Rewind Review: Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

The classic tactical espionage action game from Hideo Kojima and Konami, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty continues the epic story of Snake as he attempts to once again save the world.


The game follows on from the events of Shadow Moses in MGS1, with the player assuming the role of the legendary soldier Solid Snake, as he infiltrates a Tanker looking for a new type of Metal Gear. It is later revealed during this mission (spoiler warning) that the weapon is none other than a prototype Metal Gear RAY, and is being developed by the United States Marine Corps. Old rival Revolver Ocelot (Liquid Snake) makes an appearance, ambushing and betraying his allies, claiming that he is taking RAY back, before destroying the ship. Snake is blamed for the disaster and is presumed dead, and so begins Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.

In 2009, two years later, the game progresses as an oil-cleaning facility located on the Hudson River, named “Big Shell”, is overtaken by terrorist group Dead Cell. The unit, which is similar to that featured in MGS1, posses superior abilities which give them an advantage on the battlefield. They, along with their leader who claims to be none other than Solid Snake, take the President, along with many employees hostage, and so new protagonist, code-name Raiden, is sent in. It is only later on in the game that the player finds out that Big Shell is just being used as a front for Metal Gear.

Raiden is tasked by a reformed FOXHOUND to rescue the hostages, and is supported by the Colonel, and his girlfriend and data analyst, Rosemary. Raiden plays similar to Snake, with the addition of faster movement, a HF Blade (which is obtained late in-game), and an annoyingly cocky personality. This grows on the player however (especially if MGS4 or Rising have been played previously), as more of his backstory is revealed. The infamous “naked chapter” which received backlash at the time of release, was even poked fun at by the ever self-aware Kojima in the later title; Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. In this particular section of the game Raiden’s likeness is used by Major Ivan Raidenovitch Raikov, in a mission which yes, required Snake (Big Boss) to steal his uniform, leaving him naked.


Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty uses the same sneaking mechanics as the first, making use of the “Soliton Radar” so that Snake can identify enemy locations and plan accordingly. If the player alerts an enemy however, then they will have to evade attacks until the situation dies down. What’s new to the game is the ability to look in first-person mode, allowing for accurate, targeted shots on enemies and traps, and adding an extra element to the game.

Gadgets such as grenades, launchers, cameras, and even cardboard boxes can be used in order to progress, though the player is also able to approach enemies in a number of ways. Using weapons and gadgets is extremely effective, however, simply sneaking past, putting guards to sleep, or holding them up at gun-point, can work just as well in certain situations. Adding to how players can approach areas of the game, the cover mechanic is also improved, allowing for peaking and firing around corners. In addition to this, players can crawl or walk slowly to avoid detection, and can also hang and climb around railings. This wide range of player choice, along with unlockable extras help to make MGS2 extremely replayable, and just fun in general.

A staple in the Metal Gear Solid series, boss battles return, this time against the Sons of Liberty and members of Dead Cell. These tactical fights include Fortune, a railgun-wielding victim of war, Fatman, a crazed bomb enthusiast, and the “immortal” Vamp. Other fights are featured, however the stand-outs are the battles against Fatman and Vamp, in which both first-person mode and the players’ arsenal of gadgets and weaponry must be used in order to achieve victory.

What also stands out is the unsurprisingly brilliant soundtrack which accompanies the gameplay during alert phases, boss battles, menus, and can even create tension when not used. This is met with some of the finest voice acting seen in video games; notably David Hayter as Solid Snake, Quinton Flynn as Raiden, and Christopher Randolph as Hal “Otacon” Emmerich.

Final Thoughts

What makes Metal Gear Solid 2 great is the fact that it is able to tell a story well, keeping players, as well as the characters they are controlling guessing, and do it while providing some of the best gameplay, and most emotional cutscenes in video game history. The inclusion of the immersive and informative Codec, in which the player receives intel on the mission as it happens, can save, and talk to the NPCs, as well as additional content, such as Easter eggs (using the directional microphone to spy on Johnny is a personal favourite), help to heighten this already fantastic experience.

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty is a perfect sequel to the game that defined the stealth-action genre. The stealth based gameplay, movie-beating story, epic soundtrack, and emotionally investable characters simply make for a masterpiece of a game, and one which is worth any gamers’ time. The game, which was originally available for PS2 and Xbox, received a HD Collection in 2011 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and was later playable on PlayStation Vita.

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