Review by Razorskin
"The reason why you bought a PS2"
For those who don't know, Metal Gear Solid 2 is the sequel of the critically acclaimed PS game in which you play as stealth agent Solid Snake, who must sneak into an Alaskan base to stop terrorists from using the secret Metal Gear REX. Without going into too many events (because I don't want to ruin any of the excellent plot for this game), the sequel starts up a few years later when Solid Snake, now a freelance with the anti-Metal Gear ''Philanthropy'', arrives on a disguised Marine boat, in search of a new Metal Gear prototype, specifically built to counter all of the Metal Gears recently built after the last game. For this point, you must sneak in and gather photos of the gear and info about where the boat is headed. This only scratches the surface of where this game is heading.
I don't usually section this category off, but in a game like this, it has to be done. Metal Gear Solid 2's story is so in-depth and packed with twists, that it easily blows away anything I've played in years, even the original title (and I didn't think that was possible). When it comes to dramatic twists, this game really delivers. The last time I came even this close to being surprised was at the end of disc one on Final Fantasy 7. This story is not for those who prefer simple plots and don't have a grasp philosophy. It's deep, even if to a fault.
Lifelike, but not to the point of trying to completely emulate life. The graphics are done in such a way as to represent a realistic world that we can see and feel without being real. There is a philosophy in art that teaches not to paint exactly what you see, but what looks visually correct. I think this approach is definitely used in the game. The use of real-time lighting is excellent and the character models have volume and a fine level of detail. Rain effects and water both look top-notch. The environments are well detailed, even to the point of the player being able to interact (mostly shooting) with items on countertops and tables.
Everything that Metal Gear Solid was, but more and better. The addition of new moves and a higher level of interactivity with the environment really add to an already great experience. Now, the player can look around corners and even jump out to make quick shots at enemies in the hallway. The addition of the anesthetic dart gun also gives a serious level of depth to the game, allowing the player to basically finish the game without killing anyone. Collecting dog tags adds a fun mini-game like quality to dealing with the guards. To get dog tags, the player must perform a ''hold-up'' by sneaking up on the guards and aiming a gun at them. Holding guards at gunpoint and aiming at certain areas, or shooting them in a limb, will cause them to drop their dog tags. Collecting all of the tags will gain you secret items for later use. Enemy AI is top-notch. If you run up or down stairs, they can hear you and when you are found out, teams of soldiers will work to find you. If an enemy spots you and calls for aid, back-up teams will come to either investigate or aid in the battle. The interaction with the environment is also key to the success and enjoyment of the game. Pipes and extinguishers can be punctured, locker doors opened and knocked off, lights shot out and even the tarp that Olga hides behind in the first boss fight can be shot loose. Curious gamers will want to experiment with everything to see if it's possible to do.
Musical score, voice acting and sound effects - flawless. In fact, the audio portion of this game sets a benchmark that will be hard to surpass any time soon. The voice acting alone is so well done that I have to wonder if Capcom is intentionally using bad voice-acting in their games (Resident Evil, Onimusha). It's obvious that it can be done well (in both this, Soul Reaver 2 and Grand Theft Auto 3). But, to be honest, with a story this strong, the voice acting has to be excellent, or the story just falls flat. Considering the effect of sound effects in the game (most noticeably when the either luring or sneaking up on guards), they had too be handled well. When it comes to the audio portion in general, I would have to say that it's excellent because anything less would not be acceptable.
I would say that if there is anything that could be considered a liability for such a monumental game, it would be that the story might be too deep. So deep that at times it feels like it looses focus. Too much time is spent talking in the Codec, which only weakens some really dramatic conversations. To be honest, the philosophy and some of the intellectual conversations may be over the heads of younger, less educated gamers.
This is the kind of game that sells systems. Everyone whoever considered themselves a gamer (whether hardcore or casual) should play this game. Anyone who comes away from this game with anything more than a few nitpicky complaints should just give up videogaming, period. Everything that this game does goes above and beyond the capability of the current competition and will easily set a bar for quality for years to come.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 11/15/01, Updated 11/15/01
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