Metal Gear Solid: Sons of Liberty (PS2)
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As many would expect, the visuals do not disappoint. The 3D cinematic sequences are masterfully designed and seamlessly integrate with the actual gameplay. Much of the sequences are very dramatic, adopting a style highly reminiscent of a high caliber Hollywood/Hong Kong action movie. Overall, the 3D models and motion-captured animations are very expressive and lifelike, though there are moments when the emotions don't always convey the exact emotion they're feeling. Not quite on the same level as demonstrated by various CG sequences featured by Square and Namco titles, but impressive no less. The most consistent element that runs through the entire game is its attention to detail. In comparison to the original, the environments possess a much greater sense of realism and interaction on a variety of levels. Bottles, flour bags, and steam pipes, to name a few, are just some of the examples of what Snake can personally interact with, each respectively has significance to the game itself or featured for novelty purposes. For example, shooting a steam pipe can be used as an impromptu offensive tool, whereas walking over a patch of bird droppings formed over a gradual period of time can render you temporarily dazed should you run over it.
Given the present potential of the hardware available, Hideo Kojima and the development staff certainly went to great lengths to make Metal Gear Solid 2 as realistic as possible. When you stop to analyze the immense level of graphic integrity and minute details, which when factored in with the diverse game environments and their respective behaviors, it's truly a marvel to behold that this was accomplished in the PlayStation 2's second generation. To date, I have yet to see anything better than the level of detail and realism depicted by the pounding rainstorm featured in the opening segment. And the magnitude of excellence doesn't end there, as you'll discover that both in- and outdoor environments all carry their own respective details and appeal. In short, Metal Gear Solid 2 is easily one of the system's examples of graphic integrity at its best.
Keeping in line with the original, the control configuration remains relatively unchanged, short of a number of new moves, (namely the ability to execute a running roll and hanging from railings). More advanced moves allow Snake to shake down fallen guards for any items in their possession, dragging them out of sight, or even holding them up at gunpoint. Due to the increased AI, stealth tactics are the linchpin to successfully maneuvering throughout the entire game. And you can count on being detected at one time or another. Gone are the somewhat dumbfounded soldiers of yesteryear which could be easily avoided once you escaped their field of vision. This time around, enemy soldiers will immediately respond based on a range of factors - such as the sound of a USP discharged or even fallen soldiers that you've left in the area.
Naturally, the last thing you want to do is alert them to your presence. If you're detected, the solider is more than likely going to radio in for reinforcements. And in traditional Metal Gear Solid fashion - alarms ensue, and your radar is temporarily disabled from use. In addition, you can expect a more aggressive ensemble to arrive on the scene, complete with protective gear (and a variety of strategic tactics) which will be put to use to eradicate you. Thus, it's in your best interest to avoid detection at all costs, or at the very least, initiate an expedious route and hide until the Alert mode transpires. In the event that you die (and that's bound to happen), you can continue from the immediate area which you entered, which minimizes the frustration factor to a minimum.
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