#484 Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

Posted: 30th October 2011 by Mulholland in Games
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96th game played so far

Genre: Action
Platform: PS2
Year of Release: 2001
Developer: KJEC
Publisher: Konami

Normally I’d like to do a little intro of the game here, give a short summary of what it’s about or what you’re doing. When trying to do it for this game, I must admit that I wasn’t entirely sure, and that the best explanation Peter could come up with was ‘Espionage, sneaking around, giant metal robots, US presidents with tentacles.’ In other words, just like any other game out there.

Metal Gear Solid is the well-known stealth-based action game that contains many people with animal-related nicknames trying to kill each other without letting everyone else on the ship, in the base or in the jungle know. It also gets very wordy and tries to teach you something when you’re saving the game – we’ve heard about old monster movies before, this time it’s proverbs. They even get explained well.

Our Thoughts

Due to this being a series that both of our lenders had in common it is very probable that this will be the first major franchise we end up completing and I think we’ll both say a loud and clear ‘Good riddance’ when we end up at that point. That’s not to say that we hate Metal Gear Solid at all; just that there are hundreds of other games yet to come we know we’ll prefer playing.

Somehow saying this about one of the best loved gaming series of all time feels a bit like sacrilege. It’s like someone owning up to hating Singin’ In The Rain (oh wait, I hate that film). The main thing here might simply be one of time. As the blog says, we’ve got 1001 games to get through, and want to play each for long enough that we get the game and a bit of cooperation from the games would be helpful there.

One of the main faults we find with the Metal Gear series is that the cut scenes and exposition talks are long. Very long. As in, a mission briefing can take, oh, 15, 20 minutes, easily. We timed a few to make sure and when you want to go on and play, that just gets in the way. More annoyingly, it means that it’s hard to remember what you need to do, or at times even how the controls work – the quick summary shown on screen is followed by another five minutes of cut scene, so that any special tricks that might be mentioned will have been forgotten by the time you need them.

What also does not help is that a lot of the cut scenes rely on the gamer’s knowledge of previous titles in the series. It really helped that we have already played Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid 3 since the arrival of clones and ill-named antagonists did not confuse us utterly. However, it really is hard for a game to resonate greatly with a newbie when confronted with a gun-toting, spurs-wearing Russian named after a dwarf leopard. For most of it, really, I still had to think back to what happened for a few, and I might have mixed up a few even then.

One thing you have to give this game credit for is that it really demonstrated how a mainstream game could have a complex plot with twists, turns and a few deus ex machina elements. Granted this took it too far with the abundance of clones and an ending battle involving tentacles but some have argued it to be one of the most influential titles of the noughties. Since this really did up the ante in the crafting of complex gaming narratives I really do tip my hat to Sons of Liberty as it has made the gaming landscape a whole lot more interesting.

However, as with the other games, there is still a huge problem when it comes to the aiming system or the lack thereof. Yeah. Now, for a stealth game, the aiming shouldn’t matter much, as you’d be sneaking past most threats, but as there are several boss fights where you need to shoot the enemy, you don’t have much of a choice but to use those weapons. This means that, most of the time, it feels like you’re just shooting in the dark, hoping you hit and that you find ammo soon enough if you don’t. Ammo, however, is usually scarce as well, so you’re not often in luck; which is a shame as, beyond that, the game really works.

Of the three Metal Gear Solid titles we have played so far I honestly do believe that this is the best of them and, as such, makes me rather hopeful for future games in this franchise we are yet to play. One advantage here is that it is the one game that makes use of the newer consoles, without the openness and disjointedness (is that a word?) that Snake Eater had. It will be interesting how Twin Snakes, which we will be tackling in a few weeks time, handles because it features a lot of what made this great.

The fact that so many many people believe these to be amongst the best games ever probably has ended up with us being extra harsh on it since despite all the positives there are still more than enough that could be improved on (quite possibly a west versus east thing, as we discussed in Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory).  I love how complex and bonkers the storyline is, the tangential conversations on the radio are great fun plus there are awesome graphics, music, characters and voice-acting.  So I don’t think we should be misunderstood since we can both see how great a game this is… it’s just that there are some awkward elements which jar so horrendously that it makes playing the game rather aggravating.

I hope to be proven wrong when we eventually get to Metal Gear Solid 4 because despite the fact that we have had to cover the bulk of this franchise in a shorter time than others we will approach it with gusto. After all, there is nothing better than a game which exceeds expectation. Unfortunately, I fear that what we see as negatives might be seen as positives by others and be enforced (as we did see longer cutscenes in Snake Eater), but we’ll have to stay positive on this. There’s too many games in the series yet to come for us to do otherwise.

Final Thoughts

So in short? A good game, unless you’re in a hurry because you’ve got 905 more games waiting to play. Still, it meant that we could do some cleaning while we were technically playing the game, which is always a plus – this is probably the ideal game for a stay-at-home dad who needs to do some small chores but wants to feel like he’s having fun as well. Please stop watching Up All Night and get to the point…

I’m sorry for that digression… To be honest, it’s not our sort of game, but it was still enjoyable most of the time. With its many incarnations, I’m sure there are still many options to find, and in the end, this is probably the best Metal Gear Solid game we’ve played so far… there is progress here!