MGS2: A trip back to the old school

Since I’m picking up the odds and ends of the site’s printed content, I figured I might as well post the Metal Gear Solid 2 article from Year One, Vol. 2. Despite having been written a few months ago for a recent compilation book, I deliberately crafted it in a sort of retro style; it’s patterned after the older articles that appeared in the book, full of digressions and flippant nonsense. So if it makes you angry, please understand that was the intent! Or at least, emulating a style that might make you angry was the intent. Given the game in question, it’s all so suitably meta, huh? Gosh. I’m gonna pretend that was a deliberate choice.

And yes, some of the images herein are from Substance rather than Sons of Liberty. Go with the flow. Around here we’re all about the feel of things, baby, not the letter of the law.

By the way, my host recently relocated all the site’s files to a new server. Everything seems to have made the transition in proper order, but if you notice anything wonky, lemme know. Surprisingly, the site seems to be holding up fine in the wake of yesterday’s Penny Arcade link, which generously sent roughly 10,000 people here… all of whom went directly to a massive article with about half a megabyte of embedded images. So, I guess our host host is doing something right.

16 thoughts on “MGS2: A trip back to the old school

  1. First off, awesome read. It’s nice to see a lot of the same thoughts and feelings I had from the game written about in a concise and entertaining read so that next time someone asks me about MGS2, I can just kindly point them to this article rather than go on some incoherent stream of consciousness rant.

    I’m still not terribly convinced that the game itself (removed from the cutscenes, characters and over all narrative) is a complete disaster though. I loved the additions that were made such as first person aiming, and in general I just prefer the puzzle game-esque nature of figuring out the best way of getting through each room. For me, MGS3 was mostly sitting in grass for an hour and still getting caught when I thought the time was right. Oh well.

  2. This and GTA3 were the first two PS2 games my brother bought, and we played the crud out of them. I never hated Raiden, he was a poor substitute for Snake but who isn’t? What I do hate is what they did to him in MGS4. It’s disappointing how Kojima completely backpedaled on his plans for Raiden as a main character, I would have preferred playing as a non robotic Raiden instead of having to watch Old Snake get the shit knocked out of him or writhe in pain at least twice an act.

    There really is no way to defend the story once it hits Arsenal Gear, or the fact that half the ending is listening to characters talking while watching student film footage of New York City. And no matter what Naomi says in MGS4, Vamp is an honest to God vampire. Everybody in the entire damn series besides Otacon and Johnny has nanomachines, and none of them can heal gunshots to the head or sit on water!

    Cool article, though. I can’t wait to read the MGS4 one.

  3. “Well, no; everyone gritted their teeth in irritation at that point.”

    Wrong wrong wrong, but I understand considering %99.9 of players to be everyone. :) While MGS2 definitely has it’s lumped-and a confusing story never really adequately or sensibly expounded upon and resolved in sequels-it remains my favorite simply for being such a clever work of art and mindfuckery. It’s as if Kojima KNEW how much we’d hate the Snake/Raiden model switch despite it not making a bit of difference to HOW the game was played and built from there. Maybe he just watched Terminator 2 and wondered how the movie would have been received if they hadn’t let the Ahnold as the good guy cat out of the bag sooner. Definitely an amazing reflection on how gamers whine when a sequel is different and then whine when a sequel is “more of the same” by giving us…more of the same in a different format, the best (worst?) of both worlds.

    The PS2 housed many of my favorite commentary bending games, actually-aside from the obligatory Shadow of the Colossus comment, I’m going to include Final Fantasy X. Religion, gods, etc had always been part of the mythos, but most people seem to look over (not notice entirely? not care entirely?) the overall theme of religion being a carrot on a stick, a set up, a societal control structure, etc.

    Anyway, great article. Makes me wish my PS3 really could only do everything….guess I might finally have to break down and buy another PS2.

  4. Yesterday’s didn’t have a border! Today’s has more of a border than yesterday’s! You people so crazy.

  5. Not bad. Not bad at all.

    I am curious now to see your critique on MGS4, as those two specifically are conjoined twins (assuming you know—actual thought is put into it). Between them, we got an explosion and an implosion in the same series—in less than a decade to boot.

  6. I’ve always considered the MGS games as a kind of dialog between Kojima and the player. MGS2 was kind of a finger-wagging at the player, punishing them for wanting a formulaic sequel. MGS3 was Kojima attempting to prove all his detractors wrong by creating the best game ever made. MGS4 was a kind of exasperated sigh of giving the players exactly what they’ve always wanted.

  7. “no doubt he would have been a lot easier for most gamers to swallow if his starring role didn’t mean that Rose would call them up every few minutes to nag at them about the most idiotic trivia imaginable”

    Anyway, I think people might appreciate Raiden’s back-story more if they Netflix Spriggan.

  8. “I’ve always considered the MGS games as a kind of dialog between Kojima and the player.”

    Maybe, but I think “monologue” is more appropriate. “Dialogue” suggests room for the second person to get a word in edgewise. Unless you’re using the word in the same sense as a Socratic dialogue!

  9. I’d love to read an MGS4 article like this but I can’t see anyway you could defend it since it played like a worse MGS2 and it’s story was just plain idiotic and really can’t be defended with any art argument.

  10. His games themselves do act more as a monologue, but they’re not exposition without context. They’re always a kind of response to the feedback from the previous games that fans and critics give.

  11. @retr0gamer: I’ve always defended MGS4’s ‘idiot’ story as Kojima’s way of informing his more rabid fans that continually call for ‘all the answers’ that maybe, knowing all the answers isn’t such a good thing. MGS4’s plot and dialog has moments that are some of the best the medium has ever made (the microwave, Raiden vs Outer Haven, Snake’s physical all stand out in my mind). And those stand in sharp contrast to the low points – namely every time the game explains some mystery from the previous games. I’d like to think that contrast is on purpose, but I might just be trying to give Kojima too much credit.

  12. Conversely for me Raiden vs. Outer Heaven was one of the worst moments in the game and the point were I was left open mouthed at the sheer stupidity of the story as a whole, I felt I’d wasted my time playing the game but by that time I was already in too deep. None of the gameplay or set pieces stood out for me either really and the boss battles were poor which is unacceptable for a game were some of the highlights were boss battles. MGS2 might have had an equally stupid storyline but hidden in there were genuine moments of genius and fourth wall breaking moments and despite the codec interrupts I enjoyed the gameplay. I can’t really say that about MGS4.

  13. Those boss battles in MGS4 are hard to defend, because they’re just so inherently uninteresting given the game mechanics. When you can just shoot unlimited rockets at them, it’s kind of easy, bland, uniform, and forgettable…

    …unless you play the game on a harder difficulty, or go for the non-lethal take-down. Then all of a sudden tactics, strategies, weakness-exploitation, etc. all come into play and they feel like normal MGS boss battles. Sneaking up on Crying Wolf while having to stay out of sight from the soldiers that flood the feild, while staying upwind… it’s an absolutely amazing boss battle.

  14. Maybe so but I can’t bring myself to play the game again anyway and other than crying wolf all the bosses seemed to be just about pumping as much bullets into them. It was so disappointing compared to older bosses in the series that require ingenious uses of your inventory. You could approach them in so many ways.

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