After not getting this review out immediately after part 45 of my MGS2 playthrough I figure this is long overdue.
The game starts out with a great opening, and then when you start Snake infiltrates an oil tanker in all his acrobatic awesomeness. The tanker plays like Metal Gear Solid, only with more of a focus on the new first person aiming mode, which I find myself using a lot more than the standard aiming mode from MGS. The objective is to gather info on the new Metal Gear without being caught, and that's no easy task. There's a boss fight to be had here that relies on equal parts skill and luck, which is how most of the MGS boss-fights are. Unfortunately, the boss fights that follow seem a little bit lacking. At one point you need to sneak past an entire boat full of marines, and with a time limit to boot. Down to the wire that gets really intense, after that there's a cutscene showing you what sets up the events for part 2 of the game.
After the colonel explains your mission you quickly realize that Solid Snake is not the "Snake" in question, this is FURTHER proved by the fact that the main player-character of THIS game is blonde, wears a weird looking suit as opposed to Snake's cool one, and that Solid Snake is already in the complex. The mission description is that the president of the United States has been kidnapped by a group called "The Sons of Liberty", supposedly headed up by Solid Snake. A team of marines has been sent in officially to rescue the president and Jack "Snake" Raiden from FOXHOUND unofficially. You'll notice that Raiden's suit looks a lot like the one that Psycho Mantis wore in MGS, and I'm sure that was intentional. One thing that kinda kills the atmosphere for me is that you immediately find out that the REAL Solid Snake is in the building, along with knowing that there's a bunch of marines as well. The first game enhanced the intensity with a sense of isolation, and knowing that your team-mates weren't combat ready, in the vicinity, or on site added to that. This game breaks that because you know where Solid Snake goes so does Philanthropy, along with the aforementioned team of Marines. After some fairly tense areas without a gun to your name you will encounter a guy in the uniform of the Marines and an acrobatic guy who you know is gonna be a boss later on. After that's over the marine will unmask himself, and if you haven't figured it out already this man, "Iroquois Plisken" (An "Escape from New York" reference since Solid Snake is based on Snake Plisken) is a thinly disguised Solid Snake, and thus Hideo Kojima earns his title of biggest troll in the games industry by listing the characters name as Iroquois Plisken, even though he's clearly about to say Snake.
I'm done with the plot synopsis for now but I need to bring this up, they mention a harrier in the opening and here's my thoughts on that:
In the middle of a fight with the harrier jet we all knew was coming, at the very beginning Snake began throwing me things, a stinger launcher and some ammo makes sense, but after I started firing on the harrier Snake threw me a box of SOCOM ammo
Why would I have any use for SOCOM ammo in the harrier fight? What was the AI thinking when it gave me the box of SOCOM ammo? WHO KNOWS.
All I know is that throughout that seven minute fight I kept not wanting Snake to give me ammo and rations, but no matter no matter how much I kept asking him NOT TO Snake kept giving me ammo and rations enough to give me two rations and plenty of stingers at the end of the fight. On top of that the fight took SEVEN MINUTES! And that was the first time I tried it! No continues, nothing! It took me a whole bunch of continues to beat the HIND D in the first MGS, even on my third playthrough (The one I shot for Youtube) I don't think I beat it on the first try!
Bringing the AI back into question, towards the end you and Snake team up, with Snake throwing you items if you start to run low on ammo, HP, etc. But he won't use a ration, even if he's low on health, and that makes for a lot of unneeded game-overs when I played through it, even more so since if Snake gets in your way (He does a lot) when attacking he takes damage. List ONE GAME where friendly fire is a good idea. Earlier in the game there's a section where you need to protect a scientist on her way over to rendezvous with Snake and Otacon via sniping, and you can call Snake in to take over if you can't make the shot easily. The problem is you can't call him off if you only needed him for one urgent shot if, for instance, you're out of bullets and she's close to some land-mines you forgot to take out or there's a whole bunch of soldiers and you can't take all of them out in time. Even earlier there's a section where you have to swim through flooded corridors to rescue the scientist I was talking about earlier, and you can easily get lost in there since the map is just a map of The Big Shell, showcasing the double octagon of the facility and no real detail on where you are, and the Soliton Radar only shows a certain area around you. With a time limit in the form of limited air (Which is dumb since Raiden came in via water, he should at least have his rebreather with him) it's likely you can die a lot if you haven't memorized where to go or know that you can surface in certain spots.
One thing I need to address is the fact that the first boss-fight as Raiden is fairly lacking, since it's just a "Survive until something happens" fight, and you can easily waste precious ammo on trying to damage her. The other's are better, the exception to that being the Harrier since it's so short. The next to last more than makes up for it though.
At first the game seems like a not so good self-parody, but like the first game I just had to stick with it to get into it, the new control scheme is pretty good and you'll eventually adjust to it. As for sword control, an entire fight is solely with swords, and since you have to use the right analog-stick to control the sword, you might not be too thrilled about that, but it's actually pretty fluid. I played through most of the game using a Dualshock 1 controller since at time of playing my Dualshock 2 wasn't working properly, but it works fine with either controller. The most fun I had was the boss-fight against Sons Of Liberty's explosives expert, Fatman. Even though the game seems a little off after you finish The Tanker section everything gets tied up at the end, and the setup for the next game happens after the credits, just like in Metal Gear Solid.
All in all I enjoyed the game, and I say it's worth picking it up, Amazon has the PS2 version of Sons of Liberty and Substance for cheap, so if you've got either a backwards compatible PS3 or a PS2 and are on the ropes about getting it, and you liked the first game, go ahead and buy it, the game is worth the money. However, if you HAVEN'T played the first game and happen to have a PlayStation, PS2, PS3, PSP, PSV, GameCube, or Wii, read this and see if Metal Gear Solid appeals to you, and if it does (There's no reason why it wouldn't I hope) then go ahead and hop over to your preferred seller of PlayStation or GameCube games and buy Metal Gear Solid. Now, I haven't played the original, PC, HD, or Xbox versions of this game, but since they SHOULD be all pretty much the same I'm just gonna give Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty main game 9.9*. I'm kinda on the ropes about whether to give this a perfect rating or not, since there are some issues with the helper AI, and a few of the bosses are either easy or re-used. I liked the game a lot more than it seems like when I was making commentary, but again, there are some legitimate complaints that irritated me. I'll be playing through Snake Skateboarding, Snake Tales, and the VR missions in a future series, and maybe I'll upgrade the rating then, over and out!
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