Since the issue of spoilers is
so great for a game of this caliber, I must tell you that when you buy Metal Gear Solid 2:
Sons of Liberty (and you know you will, no matter what score I give it) do not, I repeat, do
not look in the manual. A crucial plot development is given away. I find it odd that
Konami would do so much to keep this game under wraps and then let that slip by, but oh
well. One last time: do not look in the manual. Now on to the review.
that disclosing the introduction wont give away too much, seeing as how most
everyone knows the setup. MGS2 starts off on the Hudson River. The weather is horrible.
Cars go careening by. A man enters the frame. Smoke floats eloquently away from his
cigarette. He takes one last puff, discards the cigarette, and soon after his rain jacket.
He breaks into a full sprint down the bridge. Switching on his stealth camo, he leaps off
the bridge in a sudden output of energy. He repels down the side landing on the Marine
tanker will full force. The stealth camo shorts out. Solid Snake has arrived.
you newbies to the series, Solid Snake is the legendary ex-member of Fox Hound, who four
years ago stopped a terrorist group from getting a hold of Metal Gear REX in Alaska on a
blustery little island called Shadow Moses. Metal Gear REX was a bipedal tank with nuclear
launch capabilities. The terrorists were going to launch a nuke if the remains of Big Boss
werent handed over to them. Big Boss was Snakes commander in the first Metal
Gear (for the NES), and by all means his father. Solid Snake (as well as Liquid Snake and
Solidus Snake) was cloned from Big Boss, made to be the perfect fighting machine. The
terrorists wanted the remains to make more super soldiers. In his adventure at Shadow
Moses, Snake was deceived, manipulated, and used. Exactly how did it all go down? Go find
out for yourself! I say that not only because it is a truly great game, but also because
Metal Gear Solid 2 draws a lot of its plot from the first installment. To truly
understand the plot, and some of the great inside jokes, you must play MGS.
so Snake is on this huge Marine tanker. Why? Well the specs of Metal Gear REX have been
leaked via the black market all over the world. Clearly this was a potential threat, so
our boys in blue took the offensive. They developed Metal Gear RAY, the next generation
Metal Gear. Ray was designed to combat and defeat the REXs of the world. The Marines
were basically hoping that if they had the biggest gun, no one else would use theirs.
of course Snake knows that Metal Gears only lead to trouble, so he and Otacon (Another
character from MGS1, Otacon was a programmer on Metal Gear REX. Snake and him team up to
destroy REX.) Decide to take matters into their own hands. They plan to have Snake
infiltrate the tanker and undeniable photographic proof of Metal Gear RAYs
existence, and to spread them all over the Net. At first it seems as this will be a cut
and dry mission. The Marines, while still highly skilled fighters, offer little threat to
Snake. But things are not always, if ever, what they seem in this game. Im starting
to tip-toe the line between reviewing and spoiling, so as far as the intro goes, Ill
leave you with a quote from Snake:
"It appears that we are not the only ones after Metal Gear tonight."
Now that you know the back story, on the actual review (I promise this time).
gameplay in MGS2 is basically the same as it is in MGS1. This game is all about stealth.
You dont want the enemy to have an inkling that youre there. Now, a game where
you sneak around wouldnt be very good without enough actions to do your job
properly. MGS2 doesnt disappoint. As I said before, the gameplay is basically Metal
Gear Solids. I emphasize basically. Think of it as the foundation. MGS
provided you with controls to flip a guard, choke a guard, punch and kick a guard, or kill
a guard. All this remains. What new embellishments await you? For sneaking you have a few
new aces up your sleeve, such as the dive and roll command. If youve almost made it
out of harms way and it looks as though youre about to be spotted, you could do
worse than pressing X. Youll gain a bit of momentum, and end up close to the ground
to stay out of the line of enemy eyes. Another great addition is peaking around corners.
When you snug up to a wall, you have the option of pushing L2 or R2 to make Snake peek in
that direction. This is a double sided sword though. Youll be able to see the
enemies better, but they can see your head now too.
for combat the biggest improvement is the first person shooting mode. When you hold down
R1 the camera goes to Snakes perspective. This opens up a new world for combat. In
the last game, you would always hit your target in the chest, taking multiple rounds to
bring down. Now, you merely aim for the head and youre home free. While in first
person view mode, you can draw whatever weapon you have equipped by slightly pressing down
square. To fire, you depress the button all the way. To disarm yourself, you slowly take
pressure off of it. Once again, a great improvement from MGS (If you recall, in MGS the
only way to bring your gun down after aiming was to unequip it.).
combat is also genuinely more intense now. Sure, there are some new bad ass weapons
(especially the last one you get), but every sequel does that. What MGS2 does differently
is in the combat system through a mini-revolution. Instead of just having to deal
with Sentries, once youre spotted, youd better run. Unless you can kill/trank
the guard before his order goes out, or shoot his radio, youre in for some trouble.
Attack teams come looking for you. Fighting these guys is basically futile, but try it
once in a while. It provides a great challenge. Since you cant fight, youd
better hide. But dont go under the table or anywhere obvious like that, or
theyll spot you right away. You see, the attack teams clear rooms using tactics
S.W.A.T. teams do, so hiding under a cardboard box just wont cut it anymore. This
forces you to be more creative during the heat of battle. Because of that, the fighting in
this game is leagues better than the previous one. The enemies last longer, use more
strategy, and require creative thought to best. Who could ask for anything more?
can. Not in the normal battles mind you, but in the boss battles. The bosses in this game
are decent, but they seem really one dimensional until the end when their motives are
discovered. Still, the boss battles are too easy, and too few and far in between. The game
has six boss battles, and only three are noteworthy (and one is only interesting because
it puts a twist on the fighting).
Ive covered the main aspects of the gameplay: sneaking and fighting. Theres
another area that I wasnt expecting and MGS2 came through in: variety. I cant
tell you what youll be doing, for that may spoil it, but believe me, you just
wont get bored. And thats probably the main point I want to get across with
this review. While playing (especially for the first time), you just dont get bored.
Theres always stuff to do, be it saving the world or collecting dog tags. The game
just feels complete. I dont know how to describe it otherwise. It just has an
amazing fun factor. I dont feel like I was cheated out of my money, and I dont
feel that any of the game was fluff. It feels just right, and it seems very few games can
nail that equilibrium.
presentation of this game is also great. I guarantee that you will not find a game with a
better overall feel to it. Be it the superb dynamic music, changing with every scenario,
or the amazing models, animated with great care, you just wont find a game that has
all these elements in place. I feel I should elaborate on the music. I never felt that the
music was out of place. It always fit the mood, which is imperative for a game that is
trying to suck you into its universe. When the game was idle, the music followed
suit. Same thing when I was in panic the music followed me right into that panic.
It felt like a well composed action movie soundtrack (which is to be expected, seeing as
Henry Gregson Williams, an accomplished theatrical composer of The Rock and Armageddon
fame, did most of the games music). Hell, why not put the graphics under the
microscope as well? According to Kojima, the games graphic system pushes very few
polygons for characters when compared to other games. Dont get me wrong, though. The
characters look great. This is mostly thanks to great textures. Leaves look like leaves,
posters look like posters, guns look like guns. Usually textures are sloppily implemented
and give a hashed look. Not so in MGS2. But what about those polygons saved from
simplifying the characters? They were needed to make reflections, environments, and a
whole host of gee-whiz effects. What effects do I speak of? When you go under water and
re-surface, the water slides down the camera as if it were real. When youre in first
person mode and die, the camera cracks with realistic distortion effects to complete the
illusion. My descriptions dont do this game justice. Download a movie of it now.
Youll get a pretty good idea on how good the overall presentation is.
have one gripe. Much of the games most important scenes are transcribed via Codec
(Snakes communication device). Now, I could understand why when something major
happens between Otacon and Snake they would use the Codec (theyre miles apart), but
what I dont get is why people in the same room would use it. They give reasons like
its too dangerous to talk about sensitive topics when others might hear, but
theyre still talking to me on the Codec! Oh well. Im willing to bet that was
an element of running out of development time.
just realized something. If I say any more about the game, I will spoil it. Ive
never come to a point in a review when I knew I could say no more. Thats how little
the public knows about MGS2. I have no clue how Konami kept all this under wraps, but
Im not going to be the one who exposes it. I really cant tell you about all
the great stuff in this game, and dont let anyone else. I cant tell you about
the amazing characters, the overall theme (its not exactly what you may think), and
how it turns everything you thought you knew about the last Metal Gear on its head. I
cant tell you about the amazing variety of tasks, or about the jaw-dropping plot
twists and hilarious inside jokes. Why? Because MGS2 is like a puzzle. You get too many
pieces, and youve got the thing figured out. The real fun of this game is
experiencing it first hand and figuring things out as you go. So I cant tell you
about any of the pieces.
I can tell you is that Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty is without a doubt the best PS2
game Ive played to date. The vastly improved gameplay, the gripping plot, the
masterful graphics and the amazing sound all make this have no equal on Sonys
console. Do yourself a favor and buy it.