Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
Review by TerranRedneck
"Solid Snake is still smoking after all these years..."
This is obviously a game that has been eagerly awaited since it's announcement and has a whole lot of hype to live up to. Anyone who has played the PSX version of MGS or has played the demo disc that was in Zone of the Enders has a pretty good idea of what to expect. Basically you are the super soldier Solid Snake and you must complete your objectives as they are assigned to you. Of course this game is all about tactical espionage action, which means charging in with your biggest gun blazing is not always the best way to progress through the game. It has a wide variety of gadgets and weapons and knowing when and how to use each one is they key to getting through your missions without splattering too much blood on the walls.
Story - 8/10 - If you have played the PSX version of MGS you already know what kind of detailed and deep storyline is to come. Basically you are part of an organization dedicated to stopping the advancement of big old mech style military robots with a large attack radius and nuclear capabilities. The story has much more to it than that, but that is the general idea. If you like a long detailed story jam packed with political intrigue, maniacal terrorists, genetic tampering and a little bit of humor than this is for you. I personally think the story is a bit too complicated. Confusing at points and also some long stretches of dialog. It is not uncommon to go 15 minutes just listening to conversations between characters as the plot thickens. If you like the dialog you are welcome to listen, or if you get trigger happy you can just click right on through and progress to you next objective. The story is more involved than on most combat games but does not detract from the action.
Gameplay - 10/10 - Not a thing to complain about here. Near perfect in every respect. The controls are very complicated and you'll find yourself putting away your handgun or laying down on your belly in the middle of a gunfight at first until you get acclimated to them. Once you do get a grip on the many buttons and their analog functions Solid Snake has the ability to do just about anything you could want him to. He can dangle from ledges, break necks, kick soldiers over railings, throw knocked out enemies overboard, and even put seagulls to sleep with your tranquilizer gun. There is a very large set of weapons and abilities that you need to use to progress. The environments are very interactive and you can spend hours just messing with the backgrounds and the very realistic and detailed enemy AI. The game stresses stealth over firepower and you can actually beat the entire game without killing a single person, but where is the fun in that. I'd rather raise a ruckus and get the whole army after me. When they are alerted to your presence you can either make a stand and fight the neverending army of genome soldiers or you can run like a girl and hide in a closet or a cardboard box. If you want to live I'd suggest cowering in the shadows. Detailed gameplay, first person mode is very helpful, clean, crisp and smooth. I'd say near perfect.
Audio - 9/10 - Audio is not something I am really too worried about in a videogame but MGS2 has all of the bases covered. The music/soundtrack is always fitting to the situation and can really build suspense. Reminds me of a theatrical score and is well integrated into the storyline. While the professional quality scores seem to lack any vocals, that is fitting for the cutscenes and such. The voice actors are all well recorded and seem to be properly emotional without getting overly campy. The dialog adds a lot to the storyline and the game just wouldn't be the same without your main character interacting with all kinds of ''friends'' he makes on his missions. The ambient noise and surround sound is enthralling and actually useful. With it playing in stereo you can actually tell where enemies are coming from based upon the sounds. And if you have Dolby 5.1 you can view the cutscenes in surround sound. While the audio is a perfect way to tie the entire game together in to one neat little package, it is not a dominant aspect of the game aside from cutscenes.
Video - 10/10 - This is what MGS2 is all about. It is sure to become quite popular due to the beauty of the game itself. Cutscenes are extremely high quality and you can tell that they spent thier time making them absolutely perfect. Cinemas are long and detailed and the in game graphics are practically flawless. Character animations are realistically modeled although the variety of enemies could use a little help. One of the best features of the graphics is first person view coupled with the totally interactive environments. You can whip out your SOCOM and blast watermelons in the pantry all day long watching the little pink bits flying about realistically. Or you could choke a guard to death and do the same thing to his head. Windows shatter and sections break out very realistically and there are plenty of hidden tricks and quirks to the game. And there are posters of scantily clad Japanese women in just about every locker. Not only are the in game graphics and cinemas exceptional, the menus are are also slick and easy to maneuver. You really have to see it to believe it, words cannot describe the attention to detail.
Overall - 9/10 - I give it a 9 out of 10 overall. It could very easily be a 10 if I didn't personally have some issues with the characters you control. I cannot comment on replayability as I have yet to beat it but it seems to have a feature in which you hunt down dog tags from enemy soldiers on varying difficulty levels to unlock new parts of the game. I'd assume from the 20+ hours I spent on the demo alone that there should be a great deal of exploring and secret hunting to do to add to the replayability. Definitely one of the finest PS2 games to date and worth at least a rental, but if you have the cash by all means pick this puppy up. Piles of weapons and hand to hand techniques combined with a riveting storyline and a unique assortment of characters makes MGS2 one of the freshest and interesting games of the year for any console.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/17/01, Updated 11/17/01
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