Review by mark24173

"Takes huge risks and succeeds"

A good way to annoy gamers is to throw a spanner in the works by doing the precise opposite of what they expect. After the success of Metal Gear Solid on the PS1, people were salivating at the idea of what Snake could get up to on the PS2, and early previews of MGS2 drove people mad with excitement. Indeed the demo which came with Zone of the Enders provided a superb hour of so of gameplay which got everyone even more excited. Then the game proper came out and everyone freaked out because, well, you know why. An hour of awesome sneaking around and a cool boss battle with Snake, and suddenly you're playing as this....blonde! And he's emo! He whines and complains and has soppy conversations with his analyst / save point person, who happens to (appear to) be his girlfriend!! Oh no!! I guess Hideo Kojima overestimated the intelligence of his followers.

Anyway, setting aside the story for the moment, MG2 is a technical tour de force. Graphically it's terrific, sonically it's solid rather than great (with the exception of the brilliant opening theme which accompanies one of the best opening sequences in gaming), and the gameplay is classic stealth. There are some brilliant set pieces (finding the man with the pacemaker for instance) which make the game that much more fun. The boss fights are well designed and, unlike The End in MGS3, know when to stop.

But it is the story that makes or breaks MGS2, and it divides people like mad. Probably the only person who knows exactly what's going on is Kojima himself (and at times you wonder if he hasn't taken leave of his senses) The game starts off simply enough (in relative terms) with Snake attempting to procure evidence of the existence of a new Metal Gear weapon. Even when Raiden (the Emo Blonde mentioned earlier) makes his entrance the story isn't too convoluted. It just gets weirder and weirder as things go on, and that's where people start getting tired of it.

The one valid criticism of MGS2 is the colossally long cutscenes. They really do seem go on for ever. For a game which has maybe ten hours of actual gameplay, twenty-minute plus cutscenes are just too long, however much they further (or muddy) the plot. Heck, Final Fantasy games take 50 or more hours and you don't get half hour flashback scenes in those.

My favourite part of MGS2 is near the end, when a naked Raiden (and this includes a wonderful visual gag involving a can of drink) is trying to escape custody and meet up with Snake. This is where the "Colonel" (who has been Raiden's main contact throughout the mission) starts giving off signs that he may not be who he appears to be. More succinctly, he goes nuts and starts coming out with all kinds of bizarre - and often extremely funny - comments. The first time he tries to persuade you to stop playing and turn the game off is one of the best fourth wall breaks in all of gaming. Nobody knows how to screw with a player's mind like Kojima, and he does so here in style.

MGS2, like a handful of other games, is great in spite of its faults (and other than the cutscenes, none of these faults are even close to being major ones). It plays almost perfectly, it provokes the player and it basically takes utterly enormous risks and, in my view at least, succeeds brilliantly.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 02/16/10

Game Release: Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (UK) (EU, 03/08/02)

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