This was a game that I needed to play as soon as I had completed the original back in 1999.
It spoke of a third brother; Solidus, who also seemed to be the President of the United States, while Ocelot seemed aware of much more than what happened at Shadow Moses.
This was eighteen months before there was a computer and dial-up internet in our house, so finding out information on the sequel was few and far between.
Looking into Gamesmaster magazine each month brought nothing, just a rumour of Liquid coming back, and it possibly being set in the Middle East.
It wasnt until around a year later that the announcement came, with a launch video.
But it turns out, what I had read in GamesMaster almost came to be.
Hideo Kojima came up with the design document and finished it for January of 1999, a mere month before I received the PAL version of MGS 1.
It spoke of Snake in Iraq and Iran, trying to disable a new Metal Gear, piloted by Liquid, in an alloted time limit.
But to throw people off, it would be called MGS III, symbolising the three Snake brothers and also Manhattan’s (at the time) three tallest skyscrapers, but also making fans wonder of what happened to 2.
The above video shows some of this, such as the MGS III, and mentions of Liquid.
Once the final version was complete, it was ready to go, until the tragedy of the Twin Towers in 2001. The game was delayed to remove certain scenes of New York towards the end of the game’s plot, including removing the Twin Towers as well.
Finally in March of 2002, the game was mine.
The result for me, was very mixed.
A part of me loved the Tanker chapter, but you realise in the Plant chapter, that the plot has become much more important than the game itself. A lot was a retread of the original game, mainly in order to satisfy the story, which disappointed me.
- The beginning of the Plant Chapter.
- Nikita missle to destroy a hazard so you can rescue someone.
- Metal Gear followed by a fistfight.
- Torture scene.
- Having to find a weapon to fight against someone.
- A group of mercenaries with their own codenames and their group name.
- Snake finding out he has a brother.
Far too many similarities, and for me that was its downfall. Because there was so much more focus on the story, combined with not playing as Snake but Raiden, it left a bad taste for many. But regardless of all of these points, it was a very enjoyable game. The new features it brought across, such as holding guards up, threatening them in ‘certain’ places to give up items, or using ‘coolant’ to not only disable bombs, but waking guards up or extinguishing fires to open up a new route.
When you eventually collect the stealth camoflauge, the best moment for me is wearing it in the Metal Gear Ray briefing in the Tanker chapter, and punching the soldiers, resulting in a dominos effect, plus a lot of slowdown.
Playing it through on Hard mode all of last month, it’s amazing to me how I can come back to this so easily, but also repeatedly, while Phantom Pain requires a lot of effort from me to play it even twice in a week.
To 2003, where the first two games seemingly combined and resulted in Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes. It was a remake of the first game, but with the second game’s features. Fun, granted, but with these features, it felt out of place using the M9 for instance; it made the game easier. No matter which difficulty level you were on.
To you now, reading up to this point it may seem as if i was very disappointed by Sons of Liberty, and essentially i find most of the game as a recycled remake of the first, but you would be mistaken.
Regardless of the similarities, it did the impossible task of being its own game, of taking the fact of meeting and surpassing the predecessor, and taking it head on, by making the Plant chapter a retelling of MGS 1 of sorts, but making the story so good that it justified it. The Patriots are still one of the most intriging protagonists to be in a game, surpassing The Covenant, surpassing even Liquid Snake. Their greatest attribute is being the invisible enemy, but the most visible at the same time. They are the Emperor Palpatine of the series. It’s not until the final act of Metal Gear Solid 4 that we ‘see‘ them in a sense, and they’re finally brought down.
It’s most definitely a game that set a precedent, that games can be seen as a medium as much as films have since Charlie Chaplin popularised it. Even now the game’s methods are still a big influence; in Halo 5, in Hitman, and Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst.
It got re-released as ‘Substance’ on PS2 and Xbox a year later with VR missions and ‘Snake Tales’, where you could play as Snake in the Plant chapter in bitesized episodes. Fun, and was a good way of helping fans wait for Snake Eater in 2004.
It’s available on the Playstation 2, 3 and Vita systems, alongside a PC version if you can even find that. Hopefully it sees a release on Playstation 4. With PS2 Classics now on the system, while I’m currently finishing Resident Evil 4 on the system, hopefully Konami and Sony see sense to release the ‘Substance’ version to it soon.