After several years of waiting, SONS OF LIBERTY is finally here. Finally elaborating on many of the questions raised in METAL GEAR SOLID, the game has been touted as the top Playstation 2 game of the year. But does METAL GEAR SOLID 2 live up to the massive hype?
The game begins with Solid Snake infiltrating a freighter that is carrying the newest version of Metal Gear, RAY. While Snake is checking out the situation, the marines guarding the ship are killed by terrorists. Little does Snake know it, but his old nemesis Revolver Ocelot was expecting him. After sneaking around on the ship, and confronting Ocelot, the story is blown wide open.
I found the story to be done very well. While there is a high amount of radio communications that begin to grow tiresome, and a very large amount of cut scenes, it's not too bad. At some points, this did take me out of the game as I felt that I was watching rather than playing, but these occasions were few and far between. The voice acting is excellent: Snake's voice is that of X-MEN screenwriter David Hayter. All of the camera angles used also simulate the movie atmosphere, so the game feels just like a Hollywood action flick.
Not much has changed in the gameplay department. All of Snake's old moves are intact, although he can now cartwheel into enemies, hang and drop from platforms, and use a first person view for more accurate aiming. The guards still react similarly but they do seem a bit smarter this time around. The new warning level is appreciated, and I like how you can disable the guards' radio (or how if guards don't check in, an investigation squad is sent). Everything is super-realistic and that is greatly appreciated. It's fun to hide in a locker, under a cardboard box, or use an adult magazine to distract a guard.
I didn't really find SONS OF LIBERTY to be much more difficult that METAL GEAR SOLID. Some of the guards were a bit more vicious, but overall it took me about the same amount of time and effort to get through. Most of the boss battles weren't too difficult, although I did sometimes have trouble getting past guards (fighting off guards could sometimes be harder than boss fights!).
All the cool little features like exploding bottles, catching cold, smearing blood and locker posters are all here. Mr. Kojima and his staff put in all the little touches that make the game all the more believable.
You might think that after a quick 11-hour trip, MGS2 is all over. But wait, not only do you have more difficulty modes, but also enemy dog tags to collect. This isn't as easy at it sounds, as you have to sneak up on guards to get them. Plus there are always all the cool extras that are hidden throughout the game.
MGS2 is astoundingly beautiful. From the sunset, to the rain effects, to the guard animation - everything is very well done. There's dynamic cloth effects, beautiful lighting and most importantly, some incredible textures to round it off. I encountered some slowdown, but nothing major. You won't find any graphical problems here.
On the sound side there is the incredible score produced by Harry Gregson-Williams (Enemy of the State) and the excellent voice acting. The sound effects are all great; they range from the distinct sound of each weapon to the footsteps and explosions. The sound side of the game is just as complete as the graphical side.
Now that I've finally ventured through the game, I almost feel slightly disappointed. It's not that the game didn't live up to expectations, but I found the mid-game twist very surprising. I guess I just didn't know what to make of it. Thus my expectations were somewhat shattered in a sense. METAL GEAR SOLID 2 is not the game I expected, but it's still great.
Nevertheless, it's still the best game released for the Playstation 2 this year. I'm eagerly anticipating the next title in the Metal Gear series.
Platform: Playstation 2
ESBR Rating: Mature
Suggested Retail Price: $49.99
Fun Factor: A+
Reviewer's Wild Card: A