Metal Gear Solid 2 has to stand as my most anticipated game release of all time. I’ve been excited about others but was at an absolute fever pitch for the next Metal Gear. The trailers were glorious, Snake running around the tanker while water was chasing him looked absolutely stunning. The jump in graphics from the previous game was phenomenal.
Then came Zone of the Enders and, along with it, a playable demo. It was brilliant, and life was good. I can still vividly remember smashing a window and watching the shards of glass cascade down. I couldn’t believe how far games had come.
As the release date came ever closer, I struggled to hide my excitement. It was nearly upon us, but I hadn’t pre-ordered it. I was a fool. What if it sold out?
Back in 2002 (Europe), online shopping wasn’t what it was today. There was no smartphone I couldn’t hop on to and have it delivered. The only thing my Nokia 3310 had was Snake and maybe WAP.
No, to get Metal Gear Solid 2, I had to go to the shop and hand over my hard-earned cash. There was a real danger it might sell out too. This was a different time.
When the day finally arrived, I was at work. Another short-sighted move on my part. I should have taken the day off. Idiot. I sat at my desk the whole morning, singing the theme tune and looking at the clock. It was going to sell out, and I was going to have to go home empty-handed.
I had to rectify this issue, and so I headed to the kitchen. I have to say that food waste is a bad thing that needs to change; however, back in 2002, I was not as environmentally conscious as I am now. What I did next was reach into the fridge, grabbed the milk, and poured it down the sink before informing my boss we needed to get milk.
Volunteering myself to fetch new supplies, I headed off to the store and made a detour to Blockbusters. I grabbed Metal Gear Solid 2, hid it in my coat, and headed back for work after getting milk, of course.
The day dragged slowly after that, but I eventually got to go home and immediately booted up my PS2. I didn’t need food at this point.
I flew through the tanker section and knew I was in for some of the best gaming I’d ever had the chance to partake in. Then it happened.
Snake was gone and, in his stead, was Raiden. Who the hell was this, and where was my hero? I still played through and loved the game, going back to play it countless times while gathering as many dog tags as I could along the way.
The lack of Snake did hurt, but Metal Gear Solid 2 was and still is a fantastic game in its own right. After that little story, I thought it was about time to bust it out again and see how it holds up today.
In 2019 the graphics are no longer mind-blowing; however, they still hold up well. The development team did a great job of pushing the PlayStation 2 to its limits, and I’m still fairly impressed with them. There are moments of serious slowdown, but overall, it still looks and runs great for a PS2 game.
It’s not the graphics I’m interested in though, it’s the gameplay, and I’m pleased to say this holds up better than ever.
The core Metal Gear Solid experience is all present and accounted for, only this time it’s expanded upon. I can’t tell you what a huge leap this game felt like at the time. It’s something you’ll probably never understand if you weren’t there.
Primarily it’s still all about sneaking around as stealthily as possible, trying to avoid guards as you take them down, preferably in a non-lethal way. Checking enemy positions on the radar and peeking around corners to get the drop on them is still as fun as ever, as is luring them to you by tapping on the wall. I don’t this I’ll ever get bored of it.
I mentioned the dog tags above, and they are the masterstroke of Metal Gear Solid 2, adding a whole new level of challenge to the game. It’s all well and good sneaking to the next objective, but sneaking around while trying to surprise a guard and hold them up is still as thrilling as ever. Especially when having to avoid other enemies in the process.
The new first-person aiming mechanic helps with the hold-ups as some stubborn guards refuse to give you their tags. A quick aim at their groin soon fixes this issue.
Storywise the game is an absolute mess, classic Kojima. I’ve played Metal Gear Solid 2 more times than I can count, and I still couldn’t explain every detail of the story to you. It’s a convoluted mess, and there’s tons of it. Players who weren’t fans of the story in the first Metal Gear Solid, or any of the games, will still be frustrated here.
I always try to enjoy the Metal Gear stories for what they are; I don’t take them too seriously and just let them play out. That said, the story in Metal Gear Solid 3 is excellent, mainly thanks to the ending. I think I cried, although that is a story for another day.
The plot in 2 can’t even hope to get near to number 3; however, we do get one of the best lines in any game ever. “I need scissors, 61!”
And that’s the thing about MGS2; there are so many moments from big set pieces to crazy pieces of detail. The fact you can give Snake a shaver, and he uses it still makes me chuckle.
Then there are the bosses, some are awesome, and some are just plain crazy. An immortal vampire, a fat man on roller skates, and the new Metal Gear itself are some personal highlights for different reasons.
Playing in 2019, I still loved the game, and I realize this has primarily been my story of how I got here and how I fell in love with the game, but I had a great time playing it again. I need so many more words than this to go through details of the game, but I don’t want to get yelled out by the editor, so please forgive me.
After all these years and all these playthroughs, I’m still not bored of it, and that applies to most of the franchise.
If you have only played the more recent games, then please go back and give the first three a try, you won’t be disappointed, I promise.
Let us know your favorite Metal Gear game in the comments; it doesn’t have to be from the Solid series, just your favorite in the franchise. Tell us about your memories, any stories you have about the series, or what you would like to see next if Konami ever decides to make games again.
Finally, if you enjoyed this, let me know any other older games you’d like me to play. I promise not to have long-winded stories about them all.
Steve is the resident Englishman, just don’t hold that against him. He’s been playing games for the best part of 3 decades and will continue to do so for as long as his thumbs hold up. When they no longer work, he’ll still find a way to play Resident Evil 2. Lover of most things nerdy Steve also likes sports. Go sports!