MGS2-TitleI always come out of PAX feeling exceptionally geeky. I want to just throw myself into the depths of my nerdy pasttimes and say goodbye forever to trying to find a balance in my life. Case and point: this article was originally going to be about the strange career path of Kid Cudi, but instead I feel like talking about the video games that I’m currently playing.

I don’t really know what happened between myself and the Metal Gear Solid franchise. Prior to the purchase of my original PlayStation I was really just a platformer and fighting game kid. These were the days before achievements but I had managed to pretty much 100% most of the Marios, Sonics and Castlevanias around at the time. I had a decent handle of Street Fighter and could hold my own in Mortal Kombat (and shout out to Eternal Champions).

That changed drastically when I got the PlayStation. Final Fantasy 7 got me into RPGS, Twisted Metal got me into car combat (albeit that was basically a whole new genre), Wipeout got me into racing and Metal Gear Solid got me into stealth games (I put a lot of time into Tenchu and even Syphon Filter due to Metal Gear Solid). I played MGS multiple times, got the bandana, the invisibility suit, hell, I even beat the game in a sweet tuxedo. If you told me that there were going to be 4 or 5 critically acclaimed sequels to MGS by 2016, I probably would have thought I would have played them all by now. My past self would be wrong though.

If I recall correctly, my brother picked up Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty when it came out. This was 2001 so we both no longer lived with my parents, so we each had PS2s. I remember watching him play it and seeing Raiden and being pretty “wtf is this” about the whole thing. Add to that the general outcry at the time that you spend about the first 20% of the game as Snake and the rest as some skinny blonde dude and I just never really gave it a chance. I decided not to play it. Then I stopped playing the entire series.

Despite the accolades that pretty much the entire series received over the years (even 2 seems to have grown on people) and the fact that the games don’t even occur in chronological order I just never went back to Metal Gear. I’ve played every single Twisted Metal game that has come out and have now played probably 10 or more of the Final Fantasy series, but somehow, Metal Gear Solid was the only Metal Gear I have ever played. At some point in time, Metal Gear Solid HD Collection for the VITA popped up for either cheap or free on PlayStation Plus. The set has both MGS 2 and 3 remastered in glorious HD and was now playable on portable. It’s always easier to head back to older games when it’s not actually cutting into your “main console” time.

Long story short, over 14 years later after its initial release, I was going to go back to Metal Gear Solid. So how does it hold up?

MGS2-SnakeThe answer is “pretty well.” There’s a lot of very dated control issues that the game just doesn’t seem to care about fixing. For instance, the press “X” to crouch into stealth mode has carried over from the first game, and if you push in a direction while in stealth mode your character will lie down onto the floor to crawl along stealthily. That doesn’t sound so bad, does it? Well, except for the fact that there are sequences where the game will basically set you up to be crouching behind something and have the bad guys chuck grenades at you. If you (reasonably) just push the directional stick away from the grenade your character will promptly lie face down on the floor. From that position there is no way you’ll ever rise to crouch, then to standing, then to running away in time before the grenade goes off. You will die.

Similarly there’s the issue with the “first person shooting” part of the game. New to the series, you can now hold one of the shoulder buttons and access a first person view for precision shooting with any weapon, not just sniper rifles and rocket launchers. This must have been one of the first games to feature easily swapping between a 3rd and 1st person view (the feature became pretty common on PS3,but this is still PS2) and is still pretty cool. The only problem is that when you switch into first person mode, your feet get glued to the floor. You can only aim. So no running or strafing to be had. Might not have been so glaring when it came out, but to go back and deal with this mechanic takes a lot of adjustment.

There are also features which are amazing and blow my mind considering the game is from two generations and 14 years ago. Namely the ability to target enemies’ walkie-talkies or other specific targets (limbs, fire extinguishers, what have you). Shoot out a guy’s walkie and now he can’t call for backup if you mess up your takedown/kill. That’s super cool. Add to that the fact that you can now hide bodies, hold up guards for extra ammo and smoke cigarettes to see laser grids and you’ve got a lot of cool features that were really ahead of their time.

Other than those few little clunky moments, the whole thing comes off much better than I frankly expected from a game that came out 14 years ago. The story is solid and even has an extremely prescient slant predicting the rise of trite social media information overload adversely effecting the population (this was pre-Facebook and Twitter and Kojima already saw where we were headed). Anyone who says it’s overly convoluted just needs to pay attention. It’s definitely complex, but if you follow it all it lines up pretty well.

As a bonus, there’s all sorts of bonkers moments scattered throughout for your enjoyment.

Metal Gear has always had it’s share of weird little moments, some of which were so bizarre that I couldn’t help but tweeting some of my favorites as I came across them:

   Finally, how can we overlook when you get to run around naked and look at Raiden’s butt?MGS2-Raiden

So yeah, there’s that.

If you’re wondering if you should go back and play MGS2, I can give it a pretty solid recommendation. Especially with the cleaned up graphics of the HD collection. If you’ve never played it, it can be a little tricky to get the hang of, but I would still say it’s well worth it.

Keith does all sorts of things here on, he works with the other founders on 9to5 (illustrated), co-hosts our two podcasts: The 9to5 Entertainment System and Go Plug Yourself and blogs here as The Perspicacious Geek.