Review by Dogg

"Metal Gear Solid 2 is everything a sequel should be like!"

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes and ships and sealing wax
And cabbages and kings
And why the sea is boiling hot
And whether pigs have wings.
Calloo, Callay, No work today,
We’re cabbages and kings.”


Out of that small poem from Alice in Wonderland I’ll only agree on one thing- “ The time has come”. And definitely the time has come for the final release of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty from Konami Computer Entertainment of Japan (KCEJ). Metal Gear Solid 2 is the long awaited sequel to the 98 Play Station hit Metal Gear Solid . Metal Gear Solid 2 is also made from the exact same team as the last game as well.

The Metal Gear Series started in the late 1980s. The first game in fact was called Metal Gear and it was released for the MSX Computer in Japan and soon it was released in the North American Market and it then landed on the NES console. Here was a game where you played a character that had to infiltrate a base and then stop a huge tech-robot thing called Metal Gear that was assigned to set forth a nuclear missile. The biggest selling point of the game was that it brought something new to the stage- stealth oriented game play. Now you play a little game of hide and seek and at most must be avoided by your enemies. The game did so good that in fact a sequel was made. The sequel however, was never released in the North American market leaving many to weep. However, in 98 Konami brought forth Metal Gear Solid. MGS brought stealth game play to a new level. Also MGS brought forth one of the best storylines of all time as well as good graphics and characters to the mix.

In all these games you played as Solid Snake. Snake was a badass themed character that took care of everything in his path. And after MGS arrived in the North American Market, Solid Snake was indeed one of the most popular video game characters of all time. And in the sequel, Metal Gear Solid 2, Snake was supposed to be the man in charge, but what will happen if Konami took Snake and eliminated him from the whole process? The results are definitely varied. However, remember Metal Gear Solid 2 is the true example of a much hyped blockbuster title. So the question is, what is it worth the wait? In my opinion Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was worth both the wait and the hype. And MGS2 gives and shows an experience never before seen in gaming.

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Game Play
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Curiosity killed the cat. Satisfaction brought him back.

As I mentioned in the game you play as Solid Snake. During the game you play as Snake in a 3rd person perspective. Something that the Metal Gear Solid didn’t have was the ability to go 1st person. In this game however, it is easily done. Here you can go in first person with the press of a button and then you can aim wherever you want. Once you find a target you can automatically shoot it. To distinguish itself from not being an entire 1st person shooter, Metal Gear Solid 2 doesn’t allow you to move during the time you are in 1st person. In a way this is kind of helpful because it allows you to aim much better at your enemies. You can also shoot your enemies anywhere you want and in a way the enemies will react to the shot. Shoot them in the arms and the enemies will have a hard time at shooting at you. Shoot them in the legs and the enemies will start limping around. Most importantly shoot them in the crotch or the head and then some enemies will die right away. Not only on enemies, but you can do this to the environment around you. Approach the small bar booth in the tanker at the beginning of the game and start shooting all the bottles. Notice how the shot inflicted damage to the bottle as well as the bottle made a reaction to the shot. The same thing happens with many other things like ice-cubes and fire extinguishers.

Speaking of the weapons Metal Gear Solid 2 has plenty of; in fact it has more weapons than the first game. The weapons here are very enthusiastic and innovative. Many of the weapons from Metal Gear Solid are present in the sequel (minus the FAMAS rifle). These include the PSG-1 Sniper rifle, the Stinger Missiles, the SOCOM handgun, NIKITA missile launcher, and many more. Some of the new ones are the tranquilizer hand-weapon, the AK-47 rifle, the USP shotgun, a new sniper rifle called the PSG-T and at the end of the game you receive a Japanese katana sword, which is used to make your enemies a bloody mess.

Metal Gear Solid 2 is indeed much harder and much longer than its predecessor Metal Gear Solid. MGS2 can last about 15-20 hours or even longer if you want to find all of the hidden goodies. The thing that makes this game so hard is the much-improved AI (Artificial Intelligence) on all the enemies around you. Now enemies are much more careful to what happens around them. If they hear something they’ll automatically go out to see what it was. More importantly if they find any of their comrades on the floor or any blood on the wall then chances are that they will call for backup. If an enemy sees you then at times he will emit to active fire, but other times the enemy will go to a secluded area nearby and then use his radio and call for backup. Once he uses his radio you must automatically take him down or then you’ll see yourself captured in a dogfight with at least 4-6 soldiers. If you are to late to shoot, but eventually you do then the small signal of the enemy in danger will go to another enemy. At this point all you will be able to do is run or more importantly hide.

MGS2 takes good advantage of the whole stealth process. Now you can hide in almost every nook and cranny there is. You can also hide in cardboard boxes and even lockers. Once you kill an enemy you will also have to hide their body. This in a way is an improvement to what the first game did- making dead bodies disappear. Now you will have to hide them somewhere before an enemy sees the body. You can hide the body wherever you want in lockers, compartments, or just throw him in the water. One thing that seems to get more annoying however, happens to be the alert mode. When you kill an enemy and don’t hide the body, or if you are seen then you will be taken immediately to Alert Mode which can last for the most 30 seconds. After Alert Mode comes Evasion Mode. This lasts for at least 45 seconds and then after this enemies will still be looking for you before they return to their normal patrols. But more importantly most of the weapons will trigger Alert Mode. Many weapons like the missile launchers will automatically take you to Alert Mode, as do the sniper rifles and this at the end can be really annoying.

For one thing both the camera and the controls are really intuitive and responsive. I never had anything to say to about the camera during the time I was playing as did with the controls. All the controls are really spaced out and are all used really properly. Also with all the moves you are able to do the controls should be the greatest aspect of this game. Think about it you can punch, kick, roll, shoot, hide, go to 1st person, strangle, throw, duck, hang on corridors, and many more maneuvers with just the push of a button.

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty also includes the radar system that was used in the Metal Gear 2 and then Metal Gear Solid. The radar shows you where you are located and where many of your enemies are located. The radar can also be used to find hostages or important things as such. However, like always once you are caught your radar will get jammed and will change to the alert mode method I mentioned earlier. The radar also monitors camera placement and can tell you a guard’s status- either looking for you or whether the guard is sleeping.

One of my favorite aspects of Metal Gear Solid were its amazing boss battles. In fact those bosses told and made a good example of the story in every way. The bosses in MGS2 in a way continue that legacy. Each boss needs a different technique or in a way a different strategy for them to eventually be taken down. Olga, for example, once she is hiding you must go to a place then go into 1st person view mode and then you must eventually track her down. Watch out though because she at times throws grenades or she tries to use a different strategy to take you down. Another example is Fatman. Fatman sets bombs on the floor and if those bombs aren’t deactivated then game over. Mostly all bosses react in a way such as this.

The backbone of Metal Gear Solid was indeed its story. The story in that game made it easy to capture and visualize the things that your character was going through. The same happens with Metal Gear Solid 2’s story. Well at least that is what happens. You see when you start off in the game at the oil tanker the story there is true Metal Gear exploitation. However, when you pass the tanker you then move on to the Power Plant scene. This scene starts off with an above average story, but then in the end the melodrama takes over it all. Also many Metal Gear fans will be let down to the fact that Snake is not the main character of this game. Actually a kid called Raiden is the main hero for this game. At first I didn’t let this bother me, but then all the interactions that he has with his girlfriend and all of his silly remarks ruin Raiden’s image. Metal Gear Solid 2 also suffers the fact that it has too many plot twists and just too many weird twists. Some of these weird twists are stuff like Otacon having sex with his stepmother, while his dad committed suicide. That is pretty strange if you ask me.

Once again much of the story is told out in Codec. Codec is the little nano-machine thing in your ear that makes you contact with a person who is far (or near) away. Codec makes little noise so no one can hear it. When you are using the Codec you can gain information of your environment, enemies, bosses and much more. Once again you can also save your progress with Codec. However, as mentioned when you are trying to save the game with Raiden you will just be babbled with silly remarks throughout.

Many characters in this game also defy the laws of physics and most importantly reality itself. Vamp is just an example. Vamp gets shot in the head, but he is still alive and then all of a sudden he’s turned bisexual and then he runs atop of water. OK. Another example is Revolver Ocelot. Since Ocelot lost his hand in MGS1 he had to find a way to replace it right? Well he does replace it, but what does he do. He cuts off Liquid Snake’s (Solid Snake’s twin brother and your main adversary and rival in MSG1) arm and replaces it as his own. Now at times when Solid Snake is around his arm takes advantage of him and he starts acting like Liquid. OK, so now hands talk.

Another thing that Metal Gear Solid 2 suffers on is that it has a bit too many cut scenes. It would have been nice for a change to actually engage in some tight action instead of watching another cut scene. Also at times you will watch a lengthy cut scene, then you will have to walk down a hall only to see another cut scene. Things like this ruin the experience Metal Gear Solid 2 offers.

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Graphics
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A very merry unbirthday for me, for you

At most one of the best parts about MGS2 are its graphics. These are indeed the best looking graphics seen on any console for the year 2001. All the environments and all the interactions that happen look pretty darn good. Also the rain effects seen early in the game are at most impressive and good-looking. The characters are very impressive for the most part, thanks to the painstakingly detailed 3D models and the awesome motion captured animations.

The cut scenes as I mentioned are also pretty darn good looking. These cut scenes can rival anything seen in games such as ICO or Final Fantasy X. Also the water effects seen later in the game are so realistic that it at best resembles real life water. It’s that darn good. The game also runs on a steady and upfront frame rate, which helps mix out problems that probably could have been ensued.

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Sound
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Twinkle, Twinkle Little Bat...

Metal Gear Solid 1 offered a nice music score as well as some good voice acting. All the people who did voice-overs in the first game are back. And most importantly sci-fi writer Dave Hayter reprises his role as Solid Snake. Many of the voice acting here is done great and at most should dissatisfy anyone.

The music score in this game is done by Harry Gregson Williams, who also did music scores to movies such as the Rock and the Replacement Killers. And to say the music score is bad there is a problem with you. The music score is composed and produced greatly and makes a good interaction with the game.

Metal Gear Solid 2’s soundtrack will stick out to you long after you’ve even finished the game, and many of the sound effects are also equally good. From the deafening gunfire, to the distinct tones of footsteps that pound on the floor, to even the other small, but ambient effects such as the rain pouring down equally sounds fantastic. The Metal Gear series once again reinvents the audio department in almost every way possible.

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Replay
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I’m late, I’m late, I’m late!

Metal Gear Solid 2 offers up lots of replay value to those who have already beaten it at least once. This is because it offers up just so many things to do that you’ll probably never discover that secret when you are playing the game the first time. Chances are you missed the time when the guard peed on Raiden, or the time when a hostage wet her pants or showed you her underpants , or even the time in which you got pooped on by over going seagulls. Metal Gear Solid 2 also has little magazines you can collect. These magazines are called the FHM magazines, in case you didn’t know FHM is a mag depicted on giving lots of scoop to the new stuff as well as showing you some young vixens wearing lingerie. There are different types of magazines and some of them have Charlie’s Angels or even Jennifer Lopez on the cover of them. Other things that you can do is hear some disturbing noises done by Johnny Sasaki (the guard who eats a bit too many Mexican foods) or stuff like finding McFarlane’s Toy Boxes or even a Vulcan Raven doll in which you shoot it and then it will fire its small little gun. There are just so many things to do.

Also Metal Gear Solid 2 can be both easy and hard because it offers up so many difficulty settings. The best challenge comes in play once you pick Expert Mode. Here you don’t have a trusty radar and hear you receive less health and you will obviously die much often. Now this is a challenge. Another challenge that Konami crammed into this game was the option of collecting dog tags. While serving no purpose dog tags are in a way MGS2’s collectors items. These dog tags can be obtained by holding up enemies and then forcing them to give you the tag. And if you collect all of the dog tags you get some of the best stuff in this game such as getting stealth and unlimited ammo for both the tanker and power plant scenes.

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Overall
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“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes and ships and sealing wax
And cabbages and kings
And why the sea is boiling hot
And whether pigs have wings.
Calloo, Callay, Let’s Run Away,
With cabbages and kings.”


All in all you need to play Metal Gear Solid 2. Konami has once again done a good job and they even went as far as hiding the game from the public for at least 4 months. And in the end all you can say is that it was worth the wait and the hype. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty also sets an example to how a sequel should be done. However, Metal Gear Solid 2 does have its share of problems and faults, but the overall quality of the game surpasses it all.

9+



Note: Most of the italic marks in this review are quotes from the Disney movie Alice and Wonderland.




Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 02/10/02, Updated 09/03/02


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