Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

So, I just moved from New York to California. Currently, my desktop PC is in a moving van somewhere between those two points. The slimline PS2, on the other hand, fits easily in one’s carry-on luggage.

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty is one of the games from my shopping spree when I first got a PS2. I had played the PC port of the first Metal Gear Solid and found it had an entertaining if somewhat off-kilter vibe, somewhere between Tom Clancy and GI Joe. You get all this military jargon, political analysis, and technical detail about weapon systems, and then you get attacked by an invisible cyborg ninja. Who eventually turns out to be your former boss, who you thought was dead.

Last night’s MGS2 session didn’t really involve much playing. I familiarized myself with the controls (new to me, since I had played MGS1 with a keyboard and mouse), and played some hide-and-seek with enemy soldiers on a boat, but it was mostly cutscenes and exposition. This isn’t entirely the game’s fault. Since it’s been years since I played the first Metal Gear Solid, and since it had a pretty convoluted storyline, the first thing I did was read the plot summary available from the MGS2 main menu. Or rather, summaries, plural. There are three. The first is in the form of a review of a book written by a minor character from the game, and gives a basic outline of the story in broad strokes. After you finish reading this, the game makes the second summary available. This one is an account by a conspiracy nut (and it takes some doing to be a conspiracy nut in the world of Metal Gear, where the government really is controlled by secret cabals) who somehow got an advance copy of the book, and it goes into most of the implausibly-many plot twists in the game. Read this to completion and you get access to the third summary, which is the book itself. This not only contains a great deal of the more important dialogue from the first game, it even has new revelations about things going on behind the scenes that the player character never learned about.

Actually, the dialogue from the first game is somewhat improved here. At one point in MGS1, the hero, Solid Snake, is confronted by his evil twin, Liquid Snake (yes, really) who reveals that the two of them are clone-brothers, products of a secret project to create genetically-engineered super-soldiers. But (Liquid Snake whines) Solid Snake got all the dominant genes. Liquid Snake was left with nothing but recessive genes, and he’s been struggling with that handicap all his life. To which the confused player says: I do not think those words mean what you think they mean. Well, when that scene is recounted in MGS2, they don’t use those words, explaining instead that the super-soldiering process involved selecting desirable and undesirable traits and shuffling them between two gametes or something. Which isn’t terribly plausible either, but what can you do? It’s important to the story that Liquid thinks that he’s both (a) a clone from the same source as Solid and (b) genetically inferior to him.

Those familiar with MGS2 may be thinking at this point that I’m paying way too much attention to the plot. MGS1 gave a strong sense that they were just sticking in dramatic revelations at random as they went along, and MGS2 somewhat notoriously takes a nose-dive into the outright nonsensical. Well, that’s part of why I bought it. Notorious is interesting. I want to see for myself just how long I can keep making sense of it before it defeats me.

1 Comment so far

  1. Merus on 25 Jun 2007

    I would guess right up until after the ###spoiler redacted### but there’s a definite point where the game just stops trying to have internal consistency.

    Being familiar with MGS2, it’s hard to say that you’re paying too much attention to the plot, seeing as MGS2 is mostly cutscene with the occasional gameplay, far more blatantly than MGS1.

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