Undoubtedly the most anticipated game of the year, Hideo Kojima”s “Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty” hit American shores last week. Debuting for the Playstation 2 just in time for the holiday season, the oft-delayed tactical espionage action game has finally arrived, with many fans wondering if the game can possibly live up to the hype that swelled over the past three years.

Paul Wong
Metal Gear … it can”t be!<br><br>Courtesy of Konami

The popular series started its run on the obscure MSX format in 1987, but a year later was released on the king of the video game consoles, the original Nintendo.

Beginning the game with nothing more than a pack of cigarettes, you take control of Solid Snake through the South African jungle in pursuit of the nuclear weapon of mass destruction code-named “Metal Gear.” Unlike many action games, players rely heavily on stealth tactics rather than the standard “shoot “em up” gameplay of similar titles.

Ten years later in the autumn of 1998, Konami returned to the series with “Metal Gear Solid” on Sony Playstation. “Solid” followed the footsteps of its predecessor and was widely considered to be the best game released on the system. The open-ended story had gamers asking, “What”s next?”

Upon viewing the introduction to the game, fans will take a collective sigh of relief seeing Solid Snake back in action. Graphically, nothing on the Playstation 2 has attained the visual feast that “Metal Gear” provides. Characters move fluidly within the environment, from Snake”s mullet styled hair blowing in the wind to the painstakingly detailed uniforms of enemy soldiers. The attention to detail is what separates “Metal Gear 2” from other PS2 games. Never before have environments looked so realistic and characters moved so naturally.

The game is not without its flaws. The dialogue between the characters is wooden and noticeably melodramatic at times. Some may argue the game is simply not long enough, as half the game is spent watching cutscenes rather than playing. The plot has many twists and turns, some of which are sure to anger die-hard fanatics of the games.

Without question, “Metal Gear Solid 2” is the best game of 2001 and arguably one of the finest video games of all time. No game before has incorporated so many cinematic elements into the gameplay “Metal Gear” blurs the lines between motion pictures and games.

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