Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake
Red was right – playing this game is critical if you want to TRULY understand the Metal Gear legacy. I’d never played it before, but the MSX sequel to the original was a hell of a piece of work.
What’s truly remarkable about MG2:SS is how… uh… Metal Geary it is. THIS GAME - not Solid - is the originator of all the tropes. THIS game is where everything that we came to know later as Hideo Fun really began. This is really the Patient Alpha of Metal Gear. I had no idea.
I’m not kidding when I say that Metal Gear Solid, for all its hailed genius, is basically just Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake with a 3D skin wrapped around it. By way of example I present the big list of things I did in Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake
- Watched a sweet, 16-bit Genesis era cinematic with lots of words about Nuclear Weapons and some sick 3D pixel art showcasing mecha porn
- Called Campbell on codec frequency 107.85
- Met my handlers, each of which was helping me with a specific aspect of the game
- Began the game by crawling into a vent on the left hand side of area 2 to enter the big facility via the tank hangar
- … while talking to Master Miller
- Facility was 2 ultimately 2 buildings connected by a bridge.
- Spent a lot of time hiding in knee-high areas like under tables and in air vents while “alert” level declined from 3,2,1 “he’s gone!”
- Night vision goggles and cigarette smoke to get past the laser tripwires
- Shot the radio controlled missile to blow up the keypad controlling the electric floor (this goes back to the original)
- Crawling around picking up mines in the minefield while “my biggest fan” spoke to me anonymously over the comm
- Hiding in trucks in cardboard boxes to zap between locations, or in boxes as security cameras rotate
- Knock on walls in the basements until you find the hollow one that you blow up to reveal the body armor on the south wall
- Opening insta-death pit traps in the basement again, WHY HIDEO?
- Ran back to building 1 to grab the Stinger missiles out of the western room so I could fight the Hind-D
- Fought a tank with landmines in the space between buildings
- “Had a very long sequence where I ran up some stairs for a long time to get to the bridge between the buildings while dudes chased me for multiple floors”
- “Had a fight in an elevator with 4 dudes who tried to ambush me after a brief codec warning”
- Had to identify the female soldier by stalking random people until someone went into the women’s washroom, where I confronted her in her underwear
- Had brief melodramatic “love can bloom on the battlefield” sequence with the woman I met in the ladies room, we traveled together for 5 minutes
- … before she was shot and killed by a sniper in front of me. Live, Snake, live.
- Had to find cold medicine so I wouldn’t catch a cold after being in the wet areas
- Ran around trying to find hot and cold areas of the map to change the shape of my thermo-chamelionic keycard
- Had a multi-screen fight in a big grass field with a sniper who disappeared into the foliage as cover and moved between screens
- Had a late-game fight with an invisible assassin boss who was trackable by sound and environmental cues
- Fought metal gear with a grenade launcher, then fistfought a dude (grey fox) in the burning wreckage before big escape sequence
- Had to get “Eva” to the helicopter, Metroid-style as the base was blowing up and timers were counting down.
It’s eerie man. Eerie. That said, there’s still this whole list of things I have NEVER done before in a Metal Gear game:
- Hatched an egg in my inventory into an owl … which I used as an alarm clock.
- Hatched an egg in my inventory into a snake, who ate all my rations before leaving
- Used specific rations that contained chocolate and /or beans to solve environmental problems that could only be solved by chocolate and/or beans
- Collected a bucket and hid under it like a cardboard box
- Had a boss fight with a boss who was gripping me in a chokehold the entire time and could only be killed by things like mines and directional missiles
- Used a smoke grenade to determine wind direction before leaping off a building in a hang glider
- Navigating a swamp by sound and feel
- A boss fight where the boss’ only strategy was to run away from you as fast as possible while the room filled with poison gas
- Punched out Grey Fox while fighting barehanded and badassed in a minefield after blowing up Metal Gear. We will revisit this exact same scene with Liquid shortly.
MSX MG2 is like playing Hideo’s weird college age demo tape. The same songs you know and love are there in (mostly) the same arrangements, but it’s all raw and stream of consciousness style with no post-production. MG2 lacks the subtlety and refinements we’d see in the later games – and probably could have used a good editor - but still shows pretty much as a white-hot bolt of creative genius. Playing this game (remember - a product of the Policenauts / SNATCHER era) feels relentlessly, breathlessly creative. I would 100% bet that at the time of its release there was just nothing like it, and there STILL isn’t.http://i.ytimg.com/vi/T-H0fmG9ffI/hqdefault.jpg
That said, I’m glad I’m playing MG2 in a post-gameFAQs world. There are some things in here… plenty of stuff actually… that would have 100% stuck me as a kid. Some guy knocking on the wall, tap tap tap, and I’m meant to infer a codec frequency out of that? Come on. Random places where I’m supposed to know to punch the wall to uncover secret passages? Throw smoke grenade to determine wind velocity? Just ‘know’ that I need to take the key to the freezer and then run back super quickly before it changes shape? Get outa here. This stuff would be handled much better in later games with tight codec prompting which gradually uncovered the game’s mysteries.
Still though, the scene where Solid Snake finally faces down Big Boss (yes, with a lighter and a can of hairspray) is something I’ve been waiting to do for 30 years. Bucket list, complete.