In 2001, the video game world was taken by several games at once. Super Smash Bros Melee dropped on the Gamecube and Halo on the XBOX. On the Playstation 2 games like Final Fantasy X and Devil May Cry were also blowing minds. But there was one game that shattered the competition: Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Highly praised for its story and gameplay, Metal Gear Solid 2 still ranks as one of the Playstation 2's finest achievements, along with still having one of the most controversial plot twists in gaming history.
Metal Gear Solid 2 begins two years after the first game. With Snake and Otacon forming the non-profit organization known as Philanthropy. Their mission is to seek out and destroy all Metal Gears. Their objective takes them to the Tanker Discovery where they'll expose that the United States has a new Metal Gear prototype. Unfortunately, things don't go as planned when the Tanker is taken over by the likes of Colonial Sergei Gurlukovich and Revolver Ocelot. The Tanker mission doesn't go as planned and the mission turns into a fiasco. The story then fast-forwards to 2009 where a Plant has been built where the Tanker went down, and Solid Snake is presumed dead. This is when gamers were treated to one of Metal Gear Solid 2's best... and most controversial plot twist. Gamers discovered they would not be playing as Snake for the whole game and instead would be taking control of an operative named Raiden. Because of this twist, several gamers began to dislike Metal Gear Solid 2. While players didn't resume the role as Snake, Metal Gear Solid 2 still managed to be a fantastic game.
For one, in terms of going above and beyond its predecessor, Metal Gear Solid 2 gets a gold star. Where as the first one was very basic, the second game was very complex. You could now roll into guards and hold them up and make them drop items. The game also put a lot more emphasis on remaining anonymous. In the original game, guards who were killed disappeared. They didn't in the second game. To keep from being discovered, Snake (or Raiden) would have to hide the body. If a guard walked by and saw an ally down, he'd call for backup, and a search team would then be searching for you. Another fun aspect was being able to hang over ledges and do push ups to increase your grip gauge.
You were now able to go into first person and shoot your enemies to land more precise shots, which is great for boss fights and for ensuring you don't run around blindly. Another new addition to Metal Gear Solid 2, was the ability to put guards to sleep using a M9 Tranquilizer pistol. This made it possible to go through the entire game without killing a single guard or boss for that matter.
The Metal Gear Solid franchise is known for its amazing boss battles, and the second one was no exception. While there were no mind reading psychos in Metal Gear Solid 2, you found yourself up against some worthy adversaries, and even being forced at one point to take down a harrier jet.
Everything you could do in Metal Gear Solid 2 made for an amazing game. One that could be approached in several different ways. To the point where you replayed it again and again to find different ways to go about certain areas. Top that off with multiple difficulty levels and seven years later, you probably still know someone who plays through Metal Gear Solid 2 to this very day.
Graphically, Metal Gear Solid 2 still stands as quite possibly the best looking and running Playstation 2 game out there, and it came out in 2001. No game on the Playstation 2 gives such meticulous attention to detail. Just in the Tanker alone there's a ton of small things you can do such as destroying bottles of glass one by one, destroying food in the pantry and much more. It also ran at a consistent framerate at all times. If you looked very closely you might see something that looks a little blurry, but you'll have to be very observant for it. The cinematics are also amazing, filled to the brim with such depth and emotion few video games, even in this day, can't touch. They're funny and well written. The music is even more memorable. The score done by Harry Gregson Williams is easily one of the best in the entire series.
Metal Gear Solid 2 isn't entirely perfect. It's a fantastic game filled with some of the greatest plot twists in video game history. However, where it mostly from one gigantic problem. It has a ton of cutscenes. You could play for ten seconds only to be treated to cutscenes that were several minutes long. Some of them becoming tedious or seeming useless. Even worse for the second installment was the number of dialog spoken through the codec through characters that would, at times, be right next to one another (Kojima has stated that he had to do this to fit the game on one disc!). While the story is well written and has some great twists, it becomes a little hard to follow in its final moments. If it weren't for the raw emotion expressed in the cinematics or the humor in some of them, it would've been less exciting. Luckily you can skip them and once you go through the story once, you can easily spend the rest of your time enjoying the gameplay.
Metal Gear Solid 2 was, and still is, an enormous game. One that even by today's standards, most games can't compare to. It's fantastic story and in depth gameplay made it one of the most memorable outings the Playstation 2 has ever undergone.
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