Review by Oren Murasaki
"Everyone should play this game."
Metal Gear Solid 2 rumbled the shelves with sales and refined Metal Gear on more technical matters . . . it proved to be an excellent game on its own and as a sequel, but when all of the elements of it combine it becomes as more than just a little something for Metal Gear fans, but a game that everyone should play. Fans of the action genre or not, it is still a must and combines unique elements that give it a name of its own . . . and the only excuses for missing this game are if you're dead, hate video games with a passion, or simply can't. Not only is this game thought-provoking, but its detail and references tie so well into real life that it became necessary to warn that it was fictional . . . although I'm not so sure about that.
A very strong element of this game, and perhaps the base of its thrill. Metal Gear Solid 2 is tactical espionage action, but is more than just sneaking.
Primarily, when playing the game the purpose is to infiltrate/make it to the objective without being spotted. There are two reasons why this is much more exciting than it sounds. The first is that even for a fan of shoot-em-up hit everything that moves action, this can satisfy. You aren't limited to simply sneaking, as if you are spotted attack teams are deployed and one can fight their way through, using an arsenal of tactics the give the action rush.
The tactics are strong elements of the gameplay. One can run, walk, crouch, crawl, flatten themselves on walls while moving, peek from behind a corner, climb, or perform an action roll. One can also crouch behind objects and hang over railing, and the radar system that allows you to see the enemy guards and cameras only makes this more interesting, especially with the option to turn off the radar. Even more so, the camera and enemy sights move around and have routes. This not only gives an amazing sense of realism, but gives a feeling of accomplishment when the player manages to sue a creative or clever tactic to evade sight. There is a large arsenal of weapons acquired throughout the game, such as the SOCOM. Furthermore, enemies can be tranquilized, and the whole game can be completed while only incapacitating or tranquilizing the foe.
The first-person-view mode allows a player to aim or view places that are usually impossible to see. The ability to shoot in these places also allows you to target shots in the radio to stop communications, the legs to halt movement, the arms to hinder firing, or instant kills.
At the end of the game, certain aspects of the game are calculated to give a score. A great thing is that the less people killed, the higher the score. The game itself is fairly lengthy, not something that is likely to be completed in one sitting.
Weapons range from the tranquilizer M9, to the PSG1 and the PSG1-T sniper rifles, the automatic AKs-74u or M4, the precision guided Nikita, grenades, C4, and more. When performing punching attacks, equipped weapons make them stronger.
Grabbing enemies from behind by the neck also adds to tension; which can be high in this game. You actually feel tense when attempting to not be seen, and for even more tension, when you are spotted there is a loud sound.
It actually takes strategy and thought to avoid the dangerous scenario of being spotted, avoiding infrared sensors, and flipping away from the missiles of an AV-8B Harrier or even Metal Gear. Being capable of using a sword only makes this all better. On top of that, there is a dog tag feature, giving you the option of 'holding up' guards for their dog tags, and using them to obtain special items that make the game easier.
Although a large amount of time is spent in cinematic events THEY ARE SKIPPABLE, so any complaints about them should be thwarted without a second though.
I decided to call them visuals rather than graphics, as some points only have to do with what is seen in the game rather than its quality. The game is one of the most detailed around, and I'm really not kidding. The rain blows in the direction of the flag, the city is visible when there is lighting, ice cubes eventually melt, and the one's closer together melt slower. Fruit splatters and breaks, pots make sounds when shot, lights can be shot and shadows will be gone, sight of an enemy on their left are impaired when there is an eye patch over it . . . the list goes on and on and on. The detail in sound and vision in this game is so immense and notorious that it is widely known just for that. Konami wasn't joking around.
The only real visible slowdowns in frame rates are when the final boss performs a particular move, and when stinger missiles are shot rapidly in an enclosed space, but that's about all. The sun actually moves to different positions during the times of day and produces very realistic effects, the birds can be killed and tranquilized, glass can be shot, and very few things don't act realistically. There are effects in first person view, as well, such as the camera breaking if your life bar goes down to zero.
The character graphics are as smooth as their environment, and the whole thing is very detailed and smooth overall.
Konami was really aiming for a hit. The voices are well done, varied, and acted out. The sounds of knocking vary on surfaces as well as the sounds of bullets hitting, the slashing effects of blades slicing through the air are also done well. Explosions tend to sound a bit repetitive, but that's not much of a concern since you won't be doing much detonation through sneaking missions anyway.
Sounds can be used to distract enemies, but not those with headphones; the automatic dryer makes a realistic sound, the jet engines from the Harrier II fade out, etc.
The sound itself is meticulously detailed.
The music gives a simply excellent mood, because it switches very suddenly after being calm, just to make the player nervous, and it usually works. The main theme is excellent, and the boss themes fit.
You can feel the contempt in voices, the expression in Snake's gruff voice, and the anger from Sergei Gurlukovich.
Phenomenal, very well thought out. By the end of the game, the earlier objectives aren't even a factor. Few things are what they seem to be. The story twists, and twists a lot near the end. As a matter of fact, final revelations even begin to push the limits of human comprehension, and the ending is a true oddity and cliffhanger.
Although not seen by some as much compared to the critically acclaimed Metal Gear Solid, it is still a great one in its own right, and multiple elements converge in it. The factors that lead to the final happenings come from the current and the past, and things change in almost every new scene.
Elements of the story point to something that should seem obvious, but truly aren't, and the references from previous games in the series are very strong, and in some cases make the current happenings even more mysterious.
Sometimes, the story may seem to twist a bit too much, and large portions of it take place at once, making the scenes long but still skipable.
The game is divided into two chapters, the Tanker Chapter and the Plant Chapter. When you begin, you are playing as the legendary soldier Solid Snake, and attempting to get photographic evidence of the Navy's new Metal Gear, a walking nuclear tank. Terrorists seize the ship to take the Metal Gear for themselves, and your objective remains obtaining photographic evidence, and going in unseen.
Due to possible spoilers from the Tanker Chapter, I won't give details of the Plant, but at the facility you play as Jack, who is codenamed Raiden. With the assistance of Colonel Campbell, you are to perform what starts out as a rescue mission, while contending with elite members of a team called Dead Cell, who call themselves Sons of Liberty.
In the end, its no surprise that this game sold so much. The detail, gameplay, and story of it combine to make almost a super-game. The plot elements remain some of the strangest and most interesting, and the indirect indications and references to morals and the nature of the world today are very thought-provoking.
If not for the amazing gameplay, highly polished visuals, or phenomenal story, this game should be played simply because of the attention it puts on human nature and the meaning of liberty. Once again, one doesn't have to be a fan of this series or have played previous installments to enjoy this classic, and Hideo Kojima wasn't playing around. Everyone should play Metal Gear Solid 2.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 07/10/04
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