Metal Gear Solid 2
- 1 Jan 2022
- Metal Gear Solid 2, released in 2001, is the source of my fondest gaming memory. This post contains spoilers.
My all-time favorite gaming experience is playing Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty for the first time. I have vivid memory of that play-through. There I am, in 2001, a pending Christmas-graduate, playing the game with a family friend. It’s a time of uncertainty, for everyone, but I’m certain that MGS2 is amazing. Ever-generous, another friend has loaned his PlayStation 2 and his copy. I only have a few days before I need to return them, though.
MGS2 is the belle of the ball. Even the releases of Grand Theft Auto III and Halo, ground-breaking games in their right, haven’t diminished interest in this game. The gaming world had been anticipating its release for the past two years. It’s the next-generation sequel to Metal Gear Solid, an instant classic. MGS2 had promised to showcase the capabilities of the still-new PS2 and the possibilities of the medium. By accounts, it had delivered.
The game has been available for six weeks when we play it. Konami, its publisher, had postponed the release-date because of the September 11 attacks. In any case, the game has a lot of buzz. I’ve done my best to avoid spoilers, but I know about two important plot-twists and one funny section. The former knowledge comes from an in-depth article. The latter comes from my friend, the one who’s let me borrow his PS2 and copy of MGS2.
I’ll keep my knowledge of spoilers from my family friend during our play-through. Earlier that week, I’d done the same thing while watching his first play-through of MGS. Several weeks earlier, I’d done my first play-through of MGS. I’ve already replayed its second half to see the alternative, non-canonical ending. So, even though MGS is 3 years old at the time, its story is fresh in our minds when play its much-hyped sequel.
For two days, MGS2 enthrals us. We chuckle whenever the game feints at exposing Snake (us) in the tanker holds. My friend likes Raiden, whose existence and importance I’d known beforehand. We mock the slow-mo shot of him, Snake, and Otacon. We laugh, rolling on the floor, when Raiden becomes bare-handed and bare-assed. I’d known about this story part as well, but I hadn’t expected to laugh so hard. We appreciate the “Fission Mailed” gimmick.
As mentioned, I’d known about Raiden being the main playable-character for most of the story. I’d also known about the deliberate parallels between the events of MGS and MGS2. These revelations prove to be minor, because they become obvious to my friend anyway. The more important plot-twists, in the denouement, are as confusing and surprising to me as they are to him.
We complete the game with a recorded time of 18 hours. For a first play-through, this time seems to be a few hours longer than average. I do spend a lot of time watching instead of playing. I’m watching scenes from Hideo Kojima’s script or events from my friend’s input. Despite our recent experience with MGS, we struggle more than we should. Even with all of our failures, I enjoy every minute. I know that my friend feels the same way.
I return the PS2 and MGS2 to my other friend. My fascination with the game doesn’t end, though. I spend the next several months thinking and writing about the Metal Gear series. After completing MGS, I’d made a free-hosted fansite in anticipation of MGS2. I’m a dropout, so my part-time hobby is a full-time obsession for a while. MGS2 is the fuel to this fire. At one point, I rent a PS2 and a copy of MGS2.
Metal Gear and my fansite keep me going in that year. The former inspires me to improve my digital-technology skills and to study world-history. The latter gains a following among the online fan community. My inspiration continues for the next few years until I decide to focus on other things. I close the fansite, but my fandom never goes offline. I complete MGS2 two or three dozen times over the next two decades.
Here I am now, in 2022, thinking and writing about that play-through in 2001. My family friend and I have grown apart. I know that he’s been in very poor health, and I wonder if he has fond memory of that Christmas, as I do. If we talk again, I’ll mention it and say that I hope to do something like it again. Inspired, I re-play the HD version that is already 10 years old. I savor the cutscenes and record them using a capture device.
The game has its faults, sure. But its themes of digital misinformation and cultural heritage are still pertinent. Like the main characters, I’m motivated to leave a shareable expression of my best self. For the past 10 years, I’ve put off making another Metal Gear fansite or a site about video games. Now is the time to start doing it.