Marketing and trailers for games can be hard to get right… This is especially true for a sequel to one of the most successful and beloved games of a console generation. People have fallen in love with the story and characters of the first game, so what do you do? Do you introduce them to an entirely new lead character, or show off the cameo appearance of the previous lead? If you do the first, you stand the chance of driving away interest before release. However, if you do the second, you’re like to anger fans that wanted a new game featuring the previous lead.
It is a very tough position to be in, as Konami and Hideo Kojima found out when it came to Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Even now, almost 17 years after the game was released, people hate on it because of the infamous switcheroo that is carried out with the characters. However, I wanted to go back and look at MGS2 with a fresh, unbiased set of eyes. The introduction of Raiden as the lead character never bothered me anywhere near as much as it did the wider Metal Gear fanbase. So, I’d like to this that the following review won’t be blanketed under the same roof as those who straight up damn the game because of Raiden. So, let’s take a look, shall we?
As with any Metal Gear Solid game, I should probably preface this section with the fact that MGS storylines are absolutely crazy! They always are, but that’s what makes them so damn enjoyable. MGS2 is no exception. The game starts off with Solid Snake, the previous game’s protagonist, trying to infiltrate an oil tanker to find and disable a giant mech robot called a Metal Gear. From there, his arch nemesis Ocelot gets possessed by Snake’s dead brother Liquid Snake through his arm that was used to replace Ocelot’s one he lost in the previous game. Are you still with me?
From here, the game switches to a similar opening to the previous game, except that you are now playing as Raiden. You’re tasked with infiltrating a giant oil rig to save the president of the United States from a terrorist group claiming to be run by Solid Snake. Along the way, you’ll have to fight a cyborg ninja, a woman who can make bullets change direction and not hit her, and a vampire called (amusingly enough) Vamp. As I said, the story is utterly nuts! In fact, everything about the game is so far out there that the big plot twists at the end feel like the most normal and down to earth moments in the game!
This may seem really quite odd, especially if you haven’t played a Metal Gear game before, but it just works so well. Only Hideo Kojima could put all of those elements together to create a compelling storyline for a game. It is wacky, nuts and verging on insane, yet it works!
When it comes to the gameplay of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, I guess the first thing to say is that you’ll be right at home if you have played the first game. It handles and plays really similar to Metal Gear Solid on the PSX. You can run, crawl and sneak your way through the game’s world, just as you did before. However, they have made some really significant improvements to the system they created with the first game.
For example, the ledge hanging mechanics are great and the ability to cartwheel straight into a crawl is awesome and fluid. You can switch to first-person for aiming, meaning that you can pick specific parts of the body to shoot. On that note, the AI of the enemies was improved massively! In fact, it was probably way ahead of its time. For example, depending on which difficulty you are playing on, the guards will actually be able to spot your gun’s laser targeting and follow it back to your position! So, you have to be careful of when and where you aim. On top of this, the guards will actually work in squads and teams.
In terms of your ability to hide, the cover system has been massively improved upon, and you also now have the ability to climb into lockers to hide. Now, this may not seem like much these days due to the likes of Amnesia or Outlast, but in 2001 it was a huge new gameplay mechanic. As was the fact that you could shoot out the radios on enemies so that they can’t communicate with each other! Oh, and you can even go through the game without killing anyone, but entirely using sleep darts.
When Metal Gear Solid 2 came out, back in 2001, it looked outstanding. This was around the time of Final Fantasy X as well, and these two games were really showing just how powerful the PS2 could be. Nowadays, it still looks brilliant. Every enemy looks like an actual human, even in the way they are animated with their movements and reactions. In the first-person view, everything looks really carefully detailed with a lot of effort put into the game world and characters.
Facial animation and emotion is portrayed clearly and is well defined in every interaction between the various characters. The lighting changes depending on where you are, giving a more immersive feel to the game. Even the water and air effects (such as when you are underwater) are incredible. I’m am still amazed at the sheer beauty of the rainfall in the opening section of Metal Gear Solid 2.
There really isn’t much to say on the graphics of Metal Gear Solid 2 other than simply to say that it looks amazing. It did when it was released, and it still does to this day! That is a true testament to the developers.
And That’s All Folks
All in all, Metal Gear Solid 2 is a fantastic game. The improvements in gameplay are top notch and the storyline is crazy but so much fun to experience. Graphically, it still holds up today, almost 17 years later. It is just a real shame that Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was marred by the anger towards Raiden being the main character rather than Solid Snake. This is a major part of the storyline and works so well within the events of the game world.
If you haven’t played Metal Gear Solid 2, then I would highly recommend it. Ignore the fact that you aren’t playing as Solid Snake, though. This is a great game that you need to experience.
Have you played MGS2 before? Let me know what you thought of it in the comments below!