Metal Gear Rising: Reveangence is out in less than a month and we’re finally going to take a look at Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, even though I’ll be saving the bulk of Raiden’s role in the game for next week’s article.
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was over hyped, massively anticipated, and even considered by many to be the biggest media release of its time. Arguably one of Kojima’s greatest works, many game journalists of the time had a lot to say about the plotting and narrative of the title. OXM described the plot as incomprehensible when reviewing its re-release for the Xbox, while Gamespot spoke of the complexity and opportunity for discussion that the narrative facilitated. Most fans and critics alike simply threw the story to the wind, assuming it as more of the same from days of yore, and chalked up Metal Gear and Kojima simply as absurd, Japanese, and anime inspired. For the most part, the gaming world had dismissed looking beneath the surface of Sons of Liberty‘s story and had missed one of gaming’s greatest criticisms on itself.
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was released November 13th, 2001 in the United States. Somewhat mysterious is the fact that the game didn’t come out until November 29th in Japan and almost a year later in Europe. The game was three years in development and saw a companion PS2 “game” released alongside it called The Document of Metal Gear Solid 2, which went much more in-depth with the production of the title.
As far as gameplay mechanics were concerned, the game ran much smoother than its predecessor, saw a massive graphical overhaul due to the system of release, and introduced a first-person shooting mechanic to the franchise. Much in the same vein as most of Nintendo‘s first-party games, Metal Gear Solid 2 took the formula of Metal Gear Solid and attempted to recreate its format, complete with situations, style of boss pacing and location, and with familiar faces, but this time it would be with a twist.
Many gamers will recognize Metal Gear Solid 2 as the game that “trolled” players into thinking that they’d reprise their role as Solid Snake and save the world again. Hideo Kojima and friends obviously sought to create this mirage. They featured Solid Snake in all of the promo pictures, the demo, and even spoke in generalizations of the game to keep the facade up. Well, an hour and a half into the game (depending on how much of a hardcore MGS fan you are, EXTREME!) Solid Snake was presumed dead and the player took on the role of Raiden, series newcomer and OG whiny, skinny, emo boy that pissed all of the cool fans off.
Hideo Kojima didn’t necessarily know that Raiden would cause as large a stink as he did, but he definitely knew that fans would be upset, and that was partially the point. Kojima started penning MGS2 knowing damn well that MGS would be as successful as it was. He wanted to make a meta-game that broke all of the standards that sequel should follow, deciding to criticize the game that it was a sequel to, and he establishes this very early on with this role reversal.
We’re introduced to some more familiar characters (see Colonel Campbell), though we have no context for their involvement. The bosses are introduced, again to be used as vehicles to move the story forward and provide some interesting gameplay scenarios. But, everything feels a bit… off. Our protagonist has identity issues, even entering the player’s personal information as his own early in the game (and even wearing OUR names on his dogtags!), and its these issues that make up the bulk of the narrative, even within each layer.
I’ll split the game into a few layers for you guys next week and I’ll knock out MGS2. Week after that, look forward to Substance, then we’ll be discussing MGS3 and how Kojima didn’t want to ride the Metal Gear train any longer.