Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

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Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
Metalgear2boxart.jpg
North American cover art
Developer(s)Konami Computer Entertainment Japan
Publisher(s)Konami
Director(s)Hideo Kojima
Producer(s)Hideo Kojima
Designer(s)Hideo Kojima
Programmer(s)Kazunobu Uehara
Artist(s)Yoji Shinkawa
Writer(s)Hideo Kojima
Tomokazu Fukushima
Composer(s)
SeriesMetal Gear
Platform(s)
Release
Genre(s)Action-adventure, stealth
Mode(s)Single-player

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty[a] is a stealth game developed and published by Konami for the PlayStation 2 on November 13, 2001. It is the fourth Metal Gear game written and directed by Hideo Kojima, the seventh overall game in the series and is a direct sequel to the original Metal Gear Solid. An expanded edition, titled Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance, was released the following year for Xbox and Microsoft Windows in addition to the PlayStation 2.

The story revolves around the "Big Shell," a massive offshore clean-up facility seized by a group of terrorists who call themselves the "Sons of Liberty." They demand an enormous ransom in exchange for the life of the President of the United States and threaten to destroy the facility and create a cataclysmic environmental disaster if their demands are not met. The motives and identities of many of the antagonists and allies change throughout the course of the game, as the protagonists discover a world-shaking conspiracy constructed by a powerful organization known as the Patriots.

The game had sold over seven million copies worldwide, and received acclaim for its gameplay, graphics, and attention to detail. However, critics were initially divided on the protagonist and the philosophical nature and execution of the game's storyline, which explores themes such as the Information Age, memetics, social engineering, political conspiracies, censorship, artificial intelligence, existentialism, postmodernism, virtual reality, and the internal struggle of political liberty and freedom of thought. Metal Gear Solid 2 has since been considered to be one of the greatest video games of all time, as well as a leading example of artistic expression in video games. The game is often considered ahead of its time for dealing with themes and concepts, such as post-truth politics, fake news, alternative facts, and echo chambers, that became culturally relevant in the 2010s.

Gameplay[edit]

Solid Snake takes cover and peeks around a corner in the Tanker chapter

Metal Gear Solid 2 carries the subtitle of "Tactical Espionage Action," and most of the game involves the protagonist sneaking around avoiding being seen by the enemies. Most fundamental is the broader range of skills offered to the player. The first-person aiming mode allows players to target specific points in the game, greatly expanding tactical options; guards can be blinded by steam, distracted by a flying piece of fruit or hit in weak spots. Players can walk slowly, allowing them to sneak over noisy flooring without making a sound, or hang off walkways to slip past below guards' feet. The corner-press move from Metal Gear Solid, which allowed players a sneak peek around the next bend is expanded to allow players to fire from cover.[1] Other abilities included leaping over and hanging off of railings, opening and hiding in storage lockers, and sneaking up behind enemies to hold them at gunpoint for items and ammunition.[1] Players can shoot out the enemy's radio, so they are unable to communicate with others on their team. The environment also has a more significant impact on the stealth gameplay, taking into account factors such as weather, smell, atmosphere, and temperature.[2]

In Metal Gear Solid 2, the enemy guards are given more advanced AI "to prevent an imbalance of power,"[3] and unlike the original Metal Gear Solid, work in squads. They 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 a 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,[4] where enemy guards work together in squads, can communicate with one another,[5] and react more realistically towards the player. The game's enemy AI was considered one of the best in gaming for many years.[6]

The game expanded its predecessor's cover mechanic,[7] with Solid Snake or Raiden able to take cover behind walls or objects and pop out to shoot at enemies,[8][9] while the improved enemy AI allowed enemies to also take cover from the player character. The enemies will often take cover to call for backup,[10] but during battle, they will take cover then pop out and shoot at the player or blindly throw grenades from behind their cover.[8][11] The game features a laser sight mechanic, where a laser sight helps assist with manually aiming a gun.[12] Boss battles and set-pieces remain a case of finding a strategy that bypasses the defenses of the enemy. However, in a major break from action game standards, it is also possible to clear the entire game, including boss fights, without causing a single deliberate death, through use of tranquilizer guns, stun grenades, and melee attacks.

Plot[edit]

Characters[edit]

The protagonist of Metal Gear Solid 2 is a young rookie agent named Raiden.[13] He is supported by his commanding officer, the Colonel, and Rosemary,[14] his girlfriend. Allies formed on the mission include Lt. Junior Grade Iroquois Pliskin,[15] a Navy SEAL of mysterious background who provides his knowledge of the facility; Peter Stillman,[16] an NYPD bomb-disposal expert; Otacon,[17] a computer security specialist; and a cyborg ninja imitating Gray Fox's persona, first calling itself Deepthroat, then changing its name to Mr. X.[18][19]

The antagonists are the Sons of Liberty,[20] a group of terrorists who seize control of the Big Shell environmental cleanup facility, including anti-terrorist training unit gone rogue Dead Cell, and a Russian mercenary force that patrols the facility.[21] The Dead Cell team members are Vamp,[22] a seemingly immortal man exhibiting vampire-like attributes; Fatman,[23] a rotund man with exceptional knowledge of bombs; and Fortune,[24] a woman whose uncontrollable psychic ability prevents any bodily harm from befalling her. The leader of Sons of Liberty claims to be Solid Snake,[25] previously declared dead after a terrorist attack, later revealed to be Solidus Snake, a third clone of the "Les Enfants Terribles" project.[26] Assisting the Sons of Liberty are Olga Gurlukovich, commander of the Russian mercenaries,[27] and Revolver Ocelot,[28] a disenfranchised Russian nationalist and former FOXHOUND agent, Solid Snake's old nemesis, and henchman of Solidus Snake.

Other characters include Emma Emmerich, Otacon's stepsister and a computer whiz-kid;[29] Sergei Gurlukovich, Ocelot's former commanding officer and Olga's father;[30] President James Johnson, held hostage by the Sons of Liberty;[31] and DIA operative Richard Ames.[32] Liquid Snake returns, seemingly by possessing the body of Ocelot.[33] The game also features cameos by Mei Ling, the communications expert who aided Snake in the first game,[34] and Johnny Sasaki, the luckless soldier with chronic digestive problems.

Story[edit]

In 2007, Solid Snake infiltrates a tanker carrying a new Metal Gear model, RAY. The tanker is attacked by Russian mercenaries, led by Colonel Gurlukovich, his daughter Olga, and Ocelot. Ocelot betrays his allies and scuttles the ship. Upon seeing Snake, Ocelot is possessed by the will of Liquid Snake and escapes with RAY.

Two years later, an environmental cleanup facility, the Big Shell, has been erected to clear up the oil spill. During a tour by US President James Johnson, the Sons of Liberty raid the facility, take Johnson hostage, and threaten to destroy it. FOXHOUND's Raiden is ordered by the Colonel to rescue the hostages and disarm the terrorists. The surviving members of a responding Navy SEAL team, Iroquois Pliskin and Peter Stillman, help Raiden disable explosives planted by Fatman. A timed bomb goes off, killing Stillman. Raiden kills Fatman and encounters a mysterious cyborg ninja. Raiden and Pliskin arrange to transport hostages via helicopter, but are confronted by Dead Cell's leader identifying as Solid Snake, flying a Harrier. Raiden shoots down the Harrier, but "Solid Snake" escapes with the stolen Metal Gear RAY. Pliskin reveals he is the real Solid Snake and, along with Otacon, helps locate Johnson.

Johnson reveals to Raiden the United States' democratic process is a sham staged by an organization called "the Patriots", who secretly rule the country. Furthermore, the Big Shell is a facade to hide Arsenal Gear, a submersible mobile fortress that houses an AI called "GW". He explains the leader of Dead Cell is his predecessor George Sears, a clone of Big Boss known as Solidus Snake, who plans to seize Arsenal and overthrow the Patriots. Johnson is then killed by Ocelot.

Raiden rescues computer programmer Emma Emmerich, step-sister of Otacon, who plans to upload a virus into GW to disable Arsenal. Vamp stabs Emma, before being shot by Raiden. Emma uploads the virus but dies from her injury as the virus is cut off prematurely. Otacon leaves to rescue the hostages while Raiden is captured by the ninja, revealed to be Olga, when Snake seemingly betrays him. Big Shell collapses as Arsenal departs.

Raiden awakens on Arsenal before Solidus who reveals he had murdered Raiden's parents and raised him as a child soldier during the Liberian civil war. Solidus leaves and Olga frees Raiden, explaining she is a Patriot double-agent forced to aid Raiden in exchange for her child's safety. After the Colonel begins acting erratically, Raiden discovers he is a construct of GW, damaged by the virus. Rose tells Raiden she had been ordered by the Patriots to become his lover and spy on him, and that she is pregnant with his child. Raiden finds Snake who had helped Olga capture Raiden so they could gain entry to Arsenal. Fortune battles Snake while Raiden is forced into battle with AI-controlled Metal Gear RAYs. The virus causes the RAYs to malfunction and Solidus kills Olga when she discloses her double-agent status to protect Raiden.

Snake and Raiden are captured and taken to the top of Arsenal by Solidus, Fortune, and Ocelot. Ocelot reveals himself to be a Patriot agent and that the entire affair was orchestrated by the Patriots to artificially replicate a soldier (Raiden) on par with Solid Snake, titled the S3 Plan. Ocelot kills Fortune before being possessed again by Liquid Snake. Liquid explains that Ocelot's severed right arm was replaced with his own, and plans to hunt down the Patriots using his host's knowledge and the stolen RAY. Snake pursues Liquid, as Arsenal loses control.

Arsenal crashes into Manhattan. Raiden is contacted by an AI impersonating the Colonel and Rose. It states that GW was the only AI destroyed, and that the S3 Plan's real purpose is to control human thought to prevent society's regression in the digital era from trivial information drowning knowledge and truth. They order Raiden to eliminate Solidus; refusal will result in the deaths of Olga's child and Rose. After Raiden defeats Solidus, Snake appears after tracking Liquid's RAY. Snake and Otacon plan to rescue Olga's child, and locate the Patriots, whose details were hidden in the GW virus disc. Raiden is reunited with the real Rose.

In the epilogue, having decoded the disc, Otacon and Snake find it contains data on all twelve members of the Patriots' highest council, the Wiseman's Committee. However, the members have allegedly been dead for a hundred years.

Development[edit]

The creator Hideo Kojima's original design document for the game was completed in January 1999. The Japanese document was published by Konami in 2002, and translated into English in 2006.[35][36] It mentioned that the game was originally going to be called Metal Gear Solid III to symbolize Manhattan's three tallest skyscrapers."[35] The document outlines new game mechanics and features, such as bodies that need to be hidden, enemies being able to detect shadows, lights in an area that can be destroyed to affect enemy vision, realistic enemy AI that relies on squad tactics rather than working individually, and multi-level environments that add an element of "vertical tension" to the stealth gameplay. It also outlines themes, such as passing on memories, environmental issues, and particularly social themes regarding the "digitization of the military," digital simulations, the "digitization of operational planning," the "digitization of everyday life," and the "effects of digitization on personality." The document stated that the "aim of the story" involves "a series of betrayals and sudden reversals, to the point where the player is unable to tell fact from fiction" (departing from the "very clear and understandable story" of its predecessor), that "every character lies to (betrays) someone once," blurring the line between "what is real, and what is fantasy," and "ironies aimed at the digital society and gaming culture."[36]

The game's production budget was $10 million.[37] Kojima states that when he "heard about the hardware for the PlayStation 2," he "wanted to try something new. Up to that point, all cutscenes had focused more on details like facial expressions, but I wanted to pay more attention to the surroundings, to see how much I could change them in real time."[38]

Protagonist switch[edit]

For Metal Gear Solid 2, the established protagonist of Solid Snake was only made playable for the prologue portion of the game. A new protagonist named Raiden would substitute him as the player character for the main portion. The decision to introduce a new protagonist came from the idea of portraying Solid Snake from another character's perspective, but also to get around the dilemma of having to write gameplay tutorials directed at Snake, as Kojima felt that having to explain mission procedures and weapon handling to a veteran soldier like Snake would've felt unnatural after three games in the same continuity. According to Kojima, he came up with the idea of Raiden to appeal to female players after overhearing female debuggers working on the first Metal Gear Solid remark that the game was not appealing to them.[37] Raiden's presence in the game was kept a secret before release, with preview trailers showing Snake in situations and battles that occurred to Raiden in the published game, such as a battle against a Harrier on George Washington Bridge and an encounter with the new Cyborg Ninja inside the tanker.

Plot changes[edit]

According to Kojima in the documentary Metal Gear Saga Vol. 1, the original plot of the game revolved around nuclear weapon inspections in Iraq and Iran and had Solid Snake trying to stop the Metal Gear while it was located on an aircraft carrier, in a certain time limit, while trying to stop Liquid Snake and his group. However, about six months into the project, the political situation in the Middle East became a concern, and they decided that they could not make a game with such a plot. The tanker in the released game is based on this original plot.

MGS2 was also intended to reference the novel City of Glass, notably in the naming of its characters.[39] Raiden's support team originally featured a different field commander named Colonel Daniel Quinn; Maxine "Max" Work, an Asian woman who saves game data and quotes Shakespeare, and William "Doc" Wilson, the creator of GW. All take their names from key characters in the book, and all three would have turned out to be AIs. None of these characters survived to the final edition, their roles being absorbed by other characters, namely the "Colonel Campbell" simulation, Rose, and Emma Emmerich. Peter Stillman, however, takes his name from another City of Glass character.[40]

A character named Chinaman, originally planned to be included as a villain, was later on omitted and his abilities incorporated in Vamp, namely the ability to walk on water and walls. Chinaman would have movements modeled after Jet Li and have a body tattoo of a dragon that would come alive as soon as he dove into the water.[41]

Significant changes to the game's ending were made late in development following the September 11 attacks in New York, where the finale occurs. A sequence depicting Arsenal Gear's displacement of the Statue of Liberty and crashing through half of Manhattan was removed, as was a short coda to appear after the credits, a breaking newscast showing the Statue of Liberty's new resting place, Ellis Island. At the point where Solidus dies, Raiden was supposed to have cut the rope on Federal Hall's flagpole, causing an American flag to fall over Solidus' body, and American flags that were supposed to be on all the flagpoles in New York were removed from the title.[42] The Japanese spelling of the name "Raiden" was changed from katakana (ライデン) to kanji (雷電) due to the former form of the name resembling "Bin Laden" in Japanese.[b][43]

Music[edit]

Kojima's choice of composer for Metal Gear Solid 2 was highly publicized in the run-up to the game's release, with him deciding upon Harry Gregson-Williams, a film composer from Hans Zimmer's studio, after watching The Replacement Killers with sound director Kazuki Muraoka. A mix CD containing 18 tracks of Gregson-Williams' work was sent to his office. Flattered by the research put into creating the CD (as some of the tracks were unreleased, and that what tracks he'd worked on for some films were undocumented), he joined the project soon after.[44]

To bypass the language barrier and allow the score to be developed before the cutscenes were finalized, Gregson-Williams was sent short phrases or descriptions of the intended action. The resultant themes then shaped the action sequences in return. Gregson-Williams also arranged and re-orchestrated the original "Metal Gear Solid Main Theme" for use in the game's opening title sequence.

Norihiko Hibino, who had worked on previous Konami games such as Metal Gear: Ghost Babel, was responsible for the in-game music. He also worked on the majority of the game's cutscenes, re-orchestrating Gregson-Williams' "Main Theme" remix for use in several sequences.

As with Metal Gear Solid, the cutscene music includes orchestral and choir pieces, while the in-game soundtrack is scored with ambient music. However, the score as a whole incorporates more electronic elements (particularly breakbeat) than its predecessor, to reflect the plot's thematic thrust of a machine-dominated society. Rika Muranaka again provided a vocal ending theme, a jazz track entitled "Can't Say Goodbye to Yesterday," sung by Carla White. The game's music was released via four CDs: Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty Original Soundtrack, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty Soundtrack 2: The Other Side, Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance Limited Sorter (Black Edition) and Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance Ultimate Sorter (White Edition).

The game's main theme was chosen by the London Philharmonic Orchestra for their Greatest Video Game Music compilation,[45] and the theme is a key regular in the Video Games Live concert when the Metal Gear Solid segment is introduced.[46] A segment of the song's main chorus is included in the closing sequence of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.[47][48]

Releases[edit]

In contrast to the original Metal Gear Solid, Sons of Liberty was released in North America first, on November 13, 2001. Because of the later release in the region, the protagonist switch was not kept a secret in the Japanese version in the weeks before its release. A preview event was held in Zepp Tokyo on the day of the game's North American release in which the character of Raiden was unveiled to the Japanese public.[49] As a result, the Japanese packaging artwork depicts Raiden standing prominently next to Solid Snake, as opposed to only having Snake like on the cover artwork used for the American (and later European) version. A questionnaire was also added in the Japanese version, in which players are asked about their experience with the original Metal Gear Solid and action games in general; the answers to the questionnaire determines the difficulty level of the game and whether the player starts the game on the Tanker chapter or skips directly to the Plant chapter (an option that is only available after clearing the game once in the American version). The Japanese version has a few other additional features over the American version, including two extra game modes unlocked after completing the main game: Boss Survival, in which the player replays through the boss battles from the main game as either, Snake or Raiden; and Casting Theater, in which the player can view certain cutscenes from the main game and replace the character models.

The Japanese version was released on November 29, two weeks after the American version. As with the original Metal Gear Solid, Sons of Liberty was sold in a limited "Premium Package" edition in addition to the standard release, which was packaged in a black box containing the game itself with a reversible cover art on the DVD case (with Snake on one side and Raiden on the other), a video DVD known as the Premium Disc, which features a collection of Metal Gear Solid-related commercials and trailers, a metallic Solid Snake figurine, and an 80-page booklet titled Metal Gear Chronicle featuring artwork and commentary about the series.

The European version, which was initially scheduled for February 22, 2002, was released on March 8, nearly four months after the other regions. The added features from the Japanese release were carried over to the European version, along with a new difficulty setting (European Extreme). The European version came packaged with a video DVD titled The Making of Metal Gear Solid 2. As well as collating all of the game's promotional trailers and a GameSpot feature on the game's final days of development, it features a titular documentary produced by French television production house FunTV, which was filmed at KCE Japan West's Japanese studio. The DVD was included as an apology to European consumers for the several month delay that had occurred since the original November release in North America and Japan, which saw numerous European gaming magazines detail the various twists in the game.

The Document of Metal Gear Solid 2[edit]

Released on September 12, 2002, in Japan and September 24 in North America, The Document of Metal Gear Solid 2 is an interactive database for the PlayStation 2 that documents the development of Metal Gear Solid 2. It contains a gallery of all the 3D models of characters, scenery, and objects that were used in the game (as well as unused assets), along with corresponding concept art when available. All the real-time cutscenes (or polygon demos) are also available to view (without audio), with the option to pause them at any point, change the camera angle and move them frame by frame. Other content includes storyboards, behind-the-scenes footage, preview trailers, music tracks (with the option to play alternate patterns when applicable), the finalized screenplay, Hideo Kojima's original draft (available in Japanese only), a development timeline, and a gallery of Metal Gear Solid related products and merchandise. The disc also includes a sampler selection of VR training missions that were later featured in Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance. In Europe, the disc was bundled as a bonus with the PlayStation 2 version of Substance instead of having a stand-alone release. It was also included in the Japanese 20th Anniversary re-release of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty in July 2007.

Substance[edit]

A screenshot from one of the training missions in Substance. Snake is dressed in a tuxedo.

Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance, the expanded edition of the game, was released on the original Xbox and Microsoft Windows in addition to the PlayStation 2.[c] The Xbox version was initially released in North America as a timed exclusive for the console on November 5, 2002. This was followed by the PlayStation 2 version, released in Japan on December 19 of the same year. Substance was eventually released on PlayStation 2 and Microsoft Windows in North America and on all three platforms in Europe on March 2003. The console versions were developed internally by KCE Japan, whereas the Windows port was outsourced to Success.

Substance contains several supplemental game modes in addition to the main story mode from the original Sons of Liberty releases. The main game contains all the changes and additions that were made in the Japanese and European versions of the original release (e.g., Boss Survival, Casting Theater, European Extreme), along with further additional changes. Players can now start the main story mode at the Tanker or Plant chapters without the need to answer a questionnaire first, and a new set of collectible dog tags have been added (exclusively on the PlayStation 2 version) based on names submitted from a second contest in addition to the original (2001) set. The visual effect for the thermal goggles was also changed in Substance, and the FHM-licensed posters that adorned several locations in the original Sons of Liberty version have been replaced with public domain images (these were also replaced in The Document of Metal Gear Solid 2). The Xbox and Windows versions feature slight dialogue changes during specific control explanations in which the term "analog stick" was substituted with "thumbstick" (Microsoft's preferred term). The controls were also slightly altered for the Xbox version, due to its fewer shoulder buttons (clicking on the left thumbstick switches between normal and first-person view, while the Y button serves as a lock-on for the player's aim). The Xbox version has support for 5.1 surround sound.

The primary addition of Substance is the inclusion of an extra missions mode with 350 VR missions set in a computer-constructed environment and 150 "Alternative" missions set in areas from the main story. The player can choose to play these missions as Solid Snake or Raiden, with alternate versions of both characters (in different outfits) becoming available as the player progresses. These missions are divided into eight categories (although not all of them are available to every character): Sneaking, Weapon, First Person View (which simulates a first-person shooter), Variety, Hold Up, Bomb Disposal, Elimination, and Photograph.

The other new addition is "Snake Tales," which is a set of five story-based missions featuring Solid Snake as the player character. These missions are primarily set in the Big Shell and involve characters from the main story in new roles such as Fatman, Emma, Vamp and Solidus Snake, while one mission set in the Tanker features Meryl Silverburgh. These missions, which are unrelated to the main campaign and are non-canonical, have no voice-acted cutscenes - instead, the story is told through text-only interludes.

Exclusive to the PlayStation 2 version is a skateboarding minigame in which the player control Snake or Raiden in a pair of Big Shell-themed levels. The player has to complete a set of objectives before time runs out, which range from collecting dog tags scattered throughout the level to blowing up parts of Big Shell. The minigame uses the same engine from Evolution Skateboarding, which was developed by Konami Computer Entertainment Osaka.[50]

On release, Famitsu magazine scored the PlayStation 2 version of the game a 35 out of 40.[51]

HD Edition[edit]

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty - HD Edition was released on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2011 and for the PlayStation Vita in 2012. This version is included in the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection but is also available as a digital download on the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade. The PS3 and Xbox 360 versions feature an increased 720p resolution and a 16:9 aspect ratio, providing a clearer and wider view of the player's surroundings compared to the original 480p resolution and 4:3 ratio of the PlayStation 2 version,[52] while the PS Vita version runs at qHD resolution.[53] Cutscenes can now be viewed in fullscreen or letterboxed format, while online achievements/trophies have been added as well. Most of the additional content from Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance has also been ported in this version, such as the Missions and Snake Tales modes, although the Skateboarding minigame that was present in the PlayStation 2 version of Substance is absent. The PS3 and Vita versions have a "transfarring" option that allows players to transfer save data between both versions through a wi-fi connection or a cloud network. The Vita version has touchscreen and touchpad support for certain gameplay functions such as switching between items and weapons or zooming into cutscenes.

Related media[edit]

IDW Publishing published a 12-issue comic book adaptation from 2006 to 2007, titled Metal Gear Solid: Sons of Liberty, illustrated by Ashley Wood (who also worked on the comic book adaptation of the previous game) and written by Alex Garner. This version deviates from the game, where many scenes involving Raiden are substituted with Snake.

A digital version of the comic, titled Metal Gear Solid 2: Bande Dessinée, was released on June 12, 2008, in Japan. Originally announced as a PlayStation Portable game, similar to the Metal Gear Solid: Digital Graphic Novel, the digital comic was released as a DVD film instead. A fully voiced version of the graphic novel adaptation of the first Metal Gear Solid is featured as well.[54]

A novelization of the game written by Raymond Benson and published by Del Rey. The American paperback edition was published on November 24, 2009. A majority of the character interaction in the novel is taken verbatim from the Codec conversations in the game itself.

A second novelization by Kenji Yano (written under the pen name Hitori Nojima), titled Metal Gear Solid Substance II, was published by Kadokawa Shoten in Japan on September 24, 2015.[55] This novelization is narrated in real-time during the events of the Plant chapter from the perspective of a young man living in Manhattan.

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate score
AggregatorScore
Metacritic96/100[56]
Review scores
PublicationScore
AllGame5/5 stars[57][58]
CVG9/10
Edge8/10[59]
EGM38.5/40[56]
Famitsu38/40[60][61]
Game Informer10/10[62]
GamePro5/5 stars[63]
GameRevolutionA[62]
GamesMaster96%[62]
GameSpot9.6/10[64]
GameSpy5/5 stars[65]
GamesRadar+96/100[56]
GameZone9.8/10[66]
IGN9.7/10[67]
Next Generation5/5 stars[68]
OPM (UK)10/10[69]
OPM (US)5/5 stars[62]
PSM10/10[62]
PSM396%[62]
Awards
PublicationAward
Game InformerGame of the Year[70]
CESA AwardExcellence Award[71]
EdgeInnovation of the Year[71]

As a result of promising trailers and the enormous commercial success of its predecessor Metal Gear Solid, there was a high level of anticipation in the gaming community surrounding the release of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.[72] The game's E3 2000 demo surprised many spectators with its level of realism and played a vital role in the PlayStation 2 console's early success.[73]

In the United States, the game sold 500,000 units within two days of release, and 680,000 copies within five.[74] By July 2006, it had sold 2 million copies and earned $85 million in the United States alone. Next Generation ranked it as the 16th highest-selling game launched for the PlayStation 2, Xbox or GameCube between January 2000 and July 2006 in that country.[75] In Japan, the game sold 400,000 units in its first day, in addition to its 600,000 pre-orders in that country.[74] The game's PlayStation 2 version received a "Platinum" sales award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA),[76] indicating sales of at least 300,000 copies in the United Kingdom.[77] It ultimately sold seven million copies worldwide, making it the highest-selling game in the series.[78]

Metal Gear Solid 2 received "universal acclaim" according to review aggregator Metacritic, where it is one of the highest-rated games on it,[79][80] and remains the highest-rated exclusive on the PlayStation 2.[81] Game Informer gave the game a score of 10/10, while GameSpot gave the game a 9.6 rating, stating, "It boils down to this: You must play Metal Gear Solid 2."[64] Critics praised the title's stealth gameplay and the improvements over its predecessor, as well as the game's level of graphical detail, particularly in the use of in-game graphics to render plot-driving cutscenes.[82]

The title's storyline, however, was initially divisive[83] and became the source of controversy. Hideo Kojima's ambitious script received praise for exploring numerous social, philosophical, and cyberpunk themes in significant detail, and it has often been called the first example of a postmodern video game.[84][85][86][87][88][89][90] However, some critics considered the plot to be "incomprehensible" and overly cumbersome for an action game, and also felt that the lengthy dialogue sections heavily disrupted the gameplay and that the dialogue itself was overly disjointed and convoluted.[91][92] The surprise introduction of Raiden as the protagonist for the majority of the game (replacing long-time series protagonist Solid Snake) was also controversial with fans of Metal Gear Solid.[86]

Blake Fischer reviewed the PlayStation 2 version of the game for Next Generation, rating it five stars out of five, and stated that "MGS2 is everything we hoped it would be, and more. Great action, an enthralling story, and plenty of surprises makes this the PS2 game to get this holiday season."[68]

Awards[edit]

Legacy[edit]

Cultural impact[edit]

In a 2006 viewer poll conducted by Japan's Famitsu magazine of top 100 games of all time, Metal Gear Solid 2 was ranked at #42 in the poll.[96] In the 200th issue of Game Informer Magazine in 2009, its list of top 200 games of all time ranked the game at #50 on the list.[97] Metal Gear Solid 2 was ranked #7 in Game Informer's 2008 list of the top ten video game openings.[98] In 2010, GamesRadar included the game in its list of top seven games "with mega plot twists you never saw coming."[99] The game was included in Tony Mott and Peter Molyneux's 2011 book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die.[100] It has also been listed as one of the best games of all time by Electronic Gaming Monthly,[101] Empire,[102][103] GameFAQs,[104][105][106][107] GameRankings,[108] IGN,[109][110][111] Metacritic,[80] Slant,[112] and Stuff.[113][114]

According to John Linneman of Digital Foundry, the game was a technical milestone for its time. It served as a killer app showcasing what the PlayStation 2 hardware was capable of, with the game setting "a new standard in cinematic presentation" and attention to detail, and demonstrating "huge numbers of enemies on screen with bodies that remain in the scene, the interaction of light and shadow, physics interactions with real world objects, multi-tiered environments and advanced enemy AI." This made possible new "gameplay opportunities" and a sense of freedom offered by levels "designed as mini-sandboxes with a tremendous amount of interactivity."[115] The early anticipation that surrounded Metal Gear Solid 2 since its E3 2000 demo has been credited as a critical factor in the PlayStation 2's best-selling success and dominance during the sixth console generation, as well as the demise of Sega's Dreamcast.[73] According to John Szczepaniak, "MGS2 was the game which single-handedly sold Sony's new PlayStation 2 to the masses."[116]

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."[117] The artistic influence of Metal Gear Solid 2 can be seen in later video games such as Goichi Suda's similarly postmodern game Killer7,[87] the similarly metanarrative game Portal,[118] the survival horror title Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, and particularly the first-person shooter BioShock,[119] which featured a similar plot twist to Metal Gear Solid 2.[120] 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).[7][12] The reveal of Metal Gear Solid 2 also led to the development of Splinter Cell, which Ubisoft originally intended to be "a Metal Gear Solid 2 killer."[121][122] 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."[38] Neil Druckmann cited the revelation of Raiden in Metal Gear Solid 2 as an inspiration for the bold surprise in The Last of Us Part II (2020).[123]

Themes and analysis[edit]

"In the current, digitized world, trivial information is accumulating every second, preserved in all its triteness. Never fading, always accessible. Rumors about petty issues, misinterpretations, slander. All this junk data preserved in an unfiltered state, growing at an alarming rate. It will only slow down social progress, reduce the rate of evolution. The digital society furthers human flaws, and selectively rewards development of half-truths."
"Everyone withdraws into their own small gated community, afraid of a larger forum. They stay inside their little ponds, leaking whatever "truth" suits them into the growing cesspool of society at large. The different cardinal truths neither clash nor mesh. No one is invalidated, but nobody is right. Not even natural selection can take place here. The world is being engulfed in "truth." And this is the way the world ends. Not with a bang, but a whimper."

Colonel and Rose,
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty[124][125]

Metal Gear Solid 2 is often considered the first example of a postmodern video game[84][87][88] and has often been cited as a primary example of artistic expression in video games.[84][85][88][89] The storyline explored many social, philosophical and cyberpunk themes in significant detail, including meme theory, social engineering, sociology, artificial intelligence, information control, conspiracy theories, political and military maneuvering, evolution, existentialism, censorship, the nature of reality,[84][85][86][126][127][128] the Information Age,[129] virtual reality,[130][131] child exploitation,[132] taboos such as incest,[133] sexual orientation,[134] and the moral dilemma between security and personal liberty.[135] Since its release, the game's themes have been studied and analyzed by numerous writers, journalists, and academics. MGS2, along with its predecessor, has been featured in the Smithsonian American Art Museum's exhibition, The Art of Video Games, in 2012.[136]

In his paper How Videogames Express Ideas, Matthew Weise of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology described Sons of Liberty as "perhaps the most vivid example of a game that uses tension between different levels of player agency to fuel a multi-faceted ideological argument," noting Solidus Snake's suggestion of the United States being a "totalitarian regime of thought control" and pointing to the "very meta concept" of "how the designer’s imposed plan or path for the player maps to the tyrannical nature of the government," where, "like the player, Jack has no agency other than what his puppet masters give him."[85] In the book Joystick Soldiers: The Politics of Play in Military Video Games, Tanner Higgin examined the game's "resistant and subversive counter-history of military engagement," describing its "convoluted narrative and unconventional gameplay logics" as a "critique" of "the very networks of biopolitical and informational control that comprise the postmodern military, and posthumanity generally," and noting that it "purposefully manufactures frustration and negative affect" to "highlight the typically unexamined codes, conventions, and hidden pleasures of the military game genre."[137]

Jeremy Parish of 1UP.com notes that "Metal Gear Solid 2 is a game built on misinformation" and that it "was simply too avant-garde—too clever—for its own good."[138] Steven Poole commented in a 2012 Edge column, "the story of MGS2, with its mythic wit and sweep, is still in a different league from the vast majority of videogame yarns. ... [H]owever, the fact that MGS2 still seems so avant-garde today might well prompt a worry: does it represent the pinnacle of a now-vanished era, the age of the experimental mainstream? This was, after all, a big-budget commercial boxed product that gleefully took risks and subverted genre conventions at every turn. Modern blockbuster games play it painfully safe by comparison."[139] Gamasutra notes that the game deals with issues concerning the Information Age,[129] and has compared the game's themes to the philosophies of Thomas Hobbes, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.[140] The existential themes of the game align with the political philosophy and theses of Isaiah Berlin and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, focusing on the struggle between freedom and equality,[disambiguation needed] and Berlin's concept of the "pursuit of the ideal", as the player's internal conflict of ideals are one of the main driving forces of the plot.

The game is considered to be ahead of its time for dealing with themes and concepts that later became culturally relevant in the 2010s.[141][142] The game has been described as "profound,"[143][144] particularly the final dialogue scene between Raiden and the AI posing as the Colonel and Rose.[143] In 2011, Dugan Patrick of Gamasutra drew comparisons to social media and social gaming, and found that the game predicted elements of Facebook, such as allowing "people to intentionally censor their own experience within the self-curated walls of Facebook."[140] In 2016, Alex Wiltshire of Glixel found the game to be "strangely prescient of not only its own time but also today," noting how it dodged "truth at every turn" and comparing it to post-truth politics, Facebook's curated News Feed, and the 2016 United States presidential election.[142] Further comparisons have been drawn to concepts that became mainstream during the 2010s, such as fake news, echo chambers, and alternative facts.[125][141][145][146] According to Cameron Kunzelman of Vice, Metal Gear Solid 2 is still politically relevant in 2017.[147] In March 2018, GamesRadar drew comparisons to recent political events including the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal and the investigations involving Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections.[124]

In 2018, Adrian Mróz published a paper in the academic journal Kultura i Historia, where the "idea of Selection for Societal Sanity" from the game is "applied into a philosophical framework based on select concepts from Bernard Stiegler's writing and incorporating them with current events such as post-truth or fake news in order to explore the role of techne and filtration within social organizations and individual psyches." He notes that, despite being released in an era of neoliberal dominance, the game's themes resonate with current affairs in the late 2010s, such as post-truth, the collapse of political correctness, cognitive dissonance, and "the problem of filtering within a society flooded by information."[146] IGN said its "fourth-wall-obliterating final act posed a number of terrifying questions about the overload of data in the information age, and how technology has led to an increasingly shaky definition" of "reality," and has drawn comparisons to deep fakes, machine learning, and information warfare.[148]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Known in Japan as (メタルギアソリッド2 サンズ・オブ・リバティ, "Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty")
  2. ^ See the Japanese language Wikipedia for information about spelling variations of Osama bin Laden.
  3. ^ Except in Japan, where Substance was exclusive to the PlayStation 2 as well. This version features Japanese text and English voice acting, similar to the earlier Metal Gear Solid: Integral (the expanded edition of the original Metal Gear Solid).

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Metal Gear Solid 2 PS2 Game Guide". Absolute PlayStation. Archived from the original on 2009-01-05. Retrieved 2009-08-20.
  2. ^ David Low (April 2, 2007). "GO3: Kojima Talks Metal Gear History, Future". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2011-08-03.
  3. ^ "Mana_'s reader review of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty for PlayStation 2". Gamespot.com. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  4. ^ Shane Patterson (2009-02-03). "The Sneaky History of Stealth Games". GamesRadar. Retrieved 2009-06-21.
  5. ^ "Metal Gear Solid 2 R review". NTSC-UK. Retrieved 2009-08-20.
  6. ^ Mark Ryan Sallee. "Kojima's Legacy". Retrieved 2009-08-20.
  7. ^ a b Lindsay, Stuart (2009-12-02). "Did Gears of War Innovate the Cover System". Planet Xbox 360. Retrieved 2009-12-12.
  8. ^ a b "Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty Walkthrough: Walkthrough: Tanker, Part 2". IGN. Archived from the original on 2011-07-13.
  9. ^ "Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty Walkthrough: Walkthrough: Plant, Part 6". IGN. Archived from the original on 2011-07-13.
  10. ^ "Hands-on: The Metal Gear Solid 2 Demo". IGN.
  11. ^ "Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty Walkthrough: Walkthrough: Tanker, Part 1". IGN. Archived from the original on 2011-07-13.
  12. ^ a b Gordon, Shawn (October 11, 2009). "Greatest "Retro" Console Games of All Time". Game Informer. Retrieved 15 September 2011.
  13. ^ Official Site (Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Konami, 2001)
  14. ^ Konami Computer Entertainment Japan. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Konami. Raiden: Rose! You're not supposed to be involved! What’s going on!? // Rose: Jack, I'm a part of this mission. // Raiden: Colonel, what the hell is going on? // Colonel: Raiden, meet the mission analyst. She'll be overseeing the data saving and support.
  15. ^ Konami Computer Entertainment Japan. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Konami. Iroquois Pliskin: I'm not an enemy. Calm down. My name is S... My name is Pliskin. Iroquois Pliskin, Lieutenant Junior Grade.
  16. ^ Konami Computer Entertainment Japan. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Konami. Peter Stillman: My name is Peter, Peter Stillman. // Iroquois Pliskin: A lecturer at NSEOD, Indian Head. Also consultant to the NYPD Bomb Squad.
  17. ^ Konami Computer Entertainment Japan. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Konami. Iroquois Pliskin: Raiden, let me introduce you to my partner -- Otacon. // Raiden: Otacon? // Otacon: Hey, Raiden. Nice to meet you.
  18. ^ Konami Computer Entertainment Japan. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Konami. Mr. X: I'm like you...I have no name. // Raiden: Are you Mr. X?
  19. ^ Konami Computer Entertainment Japan. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Konami. Mr. X: Be careful! There are Claymore mines around there. // Raiden: Who is this! // Mr. X: Stealth-equipped Claymores, invisible to the naked eye. Use the mine detector. // Raiden: Identify yourself. // Mr. X: Just call me "Deepthroat". // Raiden: Deepthroat? You mean from Shadow Moses? // Mr. X: Mr. X, then. // Raiden: Mr. X now, is it? Why would it matter if I called you Deepthroat? Mr. X: Never mind about that. [...] Mr. X: Let's just say I'm one of your fans.
  20. ^ Konami Computer Entertainment Japan. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Konami. Colonel: The terrorists call themselves “Sons of Liberty”.
  21. ^ Konami Computer Entertainment Japan. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Konami. Colonel: Former members of the Navy SEAL’s special anti-terrorist training squad, “Dead Cell”. Russian private army members may also be involved. It’s a highly trained group and they have the Big Shell under complete control.
  22. ^ Konami Computer Entertainment Japan. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Konami. Raiden: What was that man just now? // Iroquois Pliskin: That blood sucking freak? That was Vamp. [...] // Raiden: What is he? // Iroquois Pliskin: One of the members of Dead Cell.
  23. ^ Konami Computer Entertainment Japan. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Konami. Fatman: I am Fatman. I am the greatest humanity has to offer and the lowest.
  24. ^ Konami Computer Entertainment Japan. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Konami. Fortune: Maybe you can give me death. My name is Fortune. Lucky in war and nothing else. And without a death to call my own. Hurry. Kill me, please.
  25. ^ Konami Computer Entertainment Japan. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Konami. Colonel: The name of their leader is Solid Snake.
  26. ^ Konami Computer Entertainment Japan. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Konami. Colonel: Right. But it can’t be THE Solid Snake. He died two years ago, on that tanker, after he blew it sky-high.
  27. ^ Konami Computer Entertainment Japan. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Konami. Raiden: I saw a female soldier -- Russian. // Iroquois Pliskin: Must be Olga Gurlukovich. // Raiden: How do you know? // Iroquois Pliskin: Unlike you, I've been briefed. // Raiden: She's not a Dead Cell? // Iroquois Pliskin: No, she commands a Russian private army. // Raiden: They must be the ones patrolling the Big Shell. // Iroquois Pliskin: That's right. She's led the group ever since her old man, Colonel Gurlukovich, died. Watch yourself with her. She's a tough one.
  28. ^ Konami Computer Entertainment Japan. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Konami. Solidus Snake: Ocelot, I leave this place in your hands. I have the intruder to take care of.
  29. ^ Konami Computer Entertainment Japan. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Konami. Raiden: Wait a second. Isn't Emma Emmerich -- // Otacon: My sister. // Raiden: What's she doing here? // Otacon: You got me. She's a computer whiz who specializes in neural-AI and ultra-variable volume data analysis using complex logic. How she got involved in weapons development is beyond me.
  30. ^ Konami Computer Entertainment Japan. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Konami. Otacon: We’ve ID’d the old man. // Solid Snake: Who is he? // Otacon: Sergei Gurlukovich. // Solid Snake: Gurlukovich! One of Ocelot’s allies? // Otacon: Yeah...the GRU colonel.
  31. ^ Konami Computer Entertainment Japan. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Konami. Raiden: Hostages, huh? // Colonel: A VIP from one of the major conservation groups, and one from our own government -- the Most Important Person in a sense. // Raiden: The most important person -- ? // Colonel: James Johnson. // Raiden: The President!
  32. ^ Konami Computer Entertainment Japan. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Konami. Revolver Ocelot: I always knew the DIA turned out second-rate liars. // Richard Ames: What are you talking about? // Revolver Ocelot: No need for denials. You know what you are -- Colonel Ames.
  33. ^ Konami Computer Entertainment Japan. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Konami. "Liquid Snake": It’s been a while, brother. // Solid Snake: Who are you? // "Liquid Snake": You know who I am. // Solid Snake: Liquid?
  34. ^ Konami Computer Entertainment Japan. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Konami. ???: What a crock! What did you do with that little cheat sheet I made you! // [...] Snake: What's going on over there? // Mei Ling: Oh, hi, Snake. Do you know that Otacon's been -- // Otacon: Er, Mei Ling, we're in the middle of a mission and everything! So can we, you know... // Mei Ling: Fine. Sure. And Snake, the real meaning of "Care avoids err" is that if you're cautious, you can avoid making serious mistakes. Even if you've gotten used to the mission, watch what you do. Good luck!
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