Metal Gear Solid 2 PS2
Review by Matt Paprocki Konami Adventure
Graphics: 9 Sound: 9 Gameplay: 6 Overall: 7

We all know no one's perfect and this seems especially true in the world of video games. Look at the now deceased Gumpei Yokoi, creator of the Game Boy. This is the man who let the Virtual Boy out into the world. How about 90% of the programmers who released Atari 2600 games in 1983-84? We now can add Hideo Kojima to the list as his much hyped, anticipated, and most wanted game, Metal Gear Solid 2 has a completely disjointed story making this one a definite disappointment. (WARNING: There are numerous spoilers ahead. DO NOT read unless you've played the game or simply aren't worried about the plot!)

You begin on a tanker supposedly carrying a new, experimental Metal Gear. It's taken over by terrorists and your immediately thrust into the spotlight. The games opening 2 hours are truly enthralling and have that "Metal Gear" feeling. The moment you find the Vulcan Raven statue, you'll have no choice but to laugh out loud. Once things go haywire on the ship and it rapidly drops into the ocean depths, the game takes it's most shocking turn....You don't control Solid Snake for the rest of the game. The new guy, Raiden, is sufficient, but most would prefer the attitude of Snake. The game then takes players onto a supposed oil-cleanup site and the real game begins.

Very little has changed in the area of gameplay since Snake's previous adventure. Snake and Raiden have the same moves, so the big "surprise" doesn't affect the game from a gameplay standpoint. Avoiding detection by the enemy is still the meat of the game and the AI has been fine tuned with the guards smarter than ever. Coming in out of the rain will result in footsteps being left behind with the guards quickly reacting to them and the usual round of noises will alert enemies to your presence. Also, it's not possible to simply knock out a guard and move on. You must now hide their bodies out of view in order to avoid the guards calling back up. A few new moves have been added such as the ability to hang off ledges which gives the player one more way to avoid being caught or seen by enemy guards. A real downer is the sword you receive later in the game which is an absolute blast to play with, but you only use it for a very limited time. It would've been great to slash enemies throughout the entire game.

The game graphics will please anyone who owns a PS2 with just about every effect the console can do put into the game somewhere. The rain effects seen in the early stages of the game are uncanny as are the little details such as smoke coming from pipes strewn throughout. Shooting background items almost always causes a reaction (such as the bags of flour), making the game seem all the more completed. The real-time cinemas do a fine job of telling the games confusing story, and some of them are even interactive. It's pretty much what we've all expected since the original E3 trailer...This game looks damn good.

Voice acting really propelled the first game to new cinematic heights, and this one is no different. Each actor portrays their characters with the right amount of drama, very rarely overacting. The games cinemas are presented in 5.1 surround, and it's an shame that the PS2 doesn't do a better job of doing this during gameplay. Regardless, MGS2 still sounds great and no one will be disappointed with the effort here.

It's hard to write a review for a game this greatly anticipated and then have it be a complete disappointment. The highlight of the first Metal Gear Solid was the story and it's what engrossed players long enough to finish it. MGS2's story is a mess of lies, deception, and life lessons. While it manages to hold itself together for the first half, closer to the end, no one will understand what's going on. Characters turn on each other quicker than a Mario Lemiuex slapshot and the game's deep-rooted message is lost in the mess of twists and turns. It's also weird that Kojima and company tried to keep Snake's identity secret for the second section of the game even though it's blatantly obvious. The anti-climatic final battle is also completely unfitting to the game and it leaves players wanting another huge boss encounter. If by some slight chance you're actually able to follow the story, the ending seems satisfactory, but again, you'll need to understand what happened throughout the game. It makes you wonder if the development time was cut short since so much happens in the final hour of the game.

From a gameplay standpoint, the game holds up well. "Tactical Espionage Action" is still a blast to perform and there are still those unforgettable moments strewn about, but a game like this is made great by its story. If you can play through the game without attempting to follow the tangled web of a story, go for it. Otherwise, pass on purchasing this one and head down to your local Blockbuster and pick it up for a weekend. 8-10 hours will be more than sufficient to take this one down and you'll have enough gameplay memories to last a while. Lets just all hope that when the inevitable sequel is released, with a tighter story as the highlight.


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Last updated: Thursday, December 04, 2003 01:18 PM