The long awaited sequel to the PlayStation game Metal Gear Solid, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was released on November 13th, 2001. MGS2 does not star the former FOXHOUND agent Solid Snake. Instead, Hideo Kojima took players into the mind of super soldier Raiden, a stealth operative on his first live combat scenario. His objective is to stop a group of terrorists, calling themselves the Sons of Liberty. This includes blowing up a large oil cleanup facility and killing the President of the United States.
MGS2's innovations included its introduction of the laser sight mechanic for more accurate aiming, and a refined cover system that allowed both players and enemies to shoot from cover. It also introduced collective enemy AI routines that relied on squad tactics rather than working individually, while individual enemies expressed fear and even birds had their own AI routines. MGS2 was considered to have the best enemy AI in gaming for many years. The physics was also a major step forward for gaming, particularly the sophisticated particle effects for its time (including for individual drops of rain) and the way objects moved.
The game earned both critical and commercial acclaim upon release, with the highest sales and review scores in the series. However, the game's convoluted story, excessive use of Codec conversations and new protagonist Raiden was criticized by a number of fans, temporarily relegating him to a joke character (even with Kojima himself) until his popular transformation in Metal Gear Solid 4.
Despite the controversy surrounding the unexpected bait-and-switch and convoluted storyline at the time, Sons of Liberty is today seen as a landmark title in the history of video games. It is considered the first truly postmodern video game, is frequently cited as a primary example of artistic expression in video games, and is generally considered one of the most influential games of the past decade, both for its artistic influence on later video game storylines (most notably Eternal Darkness, Killer7, Portal, and especially BioShock, which even featured a very similar plot twist) as well as its influence on the gameplay mechanics of many action games since.
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty does not star MGS hero, Solid Snake, but instead a new character codenamed Raiden. Raiden himself received a lot of flak because gamers complained he was too whiny and effeminate. Additionally the game was touted as being far too convoluted by some, especially in its ending, and many elements of sci-fi and fantasy such as vampires and other immortal beings were introduced that didn't mesh well with some of the Metal Gear Solid community at the time. Other issues that raised controversy at the time was the game's exploration of taboos such as incest and sexual orientation, and the plot's blurring of the line between fantasy and reality (which was in fact one of the game's stated goals in Hideo Kojima's original design document).
Despite being controversial at the time, Metal Gear Solid 2 has over the years become accepted as the first truly postmodern video game and is often cited a primary example of artistic expression in video games. It deals with many social, philosophical and post-cyberpunk themes in great detail, including meme theory, misinformation, propaganda, social engineering, sociology, artificial intelligence, information control, conspiracy theories, political and military maneuvering, evolution, existentialism, censorship, the manipulation of free will, the nature of reality, child exploitation, and taboos such as incest and sexual orientation. The game is also often cited as an example of metafiction, in how Hideo Kojima’s imposed plan/path for both Raiden and the player maps to the manipulative nature of the government.
The game opens with Snake as the main character in the prologue mission. Snake and Otacon have formed their own non-profit organization called Philanthropy between MGS1 and MGS2; the purpose of this organization is to find and hunt Metal Gears. Between the two games, Revolver Ocelot has recovered the plans for Metal Gear REX and leaked them on the internet. As a result the world has gone Metal Gear crazy and new varieties of them are being produced. Snake, on this mission, is sent to take photographs of a new Metal Gear called Metal Gear RAY. This one was developed by the U.S. Navy thus it is aquatic and this mission takes place on a large freighter. The boat is hijacked by Russian terrorists led in part by Ocelot. Upon reaching where Metal Gear RAY is being held, Snake takes the photographs he came for. However, Ocelot then reveals himself and hijacks RAY whilst under the control of Liquid Snake (Ocelot having taken Liquid's arm after his was cut off by the Cyborg Ninja in MGS1). Liquid Ocelot escapes with Metal Gear Ray after sinking the tanker,and Snake is presumed dead.
The game's true mission opens with our new hero Raiden infiltrating the Big Shell research facility. The president has been taken hostage by a group of terrorists known as Dead Cell, and are also threatening to launch a nuclear weapon, if demands aren't met. The leader of the operation is the third clone of Big Boss, named Solidus Snake. Throughout the game Raiden must confront members of Dead Cell, which features an immortal psychic armed with a Ray Gun named Fortune, a mad bomber aptly named Fatman who has planted bombs all over the Shell, and a man who appears to be a vampire, conveniently named Vamp. It turns out that Snake has also come along for the ride, disguised as a Marine by the name of Iroquois Pliskin. While the player doesn't control Snake he does provide key support and advice, along with Otacon, to Raiden during the mission.
The first thing Raiden must do, if he stands a chance of finding the President, is disarming the numerous bombs Fatman has planted on each of the Struts, and he does so with the help of Snake, and a bomb specialist by the name of Peter Stillman. Stillman happens to be the mentor of Fatman, and is killed by one of Fatman's bombs, which submerges parts of the shell. After Fatman's defeat Raiden encounters a mysterious Ninja, who first introduces itself as Deep Throat, but then changes that to Mr. X. Mr. X tells Raiden to find a man named Ames, in the B1 core, as this man knows the location of the President. Mr. X does not know what Ames looks like, but does know that Ames has a pacemaker.
Raiden, armed with a Guard's Uniform and AK-47, and a Directional Mic, infiltrates the Core and finds Ames - amongst a large number of other hostages. Ames confirms to Raiden that the Big Shell is indeed a cover up for the development for a new Metal Gear project. Raiden is discovered by Revolver Ocelot, and the stress causes Ames to die of a heart attack. Ocelot is about to kill Raiden but Mr. X appears and distracts Ocelot, allowing for Raiden's escape. Raiden is the confronted by a Harrier Jet, piloted by Vamp and Solidus.
Raiden finds his way to the President and learns several important things; firstly, Big Shell is actually a giant Metal Gear called Arsenal Gear. Secondly, Arsenal Gear houses a powerful super computer called GW which is responsible for controlling and organizing all information we humans are aware of in the digital age. Lastly, the president informs Raiden that the United States is in fact run by a small organization of people called The Patriots. Raiden and Snake recover Otacon's sister, Emma and install a virus to destroy GW but not before Emma is killed by Vamp. The destroying of GW causes Colonel Campbell to constantly call Raiden and speak irrelevant phrases and state things irrelevant to the mission, often not making any sense at all. This also causes Colonel Campbell's face to appear disfigured and buggy over the Codec. The reason for this is that the Colonel Campbell we have been talking to throughout the game is actually a creation by GW from bits of information gathered about the real Campbell and what Raiden himself expected the Colonel to be like.
A number of intense action sequences shortly follow with Raiden fighting off 25 Metal Gear RAYs alone on top of Arsenal Gear. He then confronts Solidus, who was a twisted father figure of sorts for him, in a climactic battle on the roof of Federal Hall. Raiden learns that The Patriots were attempting to control what kind of information is kept and what is left behind on the internet in an attempt to make future historians see a history that The Patriots want them to see. The Patriots also reveal that the entire Big Shell Incident was an elaborate scheme of theirs to make Raiden into a soldier who was equally as skilled as Solid Snake. This new Snake would be forged in battle (as opposed to using VR Training), which explains how the events of this game were at their core so similar to those of the first Metal Gear Solid. Solidus was trying to overthrow the Patriots and use Manhattan as his base of operations, and since he believed Raiden's neural implant could lead him back to the Patriots, they duel. Solidus is killed and Raiden meets Snake again to learn that he and Otacon are going to try to track down the Patriots. At the end of the game, Raiden and Rose are reunited.
After the credits, Otacon talks to Snake about the GW virus disc and reveals that all twelve members of the Patriots have been dead for approximately 100 years.
MGS2 refined and overhauled the gameplay and control scheme from Metal Gear Solid, to a much greater extent than what Metal Gear Solid did compared to its 2D predecessor Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. MGS2 introduced a host of new gameplay mechanics that would become staples of 3D action games for years to come.
Like its predecessor, players once again try to sneak by enemy guards, avoid being seen on cameras, and fight ridiculous bosses. Players still viewed the action from a top-down perspective for much of the game, but the camera would occasionally switch to more cinematic perspectives during many key moments of the game.
The game introduced a number of new game mechanics and features, which included dead bodies that don't disappear and need to be hidden away from other guards, enemies being able to detect the player's shadows, the player being able to take out lights in an area to affect the enemy's vision, and realistic enemy artificial intelligence that relies on squad tactics rather than working individually. A major innovation to the gameplay was the introduction of multi-level environments that add an element of three-dimensional "vertical tension" to the stealth gameplay, which was previously limited to level surfaces in earlier titles. This gave the player many new options on how to approach a situation, which included being able to attack or perform various actions from above ceilings, from underwater, or from underneath floors.
Another very important innovation in MGS2 was the game's shooting mechanic. In the original game, Snake had to fire at enemies from the same top-down view. The perspective was optimal for sneaking, but cumbersome in a situation that required accurate shooting. MGS2 added the ability to fire weapons from a first-person perspective. Snake could still shoot without entering First-Person, but holding down the fire button while in a First Person View mode would cause Snake to raise his gun up, allowing him to aim using the weapon's laser sight. The game utilized the Dualshock 2's pressure sensitive buttons in that applying various amounts of pressure would allow the player to aim the weapon without actually firing it or putting down the weapon without firing it. The first-person firing added much greater depth to the shooting mechanics of the previous game, by allowing true three-dimensional aiming, whether at different parts of the enemy's body, at various different objects, or at different areas of the game's new multi-level environments.
MGS2 also provided players with a number of options should sneaking be the optimal course of action. Most obviously, Raiden came into combat with a silenced, one-shot tranquilizer pistol, which could knock opponents unconscious (faster or slower depending on where they were hit). Bodies could now be stored in lockers to keep them out of sight from other guards. Raiden could, like snake, press up against walls and peak down hallways, but MGS2 provided Raiden the ability to pop out into the hallway and fire shots. Raiden could also move much more slowly and quietly than Snake, keeping him moving without being heard by guards.
The game also introduced a cover system, with Solid Snake or Raiden now able to take cover behind walls or objects and pop out to shoot at enemies, while the improved enemy AI allowed enemies to also take cover from the player character. The enemies would often take cover to call for backup, but during battle, they would take cover then pop out and shoot at the player or blindly throw grenades from behind their cover. MGS2's cover system would later be refined by Kill Switch and popularized by Gears of War. MGS2 also introduced an innovative laser sight mechanic, where a laser sight helps assist with manually aiming a gun, which would later be widely adopted by third-person shooters such as Resident Evil 4 and Gears of War.
MGS2 offered significant upgrades to the guard routines featured in Metal Gear Solid for the PlayStation. Similar to how guards could become suspicious when seeing footprints in the snow in the original, MGS2's guards will notice noises made by the player, hence Raiden's new ability to walk slowly and silently. Other new additions to the enemy AI include being able to detect the player's shadows, being able to hear the player sneezing from a cold, the player being able to take out lights in an area to affect the enemy's vision, and the enemies even being able to take cover from the player (an innovation that wouldn't become popular until many years later).
The most important innovation to the enemy artificial intelligence was the introduction of a collective intelligence that relied on squad tactics, in contrast to previous games where guards only worked individually. This time in MGS2, guards would call on their radios for a strike team upon seeing the player, then attempt to flank him and cut off his escape while avoiding the player's attacks. Often strike teams will carry body armor and riot shields, making them an even greater threat. Even if the player escapes to a hiding place, a team will sweep in to check the area. The game has a collective enemy AI, where enemy guards work together in squads, can communicate with one another, and react in a more realistic manner towards the player. The game's enemy AI was considered one of the best in gaming for many years.
Guards who spotted Raiden would automatically radio for additional units to combat the player. Avoiding the guards in their alert phase (by hiding in lockers, under tables, etc.) would trigger the guard's caution phase. Guards won't be actively pursuing Raiden, but will be much more alert in this phase, searching rooms and lockers, and constantly radioing back to headquarters. If the player stays for too long in the alert phase, additional, stronger units (armed with better weapons and shields) will try to overwhelm Raiden.
Players with a steady aim can stop a guard from calling for more units by quickly shooting his walkie-talkie before he has time to use it. If the guard starts requesting for backup and the player then shoots the walkie-talkie, HQ will become suspicious and send reinforcements either way. If the player shoots the walkie-talkie before the request for backup, the guard will run to the nearest exit from the level and request backup from there.
- Gurlukovich Soldiers
- The Harrier
- Arsenal Tengu
- Metal Gear Ray Units (mass produced)
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty Original Soundtrack
- Metal Gear Solid Main Theme
- Opening Infiltration
- Russian Soldiers from Kasatka
- Olga Gurlukovich
- Metal Gear
- Revolver Ocelot
- RAY Escapes
- Can't Say Goodbye to Yesterday (Piano Version)
- Big Shell
- Kill Me Now!
- The World Needs Only One Big Boss
- It's the Harrier!
- Arsenal is Going to Take Off
- Who Am I Really?
- Can't Say Goodbye to Yesterday (Full Version)
Metal Gear Solid 2: The Other Side
- Tanker Incident
- The Elevator Up To Hell
- Vamp's Dance
- Peter's Theme
- Countdown To Disaster
- Lady Luck Revisited
- Yell "Dead Cell"
- Metal Gear's Already Active
- Arms Depot
- Memories of Hal
- Twilight Sniping
- Will the Virus Still Work
- Arsenal's Guts
- Prelude to the Denouement
- Father and Son
- Freedom to Decide
Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance
- Can't Say Goodbye to Yesterday (Mix)
- Opening Infiltration A (Original Mix)
- Opening Infiltration B (Original Mix)
- Revolver Ocelot (Original Mix)
- Arsenal is Going to Take Off! A (Original Mix)
- Arsenal is Going to Take Off! B (Original Mix)
- The World Needs Only One Big Boss! (Original Mix)
- Yell "Dead Cell" (VR Mix)
- VR Weapon Mission (Mix)
- VR Sneaking Mission (Mix)
- VR Variety Mission (Mix)
- Tanker Incident (Alt Mix)
- Electronica Emma
- Next Generation (Part 1)
- Next Generation (Part 2)
- MGS Main Theme (Doc Mix)
- MGS Main Theme
- VR Weapon Mission - Snake
- VR Sneaking Mission - Snake
- VR Weapon Mission - Raiden
- VR Sneaking Mission - Raiden
- VR Variety Mission
- VS Genola
- Tuxedo Snake
- Mission in the Dark - Sneaking
- Mission in the Dark - Action
- Alternative Mission - Photo Shoot
- MGS1 Weapons VR Mission
- MGS1 Sneaking VR Mission
- MGS Main Theme (Skate Mix)
- Basic Actions - Beginner
- Basic Actions - Intermediate
- Basic Actions - Advanced
Metal Gear Solid 2 is often considered the first example of a postmodern video game, and has often been cited as a primary example of artistic expression in video games. Gamasutra has compared the game's themes to the philosophies of Thomas Hobbes, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, as well as the more recent social media and social gaming trends.
In 2009, Wired included the game in its list of "The 15 Most Influential Games of the Decade" at #13, concluding that every "videogame story that subverts a player’s expectations owes a debt to the ground broken by Metal Gear Solid 2." The artistic influence of Metal Gear Solid 2 can be seen in later video games such as Goichi Suda's similarly postmodern game Killer7, the similarly metanarrative game Portal, the survival horror title Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, and particularly the first-person shooter BioShock, which featured a similar plot twist to Metal Gear Solid 2. Several game mechanics developed in Metal Gear Solid 2, such as the cover system and laser sight mechanic, have since become staples of stealth games as well as shooters, including Kill Switch (2003), Resident Evil 4 (2005) and Gears of War (2006). According to Kojima, Metal Gear Solid 2 paid more "attention to the surroundings" in real-time and later "games like Call of Duty have followed this trend of making your surroundings more realistic." The early anticipation that surrounded Metal Gear Solid 2 since its E3 2000 demo has also been credited as a key factor in the PlayStation 2's success and dominance during the sixth console generation, as well as the demise of Sega's Dreamcast.