"Best game on the Playstation 2, and that's saying a LOT given how stacked the system is."

After the events that took place on Shadow Moses Island in Alaska in the Metal Gear Solid installation for the Playstation 1, the super-stealthy badass, code named Solid Snake, returns in a brand new adventure that is sure to turn some heads, whether you like the game or not. Solid Snake makes a grand return in his sequel to the first Metal Gear Solid, complete with a whole slew of new additions that will make both diehard and casual fans of the series alike wet their pants in excitement.

The idea of the game is simple enough to understand, even if one has not played Metal Gear Solid. Hell, there is even a nice little menu linked to the title screen that explains the events of Shadow Moses in great detail, through a style that only the makers of the Metal Gear series can deliver with such perfection. In essence, this ''background information'' menu, of sorts, can allow someone who has never played the original Metal Gear Solid games to get an amazing grasp of the history of the characters, even if Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty is the first game within the series that they play. I would not recommend doing this, of course, as I think anyone should play the Playstation version of Metal Gear Solid before playing this game, but the possibility of bypassing the original is there regardless.

Background Story

As I've mentioned already, there is an in-game background reading which will allow the player to experience the events of the original Metal Gear Solid without having to play it. But that being said, a small background is necessary. The basic idea behind the game is simple. You are Solid Snake, a man who is being revered as a hero by the public after the events on Shadow Moses Island in the first installment of the game. In English, there was a huge terrorist situation in Alaska in the first Metal Gear Solid, but Solid Snake went in alone and kicked some serious ass in not only saving the world, but also in destroying Metal Gear itself.

As Solid Snake moved on with his life, the threat of Metal Gear seemed to be over. All of the conspiracies and lies from the first Metal Gear Solid seemed to be behind him, and he even shed his rough exterior to fall in love with someone. But there wound up being a rather large problem which ultimately prevents Solid Snake from living the normal life that he has always dreamed of. Revolver Ocelot, a villain from the first Metal Gear Solid, lived through the Shadow Moses incident, and decided to sell the data disks and building plans of Metal Gear across the entire world's black market. This leads to most of the world's countries, even third world powers, to have plans for building their own Metal Gears for their own military uses. As if one Metal Gear wasn't bad enough, now most of the world's powers are producing them en masse!

Whatever is a badassed stealth assassin to do? Why, star in a sequel, of course! There was no way in hell that Konami wasn't going to make another sequel in the Metal Gear series, considering the success of the first game for the Playstation, as well as the overwhelming majority of Konami fans naming the Metal Gear series as their favorite series within the company, ousting such names as Castlevania and Suikoden.

Before the events of Metal Gear Solid 2 even begin, Solid Snake has done a few things that all players should be aware of, which allow them to get a better grasp of the complex storyline that they are about to take part in. Solid Snake and his best friend Hal Emmerich, whose nickname is Otacon, refuse to conform with the fact that most of the world powers are conducting plans of building their own Metal Gears, and have formed their own political anti-Metal Gear group, codenamed Philanthropy. The very basic outline for what this group does is to go around the world and stop people from using Metal Gear in military settings, by any means necessary. The player will be led to believe that Snake and Otacon have become absolute best of friends, and that they have been undergoing these stealth operations for years. In fact, from the very beginning of the game, Otacon will be on the good old Codec, talking up a storm to Snake. This a very welcome addition, personally. Otacon's character is a smart one, and some people may actually learn something by listening to his jabbering for awhile. Furthermore, it's great to see Solid Snake actually befriend someone, even if Otacon winds up being the only man that snake will ever call a friend in his entire life.

In the very beginning of the game, Snake sneaks on board a Marine tanker believed to be housing a new Metal Gear model, while Otacon stays behind and acts as the brains behind the operation via Codec. After some breathtaking cut scenes, Solid Snake finds himself on the back of the tanker in an effort to uncover suspicions of the United States military's Metal Gear program. Thus begins a very long and entertaining journey through yet another amazing Metal Gear Solid game, complete with great characters, the best voice acting in any game that I, personally, have ever heard, and plot twists that would make the creators of any Role Playing Game jealous. What's even better is that each and every single plot twist within the game, with the sole exception of the very last one, are all explained in full detail, something that most of the RPGs I have played fail to do on a regular basis. The people who love plot twists, but also love having them explained in great detail, will absolutely love this game. The storyline gets rather out of control at times, but nothing gets left untouched in terms of explanation, and should the player have trouble understanding what's going on, it's a virtual guarantee that the player will understand it all in full the second time around.

Gameplay

Speaking of the second time around, few games have more replay value than Metal Gear Solid 2. The game taps into so many human emotions all at once that once it is over, any player is left back wanting more, and thanks to a system where new things are unlocked by beating the game on its various difficulty settings, this is easily achieved.

As for the controls within the game itself, they are very easy to control. Do not read any instruction manuals or so forth, because any instruction manual for any controls within any game made for today's generation of gamers are usually beyond confusing, and very intimidating. There are simply so many things to cover with today's games that it is usually a better idea to dive right in, rather than reading instructions. Metal Gear Solid 2 is no different. Just start playing, and within a few minutes, everything will be second nature. The game is delivered from a third person perspective, with varying missions and goals for your character to achieve. Furthermore, you get so in touch with controlling your character's movements that the controls get easier and easier as you go on. The best thing in this game that we have seen in previous installments is a nice first person shooter feature, which was desperately needed in the first game, but almost never seen. This time around, virtually any weapon, from tranquilizer to semi-automatic, can be shot from the first person view mode, and this is just one example of just how great the controls for this game are. Play around a little bit, and you'll see just how well-done this game truly is.

Another thing that I must mention is that this game is meant to be played as if you are a stealth assassin. Your character should be seen by the enemy as little as possible, which will be told to you and your character quite a number of times throughout the game itself. If seen by the enemy, your radar stops working, and you must run and hide. If you don't, the massive swarm of enemies that are coming after you can easily kill you. Such is the nature of espionage action.

But don't worry too much. For the wimps out there, the radar can be set so that it never stops working, so even if you are seen, you can still run away safely.

Lastly, there is the best thing about the gameplay itself, which is the fact that there are very few, if any, points in the game where a player can get 100% stuck. All one has to do whenever he or she is confused is to call people on the Codec. Sooner or later, someone will tell you exactly what to do. This leads to less time solving things, and more time enjoying the flow of the gameplay, as well as the storyline.

Graphics

This game is so well done that it literally looks like you are watching a movie. No joke. The graphics are seriously THAT good. Furthermore, the extra attention to detail by Konami was absolutely amazing. A shot to the head of the enemy kills instantly, while a shot anywhere else will obviously cause less damage. If you character gets hurt, he can start bleeding all over the floor, and if the enemy sees this, he will notice, and follow the blood trails. There are so many little things done to make this game what it is that they can often go unnoticed, but the massive amount of work that was obviously put into this game is obvious. Hell, the makers of the game even decided to joke around a little bit. Every once in awhile, you will find a Charlie's Angels poster, a soldier surfing for porn, or a rubber ducky in the water. There are just that many things that the makers of the game did, and there is no way I could possibly list them all.

Music

Listen to the intro. Now go listen to it again. Do this a third time if you must. Can you hear how amazing that music is? No game can truly be legendary without an amazing musical score to go with it, but this is definitely not a flaw within Metal Gear Solid 2. As if some of the scenes aren't good enough to tap into the realm of suppressed human emotion, the musical score will bring it out of the player even more. The music is very well-done, and worth listening to over and over again. If you don't believe me, go and hear for yourself.

Overall: 10/10

There is only one main complaint that I have heard about this game on a regular basis, and that is that you don't get to play as Solid Snake throughout the entire game. Many people buy this game thinking that this will happen, but I must warn anyone reading this that this is NOT the case. If not playing as Snake for the duration of the game is not to your style, then rent the game before buying it. I'm not saying the game is bad because of this, but it turned a lot of people off from the game. Be warned that a certain plot twist will hit you out of nowhere at all, and you will be controlling a different character for roughly the last 80% of the game or so. This is not saying that you will never see Snake again. In fact, Snake is made out to look even more badass than normal with you not controlling him, through various cut scenes and plot twists.

This minor issue aside, however, I can point out nothing wrong with this game whatsoever, and there is nothing stopping me from telling everyone reading this to go out and buy the game right after reading this. It's a Greatest Hit, anyway, and I'm sure you can shell out $19.99. Get ready for a never-ending thrill ride which will last for the duration of the game. No stone is left unturned, no plot twist is left unexplained, and no part of this game can be spoken of as something that should not be there. This game comes closer to perfect than anything that I have ever played before, and everyone should experience this for themselves.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 12/10/03, Updated 10/29/10

Game Release: Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (US, 11/12/01)


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