Released in 2001, the year of the Snake, Metal Gear Solid 2 remains the best selling game of the entire franchise.
MGS2 is a direct sequel to MGS1 and greatly improves on MGS1′s mechanics, adding new stealth gameplay elements such as peeking around corners, holding enemies up, dragging enemy bodies to hide them, first person aiming and shooting, distracting enemies with objects, stalking to make no noise when walking, hanging on edges to hide from the enemy, hiding in lockers and many other.
The enemy AI has been greatly improved over MGS1. Enemy soldiers now work in squad and there’s differences between normal guards and attack squads, which come heavily armored and are tougher to kill, and gun fights are much more realistic, enemies now take cover, forcing the player to also take cover and use jump-out shots rather than rampant run-and-shoot. It’s overall hard to go on a rampage in this game without getting your ass kicked, re-enforcing the idea of sneaking around and using tactics to get to the goal.
The game included the use of tranquilizer guns that allow the player to beat the entire game without killing a single person, not even boss battles. Another step in the right direction towards a good stealth game. Although this game enforces stealth and tactics much more than its predecessor, the action element is still there, with a wide variety of lethal weapons and mandatory gun fights.
Graphics-wise the game is a huge leap over MGS1, mostly due to the new PS2 hardware being 10 times more powerful than the PS1. Although it does show its age in today’s HD machines.
The game got an extended revision named Substance released for the PS2, the Xbox and PC, which included more than 500 extra missions composed of more than 300 VR Missions taking place in a VR environment and more than 200 alternative missions taking place in the game’s environment.
It also included 5 extra non-canon story missions featuring Snake and a skateboarding minigame (PS2 version only).
This Substance version (minus the skateboard minigame) got ported and upgraded to HD for the PS3, the Xbox 360 and the Vita.
Spoilers for a 12 years old game coming up
The game starts with Snake infiltrating a Marines tanker ship by boogie jumping off a bridge while the ship is navigating under the bridge. As soon as Snake places foot in the tanker his stealth camo gets busted, which is the game’s way of telling you that you won’t use it. Snake is not commanded by anyone anymore, he is working with Otacon to destroy Metal Gears and they got word that a new model of Metal Gear was being transported in the tanker ship and Snake needs photographic evidence of this.
Snake is given only a tranquilizer gun as he is not allowed to kill any Marine.
But while Otacon is debriefing Snake of the mission they are interrupted by what seems to be a military helicopter. Snake quickly catches a glimpse of what appears to be russian soldiers boarding the ship. The russians start massacring the marines and quickly take full control of the ship. Snake takes a picture of their commander and sends it to Otacon to get an ID on who these people are.
Snake goes to the navigation deck to find out where the ship is headed and encounters Olga Gulukovich there. After a few scenes of badassery on both Olga and Snake, an epic battle begins. Snake manages to knock Olga unconscious and takes her gun, but is photographed on the scene by a flying cypher camera, probably used as proof against Snake. Otacon informs Snake that they identified the russians’ commander as Sergei Gurlukovich.
Snake heads to the holds where the new Metal Gear is being stored, battling a few guards in the way. Snake finally meats up with the new Metal Gear, who is nicknamed Ray. Unlike other Metal Gears, Ray doesn’t fire nuclear missiles, and it’s main purpose is to destroy other Metal Gears, the Marines commander Scott Dolph calls it the Anti Metal Gear. Snake takes photos of this Metal Gear as evidence and sends it to Otacon.
Just when Snake is about to leave the speech of the Marine commander Dolph is interrupted by a known figure: Revolver Ocelot. Ocelot, with the help of Gurlukovich, hijacks Metal Gear Ray, but as we know, Ocelot is a a backstabbing rat so he kills Gurlukovich along with Scot Dolph and other soldiers and then detonates a few bombs that make the ship start sinking.
When Snake approaches Ocelot to stop him this one starts having a huge pain in his implanted right arm (remember that it was cut off in MGS1. Ocelot then starts speaking with Liquid Snake’s voice to Snake, who soon realizes that Ocelot’s right arm is that of Liquid after, who has possessed Ocelot. Snake get knocked off unconscious and Liquid escapes off with Ray.
Two years after the events of the Tanker Incident we are presented with a totally new scenario. Due to the sinking of the tanker, which spilled tons of oil and toxins, a water cleaning offshore facility off the coast of Manhattan, named the Big Shell, was built right where the tanker sinked.
This Big Shell was hijacked by a terrorist group in the exact moment when the US President was visiting the facility.
The terrorist group is formed by an elite group of soldiers called the Dead Cell and the Gurlukovich private army.
Taking the president hostage, the terrorist demanded a few billion dollars. A secret Foxhound Agent and rookie nicknamed Raiden, commanded by Roy Campbell, is sent to the Big Shell to disarm the terrorists and rescue the president.
In charge of saving the mission data is Raiden’s love interest, Rosemary, although Raiden doesn’t like the idea.
Raiden soon notices that there is another intruder besides him, but Campbell dismisses this possibility.
Campbell tells Raiden that the terrorists call themselves Sons of Liberty and that the name of the leader is Solid Snake, although it can’t be the actual Solid Snake, as he was declared dead in the tanker incident, which they also attribute to have been caused by Snake himself (remember the photos a cypher camera took of Snake? they use that as proof that he was behind the tanker incident).
On his way to find the president, Raiden watches how the terrorists wipe the floor with the Navy Seal Team 10, and meets up with a rather interesting character named Iroquois Pliskin, the only surviving Navy Seal. Pliskin gives Raiden some details about the terrorists and other stuff. Interestingly, when Raiden tells Pliskin that he was from Foxhound, Pliskin replies that Foxhound was disbanded 4 years ago (4 years ago = the events of the Shadow Moses Island).
Oh and Pliskin is TOTALLY NOT Solid Snake, but they are voiced by the same actor though.
Raiden meets Peter Stillman and is informed that one of the terrorists’ members, Fatman, planted bombs on all struts of the Big Shell and teaches him how to deactivate them. Snake, I mean, Pliskin, is in charge of deactivating Shell 2 while Raiden is in charge of Shell 1.
Snake Pliskin and Raiden defuse all bombs but Stillman finds out that by doing so they activate two bigger time bombs on each side of the Big Shell, capable of blowing up the entire facility.
Stillman insists on taking care of the bomb in Shell 2, asking Pliskin to get as far as he can from the bomb, while he gives Raiden a sensor to locate the bomb in Strut A before the time goes off. While Raiden is heading to defuse the bomb Stillman calls to inform Raiden and Pliskin that Fatman set up a trap to lure Stillman into the bomb and then make it go off. The bomb explodes and Stillman dies. Raiden rushes to defuse the bomb before it goes off.
Raiden defuses the bomb but on his way out he is ambushed by Fortune, a female soldier that can’t die because bullets always miss when shooting at her and attacks with a Railgun that shoots a powerful electrical attack, similar to a lightning bolt. Raiden dodges Fortune’s really powerful attacks until Vamp arrives to the scene. Raiden attempts to shoot Fortune but since the bullets misses he ends up shooting Vamp in the stomach and head, killing him instantly.
Raiden leaves Fortune crying over Vamp’s death, but as soon as Raiden leaves, Vamp wakes up, telling Fortune that he has already died once so he can’t die twice.
Campbell calls Raiden and tells him that Fatman contacted him directly, telling him that he planted yet another bomb in, this time in the heliport. Raiden goes to the heliport and defuses the bomb and Fatman appears to face him.
The fight with Fatman has to components: fighting Fatman himself and defusing all the bombs that he places through the area.
Raiden beats Fatman and defuses his last bomb (the biggest one so far) and is then visited by a mysterious Cyborg Ninja who gives Raiden some intel. The Ninja informs Raiden about a new Metal Gear being developed in the Big Shell and tells him how to find the president, or rather, how to find the person who can tell Raiden how to find the president.
Raiden has to disguise himself as the soldiers found in Shell 1 Core (the Ninja gives Raiden a suit for that purpose and tells him to find himself an AK-74) and to infiltrate the Shell 1 Core, where they keep the hostages.
One of the hostages is named Richard Ames and was in close contact with the president Johnson. The only data the Ninja gives to Raiden about Ames is that he has a pacemaker, so he should be able use a directional microphone to listen to it.
Raiden infiltrates the Shell 1 Core and contacts Ames. Ames tells Raiden that the Big Shell was never intended as an oil clean facility, it was a cover up from the beginning for the development of Metal Gear. Raiden catches a glimpse of the terrorist leader, who even Ames believes to be Solid Snake, but he is confused as he also acknowledges that Snake died in the tanker, so either he is alive after all or there are two of them. Lastly Ames tells Raiden that he lost contact with the president in Shell 2 Core. Ocelot interrupts the two and Ames attempts to tell him that he was just ill and asked Raiden (who is in disguise) to remove the ducktape from his face. Ocelot taunts Ames by saying that he know who he is, that he is an agent of the Patriots, but suddenly Ames starts suffering from a heart attack and dies. Ocelot sees through Raiden’s disguise and tries to kill him, but the Ninja interrupts and keeps the enemy busy while Raiden escapes.
Raiden heads over to Shell 2 but on the connecting bridge between Shell 1 and 2 he encounters the terrorists leader, who insists on claiming that he is Solid Snake. At this point Pliskin, on board of a Kasatka helicopter piloted by Otacon, shouts out that that is NOT Solid Snake. Pliskin attacks the leader and throws him off to the see, but is rescued by a Harrier piloted by Vamp. Pliskin throws a stinger missile launcher down to Raiden, telling him to fight the Harrier as the Kasatka can’t stand a chance against it. Raiden takes on the Harrier by himself.
Raiden calls Pliskin and asks him if he is Snake, to which Pliskin reveals that he is so, wow, what a big surprise.
They have a long chat about the tanker incident, shadow moses and other things. Raiden heads to the Shell 2 Core to meet the president. Raiden reaches the president who reveals a bunch of interesting data. The president reveals the identity of the terrorists leader to be Solidus Snake, who’s real name is George Sears, who was the president before Johnson.
He also reveals that the Big Shell itself is the Metal Gear, or rather that the Metal Gear is a type of huge submarine, named Arsenal Gear, being constructed below the Big Shell. He also reveals that he, the president, is not the biggest authority. There exists a very powerful organization named the Patriots that control the entire world from the shadows, and that Johnson supported the development of Arsenal Gear to be able to overthrow them so he could have all the power to himself, but Solidus betrayed him. President Johnson explains that the only person who could destroy Arsenal Gear is the main person who helped develop it, Emma Emmerich, who should be somewhere in the lower levels of the Shell 2 Core and gives an MO disc to Raiden that he has to take to Emma.
The president also tells Raiden that Arsenal Gear’s nuclear launch sequence depends mostly on two things: that the input code is entered and that the president is kept alive. With this said the president grabs Raiden’s gun and tries to kill himself, explaining that if he dies he will at least stop the terrorists from launching a nuclear missile. Raiden tries to stop him at all costs but a shot is fired at the president. Raiden turns around and finds that the bullet came from Ocelot himself.
Raiden contacts Snake and Otacon and have a conversation about the tanker incident. After Shadow Moses Snake became an international hero and the patriots weren’t too happy about that, so they decided to blame Snake for the sinking of the tanker. Snake used Liquid’s body to pass it as himself so he could be declared dead. They also wonder why Ocelot killed the president if they knew this meant not being able to use the nuclear weaponry of Arsenal Gear, which means they probably found a better weapon within Arsenal Gear. Otacon tells Raiden to find Emma, who happens to be his sister, so that she can help him destroy Arsenal Gear’s main AI. So Raiden heads to rescue Emma and finds Vamp along the way.
Vamp explains to Raiden that they found a much better weapon, a purified hydrogen bomb, which they plan to detonate on Manhattan. Raiden fights and defeats Vamp.
Raiden manages to rescue Emma Emmerich and gives her the MO disc, which turns out to be a worm cluster that she developed that can destroy Arsenal Gear’s AI (called GW). The Big Shell is about to be blown up to allow for Arsenal Gear to surface, so they have to hurry to the computer lab to inject the virus and then get on board Arsenal.
On their way to the Shell 1 Core, where the computer lab is Emma is attacked by Vamp, and although Raiden fights him off, Emma results seriously injured in the process.
Back at the computer lab Emma is heavily wounded and ends up dying and they are having a hard time infecting GW with Emma’s virus so they have to take another coarse of action and infiltrate Arsenal Gear before the Big Shell collapses.
Snake gives Otacon the mission of rescuing all the hostages and bringing them to safe while him and Raiden infiltrate Arsenal gear. Once Otacon goes sets out to do his job Snake calls in the Ninja, who discloses his identity to be Olga Gurlukovich and attacks Raiden and knocks him out.
Raiden wakes up fully naked in a torture room that is an exact copy of the one Snake was in in Shadow Moses with Solidus and Ocelot in front of him. Solidus interrogates Raiden and is astonished when he discovers that Raiden doesn’t remember anything about his past, he also seems to have cerebral implants. Solidus reveals to Raiden his past, who he used to be. Raiden was a child soldier that Solidus himself trained, and was the best one he had, having nicknames such as Jack the Ripper and White Devil. Olga enters the room and Ocelot and Solidus leave the two alone.
Olga explains to Raiden that she teamed up with Snake when she found out that he was not responsible for her father’s death, and that Ocelot is. She also explains that she is forced by the patriots to aid Raiden in his mission disguised as the Ninja. It appears that the Patriots are keeping Olga’s child as a way to get her to cooperate. Olga tells Raiden that Snake has all his gears so he has to locate him and then sets Raiden free to do so.
Raiden goes to the meeting point to locate Snake, having to sneak past Arsenal Tengus while still being naked.
At this moment, Raiden is receiving weird (and mostly funny) radio calls from Campbell and Rosemary, who are behaving really strange. Raiden finds Snake and retrieves all the items he had before he was captured. Snake explained that they had to knock him out to use him as a bait to gain access to Arsenal Gear, and it worked. Otacon calls to inform the two that all the hostages are safe and sound and Raiden takes the time to ask Otacon to do some research on this Campbell as he’s been behaving strange recently. Snake and Raiden fight a few Tengus and Otacon calls back to inform about the Colonel Campbell Raiden’s been talking to. Otacon managed to trace back the calls to within Arsenal Gear and discovers that Raiden has been talking to an AI, GW itself and his behavior was caused by the virus.
Snake and Raiden fight some more tengus and then Fortune steps in, dying to kill Snake as she thinks Snake killed her father Scott Dolph. Snake tells Raiden to move on while he keeps Fortune busy. Raiden gets to another area of Arsenal Gear where Solidus started speaking to Raiden. Solidus makes an appearance and calls in the Metal Gear Ray units, who attempt to kill Raiden. Raiden manages to destroy a few Ray units (gameplay-wise the amount of Rays you have to destroy changes between difficulty settings) but gives up as more just keep coming and coming. Just when a Ray is about to step on Raiden Olga makes her appearance to save him. Solidus steps in and kills Olga but when he tries to kill Raiden the Ray units start becoming haywire due to the virus and Solidus has to destroy them himself. Solidus realizes that Raiden is still of some use to him, so he just knocks him out while Fortune appears with a captured Snake.
Raiden wakes up and is interrogated by Solidus but Fortune stops him saying that Raiden doesn’t know anything, to which Solidus replies that it’s not him who he wants answers from and that it was none of her business. Fortune replies that she has some business of her own to attend to, to which Solidus replies by revealing that he knows Fortunes plan. Fortune and Vamp was planning to screw Solidus over and highjack Arsenal Gear to launch the purified hydrogen bomb onto Manhattan. Solidus remarks that it’s a stupid idea and that that wouldn’t stop the Patriots but that he will let her as he doesn’t care. Just when Fortune is about to leave Ocelot starts laughing.
Ocelot explains that the entire Big Shell incident was a script made by The Patriots to recreate the events of Shadow Moses: Raiden and Solidus were chosen because their relationship resembles the one between Snake and Big Boss (although I fail to see what this has to do with Shadow Moses), The Dead Cell team represents the Foxhound team that Snake fought in Shadow Moses, Olga was forced to use a Ninja suit to resemble Gray Fox, Ames and the President’s death resembled the President of Armstech and the DARPA Chief and many other aspects of the entire events that took place in the Big Shell. Personally I think this was Kojima’s excuse for reusing A LOT of elements from MGS1, which by themselves are reused elements from MG2.
Ocelot also reveals that he killed Scott Dolph, Fortune’s father, to which Fortune replies by trying to kill Ocelot, but Ocelot is faster and shots Fortune in the heart. Everyone is astonished as nobody has been able to directly hit Fortune, but Ocelot explains that she had no magic but rather a special technology developed by The Patriots that shielded her.
Fortune is not dead as Ocelot forgot that her heart was on the other side, but she is greatly wounded. She tries to shoot at Ocelot but it misses as it appears he is wearing the same gadget that once protected Fortune.
Ocelot boards the Metal Gear Rex he stole from the tanker episode and tries to kill the whole crew. First he uses Ray’s machine guns, but Solidus reflects all the bullets with his two katana swords. Then he tries missiles, but Fortune stands up and with her last breath and deflects all the missiles, showing that she did in fact had magical powers all along, pluming to the ground soon after that. As a last resort Ocelot attempts to use Ray’s laser, which nobody is able to stop, so it all seems lost. Just when Ocelot is about to press the button his arm starts to hurt and Liquid possesses Ocelot once again. Liquid gets out of Ray to talk to his two brothers and explain that it was him who lured Snake into the Big Shell by sending some information to Otacon. Liquid gets inside Ray and escapes into the see, but Snake breaks free from his handcuffs and follows him.
The next sequence of the game vaguely show Arsenal Gear crashing into Manhattan. Solidus and Raiden fall to the top of Federal Hall. Here Solidus explains his real motives: he wants to go down in history to be remembered and he wants to rid the world from The Patriots so they can be completely free from their control and power. To achieve this he needs information about The Patriots that was found in GW, but since it was destroyed he needed another mean. Solidus tells Raiden that the nanomachines contained in his body have the information he needs to find about The Patriots, so he has to kill Raiden to do so. Lastly, to encourage Raiden to fight, he reveals his secret: he was the one who killed Raiden’s parents. Raiden also receives a call from the Colonel AI who was thought to be destroyed with GW, but he reveals that there are other AIs out there, but I won’t disclose more info that comes out of these two for simplicity’s sake and due to time constraints. Solidus gives Raiden his sword and the epic Ninja-ish battle begins.
Raiden beats Solidus (duh!) and meets Snake in the streets of Manhattan. Snake explains that he planted a tracker in Ray to follow Liquid and that he will go after him and The Patriots. Raiden offers to join Snake but Snake tells him that he still has a few things to do first and people he needs to talk to, pointing at Rosemary, who is in the distance. Snake disappears and Raiden is left to talk to Rose about their relationship and their future.
The credits roll and at the end we are left with a conversation between Snake and Otacon where Otacon tells Snake that he found data about The Patriots in Emma’s MO disc but the data shows that The Patriots have been dead for over 100 years, which is pretty damn strange.
Note: if you look closely (this is specially easier to do on The Document Of Metal Gear Solid 2, a bonus disc) you can see Vamp standing in the background looking at Raiden in the ending scenes, here’s a picture:
Boy that was long, and I did all I could to summarize the plot, the full thing is even larger, that’s why this game was criticize for its super long cutscenes and codec conversations.
One thing that comes to mind when it comes to the ending is that it was obviously left like that so they could make a sequel, which would be MGS4 of course, but would you believe that this game was initially planned to be the end of the series with no sequel ever coming out for it? that’s why MGS3 is a prequel, because Kojima was avoiding ending the story.
This was done because Kojima wanted the ending to be left to the interpretation of the player, and trust me you can make up an ending to the story that is much less convoluted than MGS4. But after fans started to ask a lot of questions and started demanding for a sequel that closes the story (some say that Kojima even got death threats from fans), Kojima decided to make a game that ended the story, and thus MGS4 was born.
The game was also highly criticized by fans because you have to play with Raiden through most of the game rather than Snake. Specially american players who consider Raiden to be gay and feminine. The truth is that Kojima wanted to show Snake’s badassery and experience much more in this game, but this is generally hard to in first person as you get to see how the character learns about details he didn’t know rather than directly learn that he already knows them, for example, Snake knowing that the Ninja was Olga wouldn’t look nearly as badass if you actually show how he learns this info, the former makes you assume he knew from the beginning and he’s in control of the whole situation while the latter one doesn’t.
I in fact consider this a brilliant move on Kojima’s side and it worked out pretty well, besides, I never hated Raiden, I thought he was badass in his own way, he simply was just fooled and lied to by everyone, and don’t even let me get started on why him being a rookie is not a bad thing, last time I checked Snake was a damn rookie in the first Metal Gear, and Big Boss was a damn rookie in MGS3, yet we all seem to love them both.
That aside, and taking into consideration that most of the facts pointed out by fans as being negative are actually really brilliant acts of storytelling, I give this game a perfect 10 out of 10.