Metal Gear Solid 2
By: Matt C. on November 25, 2001
This is the part of the review where I'm supposed to go on and on about how great the previous Metal Gear game was and how it compares to MGS2. Instead, I'm going to skip through that crap and get on to the point. Does Metal Gear Solid 2 live up to the hype? Is it better than the last game?
Fortunately, I can proudly say "yes" to both questions. Sons of Liberty is certainly the masterpiece we were all expecting. Despite the recent terrorist attacks, the storyline never treads lightly on the topic of terrorism. In the beginning, the story starts out simple enough, but as you get further into the game, things keep getting more and more complex. And just when you think you know what's going on, the game throws yet another twist to confuse you.
That's the beauty of Metal Gear Solid 2. It isn't one of those run of the mill action/stealth games that contain storylines that a child could have written. The bad part is that you often have to sit through some extremely long cut scenes. While I don't really mind sitting through all of the dialogue, some people will hate it and will end up getting bored and turning their system off. Yes, some people will dislike MGS2 because they paid for a game, not a movie, but you should think of it as a game and a movie. Two for the price of one! Seriously though, Sons of Liberty just wouldn't be as good as a game if all of the movie-like elements were taken out.
Perhaps the next best feature in MGS2 are the graphics. The demo really showed off what the PS2 could do, and the same obviously holds true with the final version. The environments are ridiculously detailed, although some of them aren't as polished as the ones found on the demo. The motion capturing is topnotch, with all of the characters moving just as fluid as real-life people. My only beef with the graphics is that most of the surface textures are a little on the blurry side. Words written on walls or the floor are barely legible.
Next on the list of improvements is the enemy AI. Although most of the guards still follow a preset route at their posts, the way that they react to your actions has been greatly improved. First off, guards will now call for back-up if you attack them and then run away. In MGS, you could shoot a guard in the back and he would just go back to his duties as if nothing ever happened. In MGS2, shooting them in the back of the leg will result in more guards coming to the scene. (Assuming that you didn't shoot out his radio first.)
In addition, they can now see slightly beyond their sight range on the radar. For example, if you stand just a few feet outside of a guard's vision, he will become aware of your presence, and will go to investigate. If you manage to hide before they reach your last known location, he will return to his post. This allows for a better challenge for those of you who thought that the poor sighted guards from the last game were too easy.
Some of the new items included is a directional microphone, coolant spray, adult magazines, grenade launcher, a tranquilizer sniper rifle and a ninja sword. Each of them adds value to the all ready impressive gameplay.
Despite all of the praise above, I do have some problems with the game. First off, the gameplay during the last 30 minutes of the game gets really intense, but the storyline goes downhill from there. I understood what was going on, but during the last few cutscenes via the codec, you'll be shaking your head as to why the characters insist on going on and on about crap you couldn't care less about. To make matters worse, the ending was very disappointing. It just didn't feel right. Maybe it's just me, but I didn't feel as attached to the characters as I did in Metal Gear Solid. I do have a few other minor problems with the game, but revealing them would spoil it for those of you who haven't played the final version yet.
Overall, Metal Gear Solid 2 is truly an amazing experience. Some moments will simply leave you in a state of awe. It does fall apart slightly at the end, but MGS2 is still certainly one of the best games of the year. A must play for any PS2 owner.
Graphics: 10 Sound: 10 Music: 10 Replay Value: 9
Overall Score: 9.8