Metal Gear Solid 2: Change of scene

The first chapter of MGS2 ends with one of Liquid Snake’s henchmen (who he’s apparently possessed) making off with the new Metal Gear prototype. Metal Gear is a bipedal walking tank armed with nuclear missiles. It seems every episode in the series introduces a new Metal Gear prototype, which the player fights and destroys at the game’s climax. This time around, it’s an amphibious model, designed to evade detection by walking along the ocean floor or something like that. A company of marines is transporting it by ship, and the theft is accomplished by sinking the ship, killing everyone on board who isn’t inside an amphibious walking tank at that moment — including, apparently, Solid Snake. (As if.)

A scene transition covers a lapse of two years, and gameplay resumes in a different place, with a different player character. He’s also code-named Snake (although he’s quickly redesignated “Raiden” to avoid confusion), and like Solid Snake in his early days, he’s an agent of FOXHOUND (which was disbanded years ago — something weird is going on there), but this one has no field experience. He’s has extensive training in virtual reality, though, as the dialogue keeps on reminding us over and over. Add to this some suggestive changes to the design of the “Game Over” screen, and it seems likely that we’re looking at a trapped-in-the-holodeck scenario here.

The weird thing about this chapter is that there’s much more tutorial content than the chapter that preceded it. Raiden is unfamiliar with the things that he has to do on a real mission (“real”, yeah right), so, as he explores, his commander gives a piecemeal explanation of the controls over their comm link. (The writer is not at all shy about having the characters comment on game mechanics. 1 There’s a point in MGS1 when a character tells Snake to look for a number written on a CD case. I honestly thought at first that I had hit a bug — that I was supposed to have found a CD case object by that point in the game. But no, he was talking about the game’s packaging. ) But to a large extent, the things covered here are things that we’ve already had to do back on the tanker in chapter 1. It all makes me wonder if the game was originally designed to start with Raiden, and the first chapter was designed later to make the continuity with MGS1 clearer or something.

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1. There’s a point in MGS1 when a character tells Snake to look for a number written on a CD case. I honestly thought at first that I had hit a bug — that I was supposed to have found a CD case object by that point in the game. But no, he was talking about the game’s packaging.

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