Thursday, December 12, 2002

Game Review: Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

The story of Metal Gear Solid 2: SoL begins high above the Hudson River on the upper level of the GWB, a shadowy figure walks along in the pouring rain as cars zip by, they're lights casting a red and white haze illuminating the bridge. Suddenly the figure breaks into a sprint and disappears as the poncho he was wearing is cast aside. Thermoptic camouflage warps his surroundings as he leaps over the side and plummets to the tanker passing below....
The bungee cord slows the mysterious figure as he descends towards the tanker, he cuts the cord and lands on the forward most section of the ship, lightning crackles and breaks the darkness of the rainy night. The man gets to his feet and we see that it's Solid Snake, hero of the Shadow Moses incident.
After a short communique with Otacon on familiarizing him with his weapons and gear (smokes) you embark on your mission. To locate and document the existence of a new type of Metal Gear constructed by the US Marines. An amazing beginning to the sequel to one of the best PS1 games, the whole mission on the tanker really shows the power of the PS2, Snake looks even better even sporting a mullet and scruff and the movements much more fluid that in MGS1.
The game retains all the familiarities of the series like the radar, enemy field of vision,camera angle, the codec and frequencies, weapons and items are accessed via the L2/R2 buttons. The first person view mode is now entered by holding R1 button and now you can shoot, fight H2H, put the enemy in a choke hold, lean left or right and sidestep.
The enemy AI in MGS2 is more intuitive also, they work as a team once once they spot you or a downed comrade, they'll sweep an entire room...including the lockers and air ducts!
Your first boss fight is against Olga Gurlukovich, daughter of Colonel Sergei Gurlukovich of the GRU, armed with only an M9 tranquilizer gun. MGS2 challenges the player to find non lethal ways of neutralizing your enemies and rewards you for not killing.Kudos to Hideo Kojima.
MGS2 is split into two separate chapters, the first being the mission aboard the tanker, trying to get photographic evidence of the existence of a new Metal Gear. Things take a turn for the worse when Revolver Ocelot shows up and betrays Col. Gurlukovich and steals (takes back) Metal Gear Ray. As the cut scene continues we discover Revolver Ocelot or Shalashaska has had a new hand grafted onto his arm. This was the first sign that MGS2 was going to be.......different.
The first chapter ends with Liquid Ocelot stealing Metal Gear Ray and the destruction of the tanker in the Hudson river. Were the Internet rumors true? Did Hideo Kojima Kill Snake?
The second chapter of MGS2 begins two years after the tanker tragedy. A large refinery,Big Shell, has been built where the tanker sank to contain the oil spill. Snake enters the Big Shell using FoxHound's skull suit. While communicating to Colonel Cambell via codec we discover the Big Shell has been taken over by the seal anti terrorist group Dead Cell, now known as the Sons of Liberty and they are holding President James Johnson (former Vice President under George Sears) hostage, and that their leader is non other than Solid Snake! So if Snake is the leader of the Sons of Liberty who is this New Foxhound agent?
Get ready for one of the biggest mind screws in video game history...
The main character isn't Solid Snake, it's Jack, code name Raiden. Raiden is as green as they get, he has hundreds of hours in VR training and has completed the Shadow Moses Incident in VR.....kinda like YOU, holding the controller. Better strap yourself in and put on your thinking caps because MGS2 is gonna take you on one of the most mind screwing rollercoaster rides ever.
Once Raiden begins the operation he is introduced to his support team that consists of Colonel Campbell and Rosemary a data analyst for the US army and....Raidens girlfriend. A Navy Seal team has also been sent in to rescue the President but they are unaware of Raidens presence on Big Shell. Soon after Raiden reaches Big Shell he meets up with Lt. J.G Plisken, the sole survivor of seal team Alpha. Throughout the mission Plisken assists Raiden, but he also gets help from some other familiar faces like Hal Emerich (Otacon), and a mysterious ninja cyborg codename Mr. X that is very reminisent of grey fox.
The story unfolds in a similar fashion as MGS1, a rogue black ops team takes over a facility and holds hostages demanding a ransom. This turns out to be one of the intertwined story archs in MGS2:SoL, the S3, more on that later....
Along with that basic storyline there is actually a very intelligent, subplot that conspiracy theorists will really sink their teeth into, the secret society of The Patriots. Many things are revealed to Raiden when he finally finds President Johnson, the truth about the Big Shell, the the AI super computer code named GW, and the Patriots a shadowy organization that is the true power of the United States.
There is alot more going on than Raiden was aware of! After failing his primary objective Raiden and Solid Snake focus on stopping Solidus Snake (ex president George Sears), and the secret 3rd child of the 1972 Les Enfants Terribles project, leader of Dead Cell and the latest weapon of mass destruction Arsenal Gear created by The Patriots.
Meet the Snakes....
If you thought that was alot of information to absorb, hold onto your thinking caps! MGS3 comes to a screaching cresendo when all the players are face to face on Arsenal Gear as it is headed on a collision course with lower manhattan! Ex Presidents George Sears mastermined the whole Shadow Moses incident with help from Revolver Ocelot to get Metal Gear REX so he could destroy the Patriots, the Patriots were the ones who put George Sears in office and were the ones who forced him to resign. George Sears aka Solidus Snake planned on destoying the AI super computer onboard Arsenal Gear to "free" Americans from the Patriots manipulation of all information and thus the manipulation of "free" will, otherwise known as "Selection for Societal Sanity", or "S3 Plan".
But Solidus is betrayed by Ocelot, who reveals himself to be a Patriot operative, but Ocelot (son of the Sorrow & the Boss) begins to loose himself to Liquid Snake via the grafted forearm. Before Ocelot is completely over taken he reveals that Raidens entire mission was orcestrated by the Patriots S3 Plan otherwise known as the Solid Snake Simulation which was an intricately controlled test to reenact the events of the Shadow Moses Incident and see if Raiden could be made into a "clone" of Solid Snake.
And Solid Snake aka Iroqois Plisken finally about to stop Ocelot and Metal Gear Ray once again finds himself face to face or should I say Face to hand with Liquid Snake once he overtakes Ocelot...on some genetic level. Liquid boards Metal Gear Ray on a mission to destroy the Patriots and Solid Snake follows Liquid into Manhattan harbor.
Hideo Kojima took an awefull risk making the main character someone other than the hero of MGS, did it pay off? Yes and no, the MGS lore was able to expand via Raiden, but most people found Raiden to be almost the polar opposite to Snakes mojo and found it difficult to connect with him.
The story of MGS2 was a handful and I didn't like it that much....AT FIRST. But in retrospect and much thought it was fascinating and deeper than any previous MGS storyline.
Now on to my biggest gripe...
The cast of MGS2: SOL were so 1 dimensional compared to every single character in MGS! Liquid Snake vs Solidus Snake: winner Liquid Snake
Psycho Mantis vs Vamp: winner Psycho Mantis
Sniper Wolf vs Fortune: winner Sniper Wolf
Vulcan Raven vs Fatman: winner Vulcan Raven
Solid Snake vs Raiden: winner Raiden.....just kidding!
Meryl Silverburgh vs E.E.: winner Meryl
Mei Ling vs Rosemary: winner Mei Ling
Naomi Hunter vs Colonel Cambell (A.I.): Naomi Hunter....just live
MGS Otacon vs MGS2 Otacon: winner MGS Otacon
Grey Fox vs Olga Gurlukovich: Grey Fox!