By Sam Coles:
Do you ever play a game that makes you question the nature of reality? Well that was my experience when I first finished Metal Gear Solid 2 this game really messes with your mind near the later stages of the game. When you start though it just seems to be a normal Metal Gear or as normal the series can get, you can hardly call a series normal with characters that are Soviet psychics.
Metal Gear Solid 2’s story is quite a hard story to analyse and not because it’s confusing, but because there is a lot to consume so I will do my best to try and explain it to you. Metal Gear Solid 2 starts two years after the Shadow Moses incident; Snake and Otacon are now branded as war criminals after the incident and now work on their own as a non-governmental organisation which specialises in destroying Metal Gears.
They come across a new Metal Gear code named “Ray” and it’s being stored on a US Marine Corps tanker, however they’re not the only ones interested as Russian Spetsnaz soldiers start to storm the tanker killing the crew guarding it. Revolver Ocelot is accompanying the Russians but he is not stealing the Metal Gear for the Russians but for the Patriots and it is later revealed that he has Liquid Snake’s arm grafted on the one that the Gray Fox chopped off in the first game. Snake is apparently killed on the tanker as Ocelot steals the Metal Gear and destroys the tanker.
Two years after the tanker event the Big Shell was created to help stop the pollution but it has now been taken over by a terrorist group calling themselves Dead Cell who are led by George Sears the former president of the US, but he is also the third clone of Big Boss with the code name Solidus Snake. Raiden (who you play as for the rest of the game) soon meets up with a Navy Seal called Plisken and yes he is exactly who you think he is Solid Snake. Snake is trying to stop Solidus because he is claiming to be Solid Snake to cover up the incident but that is blown wide open when Snake confronts Solidus.
The game gets darker and weirder with its plot as you progress towards the latter half of the game; you eventually find out that the Big Shell is a cover for a new type of Metal Gear called Arsenal Gear which houses an army of Ray units. You’re eventually captured by Ocelot who strips you of your equipment and clothes and Solidus tells you about your past. It turns out that Raiden is not a rookie soldier after all he was born in Liberia and his parents were killed by Solidus where he then adopts him and puts him through the child soldier program where earns the nickname “Jack the Ripper”.
By the end of the game you realise that Raiden is you, a fan boy of Snake who wanted to live up to his expectations and near the end he starts rejecting your control hence why you get fake game over screens and he sneezes against your will etc. He fights Solidus on top of a crashed Arsenal Gear and then Snake tells that he is no one’s tool and then Raiden proceeds to throw his dog tags away with your name on final releasing himself from your control.
The plot of this game does get really deep but if I were to analyse the entirety of the story I would be here all week because Kojima predicted some scary stuff with digital information for the time and this was back when the internet was still in its infancy.
Now I can finally talk about the gameplay after that, so does it differ from the first game? Not that much no, but it tweaks and adds new tactics and gadgets for you to experiment with. You now have the ability to walk which should have been the standard in a stealth game with the original, but it really helps especially when you’re walking over loud surfaces. You can aim in first person which is good if you want to land critical shots in the head as guards will react in different ways where you are aiming or shooting at. There are pressure sensitive controls which are a god send because you don’t waste a bullet if you start aiming like did in the first game. What they did with this game is that they took the foundations of the first instalment and tweaked everything.
The boss battles are still highly entertaining to fight with people like Fatman an explosives expert who is off his head and speeds around on roller skates while drinking a cocktail or Vamp the “Vampire” like character who seems to be immune to death (Play MGS 4 to find out more). They’re great fun with great personalities with different approaches of defeating them.
The presentation is still pretty good and yes the character models are bit off these days but for the time this was cutting edge. The attention to detail in this game is insane especially the tanker prologue with the rain effects as you see the rain drops hit the deck of the ship. Even the detail with the environments where you can shoot anything and you’ll get a reaction like broken bottles etc. The animations with the characters in terms of dialogue is laughable, but during cutscenes when they’re performing actions are great because Kojima used motion capture in this game to simulate things like abseiling out of helicopters.
The only problem I have with this game the controls feel dated and clunky especially when you try to hug a wall at specific camera angles because Snake or Raiden will start walking different directions if you don’t have the analogue stick pointed in the right direction. I can’t really fault it that is what happens as technology ages.
Metal Gear Solid 2 makes you question what reality is and defines videos games as art with its philosophical story with twists and turns which scare and delight you. It’s cheap to pick up on PS2 but I would recommend getting the HD collection as it comes with three great games and looks nicer on a modern television.