Friday, December 7

Metal Gear 2 Solid Snake Review

Available on: MSX2, Available with Metal Gear Solid 3 HD or Subsistence
Price I paid: £4.99 (eBay)
I played on: PS3
Notes: N/A

Metal Gear 2 is a game that honestly has no right being as good as it is considering that it came out in 1990. That’s right, this game is over 25 years old and yet I was surprised to find it still holds up today. It’s not perfect and it does suffer from the odd bit of old game logic but for the most part it’s a really fun, simple to understand stealth game with an interesting story.

It’s been 3 years since Foxhound rookie Solid Snake destroyed Big Boss’s, Outer Heaven. The world has run out of nearly all natural resources but Dr Marv has created a new biofuel called OILIX. However, the good doctor is kidnapped by extremists from the military nation of Zanzibar Land in Africa. Solid Snake is once again dropped behind enemy lines with orders to rescue both Dr Marv and the OILIX formula. Although the story is not as detailed or well told as other Metal Gear games such as Metal Gear Solid 3 it is still a great plot. It uses the limited graphics and technology of the MSX really well and reminds me of a few modern indie games that use similar retro pixel styles. Going back and seeing Outer Heaven and Zanzibar Land has been a real treat and I can honestly say this story holds up really well. Seeing Big Boss as more than just a simple bad guy was amazing. You hear throughout the game of all the people he has saved including young children that openly admit to seeing him as a father to them. It's well above most other games of the late ’80s and early ’90s for plot and world building.

The graphics are dated for sure but I don’t think you could call them bad because quite frankly I find them beautiful. The pixel work is wonderfully detailed and the world feels big and well designed with really clever little tricks and effects. I mean if you enter the freezer in the cafe then your rations will freeze in your inventory. You will find lots of little details like this throughout the game and I love it. The new radar in the top right of your HUD lets you see other screens around you as well as the guards occupying them. The first Metal Gear had the issue of the Outer Heaven base feeling like a maze. This was because you could only see the area around you and when you left the screen you would start on a new one. This map allows everything to feel connected in a way that the first game lacked. Put simply this feels less like a number of random areas connected in a maze-like fashion and actually like a number of buildings and outside areas.

The gameplay on paper is very similar to the first Metal Gear on the MSX, in reality, it starts feeling a lot more like Metal Gear Solid. It still uses the same top-down view as Metal Gear but with the radar, more detailed characters, story and little gameplay details it becomes something much Greater. Small touches like guards turning their heads allow the simple gameplay from the first Metal Gear to take on a lot of new depth. It’s not flawless with old game logic getting in the way during a few separate occasions and for this reason, I would recommend keeping a guide handy while you play. I found most the time I didn’t need to use it. But you will have to hatch an owl egg, wait outside a laser gate with your owl, wait for it hoot so the guard thinks it’s night and turns off the laser gate. Honestly, this would have taken me days to figure out on my own. Gamers of the ’80s and ’90s had more patience than me, I take my hat off to them.

Overall Metal Gear 2 is a dang fine game and far better than I had expected it to be. Metal Gear is fun for fans but I would not recommend everyone play it.  Meanwhile, Metal Gear 2 manages to still feel impressive to this day. If your a fan of the series this is definitely one you should play. Just remember to have a guide or walkthrough video open on your phone or laptop for the really odd illogical moments.

Recommendation Rating: 8 out of 10.

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