Review by LynnJynh9315

"The best storyline in the whole series... for those smart enough to follow it."

Metal Gear Solid 2 is often cited as the epitome of a disappointing sequel that takes an excellent formula and does something completely unforgivable: it places you in someone else's shoes. The fact that 4/5 of the entire game is played as a character named “Raiden” rather than series-favorite Solid Snake brewed massive hatred among fans and even critics. In addition to this, MGS2 is also considered to have one of the worst stories in the series' history.

This is really quite sad, because Sons of Liberty is actually a wonderful game- and a wonderful METAL GEAR game as well. The above issues do have some merit in them, but neither of them can come close to truly marring the experience; this is just an all-around great game and the one that solidified the formula to which modern MGS games are fashioned.

Metal Gear Solid 2 is broken into two chapters, Tanker and Plant. The Tanker chapter is considerably shorter than the other and serves as the introduction to the main plotline- as well as the only part of the game where players control series-mainstay Solid Snake. However, despite the fact that the Plant chapter is the true meat of the game, all of the screenshots on the game's case come from Snake's chapter.

For those who haven't played a Metal Gear title before, it may be necessary to explain a little about the series. The best way I can think of to do this is to place the games on a timeline (including many games released after MGS2). The following titles appear in chronological order; some titles may be missing (namely the Acid series), but it'll still give a good idea. If you find yourself playing this game and are unfamiliar with the previous entries, MGS2 provides plot summaries for Metal Gear, Metal Gear 2 and Metal Gear Solid.

Metal Gear Solid 3 (PS2)
Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops (PSP)
Metal Gear Solid: Peacewalker (PSP)
Metal Gear (NES)
Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake (NES)
Metal Gear Solid (PS1)
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (PS2)
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PS3)

--Sound/music 8/10--
Practically every aspect of MGS2 is an improvement on the previous game- and this shows even in the sound department. Guns sound more appropriate here and lack the odd echoing sound from MGS1. The sound has always been a solid part of the series, and MSG2 is no exception.

The voice acting in the original Metal Gear Solid was one of the strongest aspects of the game, especially in an era when voice-acting in video games was practically non-existent. David Hayter returns here to voice Solid Snake, but he is only one in an all-round great cast that lends merit to the characters and makes many of them unforgettable. This game is easily one of the best examples of voice acting in video games.

The music for the original game was also very good but, in my opinion, this game outdoes its processor in this area. Harry Gregson-Williams, well known for movies like Con-Air and The Rock, takes over for the score this time… and it really shows. Even the basic “sneaking” theme will stay with you long after the credits. The main theme for the game is absolutely superb. You might not be ordering the soundtrack off of Amazon like you would for a Final Fantasy or Halo OST, but the music here more than delivers. The only reason I give it an eight is that, being an RPG fan, I can think of much better and more memorable scores.

--Gameplay 10/10--
If we were going for gameplay alone, Metal Gear Solid 2 would still get a high rating. Improvements to the formula introduced in the first title are as numerous as they are brilliant. After playing this game, you'll never want to go back to the old controls. Most of this is due to the new ability to fire weapons in first-person… a well needed function that feels right at home when compared to the awkward aiming mechanics in MGS1. The ability to draw your pistol and aim for specific body parts is so essential and so seamlessly added to the game that it's truly hard to image Metal Gear without it. In addition to this, you can now shoot around corners when leaning against a wall, put enemies into a chokehold to knock them unconscious, distract them by throwing empty pistol magazines, and put them to sleep with the new tranquilizer pistol.

While almost every aspect has been revamped and improved, the core gameplay basically remains the same: sneaking past your enemies. The main difference isn't a total change in the way the formula works, but how well it has been refined. This is one of the few cases were it will be very hard to return to previous games in the series simply because of how much improvement has been made to the gameplay in this entry.

For those who are not familiar with the MGS games, I will simply say this: if you were to shoot an enemy in Halo… he dies. Do the same thing in Metal Gear Solid and you'll be left with a dead body which can alert other enemies to your presence. You can stuff bodies in empty lockers, shake them down for items or even use them to lure another enemy to a secluded area for a quiet takedown. Long after Halo has grown old and boring… you'll still be playing this game: there's simply more things to do in this game.

--Story 10/10--
Many people have attacked Metal Gear Solid 2's story as being horribly convoluted… but whoever decided that this was such a bad thing? Why blame the story for players who simply can't keep up with the plot? The issue lies not with the game's story, but solely with the gamer himself. That said, Metal Gear Solid 2 has one of the most brilliant plots ever conceived; those players smart enough to keep up with it will be treated to a myriad of plot twists and surprises that outdoes any movie in existence. If I was to explain the plot with one word, it would be: Mind-job. By the time the game reaches it's conclusion, you will probably feel like someone uncoiled your brain and tied it in knots.

The basic concept of the story has to do with a lone operative belonging to the Foxhound unit being sent in to rescue the President of the United States after being kidnapped on a routine inspection of a environmental clean-up facility called the “Big Shell”. The terrorist group holding the President hostage intend to use him along with the enigmatic “nuclear football” to activate a new experimental weapon based on the schematics of a walking nuclear tank called “Metal Gear”.

--Graphics 9/10--
If you've played the original Metal Gear Solid, you'll know just how badly that game has aged. Fortunately, Metal Gear Solid 2 has not aged nearly so bad. While games certainly look better now than when this game came out, the graphics are still good enough to not annoy you into quitting (original Playstation games had a way of doing that). When I look back at MGS2, all I see is a superbly directed game where every scene is a cinematic wonder.

In terms of graphics, MGS2 measures up to much of the games in the PS2's library. All of the cinematic cutscenes are done with the in-game engine, so there is nothing here to rival the CG cutscenes of games line Final Fantasy X. Nevertheless, the graphics are more than adequate even now that the PS3 has enabled considerably superior visuals.

--Replay Value 9/10--
The Metal Gear Solid games always have a fair amount of replay value. I've been through the game five times now to collect all the dog tags and unlock the Stealth Camo and Infinity wig/bandanna- and I'm not the type of person to do reruns through a game. The mere fact is that this game is just too fun not to play over and over and over again. The Stealth Camo alone is reason enough to replay this game as many times as it takes to unlock the item

--Content Warning--
The game features plenty of blood (and even a character who drinks said blood). You'll see plenty of slit throats with blood pouring out. It's not terribly graphic, since there's no gore involved (if we're using Half-Life's example of gore),, but it's certainly not tame either. There are, however, plenty of posters throughout the game that featured lewdly dressed or even half-nude women (though nothing beyond a PG-13 rating). In addition to these concerns, some scenes deal with mature content such as sexual abuse (which is never shown, but it nevertheless spoken of) As you can expect, this really isn't a game for children.

--Overall 10/10--
If you're into psychological thrillers, then is game is very much in that vein. Granted, there were moments when I felt it held your hand too much and the lengthy dialogue annoyed even me… but one can hardly complain when the cutscenes and the dialogue are this good. This is like text-book how to make great cinematic video games. The game is that good. It may have one or two flaws here and there, but nothing so big that it could mar the awesome experience and cause me to give it less than a perfect score.

If you are asking why I decided to give this game a perfect review, the answer revolves around the game's presentation. The game is so well presented, that you will eventually begin to second guess whether you are really playing a game and there is even some moments in which the game itself seems to become self-conscious. All in all, MGS2 improves on its predecessor and is one of the best games, not only in the Metal Gear series, but on the PS2 period.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 04/27/10

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

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