Update: I was unfortunately not aware of Shamus Young's severe criticism of Fallout 3 available here to link in the original piece and I regret that. It dovetails rather nicely with what I've written and it's much better executed than my piece. I strongly recommend anyone...
Review - Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (PS2)
MGS2 is a mind-bending and warped experience. The moments I thought I was having the most fun turned out to be the opposite - the real fun didn't start until I reached Extreme difficulty. I've never played the original on PlayStation, and since it had a reputation of being unique and revolutionary, I went through the motions of learning about its gameplay on Very Easy, which turned out be a completely different experience than playing it on Extreme. MGS2 has the most unique way of giving itself longevity and replayability.
A lot of people complain about the story being convoluted and insane, as well as the codec conversations (a ton of real voice from your main character's friends and/or your HQ) being absurdly long. No offense (although I feel tempted to offend), but I'm here to reject thy claim. If you can't accept the game's storyline, then you shouldn't be trying to be a secret spy who's running around MGS2 dynamic environment, because for me, the game has one of the most dynamic stories and identifiable characters I've ever known. The final time I hit off on the PS2, I felt I knew all of the main characters in the story, from the subtle to the more obvious parts of their personality.
Almost every item, the moves of the main characters, and the A.I., all seem to gel together and have some kind of relation to each other, and only the Grand Theft Auto series tops the numerous possibilities of how you can tackle the same situation differently to get through the game. The game design is nothing short of brilliant.
I have to commend Konami for not going the slutty route by selling out with another fighting game disguised as "insert genre here (in this case, "espionage action"). Part of the reason I bought the game was because it sounded like it wasn't simply mind-bogglingly mindless killing to get from point A to B, but more of a hide and seek game with an awesome plot (although much deeper than hide and seek). I'm guessing the original's gameplay was almost as great.
The game consists of two major areas for sneaking, roaming, and fighting - a large ship (the kind that float), and a huge platform out in the sea at God knows where. You need to fight only when necessary, and even though it's hammered into your head that this is a "solo sneaking mission", you really can't resist the urge to knock out and grab that guard and throw him off the side of the ship, or set up a bomb on the floor and have that idiotic guard stroll over and blow up.
MGS2 has so many twists in its story and gameplay, and so many odd yet surprisingly fun things to do, you always get a feeling of a fresh new idea literally being around the next corner. I was disappointed that the first setting, the ship where you control the character Solid Snake, was so brief, but I quickly got used to the new area with the second main character of the story, Raiden. I wish my time with Solid Snake hadn't been so short, but it was definitely sweet.
Sneak on over to your game distributor and... well, if I told you anymore, I'd have to kill you.