Review by horror_spooky

"Snake? Snake?! SNAAAAAAAAAAAAAKE?!"

Starting way back when on the NES, Hideo Kojima of Konami introduced the stealth genre to the world of video games with his game, Metal Gear. Metal Gear spawned spin-offs and sequels, but the world didn't see anything from Solid Snake during the fourth generation of games. Then Sony released the PlayStation, and Hide Kojima made the next Metal Gear game, titled Metal Gear Solid, for the platform, and it was an instant hit, earning unanimous critical praise and selling millions thanks to its unique, twisting storyline and characters and innovative gameplay mechanics. Well, when the PlayStation 2 first came out, Hideo Kojima had some ideas. He quickly created Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty for Sony's brand new platform, and the game was, like its predecessor, a mega hit with critics and a multi-million copy seller. But what makes Kojima's game so awesome, and what holds it back from being perfect?

A lot of similarities persist between the original Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid 2. You still have a radar that you use to avoid enemies and to strategize your way around the game world, and you still have items that you select using R2 and L2, with the items on the left being things like rations to heal yourself as well as key items and the items on the right being weapons. There are a lot more weapons available to you in this installment though, and right from the start you can set your difficulty. Meaning that Metal Gear Solid 2 can be the stealth game it was intended to be, or it could be a full out third-person shooter.

You can now perform a lot more maneuvers than you could in the previous game that all work together to open up a slew of possiblities to work your way through the levels undetected. By tapping the R1 button on the controller, you can go into a first-person mode. In this mode, you can do damn near anything. You can toss grenades and aim freely with your firearms, which all come equipped with a laser pointer. You can aim at specific parts of enemy's bodies in order to deal more damage. For example, you're most likely to put a guard to sleep by shooting him in his head or neck with a tranquilizer dart than shooting him in the back.

More abilities that allow you to be sneakier have also been added. You can now walk slowly to make less noise, and you can also hang off of railings to slowly work your way by enemies on catwalks. The latter ability uses a grip meter that you can upgrade by doing pull-ups. This is just a little innovative feature that gives the game more charm, and also sprinkles on a light RPG element.

There are some problems in the combat. While you can avoid nearly every confrontation and most of the time you will be attacking enemies before they even know of your existence, whenever you get into a firefight, you will defintely have some problems. It's not always because the abundance of enemies that show up after you are seen, but it's because of the combat. It's hard to shoot at enemies a lot of the times unless you're packing a large machine gun and unless you're in first-person mode, aiming can be a ridiculous hassle because your character will just randomly start firing at the walls if you decide to be quick and just tap the square button.

What makes Metal Gear Solid 2's gameplay so special is how unique and innovative the game is throughout the entire adventure. You are constantly doing something new and different, from freezing bombs with a coolant spray to scaling the outside of a building with your death hundreds of feet below. You can have pigeons take a dump on your face in first-person mode and you can even slam into stairs while attempting to cartwheel up them. There's just so much of the little details put forward in this title to make it special and to make it a game you'll remember for a long time to come.

While the gameplay definitely holds its own, Metal Gear Solid 2 also has a compelling and twisting storyline that is likely to blow you away, as is normal for the series. The game starts out with Solid Snake, the protagonist from the last three Metal Gear games, as he sneaks his way onto a tanker in the middle of the Hudson Bay, trying to find proof of an amphibious Metal Gear prototype that has been built. The game is set two years after the first game, and if I go any farther into the plot, it would ruin some of the giant twists and jaw dropping moments that make the Metal Gear games so entertaining. While some moments of the storyline do get kind of boring and there are cut-scenes that drag on for FAR too long, it is a generally well done effort and presented nicely.

A lot of textures in Metal Gear Solid 2 aren't as impressive as they should be, but this is expected considering its a very a early PlayStation 2 game. The character models are all impressive with a lot of detail given to every character, and there are some sweet effects that will dazzle you for years to come. The cut-scenes are presented in such a professional fashion that you'd be hard pressed to find a better directing job even in Hollywood's biggest blockbusters and most artistic films. Like I said though, a lot of the cut-scenes are just way too long and they become boring. It really gets to the point that they might as well have made Metal Gear Solid 2 a movie towards the end, which is a bad thing. Why? This is a video game, that's why; not a movie.

The voice acting is pretty good for the most part, though Snake and Raiden (a character you will be introduced to a little later on in the game) both have pretty annoying voices. The soundtrack is awe inspiring and once again rivals, if not completely trumps, the musical soundtracks presented in Hollywood's films. There are little sounds and sound effects that are just classic and recognizable as Metal Gear Solid, and they are presented in full form. Seriously, who doesn't jump when that musical number blasts right when you are spotted by an enemy? Just like Mario and Zelda have their tunes and sound effects that will be in all of their games, so does the Metal Gear series. It's great, and it gives the series more charm.

Clocking in at roughly twelve hours, Metal Gear Solid 2 is a pretty lengthy adventure, especially for an action-adventure stealth game. Granted, a lot of this time is made up of cut-scenes, but still, it's a lot of bang for your buck. Add in secret rooms with plenty of hidden items to find, five difficulty settings, the ability to replay through the game with a digital camera to take pictures, and dog tags to collect as well as other secrets to enjoy and you have yourself a pretty meaty package.

You can find Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty fairly cheap nowadays. In fact, you can even pick the game up with Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater all on one disc. Metal Gear Solid 2 will be known for its brilliantly twisting plotline and addictive stealth gameplay, but there is one problem: the cut-scenes are TOO long. I can't give this game a perfect score with a clear conscience when the latter half of the game is practically a movie. Otherwise, the experience is a memorable one that you're not likely to forget, with plenty of charming and cool characters to go along with the innovative and unique gameplay mechanics that you will be discovering every hour of the adventure. Tactical Espionage Action? Sign me up.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 07/06/09

Game Release: Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (US, 11/12/01)


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