Analysis / Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
Many people have criticized 2 for a variety of reasons, but all of those given may be exactly what the game was going for. As mentioned throughout this very wiki, Metal Gear Solid 2
is intended as a Postmodern Deconstruction
of the very nature of video games, and the interactions that the characters, player, and designer have of them. In order to fully understand this however, it is important to look at several of the different aspects of this game, and how they relate to the overall theme.
Raiden as the Player
Obviously, Raiden, as mentioned by the wiki, represents the player, and their lack of capability to be Solid Snake. However, it is important to understand the full context of what this means.
As many know from playing the first Metal Gear Solid
, the themes of that game were to not let ones genes define you, and to choose life, and then live. The "Best" ending of the first game illustrates this point beautifully, as it ends with Snake defeating his evil twin Liquid, and choosing to settle down with Meryl.
However, MGS2 gives the exact opposite. Raiden was ultimately unable to defeat the Patriots, as he, and the player, were forced to go through with the S3 plan. Even his meeting with Rose at the end may not even be truly real. Unlike Snake, Raiden failed to free himself from the control of the opponent, and indeed, succumbed to this.
How does this relate to the player? Again, if we view Raiden as the Audience Surrogate
, the player, like Raiden, desperately wanted to be someone like Snake. We are enamored with his tale of freedom and rebellion against those of a higher status, and we enter into Metal Gear Solid 2
hoping for that chance. Indeed, when Raiden has his codename changed from Snake to his former nickname, he responds by asking "What's wrong with Snake?" This is a reflection on how the player wondered why they couldn't play as Snake.
This overwhelming desire to replay a legend is what allows the Patriots to manipulate Raiden, and by extent, the player. By giving the illusion of choice, and the illusion of being something that they aren't, the Patriots are able to convince us of great things in store, and by giving a scenario that is eerily similar to the one in the first game, further appeals to our wish to be like Snake. In a sense, Snake's tale of breaking free of chains becomes the player's tale of becoming bound by them.
One thing that many sequels suffer from is being far too similar to their parents. Video games suffer from this problem a lot. Considering that the designers have created a game that nobody has experienced before, the desire to simply replicate that success is very much a problem. Yet if a game is too similar, the players will no doubt feel ripped off. At the same time, if one makes things too different, then they risk losing that intended audience. It is a never-ending dilemma. Do you not change what isn't broken, or mix it up?
Metal Gear Solid 2
gives us a very fascinating look at these sequels via the Big Shell Incident, that Raiden is the player in. As it is revealed, all of the events in the Big Shell were designed to mirror the events of the Shadow Moses Incident from the first game. The Patriots say that they chose this to see if they could control someone in an extreme situation, and it worked.
In a sense, this reveals the very attitude that most designers and players have towards sequels that are similar to their parent. Since the players go into a sequel expecting more of the same, the creators simply make the game that way, knowing that the player will go through it regardless. Even if the player notices the difference, what harm does that give the developer? They got what they asked for right?
Obviously, in the context of the game, Raiden obeyed all the orders of the Patriot, and proved them right. If we extend this to the player, then that effectively means that the player went through the game, knowing that it was a rehash, just so that they could relive a thrilling experience rather than craving something new and bold. What does this say about us? Are we truly so gullible as to fall for the same old tricks? Do we truly lack free will, simply doing the orders of another? That is a question that is left unanswered.