Review by Rhuman13

"A Must-Have for PS2 Owners (PAL Review)"

This review is of the PAL version of the game.

Metal Gear Solid 2 is a masterpiece, by far one of the most impressive games that I have ever played. It’s truly beautiful to see all of the aspects of a great game come together to form something nearly perfect. This game is just that, nearly perfect.

Over the recent years Metal-Gear (a robot type machine armed with nuclear warheads) has gotten onto the black market, and now every state or faction with enough money to produce one has it. To contest this new arrival of multiple Metal-Gears the US Marines have developed a new Metal-Gear, one that apparently has “amphibious qualities”. This version is supposedly far beyond any of the recent creations, surpassing them by leaps and bounds. You’re Solid Snake, a former member of the elite soldier group of FOXHOUND, though now you’ve formed a group by the name of “Philanthropy”, alongside your faithful friend Otacon. Otacon’s real name is Hal Emmerich, a valuable asset to Snake because of his brains. He directs Snake from afar while Snake carries out the dirty work. Your job is to infiltrate a tanker holding the new Metal-Gear and discover any information you can about it. That is about all the information that I can give without spoiling it, and this game is an easy one to spoil. There are so many twists throughout the story you have to play with your attention on this and only this, which shouldn’t be too hard. That is also its only real flaw in the story department, the fact that it is so complex. You might even get confused, and have to backtrack and think of other double-crosses that happened along the way. For the most part it is clear (if you pay attention), and everything is explained through lengthy cut-scenes (which you can skip if you’re replaying it). Another aspect of the story is a complete turn-over after the first couple of hours. You will spend the majority of the game off of the tanker, in a completely different setting.

Graphics are as close to perfect as anything on the PS2 thus far. The bodies are realistic, the textures are impressive, and everything moves fluidly with no slow down. Playing this game can easily be compared to watching a movie, not only because of the plot but the graphics are just amazing. There is incredible attention to detail; you can see the rain bounce off of snake as he wanders around it. You can watch as it drips off of him while walking inside, and the footprints he leaves. When underwater the water is murky with low visibility, a very realistic aspect. The guns are incredibly detailed; you can watch your shells drop as you fire off round after round. The environments are also very varied, with just as much detail from one room to the next. All in all this game is a beautiful thing to watch.

Music is something that this game excels in; as you watch the opening credits you realize it. The incredible score composed by Harry Gregson-Williams that plays as you watch the beginning of the game is truly impressive, it gets you prepped and ready to play the game. Throughout the game music is incredible, from the subtle background music (or lack of it), to the full-blown score playing during the cinematic sequences. I would never dream of shutting off this music in favor of a CD, it truly is a treat to listen to and adds to the game in a wonderful way. Sound effects are also impressive in this game. Firing a gun sounds so realistic you could swear they just fired in front of a microphone and put it in the game. When you throw a grenade at an enemy soldier you hear the satisfying explosion and screams as they fall prey to you. The voice-overs are also very impressive. Acting is incredible, without the corny and forced voices that video-games usually fall victim to. The mouths match what they’re saying nicely as well, an important part visually.

Game Play
Game play is the most important part of any game, as it determines how much fun you are going to have while playing it. MGS2 excels in every aspect of game play, making it a very enjoyable game. The premise is that of any other Metal Gear game, if you’ve played any of the other ones. The idea is to sneak around an area avoiding detection in order to reach some goal, which varies from game to game. Sometimes in order to avoid detection you have to take out a guard silently, which you can do a variety of ways. You can creep up on him from behind and snap his neck, or you can simply use a silenced pistol. There is also the “Guns Blazing” approach, where you just go charging in with a machine gun and grenades and blow up anything that moves. Yet another way would be to use your sniper rifle, and take them out from afar. Beware, though, that you aren’t perfectly steady with a rifle (as in real life) and certain pills are required to keep your hands from shaking. After you dispose of the guards however you choose, you’re going to have to hide them in order to avoid detection. Picking up the guards and moving them to an area out of the other guards patrol would work, but you also have to make sure that they don’t have a radio on them. If they do, then other guards may call in to check up, and realize that he isn’t there. All of these are things you have to think of while completing your mission, so it becomes a very complex affair. Controls are incredibly simple while doing all of this, square fires your weapon, circle punches, x crouches, triangle opens doors, R2 changes your weapon, L2 changes your item, etc. At first it takes a little getting used to, but after the first 20 or so minutes you won’t even think about what button you’re pushing.

AI (Artificial Intelligence)
Normally I wouldn’t include a section like this, but because of the nature of this game I think it deserves it. Avoiding detection is a key part of the game, and the intelligence of the computer makes this a hard thing to do in some cases. If you forget to move a body and a guard sees it, the alarm will be triggered. If you leave footprints somewhere, a guard will follow them, eventually leading to you. If the guard hears something, like footsteps, he will move to inspect what is going on. These things can be used to your advantage as well. You can throw an empty clip to make a guard look the other way, thus giving you the opportunity to make a run for it. All in all the AI is very well done, not too difficult and not too easy.

A perfect score in replayability means that there are endless possibilities after beating the game. For starters, there are 6 different difficulties, very easy, easy, normal, hard, extreme, and European extreme. As the difficulty rises you suffer more handicaps, and the AI becomes smarter. Another thing to keep you coming back is the concept of Dog Tags. Almost all of the soldiers in the game carry dog tags, and they can be collected by holding up (sticking a gun in their face and saying, “Freeze!”) each one individually until they shake and drop it. These can be collected for various secret items which can be used in new games. The game itself only lasts about 20 hours, but you will find yourself playing it again repeatedly, to try different things and collect dog tags, beat all the different difficulties, or just plain goof off. At the end of every game you also get a code, which you can write down and submit on the Konami website to compare with other players. Your code will show stats like time it took to complete, number of kills, number of alerts, etc. After beating the game for the first time you also unlock extras, such as boss fights (fighting each boss one a time until you beat them all), casting theatre (switching out characters in the cut scenes, i.e. making snake a middle-aged woman), and various others. These are PAL only features though, available only on the PAL version of the game.

Buy or Rent?
Most certainly buy this game if you haven’t already. If you rent you might be able to beat the game but you will most likely want to beat it over and over again. I bought the game when it came out and I still play it to this day, it’s just that good.

A true gem, something that every Playstation 2 owner should have. This game sets new heights for all aspects, and does nothing but impress the whole way through. If you haven't already purchased this game, do so now. If you don't have a PS2, get one and buy it now!

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 10/20/03

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