I’m not a fan of the shooter genre. My preferences in video games are pretty limited, and I stick largely with RPG’s and platformers or puzzle games, with unconventional fighting games like Super Smash Bros. sprinkled in the mix. I stay within my comfort zone of games, and rarely do I step out of that zone. The last shooter I attempted to play was the Tomb Raider reboot, and while it was a good step in the right direction for Lara’s character, I could not finish it because of how terrible I was at aiming my gun or bow. It was so bad that I gave up not long after starting the game, and never finished it. So in general, shooters aren’t my thing, and I much prefer to watch people play them rather than play them myself.
Warning: spoilers of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty below. Read at your own risk!
I wrote off the Metal Gear Solid series as one of the many shooter games that I would never gain a true appreciation for. I always felt that the gritty shooters lacked any fantastical element to make me invested in the story and characters. Between being of the shooter genre, and having what is considered a convoluted story and a heavy emphasis on politics, I could never see myself really liking the Metal Gear Solid series.
However, Shaun has been playing through the rest of the series again following the release of Metal Gear Solid 5, and I’ve sat in during these playthroughs several times. From what I saw of Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes, the game was super meta which made it fun and intriguing – namely when Psycho Mantis read the memory card. That was pretty cool. But while I enjoyed parts of the game, I wasn’t super invested in the story. It was okay, but nothing crazy that made me compelled to love the series. Luckily, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty changed that for me.
The game begins with espionage on a ship. It’s pretty straightforward. But it’s not until Snake is deemed a war criminal, and the perspective switches to Raiden, that I became really invested in the game and the story it had to tell. Seeing Snake’s resolve and triumphs through the eyes of Raiden is actually really cool, and it’s an unconventional thing for a game to do. To witness the actions of the main character without playing as him, but rather seeing his actions unfold through the eyes of a rookie was really awesome. But then the end of the game happens, and that’s when I realized just how much I had underestimated the Metal Gear Solid franchise.
The ending of the game contains a huge revelation that has a huge impact on the series’ narrative (with some crazy, trippy imagery and dialogue to accompany it), and what I found so intriguing and fascinating about it was the social commentary it presented. It basically explored the idea of everything we know in the digital age becoming filtered, similar to that of natural selection and genetics. The information is manipulated by a higher power, and it presents the fascinating question: what if this was a possibility in the modern world?
In the digital age, we have a plethora of information available to us, but what if there was a way to filter it to the likings of the higher ups who feared the abuse of abundant information? What if this higher power could control this information? Like Internet trends – what if trends were only popular because our obsession was chosen for us, rather than the trend becoming popular because of our own choosing? The game poses all of these questions and ideas of the digital age and, needless to say, it was fantastic to consider. What I love even more about it was how relevant this social commentary has remained.
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty came out around fifteen years ago, and yet the questions and ideas it poses have still remained prominent, and in fact have perhaps even become more powerful with the passage of time as the Internet has become more wildly available to everyone. Even in countries like China, where the Internet is extremely limited and censored, shows glimpses of the very social commentary that Metal Gear Solid 2 explored years prior. I think it’s amazing that a video game has the power to create such a strong powerful message, especially one that isn’t addressed from this angle in society or the media.
It’s not every day that a video game can be crafted so carefully and stay relevant. I have huge respect for Hideo Kojima and the themes and messages he conveys through the Metal Gear Solid series. I never thought that a single game could tip my opinion of a series so easily, but Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was a fantastic game that helped me see the value in the great Metal Gear Solid series. While I’ve gained an newfound appreciation from the series as a whole, I doubt that the other games will be as impactful for me as Metal Gear Solid 2 was.