Saturday, December 8

Metal Gear Solid 2 Sons of Liberty Review

Available on: PS2, PS3, PSV, Xbox
Price: PS2 & Xbox = varies online. PlayStation Store for PS3 and PS Vita = £9.99.
I played on: PlayStation 2.
Notes: N/A

The story of Metal Gear Solid 2 picks up a few years after the events of the first Metal Gear Solid. Playable character Solid Snake from the first game stars in the first chapter but is quickly moved into the background for most the game. Newcomer Raiden stars as the lead for most of this story. Some fans didn't like this shift in focus. Personally, I like Raiden and think the change in character allows us to see Solid Snake from a new and interesting perspective. You're seeing him from the point of view of someone that admires him similar to the player themselves. This means that he is able to be an absolute badass. Honestly fighting alongside him during the final act is a highlight of the series for me.

Sons of Liberty is the point when the series started to introduce the conspiracy theory backstory to everything. We are introduced to the Patriots and the hidden past of Big Boss. This means that the plot of this game gets very confusing from around halfway through. I personally find the story fantastic as it sets the foundation for the rest of the series. It's a shame to say then that as good as the plot is it's poorly executed. Most of the exposition is told entirely through the Codex system. This leaves you listening to a lot of lore that doesn't even try to make itself simple to understand with only two almost static faces on screen. I quickly found myself getting bored of this. The plot should have been simpler to understand or the delivery method greatly improved. As it stands a wonderful backstory gets weighed down with terrible delivery.

Despite these problems, the biggest issue with the story is that just before the final boss fight there's an entire scene cut from the game. This leaves the characters just teleporting from one location to another with no context for how they got there. The scene in question involved the destruction of a large part of New York City including the World Trade Centre buildings. Due to the game being released very shortly after the September 11th attack the scene was cut. I know this could not be avoided and cutting the scene was the best thing to do after such a major attack and lose of life. Still, the fact remains that when looking at the game now it really sticks out. It would have been nice to have an edited scene put back into the game for the HD edition. I'd recommend reading the comic book adaptation if you want to get the full unedited climax to this story.

The gameplay is similar to the first Metal Gear Solid, you have to sneak around enemies while not being detected. You start the game with no equipment but shortly find yourself gaining access to a bunch of different gadgets and weapons. I love the addition of first-person shooting and aiming as it really gives you control over your actions and is the single biggest improvement to the gameplay. The action although mostly the same as MGS1 does feel a bit more fluid and natural.

I have one major issue with the gameplay and that’s the camera. The mini-map from the first game is still here. Now though you have to activate it at nodes in each area which means until you have done so you have no mini-map. The camera without the mini-map makes the first half of this game a nightmare with no way to see if an enemy is in front of you without stopping and going into first person. I found this very annoying and although it’s not an issue after a while it’s still a flaw.

The attention to detail in this game is amazing, each shot you fire will leave a bullet casing on the floor, if you find a bar then each and every bottle and glass can be broken individually. Graphically the textures may not be the most detailed but the little touches that can be seen all over the place more than makeup for this. I can not think of very many games that have this same level of detail and that includes most PS3 and PS4 games, it’s beyond impressive.

I love MGS2 but it’s not the best Metal Gear game. While I think the introduction of Raiden, the Patriots and more is brilliant it still has a lot of flaws that drag it down. The annoying camera in the first half and the major missing scene in the second half are two of the biggest problems with it. The wonderful visuals and polished gameplay are amazing but then this gets degraded by the poor storytelling of an overly complex plot. Ultimately Metal Gear Solid 2 is as flawed as it is ingenious which leaves us with a pretty middle of the road experience overall.

Recommendation Rating: 6 out of 10.

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