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 The Final Word game review

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty -- Konami

I haven't written a game review in quite a few years... rest assured, I never quit playing games, I just got a real job. MGS2, however, is the first game to come along in a long time that compelled me to write a review anyway. After completely solving the game, I have one thing to say: Konami, WHAT HAPPENED?!?

I have been a huge fan of Metal Gear since the very first game on the NES. I played Metal Gear Solid through at least a half a dozen times until I had done everything there was to do. After playing the Metal Gear Solid 2 demo, I couldn't wait for the real thing... after all, that was the main reason I bought a PS2, wasn't it? The demo was absolutely and utterly brilliant.

Well, if you played the demo disk, you played the game. The whole game. The parts of the game that aren't on the demo disk simply aren't worth playing. Before I finished the game, I had heard people saying that they "didn't like the part with Raiden". What people had failed to mention was that the "part with Raiden" was 85-95% of the game.

The game is divided into two main missions: the tanker and the plant. The tanker mission is played as Solid Snake. As Snake, you must infiltrate a Marine tanker that has been taken over by terrorists. First, you must sneak up to the top of the tanker where you fight the first boss, Olga. This part is included with relatively few changes on the demo disk. From there, the only thing remaining is to sneak into the ship's hold and take pictures of the new Metal Gear. For purposes of this review, I went back and replayed the tanker mission: it only took me a little over 20 minutes to solve the entire mission from start to finish. Granted, it took me somewhat longer the first time through, but it is still very short compared to the length of the game as a whole.

The plant mission constitutes the remainder of the game. In the plant mission, you play as a Rookie operative code-named Raiden. Raiden is a pretty boy with more emotional problems than you can shake a stick at... but he does sexy cartwheels. His girl friend, Rose, is your analyst (the person you talk to to save your game). Rose spends the entire game hassling Raiden with deep guy-girl "we just don't communicate, don't you love me?" chat... as if your girlfriend telling you "You don't compliment me enough" is exactly what you need to hear when you're trying to defuse a bomb and not get caught by enemy patrol at the same time. Now, I have no objection to a love story as a plot line, but the interactions between Jack and Rose are hardly romance; they're more like a call for relationship counseling. The remainder of the game's plot layers on conspiracy like a bad episode of the X-Files. There is so much back-stabbing that it becomes almost comical. This is followed by a full-blown character assassination of all of the heroes--including Otacon--for absolutely no good reason. Believe it or not, the story goes downhill from there, and cumulates in an endlessly long, poorly written sermon that leaves you missing the point just on principal. By the time the game was finished, I was wondering why I had played at all.

Of course, I know the answer to that. The game has spectacular gameplay and incredible attention to detail. However, even the gameplay in the plant/Raiden mission suffers compared to the tanker mission with Snake. In the tanker mission, the first boss, Olga, put up a fight that goes well beyond mere bullet flinging. She ducks for cover. She shoots out a tarp and hides behind it so you can't get a clean shot at her. She shoots out the lens cover on a lamp and stands in front of it so that you lose her in the glare when you try to target her. Its beautifully executed. The second tanker (pseudo-)boss is a group of soldiers in a narrow hallway below deck. They duck and shoot at you from behind boxes, as well as shoot out the lights so you can't see them... again, brilliant. After this stunning introduction, I was absolutely psyched for the later bosses to be even more clever and tactically savvy. Unfortunately, the remaining bosses that you must face as Raiden were a big disappointment. Instead of resourceful ex-military professionals and mercenaries with well-honed skills, Raiden faces a vampire, a disillusioned lady luck with psychic powers, a mad bomber on roller skates and others of similar ilk. Of course, they all use more or less the same technique: run around in circles much faster than Raiden and shoot powerful weapons while sometimes using bizarre supernatural powers to turn themselves temporarily invincible. Real freakin' deep, guys.

I suppose I wouldn't be so upset at the whole thing if the plant mission were its own, unrelated non-Metal Gear game. The truth is, all in all the plant mission is still very good compared to most other games out there, but it just doesn't hold a candle to the tanker mission. Including both missions together as a single game and demo'ing only the tanker made me feel like Konami pulled a bait-and-switch. It made me feel angry and ripped off. They built up huge expectations and proved they could deliver, then they said "oh, never mind". They promised Solid Snake and tactical espionage, and delivered a pantywaist fruit shooting at vampires. Shame.

>>>>> 18.0/25 <<<<< Salamander
Graphics 5.0
Sound 5.0
Gameplay/Control 5.0
Longevity/Playability 0.0
Overall 3.0
Total 18.0