Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty is more like a show off rather than a service to please the consumers. Instead of providing a huge list of weapons, skills, customization and missions to satisfy the player, it sticks to what it want to do.
As a man showered by today’s open world big games, I am impressed by this game’s ultimate hatred toward any repetitiveness. At first I was disappointed to know that I will spend the remaining time of the game on this boring oil platform with my poor M9, avoiding the vision cone of enemies. However, the game surprises me time after time. It refuses to follow any established formula it had previously and provide surprising but reasonable challenge at each new stage. Crawling or rush through? Avoiding enemy or silent them first? I have to ask myself these questions constantly. In addition to stealth, this game contains an “mini action game package”, offering different refreshing sections integrated naturally into story, such as diving, sniping and taking photos. The boss battles are as innovative as other parts though unnecessarily lengthy.
However, the game sends out about same amount of frustration and anger. My neck feels uncomfortable because the camera is like a hand keep holding my head. The sudden change of view when you lean against the cover, or in some other situations makes one dizzy. Shooting is tedious, whether in first or third person. Some crucial actions and elements are not introduced properly. The biggest problem is the lack of flexibility. In most stealth parts, entering alert state means the end except you are near some very advantageous environment. And there are some totally unnecessary SNES-style jump section with instant death.
Anyone is illiterate if he fails to appreciate how the game wraps so many information into a less than 20 hours game and two narrow locations. The story successfully hooks me all the time and overhauls my belief for many times. Every change of course of the story is accompanied by the struggle between different factions which gradually emerge to become part of the big picture. However, the real miracle is that it uses a single story to fully expand a completely new character while not sacrifice the part of others. Raiden, a shadow of Snake and anti-Snake at the same time, provides a VIP seat to watch the show. Originally he has Snake as an idol but his very existence is a tool to challenge the myth of “Snake”. He has a family and suffer many emotions but still outpowers one of the Snake. He carries the reflection and perhaps a little sarcasm toward the series and marks a new beginning (though we do not have chance to see that beginning except a weird spin-off).
However, you can still find many signs of an unmature story in it. Many times the plot is in the dead end and need the director’s command to continue. Some actions scenes are still dragging, pretentious and stupid as I said for MGS4. It does capture a few good points about modern society, even predicted some future of Internet (I cannot recall what Internet was like when this game came out), but finally cannot stop from sliding into extreme skepticism and ridiculous conspiracy theory.
Yet, I cannot deny the fact that it is far ahead of most of its counterparts which look childish in front of it. Few triple-A titles, especially those with guns, aim at a sophisticated and intelligent plot and creative gameplay, and this makes Metal Gear series, who does keep these in mind, so outstanding even it is far from achieving this goal. It is a pity that mainstream games does not evolve much in this aspect and does not want to.