Gaming History 101

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Metal Gear Solid 2 – The Misunderstood Entry in the Series

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Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty is the entry into the series that a lot of gamers shudder when they look back on. In this article I’m going to discuss the negative reaction gamers have to this entry in the series and then cover why this game really is surprisingly great today even when held up against other entries in the series.

Just to warn anyone that wants to play the game and hasn’t this article will contain mild spoilers to the plot and direction of the game.

Even for the time this game was critically praised by almost every major gaming magazine but there was a few things that just didn’t sit well with gamers. Lets get the infamous one out the way and that is the character of Raiden. Yes, we all bought that glorified mech demo, Zone of the Enders just to be able play a demo of Metal Gear Solid 2 and replay as our gaming hero Solid Snake. We sunk £40 into this game in Europe ($60 in the US) and yet people lose there minds when Konami releases Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes for £20 ($30 in US) despite you paying for a game that you want to play, but I digress. When you finally got your mitts on the full retail game of Metal Gear Solid 2 – after spending another £40 ($60 in US) mind you, it’s okay Konami you just take my money – your grinning from ear to ear as you play through the game as Solid Snake, but that lasts for what seems like five minutes and then the game forces you to play the remaining ninety percent of the game as this feminine Raiden (insert Mortal Kombat intro music here) character. Raiden wasn’t cool, he was dorky, and lacked that testosterone rugidness we were used to from our main man Snake. Also he didn’t have any special abilities that featured lightening. So people were not too impressed by this, sure Snake was lingering in the background but it just wasn’t as cool as playing as the guy. It was the moment in Metal Gear history where fans thought Kojima had truly lost his mind.


This wasn’t the only criticism people had with the game. It’s no secret that Kojima liked his Metal Gear Solid games to feature outrageously long cutscenes. Well to a lot of fans it felt like Kojima just wanted you to sit and watch the game rather than actually play it. I can certainly speak to this fact a full playthrough of this game eliminating all cutscenes literally only took me under three hours. Including the cutscenes you are looking at over twelve, that also includes all those crazy long codec calls where the characters insist on discussing all there emotional baggage. The cutscenes were quite literally over the top from the get go, the opening of the game takes over thirty minutes just to start controlling Snake. When I first played this my older brother literally walked out the room with boredom. This is something that wouldn’t go away, in fact, later games in the series had even more cutscenes. For the time though gamers felt Kojima wanted to just make a film rather than a video game. It’s probably safe to say Metal Gear Solid 2 lost a lot of fans for this reason.

mgs2_tuxFinally, gamers generally thought the games plot was, to put it simply, “Nuts!” Kojima really pulled a Matrix Reloaded with the plot of this game. Not only was it very hard to follow but the plot is left open ended for a damn sequel, one of the biggest cardinal sins I hate seeing in any game or film to this day (we are looking at you Halo 2 and God of War 2). In the first Metal Gear Solid the plot was pretty straight forward with its twists and turns and yes even this game set up a sequel but the story within the game at least had closure. Metal Gear Solid 2 is clearly setting up for something bigger in a later game.

So that’s the bad out of the way. Its time to turn the tables and explain why this game is actually pretty awesome today.

First the plot of Metal Gear Solid 2 made so much more sense after playing through Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. This final entry in the series released exclusively to PS3 – and it really should have been the last as it tied up everything so well – explains a lot of the battiness from previous entries and actually makes it quite interesting to play through. Kojima is either very good at planning ahead with his video game plots or he just got incredibly lucky because making a game more fun to play later down the road is quite a hard feat to achieve.

Next up lets just be honest here Metal Gear Solid 2 looked gorgeous back in the day. The game really pushed the boundaries of the PS2, the character models looked crazy realistic and it was pretty awesome to watch guards literally squirm as you held them at gun point. The game set the bar to what the PS2 was graphically capable of and dare I say very few games on the system matched it.

mgs2_raiden_tortureSo lets return to Raiden, was it really that bad playing as him? Come on – the guy used a sword at one point. Sure there was that very odd part where you walk around in the nude… but if nothing else it probably made you giggle. I think there was some method to Kojimas madness. First off in a interview with Official Playstation Magazine he stated he didn’t want Solid Snake to be portrayed as this immortal character and make him come across as more human and someone that could die. It sounded odd back in the day. What makes sense today though is when designing the title the developers probably wanted to have the player be put back into the shoes of a rookie. Who consequently has an incentive to improve and develop as a character during the game. You have to remember Kojima treats the Solid series like an experience. It is made very apparent that Snake is a badass by having his health bar take up most of the top screen in the tanker section. When you play as Raiden the idea was probably for you to feel more vulnerable and more importantly play alongside the Legendary Solid Snake. In the first game Snake is literally a celebrity with most the support characters wanting to sleep with him despite his lack of personality, sure he has the gravely voice and the Snake abs but he isn’t the smoothest talker. This design choice of playing along with a Legendary character is made more apparent towards the end of the game where you fight alongside Snake, this scene is actually a ton of fun as well.

To finish I think it would be interesting to discuss the fallout of the character Raiden after the second game. Despite his best efforts Kojima was aware fans disliked Raiden so to poke fun at the haters he featured a few references to the character in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. First off, if you select Metal Gear Solid 2 as your favourite game in the series Snake will start the game with a Raiden mask on. This made a friend of mine crazy angry as he thought he would have to play though the game looking like Raiden but a quick call on the radio and you are informed its a disguise and Snake removes it to reveal his normal beautiful face. A funny little feature that I think was intended to give that ‘Oh no not again moment.’ During the game you also meet an Officer called Raikov who looks exactly like Raiden, he is also assumed to be a gay character who you have to incapacitate and steal his uniform to progress in the game. Finally if you own the Subsistence version of the game which is exclusive to the PS2 you have an additional disc which has a cinematic showing Raiden go back in time terminator style to try kill Snake from Metal Gear Solid 3. It’s a parody piece but definitely worth a watch for fans of the series. Despite kind of insulting Raiden Kojima made him bad ass in what I consider the real last game in the series Metal Gear Solid 4, where he is a friggin ninja. They also give closure to the characters story which is a shame as after this game they would go on to make the WWE inspired title Metal Gear Rising: Revengence. Which makes Raiden a ninja again and continues the story. Its a good game I’m just disappointed the plot is set after such a good ending to the character.

So there you have it. Metal Gear Solid 2, not that bad. If you want to read more my review will also be up on the site. Otherwise stay tuned for more Metal Gear content very soon.

Written by jamalais

August 21, 2015 at 11:00 am

2 Responses

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  1. I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with this game. I admire the strange direction Kojima went in making this title as it is definitely NOT your standard “more of the same” kind of sequel. I like the plot twists and really didn’t think Raiden was that bad of a character and when taken in to context with the rest of the series it makes a little more sense. My problem with it is the design of the Big Shell. I found it incredibly boring and uninspiring moving from platform to platform and dreaded a lot of the back tracking that was necessary throughout the mission. Unfortunately, this is where you spend 80% of the game and that to me is unforgivable.

    I remember reading something way back about Kojima’s decision to have Raiden replace Solid Snake as the main character for MGS2 and the way this was explained was really interesting. At the time MGS2 was to be Kojima’s last Metal Gear he was going to work on (as he has said during the making of pretty much all of them since) and so having Solid Snake become more of a supporter/teacher to Raiden was mirroring Hideo taking a back seat to the rest of the team going forward in continuing the series. As we all know this didn’t turn out to be the case, but I think it’s still a unique idea for the time.


    August 24, 2015 at 11:45 pm

  2. MGS2 is the first, and so far, the only MGS game I played. And I loved it. I got the plot perfectly fine the first time; I guess most people don’t like to think when exposed to fiction. I mean, why think when you can just relax and look at the pretty colours! But then you won’t pay attention, won’t get the plot, get angry, and start blaming the creators.

    And I liked Raiden. For all the intended reasons. He was awkward, not a smooth talker, and had tons of ghosts haunting him from his past. Let’s just say I was very much like that, and saw myself in him.


    August 25, 2015 at 9:05 pm

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