Review: Metal Gear Solid 2

Cutscenes: The Game
Metal Gear Solid 2 US Box Art

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty is a tactical espionage game for the Playstation 2 published by Konami in 2001. The beginning of the game is centered on former espionage expert Solid Snake, later shifting focus to a new main character, Raiden. Throughout the game, Raiden discovers the reality behind a terrorist plot, eventually uncovering plots even more sinister by previously unknown forces.

Metal Gear Solid 2 is an early PS2 game. Its graphics, then, are limited in their power. Still, for an early PS2 game, it looks pretty good. Character models are generally well built. The controls are fairly straightforward. Using the square button as both the aiming and firing button using varying finger pressure in order to either aim or fire is difficult at first, but not an insurmountable task. All in all, the control scheme fits in a way that maximizes sneaking potential, not combat potential. This should be expected from a game which has the subtitle on the cover, Tactical Espionage Action. The music of the game is fitting, but not memorable.

They attached plot to it. Do you like it?
Hey Ocelot, what's up with your arm?

The characters of the game are surprisingly deep. Solid Snake proves to the gaming world that he is certainly much more than a successful operative. He has his own agenda and his own plans for the future of the world, and he intends to pursue that future. Raiden, beginning the game as what some gamers call a “whiny bitch”, actually shows a lot of character growth between codec sequences and the natural plot progression of the game. In order to maximize understanding of his character growth, however, the player must contact Rosemary in order to save the game and hear the dialogue between her and Raiden, which is not a desirable thing. She spends much of her time complaining about how she does not know Raiden as well as she ought to, and that he should really open up to her more. She not only exemplifies all the stereotypes that make people not take women seriously, but she does it all while claiming that Raiden is not being open enough when she has her own dark secrets. Otacon, aka Hal Emmerich, shows up in this game as Snake’s partner. He’s shown to be an otaku at heart, hence the nickname. In interest of avoiding spoilers, all that will be revealed about Otacon’s life prior to the game is that it is, in fact, extremely messed up. The player will meet a large number of other characters, from the slippery (and deceitful) Revolver Ocelot to the (decidedly insane) rolling speedster bomber Fatman. All three of the main Snake characters in the series (Solid, Liquid, and Solidus) all make an appearance in the game in some way.

It's all right; he cannot use them anyway.
Something tells me, Colonel, that I shouldn't give you those scissors.

If the characters of the game were unexpected in their complexity, the plot is even more so. Unless the player has spoiled the plot for himself or herself, there is no way that the player will follow Metal Gear Solid 2’s plot the first time around. It is a well scripted plot, full of twists and turns, heading into dark places one might not expect. Nothing the player does seems to work out the way the player might expect, and nothing is ever as it seems. What starts as a terrorist plot to hold hostages ransom ends up a fight for the survival of the human race, and a fight for individual freedoms. Truly, Metal Gear Solid 2 is a game in which the plot is one of the most memorable game plots of all time. Then again, this is to be expected from a game that is more than half cutscenes.
All in all, Metal Gear Solid 2 is a wonderful game. It is truly a Playstation 2 classic, worth at least one playthrough.


  1. Raiden’s codec conversations with Rose are one of my most painful gaming experiences. Just awful! They deserve each other! If I wanted to listen to a whiny emo talk to a demanding bitch I’d head over to RIDDLETHOS!

    -The plot is also a convoluted mess which spirals out of control toward the end, the only part I found even remotely stimulating was the death of Otacon’s sister, which was quite unexpected.

    -The only thing I can really say in its favour is that at least the narrative is less awful then MGS4, other than that I think it’s a game you play for the gameplay, exploration and presentation.

  2. To each his own, I suppose. Personally, I felt that the end of the game was where I finally understood what was happening. The source of Fortune’s ‘luck’ was hinted at earlier in the game (the bugs moved out of her way), and in hindsight after it is explained, it made perfect sense to me. Solidus’ motivation made a lot more sense to me in the end once I realized what the Patriots are. For the most part, it seemed to me that they actually resolved most, if not all, of the gaping holes that seemed to be in the plot by the end.

  3. -Too much eleventh hour deus ex machina bullshit for me, and all crammed into increasingly densely packed cutscenes. For some reason it is only ever odd numbered MGS titles that are any good; MGS1 great, MGS2 flawed but salvageable, MGS3 one of the greatest games ever made, MGS4 utterly unredeemable, Peace Walker rather good.

  4. Nanomachines! Terrorists! Patriots! Artificial Intelligence! Oedipus Complexes! Swords! METAL GEAR!?

    MGS is one of those series that make me wish I had access to a PS2 in my youth. The story is looks silly, yet engaging and unique… far better than much of hyper-masculine crap many games force us through nowadays.

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