A History of Metal Gear Solid – Part 2 Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

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A History of Metal Gear Solid Main Hub

 

Intro

 

Metal Gear Solid (MGS1) was a smash hit and people wanted more from Hideo Kojima and Konami. Solid Snake had gripped the gamers and was the new poster boy for video games. It had set the benchmark for video game storytelling and action, made it so that you didn’t have to run in and shoot everything anymore, that sneaking around and not getting caught could be more fun.

 

With a game like MGS1, MGS2 had to be good. It had to. There was so much hype around the game and I suppose pressure for Konami and Kojima to deliver that it was make or break, in a way. Especially for the series to progress.

 

MGS2 was set to build on MGS1 and improve it all the way, better graphics, storyline, gameplay and replay ability. And it did all of that, and more. More so, Kojima was brave enough to make Solid Snake NOT the main character (for the most part of the game) which was controversial considering his popularity following MGS1, a bold move. Particularly when the new character looks like Raiden.

 

Raiden
Raiden

However, with MGS2 not being my favourite MGS game for a few reasons, this was not one of them. Switching the main characters made Solid snake look even more heroic than he already was, when you get to see him for another perspective.

 

Cut scenes were mega in MGS1 and they were super mega in MGS2, they are detailed and longer than a film, done up like a Hollywood scene to boot. With a musical score done by Harry Gregson-Williams the cut scenes will either blow your mind or put you to sleep. The first play through, though, they are exceptional.

 

The crazy storyline started here, MGS1 was gripping but logical. MGS2 was about to turn that on its head and really begin to unravel what was really going on in the MGS universe. The storyline in the series is a bit mad, with MGS2 being the maddest of all.

Plot

 

Tanker

 

The game starts with Solid Snake infiltrating a USMC tanker carrying what they believe are to be the new model of Metal Gear. By them I’m referring to Philanthropy, a group involving Solid Snake and Otacon from MGS1 who now work to stop Metal Gears from emerging.

 

It all goes swell until all of a sudden an unknown Russian military force takes over and Ocelot is involved, at that point you know it’s going to kick off and find out what’s going on. This plot does start off very basic and simple and you do know what’s going on, to the point where you know this isn’t really the main plot…and it isn’t by the end of the tanker incident you know what was just a premise for something else, something much bigger.

 

Tanker incident introduces a few characters that are new and relevant, Sergei Gurlukovich, Olga Gurlukovich and Metal Gear Ray, not enough when you think about for a whole game, another reason why the tanker incident feels like a prequel, but as you progress you find out why it feels that way. Oh, and Liquid is back, or is he? We now know what’s really going on (If you’ve played 4) but at the time it was a bit of a mindfuck.

 

Big Shell

 

The Big Shell incident is the real plot of the game with the tanker incident now a confirmed prequel.

 

The situation is that a terrorist group (Dead Cell) have taken over a facility where the president is and they’ve sent in the new agent to clear the mess up from FOXHOUND. Sound familiar? Not much is known about the character at the start, but if Campbell is on board then he must be good. Even if he doesn’t look he is capable of it.

 Mgs2-dead-cell

As you make your way through the facility everything seems “normal”, much like the incident on Shadow Moses. Errands, bosses, keys and some rescuing. But then, who is Iroquois Pliskin? And why does he look a LOT like Snake? Who is Solidus? What exactly has Revolver Ocelot got to do here?

 

As you get closer to the end it doesn’t seem to get anywhere and you haven’t got a clue what’s going on and then it gets worse, and I felt it ruined it a bit. Even now, the bits at the end of MGS2 seem a bit silly even with the context of MGS3 and 4, it didn’t seem necessary and done in a wrong way. I’m not referring to the Liquid Ocelot situation, I’m just referring to the suggestion that nothing is real and everything is fake. It either is or isn’t. Snake was there, was he fake as well?

 

Either way, the plot thickened and gave more questions than answers; overall the plot was very good, kept you constantly guessing and definitely made you want MGS3 to find out more just how you wanted 2 after 1.

 

It’s great that it had twists, but for me it felt like maybe 1 less twist would have been better.

 

Gameplay

 

Gameplay wise the basics of MGS1 were still there. Wall hugging, crawling, knocking on walls, choking and so on. But there were quite a few new additions.

 

First of all was the first person perspective with the gun. This allowed the character to shoot from across the room accurately, and more realistically. Shooting In the head, legs or arms made a difference now, as opposed to shooting anywhere in MGS1. This allowed for more stealthy action as you could use the tranq M9 and never even let the guards get close, it was also more effective during boss fights as well as getting the dog tags after shaking the guards of their items. This feature has remained for the rest of the series, with good reason too.

 

Another new addition was to flip over railings to avoid being seen. At some points this was essential to get by, other times it was just used to sneak past an awkward guard. Snake had a bar to show how long he can last before his grip give way. The harder the difficulty the more useful this is, and it is almost essential in the VR edition

You can now shake down the guards for some extra items as well, which is a nice little addition, albeit fairly useless most of the time.

Lastly, a new gameplay feature is the backup squads that will come if a guard sees you. Unlike in MGS1 when the guard saw you, he would just shoot and then some others would appear. In MGS2 if you were caught the guard will attempt to get backup, and if he succeeds a support group will come and try to find you, if he was unable to do so, then he will try and fight. Very realistic, as it wouldn’t make sense that other guards magically knew you were there. This was a feature that stayed with the series, and with good reason.


Overall the new gameplay elements made it much more realistic and easy to sneak around making Solid Snake a lot less blocky than his previous outing, much of the gameplay now and in the future stayed the same with some minor differences as there wasn’t much wrong with MGS2.

Graphics

The graphics at the time were mind blowingly good. Definitely a leader at the time it came out. The tanker level as an example showed the power the ps2 had with its ultra realistic rain effects and the effects the wind had on it. The opening cutscenes showed the facial features that the character could have as well as how realistic the character models could have.

To further the power, the tanker really did look like a tanker inside and out, the shading and the textures were superb, gone are the days of blocky characters and straight uneven edges of old. Below is a comparison of MGS1 and MGS:The Twin Snakes as a comparison, The Twin Snakes uses the same engine as MGS2 and so is a relevant comparison.

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The graphics engine went into overtime showing several Metal Gear Rays at the end with no relative lag, in addition with MGS2 and 3 now having a HD facelift, it actually stands up quite well with games made 10 years after it’s initial release.

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To conclude, the graphics of MGS2 were superb at the time, and with the HD collection are superb now, this set the benchmark at the time and it continues to look more than decent if you went back for some nostalgia now. A beautiful game to play.

Sound

Following on from MGS and how good the sound was Kojima decided to bring in Harry Gregson-Williams. Taken from the wikipedia

His film scores span the spectrum of high-profile projects from action to drama to animation, each infused with the emotional punch and atmospheric intensity that mark his distinctive musical style.

And that’s exactly what he brought in. Take the tanker theme for example, as it sets the tone for sneaking around. If this theme was playing you have not been seen, but just lurking around the tanker.

All the music sets the tone, and it blends in and out of eachother without pause. So if you were caught, then hid until the intrusion status was over then back to normal without a break. Classy and fluid.

The excellent voice acting was back with much of the same cast and belted those scripts out like champions. David Hayter again stealing the show with that gritty, solid snake voice which is now famous and been parodied for it’s unique overly-gruffy style.

All in all, the sound were still as good as they were in MGS1 but with the music leading the way by a mile, you wouldn’t notice any of the sounds really, because they were so much in place and suited the area, it’s only if you really notice the sound over the graphics or what exactly was going on that it may not have been the best idea, in my opinion if everything is right you just enjoy it rather than notice one thing over an other.

Oh, and the theme has been remixed and it’s a cracker.

Impact

Instant. High 9’s, 10’s A+ the lot. It was a massive hit with critics with their only really main concerns being Raiden and the length of the cutscenes, but overall, brilliant. And it was a brilliant game, brilliant but not as brilliant as MGS1 it has to be said.

As mentioned earlier the storyline did spiral away from itself a bit but it was a phenomenal game with loads to do afterwards with getting the dog tags and the boss battle. The new gameplay methods also adding a bit more style and usefulness to the character.

However, what was the greatest impact was the storytelling, the cutscenes may have been long but they we good and as good if not better than any film at the time, definitely one of the best spy type  scenes you will ever see at times, anyway.

Legcy

In terms of legacy, a lot of the new features in MGS2 are used throughout the series, the rail dropping, squads turning up and obviously, first person shooters. It’s probably a good point that MGS3 in terms of gameplay is not much different from MGS2, if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

MGS2 probably brought on more fans to the series than MGS1 did due largely to the hype surrounding it and all the marketing.

One of the only few negatives of the impact of MGS2 is how crazy the storyline is and how they had to carry it on now they started it, with so many questions to answer it almost forced Konamis hand as to what they have to explain in the next one, and the next one after that.

However, as a conclusion MGS2 did more good than anything else to the series and it flew after this one, people were begging for more Solid Snake, but would Konami be able to right some of the wrongs and make an absolute cracker like MGS1 was? How could they improve anymore than this?

A History of Metal Gear Solid – Part 3 Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

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