Review by KasketDarkfyre

"Almost Perfect."

The day Metal Gear Solid 2 hit the shelves, I was there, waiting in the wings with an already pre paid copy waiting for me just a few short minutes away. With the turn of a key and some truly Gran Turismo driving through the streets of Detroit, there I was, standing in line, waiting for my copy with a coffee in one hand and my six month old reciept of purchase in the other. After the more relaxed drive back to the pad, I cracked open the case, lit a cigarette and began to read through the instruction manual while fumbling to get everything set up and ready to go. At first, I was enthralled and amazed at the initial story line and the amount of acting, time and otherwise that went into it, but then, after only the first hour, I realized that it was more or less the original demo that I was looking at with some visual tweaks and an added stage/character option for later on!

The story is what really makes the game play here in MGS2 so appealing. With the amount of thought that went into the actual story and then adding in the good old theory of tactical and espinoge action, and you've just rounded out the game as a whole in the first few minutes of play! Actually, when you boil the game down, it's all about taking Snake, or the new addition of Raiden through two seperate stages of the Metal Gear world in which nothing is really what it seems, even when you think it is. In fact, there are points in the game play where you don't know what in the hell is going on, but as long as you have your gun, a couple of grenades and a ration pack, you'll be sure to run through snapping necks and blowing enemies heads back with a well placed shot! Where MGS2 differs from the first, is not in the overall action or the basis of the game, but more along the lines of what you can now do and the fashion in which you do it. Here are some examples:

You're no longer limited to that ghastly overhead view when you're in combat, but you can more or less throw down in first person mode with a straight forward, yet stationary position, to fire off rounds at approaching or patrolling soldiers. Where this really gets interesting, you don't have to just leave the enemy body on the ground to be discovered, but you can pick it up and drag it to a dark place and drop it off, or in some cases if it is available, you can stuff their sleeping {or dead} body into a locker and shut the door, which really helps when you're in a high security area! Another feature is the ability to hang from certain railings in order to either avoid detection from the roving bands of attack squads, or to cross open areas where normal travel is just impossible!

These extra added features really bring out a bit more in the way of strategy, the way that Metal Gear is supposed to be seen and understood. When you look at the game, you're not just looking at a game that forces you to kill everything in sight, but more forces you to choose your battles and avoid needless fights and wasteless gun battles. Something that the original demo featured where the awesome fire fights, and even though you can still perform those, it is nothing like what the demo screens offered you, in which you'll be forced to either the overhead view or the first person view, both of which can get you injured if you're unsure of how the control works and how to operate with it through-out the game!

Speaking of the controls, if you're into games that require time to learn, then you're in the right place. With the amount of different moves that are added and retained from the original Metal Gear Solid, you'll find that the use of the diving move and even the first person mode is really key in getting through some of the later areas of the game! Hanging requires the use of the directional pad or the shoulder buttons, while looking for items and pin pointing a shot to the head, or even 'holding up' an enemy soldier requires you to use the analong stick for better accuracy. Something that veterans of the Metal Gear Solid series will find is that there is no VR Training Mode to hone your skills with, so you'll be flying solo in terms of what you learn how to do and what you perform throughout the game, giving way to a steep learning curve if you rush headlong into the game!

Visually speaking, the game is first rate in just about every way save for the way that the camera can sometimes screw you. Lighting effects are dictated by the lighting available, and what you choose to shoot out or leave lit up. If you cross into a spotlight, your shadow isn't a polygon shape, but a real time shadow with the look of a real person crossing through it! The camera is a hinderance in some instance, but a blessing in most, in which you're no longer left with just the over head view to look at. Depending on the situation, the camera will adjust accordingly, giving you several different views to look at if it be a behind perspective, an over head, a partial over head/side view and the first person view which allows for environmental changes such as rain, being underwater and even fog on the 'screen' when you move from a hot place to a cold place and vice versa! These all roll into something that gives the game a more movie like feel, and it seems as though you're watching something of a spy action movie than you are playing a video game.

The audio is perfect, adding in highs and lows at just the right places with uncanny accuracy. Giving you a wide selection of music to listen to through all the stages, if it be while sneaking or trying to avoid the clearing squads of soldiers, you'll find that the audio accompanyment is worthy of an Oscar nomination for best musical score! The composer for the game has a wide accreditation that spans such movies as Enemy of the State and Murder at 1800. This only adds to the feel of the game in which it seems more like a movie than it does virtual life. The voice acting in Metal Gear Solid 2 is also worthy of mentioning, even though in some points, it seems like constant blah blah blah and you may skip through it once you get to the really low and 'dramatic' portions of the game. When you take the sound effects into consideration, you're really talking some real to life style audio, with foot steps squiching after walking in water, sneezing when you've contracted a cold, and the soft snoring of a dozing enemy.

The game isn't all that bad, with several improvements in the field of game play, visuals and sound. The overhaul of the controls could been a littler more user friendly with a possible VR Training options available to the rookies of the series and a good reminder to the veterans who are faced with new moves. MGS2 is a great game on all accounts, but the story, while it holds together through most of the game, does start to go a little haywire nearing the end, and you'll probably be motion sick with all of the twists and turns that you just don't expect. Weekend warriors need not apply, as the amount of difficulty options as well as game play options give the game a 40 plus hour application, and Metal Gear Solid Series veterans will be pleased. Any way that you slice it, it is a cut above the rest, bordering on perfect with just enough qualms {in my opinion of course} to keep it from being a perfect ten game!


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/17/01, Updated 11/17/01


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