Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
The most anticipated game in the history of the PS2 has finally arrived here in Britain. For as far back as I can remember we have had to endure websites and TV programs showing us images from the Japanese and American versions knowing all along it would be an awful lot longer before we would be able to enjoy this already globally acclaimed masterpiece. Of course as a result of this overwhelming coverage there is a very good possibility that you already know the plot and all the massive surprises that it offers. In case you're wondering though, we aren't going to give anything away just in case you have deliberately kept away from all the spoilsports.
MGS2 is the latest in a series of games that began back in the late eighties. The games designer, Hideo Kojima, wanted to create a game where stealth was more effective than the full guns blazing method that so many games usually require. Playing as Solid Snake, you have to locate some of the new metal gear machinery and photograph it so as to alert the government to its presence. As you may know the whole operation does not go according to plan and suffice to say that you don't play solely as Snake. You will eventually have control of a new character, Raiden.
From the moment the game begins it is obvious that what you are playing is at the pinnacle of games design. MGS2 stretches the PS2 like no other game to date. It may sound crazy but it is the little things that make the game so special. From the moment you begin the game with Snake and you are on the deck of the tanker in the middle of a storm it is absolutely amazing to see the brilliance in the graphics. The pouring rain leaves perfect rain drops everywhere and the spray from the sea lashes the deck with alarming clarity. Go into first person mode and you can see the rain drops dripping from Snake's head. This may sound ridiculous but it really is that visually stunning.
Another moment which will make you laugh, is when you take control of Raiden. He is on the top of one of the facility struts and overhead are a flock of seagulls. Now seagulls being seagulls start to leave their droppings on top of the strut. If you make Raiden run around the top of the strut, on a clean part, then all is fine; however if you should make Raiden run through the droppings then you will laugh as his feet slip from underneath him and he lands on his bum. Perhaps the best effect in the game is when you have knocked out an enemy and you drag him out of the way. Rather than the person being as stiff as a board as they would in any other game, it is breathtaking to see the persons limbs go all limp and flop downward as if they were on a real person. You can even place the unconscious body into a locker or throw them into the sea if you so wish. Perhaps the greatest compliment you can give to MGS2 is that it makes you feel that there are no limits on you and you can do what you like.
As we have already said, stealth is the name of the game and it is the only real way to play this game. Sure you can go in all guns blazing but unless you're on the easiest setting you are not going to get very far. Fortunately the game has been designed from the ground up and the moves on offer and the weapons offer such as the M9 which fires tranquilliser darts all give the perfect opportunity to be ninja like in your stealth.
As we mentioned earlier the graphics are superb. This goes double for the cutscenes too. One niggle I might mention though is that the cutscenes do take up a substantial part of the game. It is a good job then that the cutscenes are superbly subtitled. Indeed the game is superbly subtitled. The game gives you plenty of visual clues too. There is one small niggle though. During the game there are a few problems where it would be advantageous to hear certain noises. One such example is where Raiden has to diffuse, or rather freeze some C4 bombs. A sensor displays a green haze on the general location of the bomb but for the specific location you really need to be able to hear the bomb beeping. Without the ability to hear you can still find the bomb but it will take longer than it would for the hearing gamer. This is a minor quibble and to be honest everything else is more or less perfect. We could go on with masses of superlatives but it would just be a waste of time, the game's a must buy it's as simple as that.
Overall Game Rating: 9.5/10 Rarely has a game that has promised so much delivered in such a fashion. The experience is more like a damn good film than a game. In many years from now when people recall the Playstation 2 with fondness, Metal Gear Solid 2 is the game everybody will remember playing on it. For some people this will be all the reason they need to purchase the console and believe me it is that good.
Deaf Gamers comment: Superbly subtitled and very cinematic, Metal Gear Solid 2 will be as memorable for deaf gamers as it is for hearing gamers. There is the rare occasion that you would benefit from hearing but these couple of instances do not spoil this masterpiece and the problems can be overcome with a bit of perseverance.