Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty

August 4, 2006

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty

Game Review By: DannyV_El_Acme

Year: 2001

Author: Hideo Kojima and Kojima Productions

Platform: Other

Publisher: Konami

Price: I’ve seen it as low as $15

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Very High

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Very High

Rating: 9 out of 10


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Introduction: With Metal Gear Solid, Hideo Kojima made a name for himself as one of the most gifted and ambitious video game designers today, so when the sequel to the game was announced, and moreover on the(then) brand-new PlayStation 2, fans were overjoyed. However, instead of a sequel which only included more of the same, Kojima used the power of the new system and DVD medium to create a game that defies characterization. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty is one of the most ambitious, complicated, even puzzling games ever made. But even with all its differences from the original, it is still very much a Metal Gear game, so that guarantees an incredible storyline and intense, stealth-oriented action.

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The story : Two years after the events of Shadow Moses, Solid Snake and Otacon are back on the field on a new mission. Snake and Otacon are now part of a UN-backed covert organization codenamed Philanthropy, whose purpose is the eradication of any and all Metal Gears around the world. Since Shadow Moses, plans for creating a Metal Gear have surfaced on the black market, leading to a multitude of clandestine organizations creating their own version of the dreaded war mech. At the start of the game, Snake and Otacon are particularly targeting a new amphibious model, Metal Gear Ray, developed by the U.S. Marines. However, things get ugly when the tanker carrying the new machine is hijacked by Russian military forces. During the course of the hijacking, Revolver Ocelot betrays his Russian comrades and, controlled by the spirit of thought-dead Liquid Snake, steals the Metal Gear prototype and sinks the tanker, causing an oil spill with Snake in it. Snake is presumed dead.

 

Two years later, on a routine visit to a plant created to control the oil spill, the President of the United States is kidnapped by a group calling themselves the Sons Of Liberty, led by a rogue black-ops group nicknamed Dead Cell. SEALs are sent to rescue the President, but the group is wiped out. As a last resort, the U.S. sends agent Raiden, a newly graduated member of Foxhound, to infiltrate the facility and rescue the President. However, as can be expected, this is no ordinary terrorist attack, and the facility houses secrets which point to a secret conspiracy only known as The Patriots. What do the terrorists want, and what does Raiden’s past have to do with the whole thing?

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The game: While Metal Gear Solid’s story and themes are pretty straightforward and well established, MGS2 goes on a much more abstract direction. The dialog and situations in this game are much more bizarre and even postmodern than those in the previous game, and paranoia is rampant. This is the most cyberpunk of all the chapters in the series, this time the story focusing on meme theory, artificial intelligence, information control, conspiracy theories, and political and military maneuvering. But above all, the topic of the dehumanizing effect of technology and the influence of genetics in human behavior really make this a fascinating game to analyze with others. Like with The Matrix trilogy, a straightforward first chapter leads to a much more complicated second one which may divide fans and confuse newcomers. However, it is this complexity which makes this probably the most important game in the series yet. The game has a sense of urgency and even fatalism that moves one to try to solve the problems contained therein, but it also constantly dangles a thread of hope to grab on to. This is probably Kojima’s most personal game, and it shows.

 

Like the previous game, the action itself is stealth-based, but this time Snake and Raiden are MUCH better prepared and capable of dealing with the game’s dangers. The jump to a new system has resulted in a much more complicated game, but also one you have more tools for taking it on with. Enemies don’t instantly sound the alarm when they see you anymore, instead they have to radio in before an alarm is called. This gives you an extra second to dispose of the enemy before they alert their comrades. However, once an enemy is incapacitated, his friends start looking for him when he doesn’t report in, so you might want to hide the body somewhere. You can also knock enemies out or put them to sleep instead of killing them, which would cause less of a fuss than a body would(enemies even humorously kick friends awake when they’re dozing). Your characters are much more athletic, too, able to flip out of gunfire’s way, and hang from ledges to hide from foes.

 

The cast in this game is just as great as the previous game. Snake’s a little lighter in attitude and able to crack a joke, having made some new and faithful friends in the previous game, and Otacon’s friendship with Snake has deepened his resolve and made him a little more sure of himself. The new characters are great, too, although some people might be put off by Raiden, the new protagonist of the series. And if Psycho Mantis was freaky, Vamp is off-the-hook SCARY.

 

The jump from 32-bit to 128 did wonders for the game’s graphics. This game came out in 2001 and it STILL looks amazing. The amount of details in this game is incredible, and character models look gorgeous. The game is also much more cinematic, with expert direction during cinemas that makes the game even more of a blockbuster than the first. The music is also on a whole different level, composed by Harry Gregson-Williams, of The Rock, Armageddon and Enemy Of The State fame.

 

Availability: The game is just as available as MGS1, with many different versions. The recommended version is MGS2: Substance, the special edition of the game with lots of extra goodies. However, GET THE PS2 VERSION. The XBox version is a glitchy mess of slowdown.

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The verdict : MGS2 is a worthy followup to the amazing game that was MGS, and stands on its own both as an entertaining game and a fascinating document of electronic literature. I sadly have to dock it a point because it isn’t the easiest game to follow(probably the same reason that made SFAM give Matrix Reloaded 9 stars instead of 10), but that’s just being fair to the first one. And it’s still a spectacular game. 9 out of 10 stars: get it, play it, be thoroughly puzzled yet amazed.

This post has been filed under Cyberpunk Games, Awesome Cyberpunk Themes, Awesome Cyberpunk Visuals by DannyV_El_Acme.

Metal Gear Solid

August 2, 2006

Metal Gear Solid

Game Review By: DannyV_El_Acme

Year: 1998

Author: Hideo Kojima and Kojima Productions

Platform: Other

Publisher: Konami

Price: Around $25 or less right now

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Very High

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Very High

Rating: 10 out of 10


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Introduction: There are few video game creators today as revered as Hideo Kojima. A producer/director of superb storytelling talent and limitless creativity, he is respected and admired by both gamers and fellow video game developers. Even mighty Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of Super Mario and the father of modern video gaming, is a declared fan of Kojima’s work. However, Kojima was a relative unknown as little back as 8 years ago, until Konami gave him the go to create this, Kojima’s first modern gaming masterpiece, Metal Gear Solid. While at first glance a military game, Metal Gear Solid is actually a deep cyberpunk analysis of warfare and morality, topics that Kojima had been exploring for years, but for which, before the creation of the Playstation, he had no hardware powerful enough to tell the story with. Thankfully, he finally did, he finally made the game, and he reinvented a lowly NES game into one of video gaming’s most respected and acclaimed franchises.

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The Story : A nuclear weapon disposal facility on Shadow Moses, an island off the coast of Alaska, is invaded by an army of Genome Soldiers(genetically enhanced super-soldiers) led by Foxhound, a U.S. covert special ops team. The Genome Soldiers are dying, victims of genetic disorders caused by the gene therapy. Foxhound’s leader, Liquid Snake, makes a list of demands: one billion dollars and the body of Big Boss, Foxhound’s former CO and the one whose genes the Genome Soldiers are based on. Should the United States fail to comply, Foxhound will launch a nuclear warhead at the nation’s capital.

 

A direct attack on Shadow Moses may cause nuclear retaliation, and the presence of nuclear warheads in the facility is a secret from the world at large, so a media leak would be catastrophic. To make matters worse, Foxhound is the nation’s most elite special forces unit, each soldier capable of slaughtering entire platoons with ease. The Pentagon decides to “persuade”(i.e. force) retired Foxhound agent Solid Snake to infiltrate Shadow Moses and stop the terrorists through covert action. Armed with only his wits, radio communication with various mission analysts, and whatever he can find at the base, Snake must rely on stealth and cunning to complete his mission. However, there is MUCH more to Shadow Moses than meets the eye, secrets that could put the entire world in jeopardy, secrets dealing with Solid Snake’s shadowy past.

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The Game: If I said in my Deus Ex review that I didn’t want to spoil the story because it’s so good, this is INFINITELY truer with Metal Gear Solid. Although Deus Ex is a more “authentic” cyberpunk game, Metal Gear Solid can only be described as a playable blockbuster film. It is truly an amazing experience in storytelling, and my personal favorite videogame franchise.

 

The gameplay itself relies heavily on stealth. While Solid Snake is a formidable combatant, he is hideously outnumbered by much better armed forces actually looking to shoot him down. Snake must remain hidden and either bypass his enemies or eliminate them as silently as possible. Luckily, Snake is a superb covert operative, and he can use the environment in truly ingenious ways to hide, distract and dispatch the enemy. Snake also has various tools to help him. Throughout the game, he will find weapons and gadgets of all kinds, from infrared goggles to assault rifles, and even the now famous cardboard box to hide in. He also has a radar that permits him to not only determine enemy position, but also their line of sight, enabling him to sneak where the enemy can’t see him. However, this radar gets jammed if Snake is seen, and Snake must RUN AWAY as fast as he can until things cool down!

 

Snake also has a CODEC built into his ear, which enables him to access a multitude of helpers to give him information, tips and moral support throughout the game. The CODEC conversations are truly one of the game’s greatest strengths. They showcase the characters as more than mere cardboard cutouts. During the game, the nature of conversations will range from simple mission objectives to discussions on morality, technological development, politics, human rights, and even what it means to be human. Topics such as genetic engineering, the arms race, nuclear energy, cloning, nanotechnology, biological warfare and many more are expertly discussed. This makes for quite an endearing cast, they are truly intelligent people with their own opinions and beliefs. This is where the game’s cyberpunkness shines through. The way the game explores technology, it’s impact on society and the military in particular, and the morality of technological development are ESSENTIAL elements to the game’s story that continue to resonate through all chapters of the saga. Metal Gear Solid establishes the base for future games of the series to develop these concepts even more thoroughly.

 

And on that note, we see the game’s greatest strength: the characters. Kojima has created a truly spectacular cast, no character is wasted or underdeveloped. From the cynical and gruff Solid Snake to the spunky and optimistic Meryl and scientist/über-nerd Otacon, the characters are diverse and uniformly interesting. The bad guys are truly an awesome force, too. From the enigmatic Liquid Snake to the sadistic gunman Revolver Ocelot and the oh-so-sexy Sniper Wolf, Foxhound’s members are quite the match for our heroes.

 

Visually, the game couldn’t be more cyberpunk. Greens, blues and grays dominate the color scheme, with cold metal surfaces everywhere. Cybernetic ninjas with Predator-like cloaking devices, gigantic mecha, you name it. This game wears not only its cyberpunk roots, but its anime roots as well, on its sleeve with pride. Cinemas are expertly directed, giving the game an A-list action movie fell. AND THE VOICE ACTING!!! This is the absolute GREATEST voice acting EVER. David Hayter has actually made a career out of his work as the voice of Solid Snake, and the whole cast is composed of voice acting veterans from a multitude of games and anime. Metal Gear Solid established the standard for voice acting in the video game industry.

 

Availability: Honestly, if you can’t find this game, something’s SERIOUSLY wrong with you. There have been myriad releases of the game, including a Playstation Greatest Hits release, a PC version, and even a remake for the Gamecube(dubbed The Twin Snakes) which updates the game with next-gen graphics and gameplay elements from its sequel, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty.

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The Verdict : If you want the closest thing to a playable cyberpunk/military movie or anime, Metal Gear Solid is truly it. This is videogaming at its finest, and it has rightfully been called a masterpiece the world over. Get this game and play it, just so you know what comes before Metal Gear Solid 2. My highest recommendation, this is my all-time favorite video game series. And maybe once you play it, you’ll know why too. I(and half the press, already) give Metal Gear Solid a perfect ten stars.

This post has been filed under Cyberpunk Games, Awesome Cyberpunk Themes, Awesome Cyberpunk Visuals by DannyV_El_Acme.

GameFaqs’ Top 10 Cyberpunk Games List

June 15, 2006

System Shock

 

In the Livejournal Cyberpunk Collective, automaton88 posted a link to GameFaqs’ Top 10 Cyberpunk Games. I don’t know that I’d call all of these “cyberpunk” but they are at least cyberpunk influenced. Incidentally, three different people have reviewed games at cyberpunkreview, but we’ve had a lag in getting any new ones up. More game reviews, please!

 

Deus Ex

 

Also, what’s your favorite cyberpunk game? I’m going with either System Shock or Deus Ex.

This post has been filed under Cyberpunk Games by SFAM.