I have played Metal Gear Solid
2, and I have seen the future of the gaming industry. Upon its release, MGS2 will
effectively set new standards for game play, design, and presentation. Hell, after only
playing the demo, my standards have changed.
demo opens with a grand movie sequence: a hooded figure walks the rain-drenched George
Washington Bridge in New York. He takes to a run, tosses aside his raincoat, and dives
over the edge. The camera follows his fall. He is digitally cloaked to be nearly
invisible, but as the bungee cord snaps taught, the equipment glitches to reveal a glimpse
of Solid Snake, hero of the Metal Gear series. Snake lands on the deck of a military
freighter, damaging his cloaking device. And so the story begins. Two years have passed
since the previous game. Ocelot has sold the Metal Gear technology to the world, and an
arms race has begun. Snake has been sent to discover what new technology lies on board
this freighter, hopefully without being seen, and without causing the Marines on board any
permanent harm. But before he can begin, a helicopter passes overhead, and he
observes as a well-trained group of Russian assassins slaughter the Marines, and move in
to find the technology for themselves. Now Snake must get by them, armed with only a
tranquilizer gun and his fists, equipped with only a few supplies, including his trademark
exciting? It is. The level of storytellingthe set-up, the dialogue, the plot twist
that turns the humanitarian use of a tranquilizer gun into a major inhibition as he now
faces eighteen heavily armed assassinssurpasses what we have come to expect from our
video games. And this is merely a demo, one level of the game as a whole.
from the captivating story, the first things to make an impression are the graphics, and
they are certainly impressive. The movie scenes are flawlessrich, detailed
backdrops; incredible lighting effects; convincing movement; and Snakes fall, his
invisible body rippling through the scenery, is simply beautiful. Perhaps most astounding
are the weather effects. Rain falls from multiple directions, bounces off of objects, is
carried by the wind. Puddles slosh across the deck, waves roll, lightning erupts. And the
in-game graphics dont disappoint either. What am I saying? The screen shots speak
volumes, dont they? Honestly, there is little discrepancy between the game and movie
graphics: one just seems to be an extension of the other. The frame-rate is constant, with
no occurrence of slow-down regardless of how much is going on. There is no aliasing, and
only the occasional collision problem, particularly when you drag an unconscious body down
stairs and the body sort of melds with the stairs for a moment. The movie-to-game
transitions are perfect, and so is the balance between watching the game and playing
the game (eat your heart out, Bouncer).
such attention given to the look of the game, it is no surprise that the sound is
phenomenal as well. The sound effects are dynamic and dead-on; the music is subtle and
effective. I cannot comment on the voice-acting, as the demo disc is in Japanese, with
English subtitles. I cant say that I am worried, though.
terms of game play, MGS 2 is a true evolutionary step from its predecessor: it is much the
same, only better suited to a new environment. Solid Snake continues his reign as the
sneakiest character in the virtual world, ducking, crouching, crawling, inching along
walls, strangling his opponents and dragging their bodies out of view. Only now he can
slowly peek around corners (a God send), step out and aim, and, in a touch of programming
genius, leap over ledges and hang on for a limited period of time, measured by a grip
meter. This allows for some truly creative improvisation, as when an enemy is about to
detect you, and you run and leap over a railing and hang just out of view until he passes
by, where you promptly hop up and knock him out. But, most importantly, a 1st-person
view has been added to help Snake examine his environs and aim at his targets. This view
is easily accessible and the transition back and forth is smooth.
level of background interactivity is unparalleled. If you dont want to leave the
deck of the boat littered with unconscious bodies to be discovered, throw them overboard.
When you walk in out of the rain, or through puddles, you leave wet footprints that can be
detected. When you are injured you leave a blood trail. You can shoot out lights and hide
in the cover of darkness. Hell, you can shoot all kinds of stuffa firefight in
certain areas will leave broken windows, bullet-riddled magazines, exploded ketchup
bottles, not to mention bleeding carcasses. You can nicely open and search lockers, or rip
the doors off and take whats inside. And the little things add up, too. The
cardboard box is back, only now, if it gets wet in the rain, your opponents will notice.
You can use cigarette smoke to detect laser alarms, or shoot a fire extinguisher, causing
it to erupt and illuminate them. When an enemy comes across an unconscious comrade, he
kicks the guy to wake him up. Everything seems to come alive due to details like these,
allowing the player to truly enter the world of Solid Snake.
of this and the control system, though sensitive, and tricky in the beginning, is
manageable, and even intuitive after a little practice. And there is a visual tutorial
available that shows Snake performing each of his moves. In fact, there is only one real
complaint I have with this game. At one point, I entered a room and managed to fire
tranquilizers into two cautious guards without being detected. After that moment of grace,
I accidentally moved in the wrong direction, moving through a door. When I returned the
situation had reset itself and the guards were in awake and in their original positions.
This is definitely going to be a problem if the entire game works that way. However, I
suspect it was a glitch, or an oversight specific to the situation, because there are so
many situations which do not right themselvesmost of the time when you strangle a
guy and throw him overboard, he stays strangled and thrown overboard.
have little doubt that MGS 2 will be the game of the year. I have been playing the demo
for days, and I still dont think I have uncovered everything that this one level has
to offer. In truth, the MGS 2 demo disc overshadows the game that it is packaged with.
Though Zone of the Enders is a decent game in its own right, I have to wonder if it
isnt susceptible to the Phantom Menace trailer syndrome, where fans would pay full
ticket price just to view the trailer and walk out of the movie that followed. Whether it
be through rentals or sales, I can imagine gamers saying "Zone of the Enders? Oh
yeah, thats the game that came with my Metal Gear Solid 2 demo."