Review by Fein
"A blend of outstanding gameplay and tiring confusion."
Reliving and capiltilising the success of the global hit for the playstation was met with a widespread response of enthiusiasm by the media and the millions of gamers that bought the game. When the screenshots were previewed, the expectations were met and silenced - and quite the advancement in technology the Playstation 2 proved to be. In graphical terms, this game will go down as one of the most ambitious games made - ever. The media relished in the high budget and raised the bar for hype that surpassed the previous game.
When the game finally was release, it became another instant classic concorded with minor flaws in the plot and overload of cutscenes. However, the media actually responded to this and joined in with the gamers who ressurected the controversy of another game failing to live up to the hype. As the tagline states, the game ties itself up in knots concerning the plot and the spiral we go down, with questions being answered with more questions. But despite this, the game went on to sell 7 million units world wide, with the arguable impression that the qualities of the game rely on the prequel's aftermath.
And the aftermath was a cliffhanger. The events of Shadow Moses were exceptionally presented. We were left with Liquid Snake being killed at the hands of FOXDIE, a genetic program designed to kill specific targets that was invented by Naomi Hunter, who betrayed Snake with reasons that he was the one responisble for murdering her brother, Gray Fox. However, she made alterations to the program which kept the gamers guessing the fate of Solid Snake. The order was direct from the pentagon, not Naomi. In this game, the confusion is lifted and confirmed that Meryl Silverburgh did escape along with Snake. The clue to the sequel was a conversation between Ocelot and Solidus, Snake's brother and President.
So here is my review, unbiased and honest.
Sons Of Liberty
I start off with the "flaw" of the game - the plot. While the plot goes down several routes, amidsting you into confusion and dismay - but the surface of the plot that is comprehensible is quite intriquing and has it's tense and adrenaline charged moments. To describe these difficulties again, is hard and too long but as the previous game dealt with genetic engineering and science - here the main issue to reflect on is computer science and how it affects our society today. And it truly is sad that only the most intellectual of science will ever appreciate this part of the plot that suddenly becomes six feet dug into the game as you progress.
But for the exciting part, Snake returns with a cliffhanging turbulence on a tanker that he infiltrates. After Shadow Moses, he and Otacon joined a group called Philanthropy - dedicated to destroying the Metal Gears of the world that were ever currently arising after news of Rex's battle superiority with the nuclear firepower advantages to military operations. The marine tanker is harbouring Metal Gear Ray for defense purposes and Snake has to unveil this to the American government by photographing Ray. However, the past catches up with Snake as the tanker is overrun by Russian soldiers, who murder the marines as they hijack the tanker. We see Sergei Gurlukovich, the man in connection with the other person accompanying him - Revolver Ocelot. As Ocelot brings his appearance on the tanker to an explosive conclusion, Snake get's one meeting with him to discover that he is working with the "Patriot's".
Who are the bloody Patriots?.
Oh how many times do you need to ask?. Assumably, the Patriot's are a group of twelve men who visage themselves are dictators for the American civilisation. They control everything about the world from Presidency (They in fact chose Snake's other brother, Solidus for this) to simple tastes such as fashion and music. Their ideal goal is to censor human trivialising their feelings and their "objective" to mate and to speed up the "evolution" of America. As the game swifts, the Patriot's soon become a major reckoning force that you never meet, only hear about yet their essence is everywhere and it becomes very frustating as they are never really clearly explained in a dummed down way, which is vital I'm afraid. This also ties in with the science and other sub plots that get in your way and worm into the cutscenes, making them slightly irritable.
Also adding to the travesty is the fact that Snake is not in fact, the main protaginist. That's unfortunately correct as he plays through one scenario and then the baton is thrown half heartedly over to Raiden. Apparently one of the reasons for this was that Hideo Kojima thought they he needed someone who could "make use of the codec". Raiden takes a more emotional approach than Snake did in the last adventure. Some may find that he has no choke hold patch on Snake's masculinity with his inexperience (mimcking a certain manipulated Snake from the PS game huh?). Some also felt that Raiden and Snake had some homoeroticism chemistry between them. Raiden's objective is to venture through the Big Shell, a contamination rig that was constructed to clean up the oil from the tanker sinking two years ago (the incident Snake took part in that is). He has to rescue the hostages a cult group named Dead Cell have captured for a billion dollars. Two of the hostages are President Johnson and Richard Ames, two specific hostages that are priorities. Sound familliar?. But Raiden soons finds himself being another pawn in a twisted game he and you are never really sure about. The only thing I could determine about Raiden was that he had really bad taste in women, with his girlfriend Rose constantly giving him earache with relationship problems right in the middle of while he's trying to break a soldier's neck. Also, he has a very bad hairstyle, distinguishing him as a girl.
Hideo Kojima also stated in the DVD enclosed with the game package that he saw Raiden as "one off character". Hopefully for the fanbase of Snake and the sensible decision Raiden makes in the end, Kojima will stick to that. Returning characters are Revolver Ocelot, who justifies why many thought he had the true innings of a main antagonist, Colonel Campbell (a little slide of a twist in this one mind) and Otacon, the newly best friend of Snake who has journeyed into manhood but still sounding and looking like a monkey.
Nastasha Romenenko: Shadow Moses, In The Darkness Of The Shadows
For those fanatics like myself who obsessed with the epic if unusual adventure from the last game, there are two books included in the game demonstrating insights from Shadow Moses. However, Natasha Romenenko, a character from the last game, has written an expose on Shadow Moses. The book contributes to the understanding of the Patriot's and a very interesting and shocking discovery to the events behind Shadow Moses that we didn't know. It also ties up loose ends from the last game that could have frustrated you. Really, whoever wrote the book (and despite the credits, it just can't be Nastasha Romenenko.....right?), ahem, whoever wrote the book, praise be - it's a good read.
You press this to raise the gun, and this to shoot the b*****d!.
The controls remain the same as the previous game except there is new additions such as the glorious first person shooter mode which is activated by supressing the R1 button, you can't move while in this mode but you can aim the precision laser of the gun at your enemies and direct more sufficent, deadly hits. You can even hold the enemies up (after you've possibly shot out his radio?) and point the gun up and down for them to give you an item and their dog tag. Plus, if you have an enemy held up, if you're feeling the slightest trigger happy - sing Head, Shoulders, Knees And Toes while shooting those body parts for sickening and very morbid humour.
In fact, killing your enemies has never been so much fun ever in a game. This could be Sons Of Liberty's main point of replayability. You have your hand to hand combat which is extended to a more karate based attack. Snake can deliver two punches before swing kicking the poor fool over a railing and into the depths of the abyss of non graphics area. Raiden can do the same, but a more fancy acrobatic double kick. Pah, show off.
The weapons are great. You have your socom and USP for handguns but also the tranquiliser gun that allows you to put the enemies to sleep. If you have the game on a far more difficult level, then you need to be specific where you shoot the enemy otherwise they might not fall before they see you. For instance, if you shoot them in the head with the dart, they'll conk out instantly. Hit them somewhere like the arm, then it will take a few seconds. You also have your AK and MK as rifles and the infamous Nikita and Stinger. The C4 and Claymores are also back with the new ninja sword that you operate by rotating the analog stick (the fluidity of the sword attacks are neatly presented). Another very obsolete gun is the moderation of the PSG1 sniper rifle, there is the same model except a tranquilliser version meaning you get knock enemies out from afar.
Metal Gear Solid finds absolution in the stealth factor of the game. With the last game doing this in a very unpredecented fashion (with no other games ever able to capture stealth gameplay in the same level). Sons Of Liberty makes no mistake to show their ruthlessness in the failure of other games. Splinter Cell for many, the full throttle of stealth engulfed them and consequently boiled itself in controversy. Though Splinter Cell envisions the ultimate survival adventure, Sons Of Liberty relieves itself by creating the ultimate survival tactics such as being able to use any part of the environment Snake or Raiden is on to your advantage of disguising yourself. Being able to hide in vent ducks, behind walls, boxes, under storage cases, under tables, in lockers and of course, the infamous box trick. The endless ways to exploit the enemies folly is not only useful but fun - something that Splinter Cell neglected for such a heated debate of survival and stealth. Do you get more fun that placing a porn magazine for the enemy to drop down and read it while you sneak by him?. No, you don't. Because you'd really like to look at it yourself wouldn't you?. Yes, that's what I thought, you dirty tickets.
But hiding from enemies will not save your tight sneaking suit hide, no. For instance, the enemies A.I could very well be the most intelligent artifical intelligence to date. These guys won't be taken out without a fight and they could easily thwart you if you think it's easy to make a fool out of them. You can't just knock them out cold and leave them for two possible reasons; a nearby enemy may come along and amusingly kick him to wake him or his radio will wake him up. If you kill an enemy and neglect to hide the body (which can be done by putting them in lockers) then an enemy nearby will notice this and call for back up or a radio contact will be suspicious and order for men to scout for his body. And when that happens, you gotta run and hide. When back up penetrates the room you're in, they'll go to all measures to find you. They can do this by footprints, blood trails or sounds you make if you've chosen a risky hiding place.
When backup finds you, they have double the arsenal the normal patrolling enemies have, and have glass shields you need to smash before you can even touch them. They shoot at you with shotguns and grenade launchers and follow you in your desperate search for another hiding place to get away from the gunfire. But if you think you've gotten into a place where they can see you, but can't reach you then prepare for your jaw to break on impact of landing on the ground - they will use explosives and grenades to lure you out. The engaging thing about this is that you're genuinely terrified and the adrenaline is pumping as the vibration on the controller signifies Snake's and Raiden's heartbeat as they're waiting for the radar limit to go down and for the backup to leave. It is substansial enough to classify Sons Of Liberty as unique and it presents a good silencer for pessimistic critics.
For some, that is the only taste Metal Gear Solid awards in gameplay. There are no puzzles that stimulate your brain and logical thinking that would bulk up the difficulty and poor length of the game. Another good mention is that the bosses variate and pit you in some very good stipulations although they do come across as the seen-it-all-before catergory (think carefully about that one..) And the length is another lacklustre aspect of the game. While the replayability of the Tanker and Big Shell is endless, there is simply not enough length. In fact, the only thing keeping this long as it is, is in the cutscenes and codec calls. The extra's are a case of survival boss mode - in which you can play Raiden or Snake to fight the bosses in the game. But aside from this, I can't think of any other aspect that improves this. This shares the common flaw the previous game had in which it really needs to improve for the next game.
Solid Snake Smile
Without sounding the least, tiny bit with homosexual tendancies - but how beautiful does Snake look?. In technical terms, that is. Everything about him looks the every bit heroic than the polygons from the last game. The intimate detail on his face is so rendered to human like that the game should go down in history for this alone. He isn't the only one - Otacon and Ocelot bring themselves to life also with their realistic and distinguised looks. Everything is detailed for the pervert alert also, with Fortune in her leather swimsuit, outlining her buttocks very prominently and the armpit hair of Olga Gurlukovich - a sight which won't be sorely missed but never forgotten.
There is no FMV and that is because the standard of the play in graphics consumes the need to include any. Really, when you traverse through the world of Sons Of Liberty, you'll feel as if you're playing in FMV. There are some pretty lifelike motions in the locations such as the beautiful vanilla and creamy skies to the black coffee night falls on the tanker. I mean, this is a game where seagulls will s**t on you and have you laughing. Of course, you can always repay the favour by shooting them but the slimy, green, cream embroded cack that lands on your face is ironically something to be applauded at.
Also commendable is the codec system, from the last game where we saw some 2D face artwork of the characters. Here the character faces are in 3D and have emotional facial images when they are speaking (except more even more lifelike than the last game). All these small details are just stunningly beautiful and fully mesmerising which holds no glitches. The graphics are toned, smooth and clear making the graphics the best ever used. But somehow, this isn't the main reason why it has sold so much. Just goes to show that gamers aren't vain like critics would like mostly to believe.
And the nominees are...
If you recall on the last game's voice acting, your expectations should be high for this department. Really, the performances from the last game were so strong that they brought sophistication to the plot and realism to the characters they portrayed. The main appreciation is that the convincing David Hayter returns as Snake with his trademark husky vocals that gamers all admired three years ago. He may be the only returning actor from the last game but the ones who replace Colonel Campbell, Ocelot and Otacon sound exactly the same and deliver good performances. However, it's David Hayter (Snake), Jennifer Hale (Emma Emmerich) and Quinton Flynn (Raiden) that give the best performances of them all.
The dialogue is strong and emotional as the last game was, with the potent (if confusing) twists and turns with shocking revelations and the real truth of what happened on Shadow Moses. A lot of character development emerges in Raiden, who will undergo Cloud Strife syndrome. Snake now provides the visionary wise man that Campbell and Naomi previously were to him. Snake's dialogue determines some very true and down to earth quotes that now mark Hideo Kojima's take on the world and the issues the game deals with.
Also the soundtrack for Metal Gear Solid is oustanding. It's racing with energy and adrenaline and the opening introduction would be empty without it. Also, each character has their own theme tune which are all relevant and descriptive of their attitude in the game. The best example of this would be Fortune's slow jazz music, seemingly depressing, marking off her will to die. The battle music, when attacking or found - there is a thumping basline marked off with the soundtrack pulsing every move you make onwards.
The losing battle
When all is said and done with this game, many are going to love and hate it because of the hype. Some find it too sophisticated and lacklustre in gameplay than the likes of Splinter Cell, that boasts gameplay over luxury and an overall deluxe product. However, despite the mixed opinions, many will testify that Metal Gear Solid is in a class of it's own. And that class outranks any other game in richness because it competes and thrives to be something of a wunderkind. Yes, it's true that Metal Gear Solid maybe replaces more action for glossy showoff technical effecs that are a major deterrence to the promise of the game realising the hype but it has the sparkle and the memorable effects to make you play this game over and over again.
Magnifying into the business of the game, you naturally gather yourself to wonder if you can take another injection of the game's complicated plot - or another side trip of playing an inferior character to the popular Snake. But for this game, any faults that are contested are shrouded by Sons Of Liberty's finesse of consistent fun and innovation. Again, I feel no need to question whether to buy this or not - it's one of the top ten games ever made for the Playstation 2, even with it's few discrepancies. Of course, for something to be awarded 10, it has to be substansially amazing meshed in with personal value. So you can guess my justification for that then can't you?.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 07/01/04, Updated 07/30/04
Got Your Own Opinion?
You can submit your own review for this game using our Review Submission Form.