Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

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Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
North American cover art
Developer(s) Konami Computer Entertainment Japan
Publisher(s) Konami
Director(s) Hideo Kojima
Producer(s) Hideo Kojima
Designer(s) Hideo Kojima
Programmer(s) Kazunobu Uehara
Artist(s) Yoji Shinkawa
Writer(s) Hideo Kojima
Tomokazu Fukushima
Composer(s) Norihiko Hibino
Harry Gregson-Williams
Series Metal Gear
Release date(s)
Genre(s) Action-adventure, stealth
Mode(s) Single-player

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty[lower-alpha 1] is an action-adventure stealth game developed and published by Konami for the PlayStation 2 in November 2001. It is the fourth Metal Gear game written and directed by Hideo Kojima and serves as the direct sequel to the original Metal Gear Solid. An expanded edition, titled Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance, was released the following year for Xbox and Microsoft Windows in addition to the PlayStation 2.

The story revolves around the "Big Shell", a massive offshore clean-up facility that has been seized by a group of terrorists who call themselves the "Sons of Liberty". They demand a massive ransom in exchange for the life of the President of the United States, and threaten to destroy the facility and create a cataclysmic environmental disaster if their demands are not met. The motives and identities of many of the antagonists and allies change throughout the course of the game, as the protagonists discover a world-shaking conspiracy constructed by a powerful organization known as the Patriots.

While the game received acclaim for its gameplay, graphics, and its attention to detail, critics were initially divided on the protagonist and the philosophical nature and execution of the game's storyline, which explores themes such as memetics, social engineering, political conspiracies, censorship, artificial intelligence, existentialism, postmodernism and post-truth politics. The game's reputation has improved over time and it is considered to be one of the greatest video games made. The game has shipped over 7 million copies worldwide and scored an average Metacritic aggregate score of 96%, making it one of the highest-rated games of all time.[1]


File:MetalGearSolid2-Substance screenshot1.jpg
Solid Snake takes cover and peeks around a corner in the Tanker chapter

Metal Gear Solid 2 carries the subtitle of "Tactical Espionage Action", and most of the game involves the protagonist sneaking around avoiding being seen by the enemies. Most fundamental are the wider range of skills offered to the player. The first-person aiming mode allows players to target specific points in the game, greatly expanding tactical options; guards can be blinded by steam, distracted by a flying piece of fruit or hit in weak spots. Players can walk slowly, allowing them to sneak over noisy flooring without making a sound, or hang off walkways to slip past below guards' feet. The corner-press move from Metal Gear Solid, which allowed players a sneak peek around the next bend is expanded to allow players to fire from cover.[2] Other abilities included leaping over and hanging off of railings, opening and hiding in storage lockers, and sneaking up behind enemies to hold them at gunpoint for items and ammunition.[2] Players are able to shoot out the enemy's radio so they are unable to communicate with others on their team. The environment also has a greater impact on the stealth gameplay, taking into account factors such as weather, smell, atmosphere and temperature.[3]

In Metal Gear Solid 2, the enemy guards are given more advanced AI "to prevent an imbalance of power,"[4] and unlike the original Metal Gear Solid, work in squads. They call on their radios for a strike team upon seeing the player, then attempt to flank him and cut off his escape while avoiding the player's attacks. Often strike teams will carry body armor and riot shields, making them a greater threat. Even if the player escapes to a hiding place, a team will sweep in to check the area. The game has a collective enemy AI,[5] where enemy guards work together in squads, can communicate with one another,[6] and react in a more realistic manner towards the player. The game's enemy AI was considered one of the best in gaming for many years.[7]

The game expanded its predecessor's cover mechanic,[8] with Solid Snake or Raiden able to take cover behind walls or objects and pop out to shoot at enemies,[9][10] while the improved enemy AI allowed enemies to also take cover from the player character. The enemies will often take cover to call for backup,[11] but during battle, they will take cover then pop out and shoot at the player or blindly throw grenades from behind their cover.[9][12] The game features a laser sight mechanic, where a laser sight helps assist with manually aiming a gun.[13] Boss battles and set-pieces remain a case of finding a strategy that bypasses the defenses of the enemy. However, in a major break from action game standards, it is also possible to clear the entire game, including boss fights, without causing a single deliberate death, through use of tranquilizer guns, stun grenades and melee attacks.



The protagonist of Metal Gear Solid 2 is a young rookie agent named Raiden.[14] He is supported by his commanding officer, the Colonel, and Rosemary,[15] his girlfriend. Allies formed on the mission include Lt. Junior Grade Iroquois Pliskin,[16] a Navy SEAL of mysterious background who provides his knowledge of the facility and later revealed as the claimed terrorist Solid Snake; Peter Stillman,[17] a NYPD bomb-disposal expert; Otacon,[18] a computer security specialist; and a cyborg ninja imitating Gray Fox's persona, first calling itself Deepthroat, then changing its name to Mr. X.[19][20]

The antagonists of peace are the Sons of Liberty,[21] a group of terrorists who seize control of the Big Shell Disposal Facility, including anti-terror training unit Dead Cell, and a Russian mercenary force.[22] The Dead Cell team members are Vamp,[23] an immortal man exhibiting vampire-like attributes; Fatman,[24] a rotund man with exceptional knowledge of bombs; and Fortune,[25] a woman capable of cheating death by apparent supernatural means. The leader of Sons of Liberty claims to be Solid Snake,[26] previously declared dead after a terrorist attack, later revealed to be Solidus Snake, a third clone in "Les Enfants Terribles" project.[27] Assisting the Sons of Liberty are Olga Gurlukovich, commander of a rogue Russian mercenary army,[28] and Revolver Ocelot,[29] a disenfranchised Russian nationalist and former FOXHOUND agent, Solid Snake's old nemesis, and henchman of Solidus Snake.

Other characters include Emma Emmerich, Otacon's stepsister and a computer wiz-kid;[30] Sergei Gurlukovich, Ocelot's former commanding officer and Olga's father;[31] President James Johnson, held hostage by the Sons of Liberty;[32] and DIA operative Richard Ames.[33] Liquid Snake returns as he communicates via Ocelot because his right hand, sliced by Gray Fox in the previous game, has been replaced with the right hand of Liquid.[34] The game also features cameos by Mei Ling, the communications expert who aided Snake in the first game,[35] and Johnny Sasaki, the luckless soldier with chronic digestive problems.


Metal Gear series
fictional chronology

Prologue - Tanker chapter

The game opens with a flashback, two years after the Shadow Moses incident in the original Metal Gear Solid. On [August 8]], 2007, Solid Snake and Otacon, now members of the non-governmental organization Philanthropy, are investigating the development of a new Metal Gear by the United States Marine Corps. Snake arrives on the tanker transporting the weapon in the middle of an attack by Russian mercenaries, led by Colonel Gurlukovich, his daughter Olga and Snake's enemy Ocelot, who has transplanted the right arm of Liquid Snake following the loss of his own in Metal Gear Solid. After Snake knocks Olga unconscious, he sneaks down to the hold in order to record pictures of the new Metal Gear RAY. As the mercenaries take control below, Ocelot betrays his allies and shoots both Colonel Gurlukovich and the Marine commander. Just before Ocelot can commandeer Metal Gear RAY, Snake emerges and confronts him. Upon seeing Snake, Ocelot becomes possessed by Liquid Snake and escapes with RAY, leaving the ship to sink. In the aftermath, Snake is blamed for the disaster, and is believed to have perished. The Big Shell clean-up facility is later constructed, ostensibly to help clean the Hudson River after the major oil spill that occurred due to the tanker sinking.

Plant chapter

On April 29, 2009, Raiden (who operates briefly under the code name Snake) is tasked under a reformed FOXHOUND. He has orders to infiltrate the Big Shell to rescue hostages, including the US president, from the terrorist group Sons of Liberty (whose leader claims to be Solid Snake), backed up by the rogue anti-terror training unit Dead Cell, who are also threatening to destroy the facility. All members of SEAL Team 10 are killed by Dead Cell members Vamp and Fortune, and the Big Shell is patrolled by the surviving Russian mercenaries from the Tanker chapter, led now by Olga, who is unaware of the extent of Ocelot's betrayal, and believes Snake was responsible for her father's murder. The remaining members of the SEAL assault team, Iroquois Pliskin and Peter Stillman join Raiden to disable explosives planted on the Shell by Stillman's former pupil, Fatman, now a terrorist. Stillman is killed by Fatman's booby trap in Shell 2, though he manages to warn Raiden in time, who successfully disables the respective bomb in Shell 1, preventing the sinking of the facility. Raiden then survives a direct confrontation with Fortune and Vamp, and kills Fatman on the heliport.

As Raiden searches for the President, he begins to doubt Pliskin's identity, but agrees to the plan of transporting hostages off the Big Shell with a helicopter. However, they are attacked by the leader of the Sons of Liberty, who identifies himself as Solid Snake. Pliskin, however, shouts that the man is not Snake, and assists Raiden in fending off the leader when he attacks with a Harrier Jet piloted by Vamp. The battle ends with the Harrier being shot down, though it is seized by the Metal Gear RAY seen in the Tanker chapter, and the two terrorists escape. Pliskin reveals himself to be the real Solid Snake, who, along with Otacon, helps Raiden locate the President. When Raiden finally contacts President Johnson, he is informed that the Big Shell is a facade to hide a new Metal Gear. Known as Arsenal Gear, it houses a powerful AI called "GW", which is capable of controlling the transmission of digital information. The President also claims that the democratic process is a sham, and the true rulers of the United States are a secret organization called the Patriots. The President then reveals the leader of the Sons of Liberty is his predecessor George Sears, a perfect clone of Big Boss known as Solidus Snake, who fell out of the Patriots' favor following Shadow Moses, and has now gone rogue with Dead Cell to escape the Patriots' control. Ocelot kills the President soon after this revelation. Raiden moves on to disabling Arsenal Gear, going to rescue an engineer, Emma Emmerich (Otacon's step-sister). After fighting Vamp, who seemingly drowns after being shot, Raiden rescues Emma, who agrees to help upload a virus into the "GW" mainframe. However, the upload is halted partway when Emma is attacked by Vamp. Raiden then defeats Vamp by shooting him again, although the injuries Emma suffers prove fatal. Otacon escapes with the surviving hostages, while Raiden is captured by Olga when Solid Snake seemingly betrays him.

Raiden awakens in a torture chamber where Solidus Snake reveals that he once adopted Raiden, a former child soldier, as his son during the Liberian civil war, and that Raiden is now a Patriot agent. Solidus then leaves the chamber, and Olga steps in and frees Raiden, telling him that she is also a Patriot double-agent and that she was blackmailed to aid Raiden in order to protect her child. Olga also tells Raiden to find Solid Snake, who only allowed Raiden to be captured so he could gain access to Arsenal Gear. While Raiden makes his way through the bowels of the facility to rendezvous with Snake, his commanding officer, the Colonel, begins to act very erratically. Upon investigation, Otacon reveals that the "Colonel" is actually a construct of the GW supercomputer, and that the partially uploaded virus is beginning to damage its systems. Raiden receives a call from Rose, whose voice begins to deepen and slow down as the conversation is cut off, but not before she reveals she is pregnant with his child. Raiden reunites with Snake and his gear, and the two then encounter Fortune, who fights Snake while Raiden searches for Solidus. He is then forced into a battle with twenty five Metal Gear RAY units in Arsenal Gear. Olga protects him, before Solidus kills her, and captures Snake and Raiden. Ocelot reveals that he too is a Patriot agent, and that the entire Big Shell mission was a carefully coordinated attempt to reenact the events of the Shadow Moses incident, for the purpose of creating a soldier (Raiden) on par with Solid Snake. Ocelot kills Fortune, before being possessed by Liquid again, who announces his plan to hunt down the Patriots using his host's knowledge and the first Metal Gear RAY. Snake escapes to pursue Liquid, as Arsenal Gear goes out of control.

The next morning on April 30, 2009, Arsenal crashes into downtown Manhattan, launching Raiden and Solidus onto the roof of Federal Hall National Memorial. Solidus attempts to kill Raiden, intending to use his nanomachines to lead him to the Patriots, eliminate them, and form a nation of "Sons of Liberty". At this point, Raiden is contacted by AI's of the Colonel and Rosemary, introducing themselves as representatives of the Patriots, who reveal that the true purpose of the simulation was to see how they could simulate and control human behavior in order to prevent society from dumbing down due to trivial information drowning valuable knowledge and inconvenient truths. Raiden is forced to fight Solidus, after the Patriots threaten to kill Olga's child and Rose if he does not cooperate. After Solidus's defeat, Snake reveals he planted a tracking device on Liquid's Metal Gear. Snake and Otacon plan to follow him, rescue Olga's child, and hunt down the Patriots, whose details were hidden in the GW computer virus disc. Raiden is finally reunited with Rose for the anniversary of their first meeting.

In a brief epilogue, Otacon and Snake discuss the decoding of the virus disc, which contains the personal data on all twelve members of the Patriots' high council. However, it is revealed that all of them in the Wisemen's Committee have been dead for about one hundred years.


The creator Hideo Kojima's original design document for the game was completed in January 1999; it was made publicly available several years later and translated into English in 2006.[36] It mentioned that the game was originally going to be called Metal Gear Solid III to symbolize Manhattan's three tallest skyscrapers."[36] The document outlines new game mechanics and features, such as bodies that need to be hidden, enemies being able to detect shadows, lights in an area that can be destroyed to affect enemy vision, realistic enemy AI that relies on squad tactics rather than working individually, and multi-level environments that add an element of "vertical tension" to the stealth gameplay. It also outlines themes, such as passing on memories, environmental issues, and particularly social themes regarding the "digitization of the military," digital simulations, the "digitization of operational planning," the "digitization of everyday life," and the "effects of digitization on personality." The document stated that the "aim of the story" involves "a series of betrayals and sudden reversals, to the point where the player is unable to tell fact from fiction" (departing from the "very clear and understandable story" of its predecessor), that "every character lies to (betrays) someone once," blurring the line between "what is real, and what is fantasy," and "ironies aimed at the digital society and gaming culture."

The game's production budget was $10 million.[37] Kojima states that when he "heard about the hardware for the PlayStation 2," he "wanted to try something new. Up to that point, all cutscenes had focused more on details like facial expressions, but I wanted to pay more attention to the surroundings, to see how much I could change them in real time."[38]

Protagonist switch

For Metal Gear Solid 2, the established protagonist of Solid Snake was only made playable for the prologue portion of the game. A new protagonist named Raiden would substitute him as the player character for the main portion. The decision to introduce a new protagonist came from the idea of portraying Solid Snake from another character's perspective, but also to get around the dilemma of having to write gameplay tutorials directed at Snake, as Kojima felt that having to explain mission procedures and weapon handling to a veteran soldier like Snake would've felt unnatural after three games. The character of Raiden was created in order to appeal to female players after Kojima overheard female debuggers working on the first Metal Gear Solid criticizing the game for having only an "old man" as a protagonist.[37] Raiden's presence in the game was kept a secret prior to release, with preview trailers showing Snake in situations and battles that actually occurred to Raiden in the published game, such as a battle against a Harrier on George Washington Bridge and an encounter with the new Cyborg Ninja inside the tanker.

Plot changes

According to Kojima in the documentary Metal Gear Saga Vol. 1, the original plot of the game revolved around nuclear weapon inspections in Iraq and Iran and had Solid Snake trying to stop the Metal Gear while it was located on an aircraft carrier, in a certain time limit, while trying to stop Liquid Snake and his group. However, about six months into the project the political situation in the Middle East became a concern and they decided that they could not make a game with such a plot. The tanker in the released game is based on this original plot.

MGS2 was also intended to reference the novel City of Glass, notably in the naming of its characters.[39] Raiden's support team originally featured a different field commander named Colonel Daniel Quinn; Maxine "Max" Work, an Asian woman who saves game data and quotes Shakespeare, and William "Doc" Wilson, the creator of GW. All take their names from key characters in the book, and all three would have turned out to be artificial intelligences. None of these characters survived to the final edition, their roles being absorbed by other characters, namely the "Colonel Campbell" simulation, Rose, and Emma Emmerich. Peter Stillman, however, takes his name from another City of Glass character.[40]

A character named Chinaman, originally planned to be included as a villain, was later on omitted and his abilities incorporated in Vamp, namely the ability to walk on water and walls. Chinaman would have movements modeled after Jet Li and have a body tattoo of a dragon that would come alive as soon as he dove into water.[41]

Significant changes to the game's ending were made late in development following the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York, where the finale occurs. A sequence depicting Arsenal Gear's displacement of the Statue of Liberty and crashing through half of Manhattan was removed, as was a short coda to appear after the credits, a breaking newscast showing the Statue of Liberty's new resting place, Ellis Island. At the point where Solidus dies, Raiden was supposed to have cut the rope on Federal Hall's flagpole, causing an American flag to fall over Solidus' body, and American flags that were supposed to be on all the flagpoles in New York were removed from the title.[42] The Japanese spelling of name "Raiden" was changed from katakana (ライデン) to kanji (雷電) due to the former form of the name resembling "Bin Laden" in Japanese.[lower-alpha 2][43]


Kojima's choice of composer for Metal Gear Solid 2 was highly publicized in the run-up to the game's release, with him deciding upon Harry Gregson-Williams, a film composer from Hans Zimmer's studio, after watching The Replacement Killers with sound director Kazuki Muraoka. A mix CD containing 18 tracks of Gregson-Williams' work was sent to his office. Flattered by the research put into creating the CD (as some of the tracks were unreleased, and that what tracks he'd worked on for some films were undocumented), he joined the project soon after.[44]

In order to bypass the language barrier and allow the score to be developed before the cutscenes were finalized, Gregson-Williams was sent short phrases or descriptions of the intended action. The resultant themes then shaped the action sequences in return. Gregson-Williams also arranged and re-orchestrated the original "Metal Gear Solid Main Theme" for use in the game's opening title sequence.

Norihiko Hibino, who had worked on previous Konami games such as Metal Gear: Ghost Babel, was responsible for the in-game music. He also worked on the majority of the game's cutscenes, re-orchestrating Gregson-Williams' "Main Theme" remix for use in several sequences.

As with Metal Gear Solid, the cutscene music includes orchestral and choir pieces, while the in-game soundtrack is scored with ambient music. However, the score as a whole incorporates more electronic elements (particularly breakbeat) than its predecessor, in order to reflect the plot's thematic thrust of a machine-dominated society. Rika Muranaka again provided a vocal ending theme, a jazz track entitled "Can't Say Goodbye to Yesterday", sung by Carla White. The game's music was released via four CDs: Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty Original Soundtrack, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty Soundtrack 2: The Other Side, Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance Limited Sorter (Black Edition) and Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance Ultimate Sorter (White Edition).

The game's main theme was chosen by the London Philharmonic Orchestra for their Greatest Video Game Music compilation,[45] and the theme is a key regular in the Video Games Live concert when the Metal Gear Solid segment is introduced.[46] A segment of the song's main chorus is included during the closing sequence of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.[47][48]


Unlike the original Metal Gear Solid, which was released in Japan first, Sons of Liberty was first released in North America on November 14, 2001. Because of the later release in the region, the protagonist switch was not kept a secret in the Japanese version in the weeks prior to its release. A preview event was held in Zepp Tokyo on the day of the game's North American release in which the character of Raiden was unveiled to the Japanese public.[49] As a result, the Japanese packaging artwork depicts Raiden standing prominently next to Solid Snake, as opposed to only having Snake like on the cover artwork used for the American (and later European) version. A questionnaire was also added in the Japanese version, in which players are asked about their experience with the original Metal Gear Solid and action games in general; the answers to the questionnaire determines the difficulty level of the game and whether the player starts the game on the Tanker chapter or skips directly to the Plant chapter (an option that is only available after clearing the game once in the American version). The Japanese version has a few other additional features over the American version, including two extra game modes unlocked after completing the main game: Boss Survival, in which the player replays through the boss battles from the main game as either, Snake or Raiden; and Casting Theater, in which the player can view certain cutscenes from the main game and replace the character models.

The Japanese version was released on November 29, two weeks after the American version. As with the original Metal Gear Solid, Sons of Liberty was sold in a limited "Premium Package" edition in addition to the standard release, which was packaged in a black box containing the game itself with a reversible cover art on the DVD case (with Snake on one side and Raiden on the other), a video DVD known as the Premium Disc, which features a collection of Metal Gear Solid-related commercials and trailers, a metallic Solid Snake figurine, and an 80-page booklet titled Metal Gear Chronicle featuring artwork and commentary about the series.

The European version, which was initially scheduled for February 22, 2002, was delayed and released on March 8, nearly four months after the other regions. The added features from the Japanese release were carried over to the European version, along with a new difficulty setting (European Extreme). The European version came packaged with a video DVD titled The Making of Metal Gear Solid 2. As well as collating all of the game's promotional trailers and a GameSpot feature on the game's final days of development, it features a titular documentary produced by French television production house FunTV, which was filmed at KCE Japan West's Japanese studio. The DVD was included as an apology to European consumers for the several month delay that had occurred since the original November release in North America and Japan, which saw numerous European gaming magazines detail the various twists in the game.

The Document of Metal Gear Solid 2

Released on September 12, 2002 in Japan and on September 24 in North America, The Document of Metal Gear Solid 2 is an interactive database for the PS2 that documents the development of Metal Gear Solid 2. It contains a gallery of all the 3D models of characters, scenery and objects that were used in the game (as well as unused assets), along with corresponding concept art when available. All the real-time cutscenes (or polygon demos) are also available to view (without audio), with the option to pause them at any point, change the camera angle and move them frame by frame. Other content include storyboards, behind-the-scenes footage, preview trailers, music tracks (with the option to play alternate patterns when applicable), the finalized screenplay, Hideo Kojima's original draft (available in Japanese only), a development timeline, and a gallery of Metal Gear Solid related products and merchandise. The disc also includes a sampler selection of VR training missions that were later featured in Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance. In Europe, the disc was bundled as a bonus with the PS2 version of Substance instead of having a stand-alone release. It was also included in the Japanese 20th Anniversary re-release of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty on July 2007.


File:MetalGearSolid2-Substance screenshot2.jpg
A screenshot from one of the training missions in Substance. Snake is dressed in a tuxedo

Unlike the original release, Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance, the expanded edition of the game, was released on multiple platforms, being available on the original Xbox and Windows in addition to PS2.[lower-alpha 3] The Xbox version was initially released in North America as a timed exclusive for the console on November 5, 2002. This was followed by the PS2 version, released in Japan on December 19 of the same year. Substance was eventually released on PS2 and PC DVD-ROM in North America and on all three platforms in Europe in March 2003. The console versions were developed internally by KCE Japan, whereas the PC conversion was outsourced to Success.

Substance contains several supplemental game modes in addition to the main story mode from the original Sons of Liberty releases. The main game contains all the changes and additions that were made in the Japanese and European versions of the original release (e.g. Boss Survival, Casting Theater, European Extreme), along with further additional changes. Players can now start the main story mode at the Tanker or Plant chapters without the need to answer a questionnaire first and a new set of collectible dog tags have been added (exclusively on the PS2 version) based on names submitted from a second contest in addition to the original (2001) set. The visual effect for the thermal goggles were also changed in Substance and the FHM-licensed posters that adorned several locations in the original Sons of Liberty version have been replaced with public domain images (these were also replaced in The Document of Metal Gear Solid 2). The Xbox and PC version feature slight dialogue changes during certain control explanations in which the term "analog stick" was substituted with "thumbstick" (Microsoft's preferred term). The controls were also slightly altered for the Xbox version, due to its fewer shoulder buttons (clicking on the left thumbstick switches between normal and first-person view, while the Y button serves as a lock-on for the player's aim). The Xbox version has support for 5.1 surround sound.

The primary addition of Substance is the inclusion of an extra missions mode with 350 VR missions set in a computer-constructed environment and 150 "Alternative" missions set in areas from the main story. The player can choose to play these missions as Solid Snake or Raiden, with alternate versions of both characters (in different outfits) becoming available as the player progresses. These missions are divided into eight categories (although not all of them are available to every character): Sneaking, Weapon, First Person View (which simulates a first-person shooter), Variety, Hold Up, Bomb Disposal, Elimination and Photograph.

The other new addition are the "Snake Tales", which are a set of five story-based missions featuring Solid Snake as the player character. These missions are primarily set in the Big Shell and involve characters from the main story in new roles such as Fatman, Emma, Vamp and Solidus Snake, with one mission set in the Tanker has Meryl Silverburgh (from the original Metal Gear Solid) as the main antagonist. These missions, which are unrelated to the main story, have no voice acted cutscenes - instead, the story is told through text only interludes.

Exclusive to the PS2 version is a skateboarding minigame in which the player control Snake or Raiden in a pair of Big Shell-themed levels. The player has to complete a set of objectives before time runs out, which range from collecting dog tags scattered throughout the level to blowing up parts of Big Shell. The minigame uses the same engine from Evolution Skateboarding, which was developed by Konami Computer Entertainment Osaka.[50]

On release, Famitsu magazine scored the PlayStation 2 version of the game a 35 out of 40.[51]

HD Edition

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty - HD Edition was released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2011 and for the PlayStation Vita in 2012. This version is included in the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, but is also available as a digital download on the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade. The PS3 and Xbox 360 versions feature an increased 720p resolution and a 16:9 aspect ratio, providing a clearer and wider view of the player's surroundings compared to the original 480p resolution and 4:3 ratio of the PS2 version,[52] while the PS Vita version runs at qHD resolution.[53] Cutscenes can now be viewed in full-screen or letterboxed format, while online achievements/trophies have been added as well. Most of the additional content from Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance have also been ported in this version, such as the Missions and Snake Tales modes, although the Skateboarding minigame that was present in the PS2 version of Substance is absent. The PS3 and Vita versions have a "transfarring" option that allows players to transfer save data between both versions through a wi-fi connection or a cloud network. The Vita version has touch screen and touch pad support for certain gameplay functions such as switching between items and weapons or zooming into cutscenes.

Related media

IDW Publishing published a 12-issue comic book adaptation from 2006 to 2007, titled Metal Gear Solid: Sons of Liberty, illustrated by Ashley Wood (who also worked on the comic book adaptation of the previous game) and written by Alex Garner. This version deviates from the game, where many scenes involving Raiden are substituted with Snake.

A digital version of the comic, titled Metal Gear Solid 2: Bande Dessinée, was released on June 12, 2008 in Japan. Originally announced as a PlayStation Portable game, similar to the Metal Gear Solid: Digital Graphic Novel, the digital comic was released as a DVD film instead. A fully voiced version of the graphic novel adaptation of the first Metal Gear Solid is featured as well.[54]

A novelization of the game written by Raymond Benson and published by Del Rey. The American paperback edition was published on November 24, 2009. A majority of the character interaction in the novel is taken verbatim from the Codec conversations in the game itself.

A second novelization by Kenji Yano (written under the pen name Hitori Nojima), titled Metal Gear Solid Substance II, was published by Kadokawa Shoten in Japan on September 24, 2015.[55] This novelization is narrated in real time during the events of the Plant chapter from the perspective of a young man living Manhattan.


Critical response

Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 95.09%[56]
Metacritic 96/100[57]
Review scores
Publication Score
AllGame 5/5 stars[58][59]
CVG 9/10
Edge 8/10[60]
EGM 38.5/40
Famitsu 38/40[61][62]
Game Informer 10/10[56]
GamePro 5/5 stars[63]
Game Revolution A[56]
GamesMaster 96%[56]
GameSpot 9.6/10[64]
GameSpy 5/5 stars[65]
GamesRadar 96/100[57]
GameZone 9.8/10[66]
IGN 9.7/10[67]
OPM (US) 5/5 stars[56]
OPM (UK) 10/10[68]
PSM 10/10[56]
PSM3 96%[56]
GameNOW A+[56] 9.6/10[56]
Gaming Target 9.9/10[56]
Just Adventure A[56]
Maxim 5/5 stars[57]
Next Generation 5/5 stars[56]
The Electric Playground 9.7/10[57]
Publication Award
Game Informer Game of the Year[69]
CESA Award Excellence Award[70]
Edge Innovation of the Year[70]

As a result of promising trailers and the huge commercial success of its predecessor Metal Gear Solid, there was a high level of anticipation in the gaming community surrounding the release of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.[71] The game's E3 2000 demo, surprised many spectators with its level of realism and played a key role in the PlayStation 2 console's early success.[72]

In the United States, the game sold 500,000 units within two days of release, and 680,000 copies within five.[73] By July 2006, it had sold 2 million copies and earned $85 million in the United States alone. Next Generation ranked it as the 16th highest-selling game launched for the PlayStation 2, Xbox or GameCube between January 2000 and July 2006 in that country.[74] In Japan, the game sold 400,000 units in its first day, in addition to its 600,000 pre-orders in that country.[73] The game's PlayStation 2 version received a "Platinum" sales award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA),[75] indicating sales of at least 300,000 copies in the United Kingdom.[76] It ultimately sold 7 million copies worldwide.[citation needed]

Metal Gear Solid 2 received a critical average of 96% on Metacritic, where it is the fourth highest-rated game on the PlayStation 2,[77] and the tied sixth highest-rated game of all time.[78] Game Informer gave the game a score of 10/10 (notably, this is the second game Game Informer ever gave a 10/10 score), and it received high reviews from nearly all major publications and websites. GameSpot gave the game a high 9.6 rating, stating, "It boils down to this: You must play Metal Gear Solid 2".[64] Critics praised the title's stealth gameplay, particularly the improvements over its predecessor, as well as the game's level of graphical detail, in particular the use of in-game graphics to render plot-driving cutscenes.[79]

The game was critically acclaimed, gaining a 95.09% and 96/100 aggregate at ratings websites GameRankings and Metacritic, the highest score for a Metal Gear Solid game on the websites respectively.[56][57] The title's storyline, however, was initially divisive[80] and became the source of controversy. The storyline explores many social, philosophical and cyberpunk themes in great detail, including meme theory, social engineering, sociology, artificial intelligence, information control, conspiracy theories, political and military maneuvering, evolution, existentialism, censorship, the nature of reality,[81][82][83][84][85][86] post-truth politics,[87] child exploitation,[88] and taboos such as incest[89] and sexual orientation.[90] Hideo Kojima's ambitious script has been praised, some even calling it the first example of a postmodern video game.[81][82][83][91][92][93][94] However, some critics considered the plot to be "incomprehensible" and overly heavy for an action game, and also felt that the lengthy dialogue sections heavily disrupted the gameplay, and that the dialogue itself was overly disjointed and convoluted.[95][96] The surprise introduction of Raiden as the protagonist for the majority of the game (replacing long-time series protagonist Solid Snake) was also controversial with fans of Metal Gear Solid.[83]


  • E3 2000 Game Critics Awards: "Special Commendation for Graphics"[97]
  • E3 2001 Game Critics Awards: "Best Console Game", "Best Action/Adventure Game"[98]
  • Edge: "Innovation of the Year"[70]
  • IGN Best of 2001: "Best Graphics", "Best Sound", "Best Story"
  • Game Informer 2001 Game of the Year Awards: "Game of the Year"[69]
  • GameSpot 2001 Game of the Year Awards: "Best Music", "Biggest Surprise"
  • GameSpy 2001 Game Awards: "Best PS2 Action/Adventure Game", "Reader's Choice PS2 Game of the Year", "Best In-Game Cinematics", "Best Force Feedback"
  • Japan Game Awards 2001-2002: "Excellence Award"[70]
  • Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences 2002: "Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design"[99]

Retrospective analysis

Metal Gear Solid 2 is often considered the first example of a postmodern video game,[81][91][92] and has often been cited as a primary example of artistic expression in video games.[81][82][92][93] In his paper How Videogames Express Ideas, Matthew Weise of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology described Sons of Liberty as "perhaps the most vivid example of a game that uses tension between different levels of player agency to fuel a multi-faceted ideological argument," noting Solidus Snake's suggestion of the United States being a "totalitarian regime of thought control" and pointing to the "very meta concept" of "how the designer’s imposed plan or path for the player maps to the tyrannical nature of the government", where, "like the player, Jack has no agency other than what his puppet masters give him."[82] In the book Joystick Soldiers: The Politics of Play in Military Video Games, Tanner Higgin examined the game's "resistant and subversive counter-history of military engagement," describing its "convoluted narrative and unconventional gameplay logics" as a "critique" of "the very networks of biopolitical and informational control that comprise the postmodern military, and posthumanity generally," and noting that it "purposefully manufactures frustration and negative affect" to "highlight the typically unexamined codes, conventions, and hidden pleasures of the military game genre."[100]

Jeremy Parish of notes that "Metal Gear Solid 2 is a game built on misinformation" and that it "was simply too avant-garde—too clever—for its own good."[101] Steven Poole commented in a 2012 Edge column, "the story of MGS2, with its mythic wit and sweep, is still in a different league from the vast majority of videogame yarns. ... [H]owever, the fact that MGS2 still seems so avant-garde today might well prompt a worry: does it represent the pinnacle of a now-vanished era, the age of the experimental mainstream? This was, after all, a big-budget commercial boxed product that gleefully took risks and subverted genre conventions at every turn. Modern blockbuster games play it painfully safe by comparison."[102] Gamasutra has compared the game's themes to the philosophies of Thomas Hobbes, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, as well as the more recent social media and social gaming trends.[103]

Fifteen years after its original release, Alex Wiltshire of Glixel found the game to be "strangely prescient of not only its own time but also today", noting how it dodged "truth at every turn" and comparing it to post-truth politics, Facebook's curated newsfeed, and the 2016 United States presidential election.[87] Nicholas Montegriffo of Moviepilot further draws comparisons to contemporary concepts such as fake news, echo chambers and alternative facts. [104] According to Cameron Kunzelman of Vice, Metal Gear Solid 2 is still politically relevant in 2017.[105]


In a 2006 viewer poll conducted by Japan's Famitsu magazine of top 100 games of all time, Metal Gear Solid 2 was ranked at #42 in the poll.[106] In the 200th issue of Game Informer Magazine in 2009, its list of top 200 games of all time ranked the game at #50 on the list.[107] Metal Gear Solid 2 was ranked #7 on Game Informer's 2008 list of the top ten video game openings.[108] In 2010, GamesRadar included the game in its list of top seven games "with mega plot twists you never saw coming."[109] The game was included in Tony Mott and Peter Molyneux's 2011 book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die.[110] It has also been listed as one of the best games of all time by Electronic Gaming Monthly,[111] Empire,[112][113] GameFAQs,[114][115][116][117] GameRankings,[118] IGN,[119][120][121] Metacritic,[78] Slant,[122] and Stuff.[123][124]

In 2009, Wired included the game in its list of "The 15 Most Influential Games of the Decade" at #13, concluding that every "videogame story that subverts a player’s expectations owes a debt to the ground broken by Metal Gear Solid 2."[125] The artistic influence of Metal Gear Solid 2 can be seen in later video games such as Goichi Suda's similarly postmodern game Killer7,[91] the similarly metanarrative game Portal,[126] the survival horror title Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, and particularly the first-person shooter BioShock,[127] which featured a similar plot twist to Metal Gear Solid 2.[128] Several game mechanics developed in Metal Gear Solid 2, such as the cover system and laser sight mechanic, have since become staples of stealth games as well as shooters, including Kill Switch (2003), Resident Evil 4 (2005) and Gears of War (2006).[8][13] According to Kojima, Metal Gear Solid 2 paid more "attention to the surroundings" in real-time and later "games like Call of Duty have followed this trend of making your surroundings more realistic."[38]

The early anticipation that surrounded Metal Gear Solid 2 since its E3 2000 demo has also been credited as a key factor in the PlayStation 2's best-selling success and dominance during the sixth console generation, as well as the demise of Sega's Dreamcast.[72] According to John Szczepaniak, "MGS2 was the game which single-handedly sold Sony's new PlayStation 2 to the masses."[129] MGS2, along with its predecessor, has been featured in the Smithsonian American Art Museum's exhibition The Art of Video Games in 2012.[130]



  1. Known in Japan as (メタルギアソリッド2 サンズ・オブ・リバティ?, "Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty")
  2. See the Japanese language Wikipedia for information about spelling variations of Osama bin Laden.
  3. Except in Japan, where Substance was a PS2-exclusive as well. This version features Japanese text and English voice acting, similar to the earlier Metal Gear Solid: Integral (the expanded edition of the original Metal Gear Solid).


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