Sony has unlocked Pandora’s Box by releasing some of its PS2 classics on the PS4 in 1080p with full feature support, including trophies. Sure, I could just as easily spend that $15 on a satisfying meal at Chipotle, but whereas Chipotle will only bring me temporary satisfaction, trophies last forever. So, the question now stands, what do we want to see them bring back? The PS2 had an enormous library, so every Friday I will make a case for the games that I think deserve the recognition. Some are beloved classics, others are deeper cuts. This week’s pick is:
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (2001)
God only knows how many copies of Zone of the Enders the demo for this game sold. Luckily, I was able to borrow it from my cousin, sparing me from having to lay down the cash necessary to satisfy Hideo Kojima’s mecha fetish. But trust me if you weren’t there, MGS2 was a big deal. Thus, it is only logical that at some point it would make its way onto this list.
When talking about Metal Gear Solid as a series, Metal Gear Sold 2: Sons of Liberty is often viewed as the illegitimate half-brother of the original. Unlike their successors, both games focused on infiltrating one, singular complex. Therefore, the design of said environment was everything, and both did a good job of making you fall in love with Shadow Moses and Big Shell respectively. In fact, I would argue that MGS2 did an even better job. The PS2 allowed Kojima to add details on a level that was impossible on previous hardware (you have to love that pigeon poop), and that sunset on the Hudson was, and still is, beautiful. While snow-ridden Alaska had an inescapable mood, Big Shell felt more alive.
Of course, the PS2 also allowed a greatly expanded arsenal when it came to “tactical espionage action”. MGS2 brought with it first-person aiming, which was only briefly available in MGS1 towards the end. Hanging off rails, shooting from cover, ‘soft walking’ over noisy terrain, holding up guards, shooting their radios to break up communications, and much more – all standard features of gaming today that were introduced by this game in 2001. All of this action was rendered beautifully and without a hiccup, a rarity in the PS2 days. Even today, the game remains pretty despite some blocky details that show the limitations of the time.
Admittedly, Kojima became very meta with the story towards the end. But, honestly, weird is the man’s signature, and the reason many fell in love with this series. For me, the entire saga is like a comic book rendition of a special cocktail of Die Hard, Navy Seals, and just about any other 80’s action flick you can think of. It’s like criticizing the Flash as being crazy because his super speed allows him to travel across time – it just works. While not as cohesive as some of his other works, Kojima’s story here serves its purpose and allows us to interact with some awesome characters. Fatman was always a personal favorite. Only Kojima could make an obese explosives expert on roller blades (with a taste for fine wine, no less) interesting.
Why, then, is Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty so frowned upon if it was so good? Well, (SPOILERS) you only play as Solid Snake for the first hour or so (END SPOILERS). But, you know what? In the end, I didn’t really care, because this game did just about everything a game can do right. In many ways, I would argue this game exceeded its predecessor. While MGS1 definitely spun one of the greatest yarns in gaming history, MGS2 not only kept me interested in its plot, but it just fundamentally played better. This game remains, for me, a personal favorite as an overall package, and is an easy choice for Bring It Back.
But, there is an even more important reason for me to get on this grandstand and rail about why Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty needs to be brought back: Konami has gone off the deep end. It has been coming for a while, but now it is pretty clear that they have very little interest in propagating a positive image as a game publisher. For the sake of gaming history, I would love for Sony to jump in and make these titles playable on today’s consoles. I realize that, for the most part, the entire series is playable on PS3 and Xbox 360. However, those consoles won’t be around forever. The last thing I would want is for Metal Gear Solid to go the way of Suikoden, or other mishandled Konami properties, where for years the only way to play was being able to get a hold of the original disk (before the digital release of Suikoden II, those went for hundreds of dollars). Sony, I would keep my PSN name for a decade to prevent that from happening, so get to it.
For more titles we think need to be brought back, see here. As always, tune in next week for the PS2 titles we want to see on the PS4.