Sunday, December 23, 2012

Metal Gear Solid (Disc 2) - ...iversary!

In my experience with Metal Gear Solid, I've had a hard time with Disc 2. I discovered that I had a faulty copy right at the switching point (after killing Sniper Wolf), which not even a resurfacing would fix. So I ended up purchasing another copy off the secondary market and made sure that it was in a good enough condition. I felt confident enough in the description provided by the seller, stating that the discs were professionally cleaned and tested. Well, after finally receiving my copy in the mail I was finally able to complete the game and express how I feel about the whole experience. As such, this post is actually a continuation of my anniversary post rather than a separate review altogether.

The story continues in Disc 2 with Snake infiltrating a boiler room to get to Metal Gear REX and attempting to shut it down. While this section is shorter in some ways than the previous disc, this is definitely where the most twists come to light, revealing a conspiracy that goes higher up than thought before. The final stretch also introduces new information that can change the perspective of a lot of earlier events in the game. I also found the full characterization of Vulcan Raven to be interesting, taking more advantage of his description of being a shaman. For its depth and complexity, I now fully praise the storytelling capability of Metal Gear Solid.

In terms of gameplay, there are definitely a couple new surprises in this portion. Level design remains interesting and creative, including a hallway absolutely packed with Gun Cameras mounted on each wall. The final boss fights are also the most intense, starting with Snake having to outmaneuver Vulcan Raven in a freezing room where a frontal assault simply will not work. This is when explosives come in very handy, with an element of trickery also becoming a factor in fights from this point forward. My solution involved figuring out that Claymores picked up earlier are now in their natural element, plus letting Raven give chase while only I could see where they were. This didn't take the tension away however, since even being spotted once at the wrong time can let the shaman turn Snake into Swiss cheese with the aircraft grade machine gun he holds in his hands.

The most climactic boss however would be the one against Metal Gear REX, piloted by none other than Liquid Snake. The battle tank is designed to withstand any outside damage thanks to an impenetrable outer shell. To access its vulnerable insides however, Snake needs to trigger the opening of the cockpit by attacking the only weak point on its body, and only the Stinger has a chance of reaching it. After this however is a face to face throwdown with Liquid, who uses all of his strength to try and take out Solid Snake. I'd say that, after losing a few times before taking down the behemoth for good, it is easily one of the most memorable bosses of its time.

Then there's the puzzles. The ones that are in the environment are very minor, but one that really stands out is one that takes advantage of the entire area contained on the second disc. In this puzzle, Snake has to backtrack to two particular rooms to change the temperature of a key card, thus altering its shape and allowing it to function as three key cards. These temperature changes must be done in a certain order and there is the danger of changing the temperature unintentionally, requiring further backtracking. This was only annoying due to my absolute lack of rations, but it is still a very unique concept.

Voice acting continued to stay at a high point until the end, with everyone showing the full range of their talents and matching the appropriate mood of each scene. There are a couple of tearjerkers, which they manage to execute really well, though saying what they are would involve spoilers. The music continued to impress, so I give high praise to the composers involved.

Overall, Metal Gear Solid is a PlayStation game that absolutely should not be missed. Although the actual game is pretty short when you remove the cutscenes, the story itself is complicated enough to stay interesting and the deeper character interactions are all fascinating. With excellent gameplay, storytelling, voice acting and music, I fully recommend this game to anyone looking for either a great stealth game or a good blast from the past.

Be sure not to skip the stinger at the end of the credits though, since it opens exciting opportunities for a sequel. Hopefully it will not disappoint.

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