Review by Logic Blue
"Blurs the Line Between Entertainment and Art"
With all the hype surrounding Metal Gear Solid 2, its hard to imagine it living up to all of it. But to the surprise of many, Hideo Kojima and company has crafted a work of art; something more than a game...
THIS REVIEW IS SPOILER-FREE!!
The meat and potatoes of MGS2 rests in its ability to tell the game's story; a story that is so well thought out, so mind numbing, that you will continue to to think about it long after you finish the actual game. The overshadowing themes of the game will take over your collective consciousness and rational. With the thought and pure genius that went into the story, its doubtful any game will be able to match its scope for some time. No detail was overlooked, and every character and their respective actions have bearing. The story continually keeps your interst with more plot twists, double crosses, double-double crosses and jaw dropping events than you can shake a stick at. Of course, no story is without flaws, and there are those few parts where everything in the story seems to come together, only to have it fall apart just when you think you finally got it. Overall, its an awesome story that never ceases to amaze and boggle the mind. Pure genius.
Tactical Espionage Action. Never has that term had so much truth to it. Planning an escape route in case you're caught (and you WILL get caught), determining the best plan of action, hiding, systematic elimination of gaurds, and strategically making your way from area-to-area is just the tip of the iceberg. Enemy soldiers seek and destroy in teams and perform ''clearings'' to find you. Enemy cyphers comb the skies and watch for your prescense. From the super-intelligence of the enemy sentires, to the faint-inducing boss fights, never has there been a hostile environment that draws you into the game the that MGS2 does. An example: As enemies search for you, you can hear Snake's heartbeat, and as the enemies get closer and closer to your place of hiding, his heartbeat gets faster and more sparadic and the controller starts to rumble in unison. Its the little thinkgs like this that truly draw you into the game and put you on the front lines. To combat the aggression of the enemy AI, Snake has tons of moves at his disposal. All his old moves have been reatianed and then some. You can now peak out behind corners, and then opt to leap out and fire. Snake can jump over railings, hang from ledges, hide in lockers, somersault out of the way of enemy fire, shimmy across a wall while crouching (a feature I wished was in the first game), and fire his own weapon in first-person view. With all these features, one would think the control would be comprimised, but it isn't. Snake controls like an absolute dream.
As its been said before, the amount of pure detail in the game's enviroment puts any game before it to shame. NO expense was spared. The ways in which you can manipualte the different areas of the game are just incredible. Shoot a pipe and steam comes out, shadows grow and contract with stunning realism, the rain and fire effects are second to none, shooting brids off railings causes an explosion of feathers, glass shatters in a ''ripple'' effect and falls to the ground. Its just obscene! Seagull droppings on the deck can cause you to slip and fall to your death! Some people say its the little things that ultimately make or break a game. Judge MGS2 in that respect and this game ''makes'' it in spades!
Graphics and Sound-
Unmatched by any current PS2 game, the graphics are truly one of the game's strong suits. The texture detail alone is astounding (look out of a box in first person to see what I mean). You can see for literally miles in every direction without fog. And the game runs at 60fps without a hitch, even during the most intense firefights. The cinema scenes, rendered in real-time, play out better than most big-budget Hollywood action movies. And thanks to the ''emotion'' engine of the PS2, characters always move realistically and show emotion.
On the sound front, the audio does not disappoint. The music, crafted by Hollywood composer Harry Gregson-Williams, is some of the most memorable in the history of video games. The orchestrated tunes that accompany the cinema scenes convey a real sense of emotion, be it urgency, anxiety or sandness. The main orchestral theme alone is a masterpiece in itself. Throughout the game, the music is interwoven given the situation. Infiltration music suddenly changes over to the alert music when the opportunity presents itself, and then back to caution music. However, I do have one gripe about the music, more a petty annoyance than a complaint. During a few cut-scenes in the game, the music is louder than the dialouge and you have trouble hearing what the characters are trying to say. You can opt to play with subtitles, but I usually perfer no to, as it seems more surreal when they are off.
The sound effects, like the music that accompanies them, are are crisp and perfect for every area. There isn't too much you can say except for that they are absolutely appropriate given the situation. Its hard nowadays to pioneer anything new in the way of sound effects, but MGS2 takes all the old formulas and executes them without flaw. As with its predacessor, all the dialouge is spoken and is done so with the BEST voice acting of any video game to date. All the lines are delivered well, and more often than not, seems like an actual conversation between two people. The voices are even synced with lip movements on screen! Never does it seem scripted. It should also be noted that all characters retain their respective voices from the previous Metal Gear Solid, which is also nice.
Metal Gear Solid for the PSX was often called by critics ''the ultimate rental''. Not so with the sequel. If you're like me, a completeist, you'll want to go through more than once to see all the ''easter eggs'' you may have missed your first time through, and also to reslove any discprencies in the story that may rest with you. To add to the longetivity, every stationed gaurd has dog tags that you can aquire to unlock special items. To the extent of these items, some are more than worth the effort.
Its hard to put the excellence of this ''game'' into words, since it sometimes seems like more than that. Metal Gear Solid 2 is an experience more than a game. The experience is a masterpiece of gaming and a definitive staple in the history gaming; a watermark if you will. This game respresents how far games have come and will become the yardstick by which all games will be measured in the future. If you are even remotely interested in gaming (or movies for that matter), you will enjoy this game. The overall theme of ''Who am I?'' will leave you pondering your own existence and place in the world. I whole-heartedly encourage all to come play.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 11/20/01, Updated 11/20/01
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