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Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
Review By:  Jared Black
Developer:   Konami
Publisher:   Konami
# of Players:   1
Genre:   Adventure/Stealth
ESRB:   Mature
Online:   No
Accessories:   Memory Card
Date Posted:   12-06-01

The original Metal Gear Solid for PlayStation was something of a landmark title. Not only was it one of the first games to truly feel like a summer blockbuster movie, but it also, perhaps for the first time ever, totally immersed the player in the role of an infiltrater. Some critics had a variety of complaints with it ("itís too short", "itís too much of a movie and not enough of a game", etc.), but it was usually acclaimed as the PSXís best game ever. Obviously the inevitable sequel to this game (VR Missions aside) had a lot to live up to, and thus it started out development already high on most wanted lists. Factor in domination of the E3 show for two years straight and a massive amount of hype generated via teaser trailers and screenshots, and youíve got perhaps the most-anticipated game ever. Thus itís even more amazing that Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (MGS2) is one of a rare breed: a game that actually lives up to the massive amount of hype that precedes it. MGS2 is nothing short of a masterpiece.

I donít want to talk about the storyline too much, as spoiling any part of it would be a great injustice to everyone who reads this. So instead, Iíll simply give you whatís on the back of the box: "Top-secret weapons technology is being mysteriously transported under cover of an oil tanker to an unknown destination. Armed with an arsenal of new weapons, supplies and stealth maneuvers, itís up to Solid Snake to infiltrate the transport and keep this deadly weapon of mass destruction from falling into the wrong hands."

Naturally, thereís much more to the story than that. As you make your way through the game, youíll encounter deception, backstabbing and plenty of situations that arenít what they seem. Itís a story that any Hollywood writer would be proud to pen. Herein lies my only real complaint about MGS2, but Iíll get to that later when I wrap things up. For now however, letís just talk about everything thatís brilliant about this game.

The control setup is both intuitive and complex at the same time. While it will take some time to get used to, it wonít be long before it becomes second nature. The control setup is primarily dependent on the environment around you, and will change accordingly. If youíve flattened yourself against a wall, the R2 and L2 buttons will allow you to peek around corners and creep along the wall. If youíre just standing in the open, then they control which items and weapons you equip. Actions are generally assigned to the face buttons, with the triangle button being the general "Action" button (open doors, hang from railings, etcÖagain varying with the environment), the circle button controlling throwing a punch, and the square button attacking with weapons. Thereís a lot more depth to it than I can convey here, but rest assured that it controls like a dream.

The enemy AI really hasnít been improved a whole lot from the original MGS, although there are several improvements here and there. Most disappointing to me personally is the fact that an area can easily be "reset" after the enemy has spotted you and goes on Alert. Simply step outside to another part of the building and return, and theyíll act as if you were never even there. Itís simply not realistic (although it is a staple of the series dating back to the NES), and itís one of the things I had expected to be fixed in MGS2. I can understand why itís still in place (for one thing, the game would be much harder if they chased you from area to area), but it does detract from the realism. And any break in realism is a jarring event in light of how realistic the rest of the game is. Boss AI is much better however, as each requires itís own unique tactics to successfully defeat.

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