness, to what usually in other games, just seem like characters within a game. I know there aren’t many voiceover fans out there, who can blame them with examples such as Grandia. But without this, games like FFX and MGS2 wouldn’t seem as engrossing or realistic, and have been well done in both titles. All sound affects and music are truly treats to the ears. Gameplay is much the same as the first, in fact its pretty much identical, shooting, running and the like, are performed in the same way as the last, but the developers have made good use of the pressure sensitive PS2 pads, instead of having to shoot whenever you aim, slowly and gently releasing your “trigger” finger causes Snake/Raiden to lower his gun, and not waste a single round. There’s a new first person mode, for pulling off those one-kill headshots with your socom, running jumps and much more. Scaring guards into giving up items, or their dog tags, snapping necks, and beefing up with some pull ups, all done with the greatest of ease and enjoyment.

Longevity is normally where a game of 12 hours or so storyline wise would lose marks. But there is a lot more to do than just following the linear path. You can get on the codec and have long interesting, although occasionally irrelevant conversations with some of the characters, try and find all 360 odd dog tags, throughout the various difficulties, and much, much more. And not forgetting the replay value of the game, you’ll wanna play it again and again. Well I would like to anyway.

Overall, well, what else is there to say, truly astounding. Not tarnished at all by all the hype, and truly worth the wait. It does get a tad weird towards the end, but that’s intentional, and all is explained. Some of the explanations and cut scenes tend to waffle, using long technical terms and military mumbo jumbo. Relating with the characters is unavoidable, and having fun with the hapless guards is as well. Get out there, buy this game, and have some fun, but wipe the dust away first. Now i’m going to go hang from the landing ledge wait for my sister to walk under, then drop down and snap her scrawny little neck, before following my brother to the toilet in order to strap a plastic explosive to his back. Wish me luck!

Gamestyle Score: 9/10

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