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Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

Fighting video game by Konami for the PlayStation 2

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Reptile Vs. Raiden

  • Jul 23, 2003
Pros: The last leg of the game!

Cons: Oh Snake, how we miss thee!

The Bottom Line: Post your bad Mortal Kombat reference here.

So, I was thinking about the original Metal Gear Solid recently: For all of the guys out who were, like myself, unable to save Meryl at the end, we can take solice in the fact that her death was probably better for Snake. I mean, what would have happened if she had lived? Snake and Meryl probably would have consumated their relationship, gotten married, and had kids. So Snake would have retired to be a stay-at-home dad. Then the star of Metal Gear Solid 2 would have been some blonde nanny-boy on his first mission, who was having tabs kept on him by his girlfriend...

Um... Yeah. His name is Jack, but the good old Colonel calls him by his code name, Raiden. And his girlfriend, Rose, is right there the whole time, being his data saver. Jack and Rose. Guess game director Hideo Kojima had a bit of a fetish with the movie Titanic. Shamefully, however, this Jack doesn’t die at the end.

So what’s up with good old Solid Snake? Oh, don’t worry, he still gets to make his own contribution to the game. For about two hours in the beginning. The impressive opening cinema finds Snake walking along the Brooklyn bridge, activating a device which renders him invisible, and swan diving off the bridge and onto the deck of a passing tanker. Upon his rough landing, he contacts Otacon. As we listen in to the conversation, we learn a few things: First of all, Snake and Otacon have gone into business together after the whole Alaska incident from the original Metal Gear Solid. They’ve formed a group called Philanthropy, which travels around the world destroying Metal Gear units. That’s another thing: Apparently, the Metal Gear Rex which Snake destroyed in the first game wasn’t the only existing Metal Gear in the universe. It seems the Marines have been hoarding the things. Not only that, but Metal Gear has actually managed to evolve into a new model, called Metal Gear Ray, despite the efforts of Snake and Otacon.

While Snake and Otacon are having their little heart-to-heart chat, the ship recieves some other uninvited guests - some Russian terrorists. For you, the gamer, this means almost nothing. Just that now you get to fight a bunch of different bad guys as you sneak your way down to the bowels of the tanker, which is where Metal Gear Ray is sitting. Once there, you have to take pictures of it so the Marines get the criminal label. So Snake gets there, gets his pictures, and tries to get out. Unfortunately, as Snake turns to make his exit, who should show up but his old foe from Metal Gear Solid, Revolver Ocelot! He’s leading the invading Russians in a quest to take Metal Gear Ray. Once he gets what he came for, he proceeds to blow up the ship, along with our hero, Solid Snake. Or does he?

From there, we skip ahead two more years, only to learn about a whole new group of terrorists which has taken control of an offshore oil rig. No, they’re not Arabs or Muslims (Allah be praised for that!), just more Russkies. Into the new doom and gloom scenario swims... Snake! After cutting through the underwater wire which leads to the rig, Snake swims up into a minisub docking bay. Upon his arrival, he stupidly takes off his mask, and long, blond hair falls out. Meet the new good guy, a raspy-voiced greenhorn with the rather uneventful name Jack. Since the leader of the invading terrorist party is calling himself Snake, the Colonel provides Jack with a new code name - Raiden. He also brought in Jack’s girlfriend, Rose, to help him. It’s a shame Rose’s “help” is limited to little more than saving the game. While she gets to show some real color down the game’s final stretch, she mostly bugs Raiden about their relationship at the most inoppurtune times: “Jack, why won’t you open up to me?” (gunshots are heard) “Rose, do we HAVE to talk about this NOW? DIE YOU PRICK!!! No not you Rose!!!” (more gunshots, an explosion, footsteps running, voices shouting “get him!” in Russian accents) Alright, there’s nothing like that in the game, but you get the idea. Jack himself isn’t such a bad character, he’s likable. He’s just a colorless nanny-boy.

I’m going to go on record here and say I don’t consider Metal Gear Solid 2 a cinematic game. What it is is just a real plot-driven game with a lot of cinemas, some of which can be especially long. It never detracts from the excellent gameplay, however. The gameplay is, once again, stealth based. This means you can’t go in, two guns blazing, shouting catch phrases like Al Pacino in the climactic scene from Scarface. Try that and the terrorists will be on you like alcoholics on cigarettes at an AA meeting. Instead, you have to go from room to room sneaking around the bad guys, only capping the ones who catch you. Snake and Raiden are both given a few moves to make this slightly easier. Both of them can grab enemies and put them down for a permanent rest. Snake can dive and roll, while Raiden can cartwheel. Both of them can hang over ledges.

In Metal Gear Solid 2, Hideo Kojima finally did something he should have done in the first Metal Gear Solid: He allowed players to shoot enemies while in the first person view. One of the few flaws in the original game was the horrible aiming, since you had to do everything from a third-person perspective. The first-person view was little more than a novelty, serving almost no use. Being able to shoot enemies in the first-person perspective makes things much easier, since the controls for aiming in it are similar to the controls for aiming a gun in an FPS.

The ability to fire weapons in the first-person view doesn’t necessarily make actual killing any easier though, not with the realism in bodily wounds. When you shoot an enemy, he gets hurt as you imagine he would if you really shot him there in real life. If you shoot him in the arm, his arm gets hurt. If you shoot him in the leg, his leg gets hurt. Shoot him in the heart, he spends a few moments in agony before meeting The Maker. Therefore, the only way you can be sure an enemy will be killed in one shot is to cap him in his head. You don’t want to miss, either, because the AI isn’t a dog in this game. In the first Metal Gear Solid, if you shot a guy and he didn’t see you, he would just shake off the pain and go back to his post. Not in Metal Gear Solid 2. If you shoot a bad guy and he doesn’t go down, he knows something’s up, and he’ll call in the fuzz to make you take your medicine. Fortunately, the game makes things easier by supplying both Snake and Raiden with a tranquilizer gun. With this, the bad guys will go down with only one shot no matter where you hit them. Not only that, but you’ll be able to waltz through the game without killing everyone. And if the enemies see their comrades asleep on the floor, they’ll just give the sleepers a good talking-to about laziness, unsuspecting of the wetsuited hero in their midst.

I retain one of my biggest complaints about the original Metal Gear Solid: Most weapons are situation suited only. Certain weapons are really only able to be used in certain situations, but the game does offer more scenarios to use your weapons in, some of which will be quite unexpected. On the other hand, some weapons can’t really be used at all. The Nikita rocket launcher, for example, is used only once to blow out a panel. Other than that, it’s practically useless. While the game provides you with a wide variety of big, fun guns, they only really serve as better ways to kill little guys. Since some of these weapons are so powerful, many of them would have been put to better use by being better for bringing down some kind of super soldier. And I wish Kojima didn’t give you the sword so late in the game!

If killing isn’t your cup of tea - and given some deaths in this game, it probably won’t be after you’ve knocked off a few - you get lots of ways to sneak around the baddies. There are five different types of boxes you can wear to escape detection. And at one point, Raiden even gets to don a disguise! There are problems with these, though. If anyone touches these disguises, Raiden turns from box or Russian terrorist back into Raiden, and he’s immediately found out. Yeah, right. While it makes the game more challenging, it’s also pretty stupid.

The lead bad guys are really lame this time around. The only good one, Revolver Ocelot, is a survivor from the last game. Other than that, there’s nary a Psycho Mantis, Sniper Wolf, or that big Indian guy whose name I can’t remember. In Metal Gear Solid 2, you get a mad bomber called Fatman, who simply blows things up for the sake of blowing things up. Then there’s Fortune, a rather hot-looking babe who bullets weave paths around. Honestly, she could have been a good bad guy if she embraced her invincibility instead of wishing she could die. The absolute lamest enemy is Vampire, a bloodsucker with a bad accent who comes back to life at least twice. And Solidus Snake isn’t bad, he’s just a rip-off of Liquid Snake.

The graphics in Metal Gear Solid 2 are excellent. They lack a bit of color, but the amout of detail that went into the little things is incredible. Everything acts so realistic. Metal Gear Solid 2 has very realistic deaths - the Grand Theft Auto games for the PlayStation 2 had grusome deaths, but Metal Gear Solid 2 is the first game in which the realism in shooting people was actually a put-off. Blood spurts out of gaping wounds. The character animation is excellent, and the game intertwines its normal graphic look with real film in cutscenes. And little things scattered about, like the girlie posters, make all the difference. Look for the new Charlie’s Angels!

Best. Voice acting. Ever. That’s all there is to say about the sound. The music is forgettable, but it takes a backseat to everything else anyway. Gunshots and explosions are crystal clear, and again making difference are little details, like metal banging. The voice acting is very inspired.

Underwater sections. Ugh. You’ll quickly learn to hate that aspect of the controls. Beyond it, though, everything is silky smooth. Raiden and Snake move quickly, and are affected by what they’re carrying. The camera can’t be controlled, but it always finds the right angle. The sword is especially fun to control, it takes advantage of the right analog stick. It may take some practice to use some of the weapons, though, because you both hold the weapon up and fire it off with the X button, and sometimes it doesn’t always do what you want it to do. Weapons are also held at those weird angles which have become so common in FPS games, and that causes a lot of trouble this time. Fortunately, most weapons come equipped with laser sights to help with aiming.

Metal Gear Solid 2 is rather short compared with a lot of games today. But it’s all memorable, thanks to the plot twists which are coming up around every turn. The stealth gameplay may not involve killing everyone in sight, but the clever ways you’ll surely think up to find your way around everyone will keep you challenged. The best part of Metal Gear Solid 2 is the very last leg of the game, with Raiden inside the belly of the newest weapon, Arsenal Gear. It’s so brilliant and creative and unexpected, to tell you any more would be spoiling it. Want to know? Buy the game.



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Nicholas Croston ()
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About this video game


The sequel to one of the most popular games of all time, Metal Gear Solid 2 features heart-stopping stealth-based action and state of the art graphics. Assume the role of Solid Snake, a one-man army determined to stop a deadly high-tech weapon from falling into the hands of the wrong people. Snake must utilize his skills in stealth, weaponry and counter-terrorism to fight off the competing powers and destroy the gigantic killing machine, Metal Gear Ray.
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ESRB: M - (Mature)
Number of Players: 1
Publisher: Konami
Release Date: 8 March, 2002

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