Metal Gear Solid 2 20th anniversary retrospective
In fact, MGS2’s story might just be even more relevant and impactful than it was two decades ago.
My God, it's been 20 years since then? pic.twitter.com/C5zw8jqDNz— HIDEO_KOJIMA (@HIDEO_KOJIMA_EN) November 13, 2021
With the prestige of Metal Gear Solid still fresh in the minds of gamers at the turn of the century, the sequel would have to be bigger, better, more innovative, with the power of the PlayStation 2. Characters had expressive faces now, first-person aiming was an option, ledge grabbing, better AI--a staggering amount of new features were touted. For many, this was a definitive “system-seller” kind of game; fans were chomping at the bit to play as the famous Solid Snake once more, especially thanks to a much-hyped E3 2000 trailer that focused solely on the hero infiltrating an oil tanker.
Which makes it all the more impressive that Hideo Kojima eschewed all expectations, pulling a bait-and-switch by introducing Raiden, MGS2’s real protagonist. One that was never shown off in any marketing or previews for the game, leaving it to shock players who never could have seen it coming. Solid Snake is merely playable for the introduction segment. A controversial decision for sure, but a necessary one for the intricate story and themes that Metal Gear Solid 2 weaves together so wonderfully.
In the years since, we’ve seen developers try to do something similar: The Last of Us Part II did this with its protagonists, splitting the story between two characters--neither of which was Joel, the main character of the first game. TLOU2 also suffered from major leaks, weeks prior to release. Anyone even remotely interested in the sequel was quickly spoiled by news headlines and fervent discussion regarding the controversy. MGS2’s twist would never be possible today in a society dominated by the internet.
An amusing thought, given how the narrative of MGS2 is all about what potential the internet and technology could have on people’s perceptions, and the ramifications of it. It’s an interesting topic to hear about during the turn of the century, but one that’s leagues more relevant in today’s day and age.
Kojima has a penchant for ridiculousness in his storytelling, and while MGS2 has plenty of weird and very Kojima-esque moments (there’s a man who plants bombs while rollerblading, for goodness sake), it balances the seriousness and silliness perfectly. Out of all the Metal Gear Solid games, this one has perhaps aged the best out of all of them, both in terms of story and gameplay. Whether you’ve seen it all for yourself before, or you’ve never had the chance to play Metal Gear Solid 2, then there’s no better time to play it than on the game’s 20th anniversary.