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Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (PlayStation 2) artwork

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (PlayStation 2) review


"Right from the opening cuscene, set on a rainy Manhatten bridge, you'll notice the wonderful lighting and weather effects. Never before have I seen such a realistic impression of rainfall shown during in-game graphics. "



Introduction:

The original Metal Gear Solid is definitely a favorite among Playstation owners, and with good reason--It's one of the damn finest action games ever made. It combined a nice, complex storyline, with realistic voice-acting, a futuristic setting, great visuals, and a degree of attention to detail never before seen in a game of it's caliber. MGS, was, in many ways, the perfect game, when it came out in the end of '98. Now, 3 years later, the sequel has been brought out on PS2. Does it succeed in as many ways as it's big brother? Absolutely. Sons of Liberty brings essentially the same gameplay that made the original such a classic, and throws in a whole new storyline, another cast of characters (plus some of the old ones), even better graphics and plenty of plot twists.

Graphics:

When it comes to PS2, there are a lot of games with great graphics. Because of the hardware's great 3D capabilities, the parameters have been extended three-fold since the original PS, and every game developer is trying to make a game which pushes the PS2 hardware to it's maximum. I'm not really sure if MGS2 pushes it to it's MAX, but it sure does push it hard. Right from the opening cuscene, set on a rainy Manhatten bridge, you'll notice the wonderful lighting and weather effects. Never before have I seen such a realistic impression of rainfall shown during in-game graphics. Right off the bat, the graphics are stunning and provide an excellent mood. As we watch a mysterious man in a poncho slowly walk across the bridge, realistically designed cars zoom by. Everything is excellently portrayed and animated.

When we finally find out that the man in the poncho is Snake--the hero from all the other Metal Gear games, he turns on some really cool stealth-looking armor, and bungee-jumps off the bridge. In essence, you can just tell, from the beginning cutscene, that MGS2 will definitely be an eye-pleasing experience. Laced throughout the game are in-game cutscenes which look great. Never before have facial expressions been designed so dynamically and convincingly as in this game. When characters talk, it really does look like they're talking (even if it's just a game).

As you progress through the game, you'll be introduced to a variety of different weapons, items, areas, and characters. As expected, all of these are amazingly well-done in terms of graphics, and are sure to impress most anyone. The only game I can think of that is currently out on PS2 which surpasses MGS2 visuals is FFX, and maybe GT3. But other than that, MGS2 is unparalleled.

Sound:

As in the first game, the voice acting is much better than you'd expect from a videogame. While most of the dialogue is presented through a Codec (two way-radio/TV), it all seems to work very well, because the voice-acting is top-notch. Rarely do the characters sound bland or flat. The rest of the sound is also top-notch. The music is effectively atmospheric and ambient when you're sneaking around, but when you get caught, the tunes pick up to some heavy techno-like beats. With the combination of an annoying and startling alarm, the ''being found'' sound really does make you feel like you're in trouble.

Another nice little addition is that all the guns and weapons sound like the real thing, or at least how you'd expect them to sound. Guns provide a nice, rich, shattering sound--Not a litte ''piff'' like in some other games.

Gameplay:

While MGS2's gameplay is very good, this is probably the area where most of the flaws lie as well. Like in the first one, your job is to sneak around a variety of areas, picking up weapons, keeping out of sight when guards are around, and slowly learning about a nicely-woven plotline. You'll have to complete a variety of tasks, including disarming bombs, fighting a blood-sucking vampire, and taking pictures of Metal Gear Ray. This is all very nice, but some people may complain that the game is nothing more than an interactive movie. And in many ways, this is correct. Story-sequences are long and frequent, which may cause gamers to feel like nothing is really in their control. Not to mention, the game is extremely linear (a lot of it is based on key cards), so, again, it may feel a bit too cinematic. On the other hand, some may absolutely love the way MGS2 plays. I'm kind of in between--I like how the game is presented, but I also feel that sometimes it goes a bit too far.

Unfortunately, the game is also fairly short. Expect it to take 10+ hours to beat the first time through, but after that, it could probably be done in 6. It's about the same length as the original, which is commonly agreed as too short.

All in all, whether you like the gameplay just depends on if you're into sneaking around, while letting the game control a lot of what you do and what happens as well.

Control:

Controlling your espionage agent in this can be a bit cumbersome. While a couple new features were added which were not found in the original, like a well-needed first-person aiming system, and some new moves, the way everything is controlled remains essentially the same. And, as before, it can be a bit of a hassle. Often, you'll find yourself pressing up against a wall, or just ''catching a snag'' on something when you meant not to, thanks to the camera angle and the loose-handling of the game. Crawling is painfully hard to control, and really should have been improved upon.

However, it's not all bad. The game is still very controllable, and it's definitely a joy to play, but that's not to say it could've used a fair bit of work.

Storyline:

Action games aren't always big on deep storylines--MGS really set a new record for such aspects when it was released. And thankfully, MGS2 follows in it's foosteps. Expect to see a lot of familiar faces and names--plus a whole lot of new ones. The game's storyline is based around the new Metal Gear (this time named RAY). Without revealing too much, I'll just say that there are a lot of plot-twists and secrets which screw with your mind. In my opinion, MGS2 is even more confusing than it's prequel. Often, it's hard to tell exactly what's going on, and later, when you do find out, it'll seem like what you were told before was all just a big lie.

Many times, it's difficult to determine exactly who the main villain is, especially when there are so many mysterious characters who seem to be neither friend nor foe. All in all, the story is a success, with a huge amount of mysteries to keep you guessing.

Conclusion:

Well, Konami has failed to let us down, once again! MGS2 is chalk-filled with everything a good game needs, and most of the aspects are presented with true style. It's like a cool, 10-hour long action/sci-fi/espionage movie that's full of hit-yourself-on-the-head surprises and false-climaxes. The game is layered with all types of wonderful little nuances which make it all the more enjoyable.

A few minor flaws shouldn't stop anyone from purchasing or at least renting this great game.

Breakdown:

Graphics: 9.5/10
Sound: 9/10
Gameplay: 9/10
Story: 9/10
Control: 7/10
Replay: 7/10

Rating: 9.0/10

ender's avatar
Staff review by James Gordon (Date unavailable)

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