Review by NeoGamer

"La crème de la crème."

Three years ago, Konami unleashed Metal Gear Solid for the Playstation, which has been called the greatest game of all time. At the end of the game, Konami gave the hint of a sequel. After hearing this, gamers went crazy, especially when they later discovered it would be on Sony's new system, the Playstation 2. Over time, the enormity of hype surrounding the sequel surpassed that of the Playstation 2 itself. In fact, numerous individuals actually purchased their Playstation 2 systems for this game! Well, the time is now. The sequel is here. People expecting Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (MGS2) to be a savior will be quite disappointed. However, they should not be afraid: there is no way any game could live up to the level of hype given to MGS2. So join me as I take an unbiased, spoil-free look into the most anticipated game of all time.

Metal Gear Solid 2 is a graphical masterpiece. First, the environments are extremely engaging and true to life. The developers spent an overwhelming amount of time perfecting every detail to ensure an authentic experience, as well as one that draws you in and never lets go. The character models are well designed, and convey true human emotions. While Solid Snake's new rough appearance and out of date mullet may not be of the best taste, they do fit his overall personality and help portray his true heroic spirit. Additionally, Snake's Codec, or personal communication device, has received a graphical upgrade. The face models used when communicating via the Codec are fully polygonal and the character's lips move in sync with their words. On top of that, and most impressively, are the special effects used in Metal Gear Solid 2. Such effects as the rain and wind will make one marvel at their sight as they ripple across the screen. The special effects show off the Playstation 2's hardware quite well, and prove that the Playstation is a really big part of the revolution of gaming. The game also features a multitude of cut-scenes, all of which flow seamlessly in and out of gameplay, thus drawing the gamer even deeper into the story. The only real graphical downfall of Metal Gear Solid 2 is that the latter part of the game features more repetitive and slightly bland graphics. The overall graphical package, however, is top notch and can not be overpowered by any other Playstation 2 games at this time.

Graphics alone will not fully enrich a game of this magnitude. Fortunately, the sounds of Metal Gear Solid 2 rock the Playstation 2's world. To begin with, the actual musical score was composed by Harry Gregson-Williams. If his name does not ring a bell, his previous works should. He is responsible for the epic soundtracks featured in Hollywood movies such as The Rock, Armageddon, and Enemy of the State. With that said, the music in Metal Gear Solid 2 is awesome, and completely fulfills every breathtaking cut-scene. The music changes vastly with the mood of each scene as well. If you are on the run from a group of soldiers, expect heart pounding, adrenaline-producing music to accompany your intense experience. The voices are expertly recorded, and fit, in sync, the movement of the character's lips. Several voice actors from the original Metal Gear Solid have returned to ensure the same authentic experience when the characters are speaking. On occasion, however, the voices seem out of place and do not fit the particular scene. Many times these are just helpful hints thrown in a particular situation to help, but they can lure you out of the experience. Fortunately, not by much. Overall, the voicing helps to add the final touch that each character needs to fulfill his or her personality. Sound queues also play a vital role, as soldiers may be alerted to your presence by your very footsteps. Quite often, the soldiers will even call for backup on their radios. This is usually a sign for Snake to run! Crank up the speakers for Metal Gear Solid 2, that is the least that should be done to completely enjoy this extravagant experience.

If there is one thing that can hinder a game's ability to draw a gamer into a lush environment filled with inspiring sounds, it is the controls. If a player is unable to control his character, a game's top-notch graphics and stellar sounds have no purpose. Not only are the controls precise and extremely balanced, but they are an improvement over the controls in the original Metal Gear Solid. Several new moves have been added for Snake to use, all of which help keep the gameplay fresh. All of the buttons, with the exception of Start and Select, are pressure sensitive. These new controls bring about new scenarios. For example, if a guard is coming around the corner, Snake has a wide variety of options when dealing with the situation. Should the player chose to hide, he can take out his box, hide in it, and hope he does not move a muscle. Or, duck behind a small object, run out of the guards patrol path, or simply hang off of a nearby ledge. On the down side, the controls might be overwhelming to a newcomer, as they are quite complex. Still, veterans of the original Metal Gear Solid will feel right at home, and the new moves will soon become second nature.

The gameplay mechanics come together in Metal Gear Solid 2 to enrich the flow of the game itself. The game runs fluidly, as the various events flow in and out with perfect transition. Cut-scene transitions are almost unnoticeable as the story draws the player deeper into the world that is Metal Gear Solid 2. The On-Screen-Display (OSD) never gets in the way of the player's visual field of view. More importantly, it keeps the player informed on his current status. The radar is still intact, and very important for staying in 'Espionage', which is a major factor in success. There are a few additional weapons and gadgets for Snake to use in Metal Gear Solid 2, however, most of them are the same as they were in Metal Gear Solid. The increase in Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Metal Gear Solid 2 is leaps and bounds beyond its predecessor. The increase in AI means a much harder game the first time through. The soldiers are very intelligent this time, and beating a squad of advanced guards will force the player to think critically on how to solve the situation. For the most part, avoiding major fights is a must for survival. Heavy encounters are survivable, but they tend to increase the number of guards in a particular area. The way Konami handled the presentation is phenomenal. Once again, another element that only adds to the excellence of this work.

Without going into much detail, the story is the primary allure in Metal Gear Solid 2. From the moment the introduction unfolds on-screen, the story entices the imaginations of both veterans and those new to the world of Metal Gear. While the graphics, sound, and gameplay come together to add value to the story, the depth of the story by itself will mesmerize a wide variety of people. At times, the player will feel overloaded with information and philosophical jargon; however, this is welcomed. In fact, the information overload will leave the player intrigued and curious; thus inspiring several hours of replay. If nothing more, the player will want to put together the many complex pieces of the story. Also, the story is very shocking. The plot changes are some of the best ever witnessed in a game. The basic story of this game would make an excellent movie, but Konami has blessed gamers with the ability to live the experience.

To say that this game has good replay value would be an understatement. Compared to the original Metal Gear Solid, this game is much longer and much harder. Even though, in reality, the game is very linear, it feels very liberating, as there are so many ways to complete one task. Going back through the game, collecting every dog tag, will take a tremendous effort. It is also possible to beat the entire game without killing one person. This task should be sought after by the true experts of Metal Gear Solid 2. The bottom line: This game is worth every penny.

In conclusion, Konami did an excellent job of designing one of the best games for the Playstation 2. Not one person should go without buying this game. While it doesn't live up to the enormous hype that lay before it, Metal Gear Solid 2 does surpass the expectation of a great game on the Playstation 2. No game is perfect, but Metal Gear Solid 2 pushes the limit as to what a perfect game should, in theory, be. If you do not give this game a try, you should consider a different hobby.

Scores:
Graphics: 9.5
Sounds: 9.7
Gameplay: 9.8
Replay: 9.6


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 11/16/01, Updated 11/16/01


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