"I cant say goodbye to yesterday..."
George Washington took office as the first president of the United States of America 200 years ago today. And it happened right here. We were going to declare another independence — the dawn of a new nation — here.
— Solidus Snake
You know the anticipation for a game is big when you can package
a demo of it in another game
and get that
game to sell like hotcakes. Metal Gear Solid
was a huge success and its inevitable sequel was the killer app
of 2001.Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
opens two years after the events of the Shadow Moses Incident. The world is now teeming with Metal Gear prototypes thanks to Ocelot
peddling REX's blueprints on the black market. Solid Snake and Otacon
, now leaders of the anti-Metal Gear activist group Philanthropy, learn from an anonymous tip that the U.S. Marine Corps is escalating this arms race
by building a souped-up model (RAY) to combat Metal Gear REX's counterfeits. Snake is sent to infiltrate an oil tanker and observe this new Metal Gear for himself, allowing Otacon to leak pictures of it to the media. The mission is a success, but before Snake can take his camera and split, Ocelot (now dubbed "Liquid Ocelot" after his transplanted arm, freshly-taken from Liquid Snake's body) manages to hijack RAY and sink the tanker, seemingly drowning Snake in the process.
Two years pass since the sinking of the tanker. The Big Shell, an offshore facility built to clean up the oil spill caused by Snake's "eco-terrorism"
, has been seized by a terrorist group calling themselves the Sons of Liberty. Led by a man claiming to be Solid Snake, they are holding the facility (and the U.S. President, in the worst press junket of his life) for ransom, and are threatening to destroy it if their demands aren't met. In response, a rookie FOXHOUND operative named Raiden is sent to infiltrate the facility and free the hostages. He is aided by his support team (data analyst Rosemary and Colonel Campbell) and a hairy, chain-smoking Navy SEAL named Iroquois Pliskin
Being a Metal Gear
game, you can expect a whole lot of chatter
and the plot to be denser than a cement block. However, thing really get ramped Up to Eleven
in this installment, with lengthy sequences of cutscenes and Codec calls that can last up to half an hour. Also introduced are the Patriots, a ruling cabal who have secretly been orchestrating every Metal Gear
game (news to FOXHOUND and co.), and the franchise's famous Kudzu Plot
takes root here. The game is especially remembered for laying down one mind screw
of an ending which has been analyzed endlessly and even has its very own page here
on TV Tropes.
The story is thematically ambitious and contains elements of surrealism, post-modernism, and breaking the fourth wall
, which is, depending on who you ask, a landmark in gaming and hugely ahead of its time, or a long-winded, anti-establishment rant which cries for an editor
. While derided by some fans for its esoteric plot and deliberately misleading advertising
, it sold well and became a cult success amongst a great portion of the fanbase - and is even used to explain meme theory in some serious institutions. Despite the polarizing nature of the storyline, the game was acclaimed for its groundbreaking gameplay and graphics which heavily utilized the PlayStation 2
's capabilities.Metal Gear Solid 2
introduces many game mechanics that would define the rest of the series, with deeper stealth elements (it is now possible to take out guards non-lethally with tranquilizer rounds, as well as hide in lockers), an immensely increased level of interactivity with the game world, and far more advanced enemy AI (guards get suspicious if a sentry fails to deliver their status report, and deploy protective riot gear
should the player be spotted). It also showcased some great graphics and awesome character animations. Retail copies of the game entered production on September 12, 2001
, which led to several scenes being hastily cut from the final version of the game relating to the possible destruction of Manhattan. These aspects were later implemented in its official novelization
by Raymond Benson. The WTC towers themselves, visible from the Tanker in beta demos, were removed from Manhattan scenes.
Some time later, the game was re-released
as Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance
as a multiplatform release on the Xbox, PlayStation 2, and PC, with over 500 stand-alone VR and Alternate Misisons, an additional Snake Tales mode starring Solid Snake in five sneaking missions around the main game's stages, a skateboarding game based on Konami's own Evolution Skateboarding
, and new pin-up posters
. There was also a bonus game disc, The Document of Metal Gear Solid 2
, which was essentially an interactive making of featurette, including interviews with the developers, behind the scenes footage of the motion capture actors, and every cutscene in the game. This disc was sold separately in Japan and North America, but was included for free in the PAL release
Although the next game, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
, is a prequel of the entire series, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
continues the story a few years from where this game left off and retcons Metal Gear Solid 2's twist ending
into something a little easier to swallow. Like the first game, this one also has a novelization by Raymond Benson, and a comic book adaptation, also available as a motion comic in the form of Metal Gear Solid 2: Bande Dessinee
(but only in Japan
until the release of The Legacy Collection
). A high-definition re-release
is now available for the PlayStation 3
, Xbox 360
and PlayStation Vita
as a component of Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection
, alongside Metal Gear Solid 3
and (in the overseas console versions) Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
.Due to the infamy of this game's First Episode Spoiler, all tropes and spoilers related to it will be left unmarked in the examples section. You Have Been Warned.
There's room for only one Snake, and one Big Boss!
open/close all folders
- 100% Completion: The dog tags and VR missions make it a massive pain due to all the grinding; the dog tag challenge requires holding up every guard in the entire game, before repeating it four more times on the other difficulties. The VR missions, however, require the player to get the high score on about fifty missions as Raiden, before repeating the majority of the said challenges again as Ninja Raiden and Naked Raidennote And once the Raiden missions are done? Do it four more times as Snake, Pliskin, Tuxedo Snake and MGS1 Snake.
- Absurdly Sharp Sword: Raiden's sword is capable of slicing through heavy body armor (and the flesh beneath) and even explosive rockets, not to mention deflect bullets, with no degradation in the sharpness of the blade. The game explains that the sword vibrates at high frequency, causing it to become incredibly hot, augmenting its cutting ability.
- Acrofatic: Fatman can zoom around and pirouette on his in-line skates, despite his size and heavy blast suit and the significant amount of explosives secretly strapped to his back.
- Added Alliterative Appeal: What S3 stands for. "Solid Snake Simulation", a facsimile of Shadow Moses, and "Selection for Societal Sanity", a method for applying that model to controlling human beings.
- Addressing the Player: Former trope namer.
- Adult Fear: The final act, if you get past the True Art Is Incomprehensible part. The U.S. is controlled by AI programs and the point of the plot is revealed: they figured out they can make anyone into what they want, given the right set of circumstances. Oh and the main character's love interest? Set up by them. It even makes you question whether she actually exists. Let's see: fear of loved ones having ulterior motives? Check. Fear of not knowing what's actually real? Check. Fear of having no control in your life? Check.
- Add "fearing for your child's safety" courtesy of Olga's child being held hostage by the Patriots, and Raiden's life being tied to said child's, as well as to that of Rose and their unborn child.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: RAY is the first model of Metal Gear which can operate unmanned. Later, Emma's virus causes the RAY army to go crazy and attack indiscriminately, causing Solidus to bellow, "Stupid machines!" before destroying them out of spite.
- Towards the end of the game, it's revealed that your support team are a bunch of AI when they start malfunctioning... or are they?
- All There in the Manual: Ames' motivations are clearer if you've read through Nastasha's tell-all book about Shadow Moses; it more or less retcons MGS1 into a proxy war between Liquid Snake and the Patriots. It also explains what happened to Nastasha, as well as the Secretary of Defense once Ames finally laid hands on him (hint: he didn't get a medal).
- Keep calling Otacon on the Tanker, and he'll eventually spill what little he knows about the Patriots, the mystery informant, and other strange things afoot. The immense amount of Codec chatter means that you'll have to ring him up many times.
- All There in the Script: The civil war that Raiden and Solidus Snake participated in is never explicitly named in-game. In the script, it is said to be the Liberian Civil War, which Metal Gear Solid 4 and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance later confirmed.
- Already Undone for You: Snake is already well ahead of Raiden by the time he swims inside the plant's underbelly, having cut through the oil fence and neutralized all the enemies. Unfortunately, he also took the only elevator up to the surface, momentarily trapping you in the dock with three woozy (and extremely pissed off) guards.
- Aluminum Christmas Trees: Dead Cell is based on Red Cell, a SEAL division tasked with infiltrating U.S. military bases to test their preparedness. It was originally commanded by Richard "Demo Dick" Marcinko, a man whose life, according to Cracked, "eerily resembles the Rambo franchise". Also, just like Dead Cell's commander, Jackson, Marcinko was arrested for supposed misappropriation of government funds, although he never died in prison.
- An Aesop: Snake can only console Raiden by saying that nobody can be "told" who they are; you have to figure it out for yourself. Raiden's error was refusing to acknowledge his horrible past, instead submerging himself in an idyllic life which was — subtly, imperceptibly — too good to be true. The Patriots admit that they picked Raiden in large part because he refused to confront the truth, unlike the other Liberian vets.
- Continuing Metal Gear Solid's theme of being ruled by your genes, Metal Gear Solid 2's recurring theme is legacy: Scott Dolph and Sergei Gurlukovich did what they thought was best for their country, but their sins ended up being revisited on their daughters. Fatman is obsessed with making history. Solidus and Stillman are both childless middle-aged men, still on the lookout for a surrogate son (Stillman is an ironic character: he is famed for diffusing bombs, but he unwittingly created a "time bomb" in Fatman).
- Anti-Hero Substitute: Both inverted and subverted. Raiden, a solidly heroic Naïve Newcomer, briefly replaces the Anti-Hero Solid Snake as the protagonist. As the story goes on, though, it turns out that Raiden has even more of a Dark and Troubled Past than Snake does, and has far more psychological problems.
- Arc Words: Raiden's defiant, "I decide [x]!" Tragically for him, his every move has been predetermined.
- "He's not a part of the simulation. He's an unknown factor."
- "There are some things you need to pass on. The trick is to know which one."
- Armchair Military: During the tanker mission, footage of RAY is being broadcast on closed circuit TV to the Marine Corps brass. Snake, now soggy from the rain, grumbles that they're probably sitting in a nice, dry office with some hot coffee.
- Artificial Brilliance: Snake's offscreen heroics give the impression of him being some kind of Superman, and the Tengu battle doesn't disappoint. Snake will toss ammo and rations if you're low, unleash a 360° crescent kick when he's surrounded, plug enemy soldiers with laser accuracy, and probably rival you in kills.
- On Very Easy and Easy, he can actually win the entire Tengu fight for you.
- Artistic License – Military: The Tanker chapter's portrayal of the U.S. Marines' uniforms, jargon, etc. isn't even close to accurate.
- As You Know: Although he doesn't use this exact phrase, Otacon gives Snake a rather redundant lecture at the beginning of the Tanker chapter helpfully informing Snake who he's working for and what they do.
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Genola is back, reappearing as the final boss in Snake's minigames; the gargantuan solider previously appeared in the PSX VR Missions game. Joining him are Gurlugon (a giant Gurlukovich solider covered with Godzilla spines), and Mecha Genola.
- Attack Its Weak Point: Fatman's blast suit leaves him completely invulnerable save for his bald, veiny head.
- RAY is vulnerable when the jaw is open, either by preparing its water cannon or Raiden knee capping it with missiles. The same goes for the Tengu, who can block bullets head-on but are helpless to defend their knees.
- The slow method of defeating Gurlugon involves shooting at its head, torso and limbs until you've exposed the targets inside them (they look just like the shooting range targets from earlier). The limbs grow right back, so you have to be quick. Mecha Genola is weirder: His head flies off when you shoot it, so Snake must avoid its shots and knock it into a side pocket like a billiard ball.
- Awesome, yet Impractical: Arsenal Gear, according to Solidus. It requires other Metal Gears to guard it along with an army to actually maintain it. Without the requirements to support it, Arsenal is nothing more than "a gigantic coffin".
- Back Tracking:
- Hope you like the Strut F warehouse, because you'll be seeing a lot of it.
- After Emma is rescued, Raiden is told to bring her back to Shell 1's computer room, located on the opposite end of the plant. This proves difficult as Fatman's bombs and RAY have reduced the whole structure to shambles.
- Averted toward the end of the game, thankfully.
- Back from the Dead: Vamp hearts this. Also Liquid... maybe.
- Back-to-Back Badasses: Raiden and Snake get one at the end of the game in Arsenal Gear while fighting off hordes of Tengus.
- Bad Moon Rising: Sergei Gurlukovich noticed that the moon was pale as death in the storm, suspecting that the mission was going to end very badly. The man knows his tropes.
- Badass Boast: Olga, "Conflict and victory were my parents!"
- The Bad Guy Wins: The Patriots are implied to be the actual villains in Metal Gear Solid 2, and it is implied that in this game, they actually won with the success of the S3 Plan.
- Bag of Spilling: One part justified, since Snake's operations are always procure-on-site; one part averted, since Snake still has the infinite bandanna from the previous game, and even points it out as such.
- Barbie Doll Anatomy: Raiden, prior to the Scenery Censor sequence, although a certain Easter egg implies the guards of the game might see it differently.
- Battle in the Rain: Double subverted. The rain stops just as the Olga fight is about to commence. She takes a moment to smarm about how pretty the skyline is right before attacking, at which point the rain starts back up again.
- Berserk Button: It's not a very good idea to refer to yourself as Solid Snake when the real one is within earshot, albeit in a very cheap disguise.
- Big Applesauce: The game takes place almost entirely in the Hudson Bay, with the final battle fought in the heart of Wall Street.
- Big "NO!": Solidus is good at delivering these.
- A handcuffed Snake yells this at RAY when it trains its crosshairs on him. Liquid overhears this and takes over Ocelot's hand, preventing him from pulling the trigger. Ocelot, now at his wit's end, screams "No!" right back.
- Bigger Is Better in Bed/Informed Attribute: As noted in the subsection of Barbie Doll Anatomy, the guards, when inspecting Raiden in the stomach area, will mention that he "wishes he had that" in reference to Raiden Junior (even though his model doesn't actually have genitalia).
- Black and Grey Morality: Sons of Liberty is one of the more morally ambiguous Metal Gear stories. Though the SOL's methods are extreme, the conspiracy they're fighting against is very real. The epilogue leaves the question hanging of whether the world is a better place without Solidus.
- As his name suggests, Solidus is "neither Solid nor Liquid", combining Solid Snake's idealism with Liquid's absolutist philosophy. There is also some ideological conflict amongst the terrorists regarding how far they'll go to achieve their ends; Solidus' faction wants to seal off Manhattan island with as little violence as possible, while the Dead Cell side considers the civilian population legitimate targets.
- Ames and Johnson are obvious stand-ins for MGS1's shady "hostages." Whereas the DARPA Chief and Baker were unapologetically corrupt, MGS2 is a bit murkier: Ames is indirectly responsible for the publication of Nastasha's book about Shadow Moses, costing him Brownie points with the Patriots. Johnson is a collaborator with the Sons of Liberty, but changes his mind once he realizes that Solidus doesn't want to join the Patriots but dismantle them. Johnson, fearing a power vacuum that will tear the country apart, immediately switches sides and hands Raiden the tools he needs to take Solidus out (note that Raiden is still technically an agent of the Patriots at this point. Johnson has not undergone a "face turn" but merely chosen the option that does the least harm to his country).
- Black Dude Dies First: Scott Dolph in the Tanker chapter, though he shares credit with Sergei since they get shot simultaneously. In the Plant chapter, Stillman is the first lead character to perish.
- "Blind Idiot" Translation: Although most of the script was kept intact, or at least decently translated, they were notably off the mark in regards to one of Emma's parrot's statements. In the English version, the parrot says "Venus in Cancer". A more accurate translation would have been "Venusian Crab" referring to a character in It Conquered the World, and implying that Emma was supposed to be a B-movie fan.
- The non-English translations got it specially bad. There were a lot of mistranslated sentences in almost every language, other sentences that were kept in English, and some times sentences that gave wrong information about what the player needed to do next.
- This interview explains how the game's localization was basically a big clusterfuck.
- Bomb Disposal: To Stillman's credit, he's not about to let a couple "amateurs" go around defusing bombs. Instead, he forks over a pair of coolant tanks to freeze the C4 solid, putting them out of commission until a real disposal team can arrive.
- Bootstrapped Theme: The Sons of Liberty rendition by Harry Gregson-Williams became the official theme of the series. It was originally composed by Tappi "TAPPY" Iwase and heard in the opening of Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions. Silicon Knights also inserted it into their GameCube remake of MGS1.
- Boring but Practical: You get an M9 tranquilizer pistol at the beginning of the game. You'll be using it a lot (the Coolant canister will also do in a pinch).
- Borrowed Biometric Bypass: To gain access to the Shell 1 core, Raiden must place an enemy in a chokehold and bring him to the door's retinal scanner, which only works if the enemy is alive and conscious.
- Boss Arena Idiocy: Solidus' heat-seekers can't maneuver around obstacles; simply hanging from a ledge will neutralize the blast.
- Subverted with Olga: Snake is actually at a disadvantage this time, since all of the obstacles rest on her side of the deck.
- The sediment pool is unveiled as an ingenious trap. Actually, it's a pretty damn avoidable pit with large fencing around it, and Vamp spends way more time in it then you do. Raiden can deplete Vamp's stamina and 02 by lobbing explosives into the drink, forcing him to come up for air.
- Each of the VR bosses, particularly Genola. He's standing under a giant tub of flour which, when the platform's legs are shot off, falls on Genola's head and knocks him out cold.
- Boss Corridor: The lower deck of the Discovery is a straight shot to the holds, where RAY awaits. RAY isn't fought (you'll have to wait until the end of the game for that), but Snake eventually runs into an enemy patrol headed in the opposite direction.
- A couple of areas become Boss Corridors when Raiden revisits them, with a suspicious absence of enemies who were once omnipresent, such the Dock and Helipad.
- Solidus meets you halfway on the connecting bridge after Raiden dismantles all of the explosives.
- The final cylindrical tube in Arsenal Gear, right before Raiden's Skull Suit and equipment is returned to him. What awaits beyond the door is an extended shootout/sword battle with the Tengu troops, followed by boss fights with Solidus and his pack of RAYs.
- Bowdlerization: Thanks to the game's release unfortunately coinciding around the immediate aftermath of 9/11, several scenes and dialogue were removed from the game. Among the things cut included Dead Cell explicitly stating their intention of using the purified hydrogen bomb on Arsenal Gear to nuke New York City rather than simply using it as an EMP wave to disable Wall Street, Liquid Ocelot stating that he intentionally set Arsenal to crash into Manhattan, the entirety of the crash sequence, Raiden cutting the American flag and having it drift down onto Solidus's corpse, and a news report about the Statue of Liberty resting on Ellis Island. Most of these were kept in the novelization, however.
- Brand X: Otacon uses his own pet software to download RAY's photos (to avoid backdoor spying by the U.S.), complete with an office assistant icon which looks like him. Even so, Otacon can't resist quipping, "So, any Codec moments from you, Snake?"
- Briefcase Full of Money & Empty Quiver: In the Transformer room near the beginning of Raiden's story, he and Plisskin comes across a dead Navy Captain with a broken handcuff. Mr. X claims he was carrying a nuclear football, stolen by the terrorists. Later, Johnson explains that it's not a bomb, but the launch key to Arsenal Gear, and it wasn't stolen from the President; he handed it over willingly.
- The Brigadier: Lieutenant J. G. Pliskin, or so it seems.
- Broken Bridge: The paths to the Tanker's engine room are blocked by faulty door controls. After you beat Olga on the deck, her men finish repairing the doors.
- Fortune zaps one of two bridges leading to the Shell 1 Core — and the hostages — with her rail gun (the other door to the core is broken and never repaired). Solidus does the same to the connecting bridge between Shells 1 and 2: Luckily, Raiden is agile enough to leap across the gap and clamber along the walls of Strut L, though he can't retrace his steps.
- Broken Masquerade: It's hard to beat a giant robot manta ray crashing into lower Manhattan. However, the Patriots arrogantly believe they can still spin it to their advantage. They're right.
- Brutal Bonus Level: Determined players who slog through the VR Missions will be rewarded with a playable MGS1 Snake. Like his MSX theme music suggests, his levels are a lot harder, and the final Variety Mission taxes all of the skills you've learned by that point: A deathmatch versus dozens of snipers and guards wearing stealth camo, and then a duel with Genola, without any rations. All on one life.
- But Not Too Black: Invoked with Fortune, averted with Stillman. Might have something to do with the real-life people they were based on.
- But Thou Must: When the player first gains controller input over Raiden, he is instructed by the Colonel to type in his name (and you can't leave the dock until you do), something Metal Gear has never done before or since.
- During the Tengu assault, the game subtly persuades you to use the ninja sword (there is even an option to "blunt" the sword for pacifist runs). Before long, Raiden loses all of his weapons apart from that blade.
- Butt Monkey: Raiden (and, by extension, you) is this by the end of the game.
- The Calls Are Coming from Inside the House: A big part of The Reveal. The Codec transmissions from Rosemary and Colonel Campbell are coming inside the Big Shell, and for good reason: they're actually AIs in Arsenal Gear's computer system. Raiden finds this out when he injects a virus into the plant's computers, and his contacts suddenly start speaking incomprehensible gobbledygook as their systems are scrambled.
- As often happens in these games, the "informant" who brought Snake to the Big Shell is hiding somewhere in the plant — in plain sight, to boot. It's Liquid, still controlling Ocelot through his transplanted arm.
- Call Back: Almost everything in the Plant chapter is meant to subtly remind the player of the first Metal Gear Solid, and by proxy the first two MSX2 games. By the end of the game, the subtlety gets dropped altogether.
- Snake's body was allegedly discovered at the scene of the tanker. When Raiden wonders how they pulled off this caper, Otacon almost gleefully explains that they stole Liquid Snake's body from a government freezer (!!) and planted it there. Apart from the missing arm, nobody could tell the difference.
- Can't Catch Up: Much of MGS2's humor comes from Raiden constantly being compared to Solid Snake and coming up short (Literally in the case of Fortune's taunts), or copying scenes from MGS1 and pratfalling in the most humiliating fashion (slipping on bird droppings... in the first area). Word of God advises players to treat the story as a Lower Deck Episode.
- Can't Stop the Signal: The Tanker chapter, when Otacon reiterates his plans for the RAY photos.
Otacon: When the photos are in, we'll put them online and blow this whole thing wide open on the Web.
Snake: Don't you think that the authorities will just shut us down?
Otacon: Probably. But it won't matter — there'll be mirror sites spawning within minutes after those images go up. We won't even have to ask; people will be grabbing the pictures. There's no way anyone can stop it.
- City of Weirdos: Hideo Kojima seems to have confused New Yorkers with the denizens of Tokyo: the crowd that gathers at the end of the game seem awfully calm despite the fact that a huge mobile fortress crashed into Federal Hall as well as the body of the former President of the United States wearing an exoskeleton suit with metal tentacles and a selection of swords lying nearby. This aberration is often used to argue that the entire game was actually a VR sim.
- Comically Missing the Point: Raiden loses all of his gear and is forced to sneak around in the nude:
Colonel: "Raiden, you won't be able to hang, throw, or chokehold anyone in your current state."
Raiden: "Why not?"
Colonel: "Is it really necessary to ask? It's just not a good idea to perform those maneuvers. There could be... complications."
Rose: "Oh really, Jack. Do we have to spell it out for you? Really!"
- Companion Cube: Snake and his box.
Snake/Pliskin: "Don't think of it as just another box. Treat it with love... Don't be rough. Okay?"
- Complexity Addiction: Wheels with wheels, simulations within simulations... It seems no one in this game can commit to a plan unless it's as labyrinthine as possible.
- The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: One of the few canonical examples. The Patriots have stacked the deck against everyone, even Ocelot.
- Controllable Helplessness: What Raiden goes through after he's captured. You can wriggle the camera around to your heart's delight, but Raiden won't be released until the game lets him.
- Covers Always Lie: The box art of Sons of Liberty features only Snake, making the fact he's a Decoy Protagonist somewhat frustrating to some. Then it got averted as the Japanese art pictured atop the page already includes Raiden besides him, and so does Substance. Indeed, after you complete the game once, Raiden's face replaces Snake's on the title screen.
- Creator Cameo: Scott Dolph, the name of the Marine commandant from the tanker section, is actually the name of a Konami employee, a translator.
- Crotch Grab Sex Check: How the President of the United States, of all people, makes sure that Raiden is indeed a man.
- This is played for laughs in one of the bonus missions in Substance, where Snake has to find out who killed a group of soldiers, including Raiden. Your first clue is that every soldier around the area is clutching their testicles tightly.
- Cyber Cyclops: The Arsenal-brand RAYs have a single green eye in place of the Marine Corps' two blue ones. Additionally, Liquid's model is sporting a tail.
- Cuffs Off, Rub Wrists: A minor gag.
- Cutscene Incompetence: Spoileriffic, so read at your own risk:
- Snake disappearing, presumed drowned, at the end of the Tanker mission and getting captured by Fortune offscreen.
- The first example was originally intended to be averted. Originally the player had to escape the sinking tanker only to fail miserably. Kojima decided to cut this out as he felt its inclusion would ultimately be too sadistic. For some reason, however, a segment of this remained as a flashback in a cutscene.
- Emma dying via cutscene at the end of the Escort Mission, despite the fact that the numerous shots the player hit Vamp with should have immobilized him before he could stab Emma in the first place.
- Raiden destroys up to 22 RAYs during play, but then gives up when faced with the remaining three.
- Cutscene Power to the Max: Villainous examples. Vamp hovers over the oxygen-rich sediment pool in a Levitating Lotus Position; After your brawl with him, he sinks straight to the bottom. D'oh. Likewise, Solidus has no problem firing over his shoulder at a Metal Gear's faceplate, downing it instantly. And yet he has difficulty keeping track of Raiden due to his lost eye.
- Cyber Punk and Post Cyber Punk
- Darker and Edgier: Even moreso than Metal Gear Solid. The physical/emotional trauma suffered by Raiden in this game and throughout his life would put even Solid "I Barbecued My Dad" Snake to shame. The atmosphere of the plant relative to the tanker mission is more grim, with a nondescript Game Over screen.
- Denser and Wackier: ...Then again, the game caps off with a swordfight against the former President of the United States wearing rocket-powered body armor and a bizarre conspiracy theory-inspired plot about liberating New York from the ghosts of the White House that have manipulated all of Earth's governments. Make of it what you will.
- Deconstructor Fleet:
- Decoy Protagonist: Snake in this entry. This is one of the most infamous examples, as everyone expected to be Snake for the entirety of the game.
- The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: Par for the course for most Metal Gear Solid games. The levels may not be very long, especially if you skip past all the cutscenes, but they're full of tiny details.
- When you are taking Emma across water, Raiden tells her to hear his heart in order to keep calm and not drown. Take some Diazepam, and Emma's oxygen lowers at a slower pace.
- During the Tanker chapter, Scott Dolph (the Commandant of the Marines) is giving a speech about RAY, a copy of which Otacon has hacked from his personal computer; thus, there is a countdown to the moment when he winds up the speech. However, the Commandant will occasionally go off-script and order his men to stretch or perform drills, stopping the clock and causing the guards' sight cones to go berserk. You can use this to your advantage, though, if you shoot him in the head with a tranquilizer; the countdown will stop until he can awaken (while still standing erect) and continue the speech.
- At one point in the game, you have to find a hostage by calling out to them, with a button command that stops working after the hostage is found. If you then backtrack to the room with a parrot in it, and call out to the parrot enough times, it learns to say the phrase and adds it into its usual repertoire.
- The parrot can also learn to say "Enemy sighted, requesting backup" if you get caught too much in that area.
- It's possible to see Snake in a box on the CD connecting bridge. If you shoot him he gets a ! mark above his head and runs away. If you call him afterwards, Raiden tells him about it. Snake denies knowing anything about it. In a later Codec call about the box, Snake irritably tells Raiden that thanks to him, a couple of his boxes were destroyed.
- If you ask Pliskin about the C4 sensors that Stillman gives you, additional lines will be included depending on if you've defused all the C4 or defeated Fatman.
- More here.
- Diabolus Ex Machina: Yeah, we know Otacon can't have nice things, but pulling out the guy who just drowned in zero-buoyancy water who just happened to have swum out to the edge of the oil fence for no apparent reason, allowing him to unavoidably kill Emma was kind of pushing things.
- Difficulty By Region:
- The Japanese and European versions added a questionnaire when the player begins a new game that determines not only the difficulty level, but also whether the player begins at the Tanker chapter or skip straight to the Plant chapter.
- The settings are also labeled a bit differently in the Japanese version, with the Japanese Easy being "Very Easy" everywhere else and so on (except for Extreme).
- Disney Villain Death: Solidus's final scene has him falling off Federal Hall shortly after his duel with Raiden. Played with, as he was already mortally wounded beforehand courtesy of Raiden slicing open his back.
- Dissonant Serenity: A big part of the Plant chapter's aesthetic. It involves a dead serious plot about nuclear Armageddon and an ancient conspiracy, but it takes place in the middle of the ocean on a clear, sunny day with seagulls flying all around. At a few points during cutscenes, the camera will stop to linger on the sunset reflecting off of the ocean.
- Distaff Counterpart: Olga can been seen as another wry deconstruction of MGS1, this time of Meryl Silverburgh: a helpless rookie in panties who looked as though she belongs anywhere else but in that war zone. Olga is closer to how a feminized Snake would look and act; neglecting razors and growling out one-liners, killing with restraint but no mercy.
- On the flip side of that, Meryl and Raiden begin their stories from the same state of play: Raiden is a giant FOXHOUND fanboy and a pretender to Snake's throne and, like Meryl, has an emotional breakdown after killing his first Gurlukovich mook. Note that when first encountering Vamp, Snake barks at Raiden, “Shoot him! What are you waiting for!” This is practically the same thing he tells Meryl in Shadow Moses during the prison shootout.
- Down the Drain: A rare double whammy, considering it's paired with an Escort Mission.
- Driving Question: Who are the Patriots? Not answered for two more games, but this one was the first to ask and gave it the most attention.
- "Do you know what day it is today?"
- Dummied Out:
- Some unused speech and a strange video showing a news report about the displaced Statue of Liberty remain from the post-9/11 removal of the Arsenal Gear/New York collision. Unlike the rest of the things edited out due to 9/11, this never resurfaced anywhere, not even in the novelization.
- The FAMAS assault rifle from Metal Gear Solid is in the game, but can only be acquired via a GameShark; originally it was to be found in the Tanker chapter.
- Ice-Cream Koan: During the Tanker chapter, Otacon imitates Mei Ling and reads Chinese proverbs after the player saves, but mangles their meaning in the most hilarious way.
- I Just Want to Be Badass: Raiden (and the Tanker chapter's plot) deconstructs this pretty savagely. So, you want to be just like Solid Snake, huh?
- I Read It for the Articles: Implied by Pliskin's description of the magazine in an optional Codec call.
Pliskin: Look... aside from its educational value, you can probably use it to distract an enemy...
- Incredibly Obvious Bomb: Yet another lampshade. This time it's Fatman's baby C4s, which blink intermittently and emit a loud beep. Stillman crafts a detector which is set to them, and is taken aback at how easy it all is. Later, we learn the real bomb is odorless and silent.
- There's also the semtex explosives and their control units. One flickers yellow, and the other glows green.
- Interface Screw: Played for Laughs when the Colonel's A.I. goes on the fritz. While Raiden is stumbling around naked in the heart of Arsenal Gear, surrounded by death on all sides, his freaking Soliton Radar is replaced with a lascivious video feed of a Japanese model, suggesting that the Colonel's addled mind is elsewhere.
- Since the Colonel and for some of the game Rosemary are not flesh-and-blood people but rather an A.I., their Codec profiles are just computer-generated images. Once Emma uploads her computer virus, Rose's eyes go ghostly white and the Colonel's face turns transparent, exposing the skull beneath.
- After Raiden boards Arsenel, the in-game map is replaced with a stencil drawing of the World Turtle. This of course is an allusion to Arsenal holding up the 'world' (the Big Shell) high above.
- In the Hood: Solid Snake is wearing a slicker in the opening cutscene.
- Informed Ability: For a supposed "REX-killer" the Arsenal model is quite fragile and doesn't hold up to more than three stinger missiles (or, in Solidus' case automatic weapons fire). It's possible that the green RAYs aren't as strong as the camouflage one. Eventualy, we do see REX square off against RAY in MGS4.
- Is That the Best You Can Do?: Solidus says it repeatedly during his boss battle.
- It Only Works Once: Just as with MGS1, the mooks you encounter wear different uniforms depending on whether they're patrolling indoors or outdoors, or responding to an enemy sighting, etc. However, the Meryl trick won't work anymore: they also use different weapons depending on where or why they're patrolling. Raiden's stolen uniform only works in the Shell 1 core while carrying the AKS-74U; trying to blend in with the guards on the struts, wearing drab green and carrying AN-94's, won't end well.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Solidus knows what the Patriots intend to use Arsenal and GW for, and arguably has a valid point (self-centered as it is) that it strips away the concepts of free will, and the ability to establish a legacy for one's self. Too bad he also wants to destroy people's lives in order to secure what he wants.
- Joke Item: During the Naked Raiden sequence (remembered as That One Level by MGS2 vets), there is one item for you to collect: a slickly-colored Zone of the Enders box! Unfortunately, the box is near-useless since guards will be lured by the Product Placement and try to inspect it.
- Kangaroo Court: How Dead Cell Commander Jackson was sentenced to prison.
- Katanas Are Just Better: Inverted; Solidus uses a Daisho pair (a katana and a wakizashi) almost whenever he's on screen and fighting, and Raiden uses a straight-bladed daito (Japanese catch-all for a long bladed sword). Guess who beats whom at the end of the game?
- Kill the Cutie: Poor Emma...
- Lame Comeback:
"Metal Gear only has room for one! Gurlukovich, you and your daughter will die here!"
- Large Ham: Fortune, to no end. Ocelot of all people even lampshades this during his reason you suck speech.
- Late-Arrival Spoiler: Invoked with the Japanese version of the game. Since the Japanese got Sons of Liberty a month after the North American release, it made no sense for Konami to keep Raiden's presence a secret over there. As a result, not only is Raiden featured on the Japanese cover art, but the launch trailer was all about unveiling his character. The Japanese version even allows players to skip the Tanker chapter entirely and jump into the Raiden portion immediately.
- Leave No Witnesses: Segei and his men install Semtex throughout the Discovery, intending to sink it with all hands onboard once they've boosted RAY. Ocelot beats Sergei to the punch and activates the bombs before he can get away.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: Probably the oddest invocation. There's about 17-18 speaking characters, some of whom only get a few minutes of screentime. But since each one of them has an incredible amount of backstory (even Scott Dolph and Sergei Gurlukovich who both die at the end of the Tanker chapter) and some of their personalities really hog the screentime (looking at you Rose), it certainly feels like there are loads and loads. Ames' backstory is detailed in the in-universe novel In the Darkness of Shadow Moses, which chronicled his behind the scenes maneuverings during Liquid Snake's revolution.
- Long Game: The entire two-year span of the game was orchestrated by the Patriots to stage a training arena for S3, discrediting Philanthropy in the bargain.
- Lost in Translation: "La Li Lu Le Lo" are missing vowel sounds in Japanese; the point of the name is that it isn't technically possible to write or say it in hiragana (because there's no distinction between "L" and "R" and the string is usually "Ra Ri Ru Re Ro"). The Patriots' name cannot be written or spoken. This is never really gone into in the English version, since English doesn't do that, so it just seems to be meaningless babble.
- Making a Splash: RAY's hydraulic cannon. Sucker can cut through metal.
- Man Behind the Man: Invoked beautifully. From the start, Solidus is presented as the Big Bad, but it turns out that he's being manipulated by Revolver Ocelot, who's been working for the Patriots the whole time. Similarly, we think that the bad guys' ultimate evil super-weapon is Metal Gear RAY, but it turns out to be the Big Shell itself, which is actually a disguised Arsenal Gear.
- Man Hug: Snake and Otacon's choreographed "bro-shake". Which also doubles as a physical interpretation of the Konami Code.
- Meaningful Name: The "Big Shell" is a literal one: it's a "Big Shell" for a giant underwater fortress to hide under. Though it's more "meaningless meaningful name," given there's no non-secret reason for the facility itself to be called a shell. The use of meaningful naming is examined in more detail here.
- Mecha-Mooks: Solidus' personal fleet of RAYs, each equipped with a Hive Mind and employed to defend Arsenal. There are a total of 25 Metal Gears onboard the vessel: Depending on the difficulty level, Raiden takes out anywhere from 5-20. The remaining ones go berserk and turn against Solidus Snake, who makes quick work of four. That leaves only the original Marine Corps prototype, which Liquid Ocelot flees inside of.
- Military Mashup Machine: RAY is practically every type of warship that's ever been built - submarine, cruiser, aircraft carrier - with tank armor, rocket launchers, land weapons and legs. In fact, the only thing it can't do is fire nukes, leading to some fandom debate over whether it's a Metal Gear per se, or strictly an anti-Metal Gear weapon.
- Millennium Bug: According to Emma, the Y2K protective patches on every American's computer also contained a backdoor for the U.S. Government (or rather, the Patriots) — prophetic in light of later events. However, this was still tinfoil hat territory in 2002.
- Mind Rape: The entirety of the Plant chapter is basically one long prolonged mind rape of Raiden. Subverted, eventually, and very narrowly, by The Stinger.
- Mind Screw: Just about everything that happens after Emma's death.
- The game heavily implies that not only was the Tanker chapter just Raiden playing a VR Simulation of the tanker, but that Metal Gear Solid 1 was a VR Sim he played too! Which means, we don't know if anything we have ever seen was real. Raiden says he's played a simulation of the Tanker mission and Snake says "I doubt it accurately recreates the events of that mission." (Whenever the Colonel explains a control change difference from Metal Gear Solid, he says "unlike in VR training…") Additionally, we get told that VR Training is indistinguishable from reality. Pliskin tells Raiden that seeing something crazy like Vamp is something he won't ever see in VR…but if not in VR, where would you expect to see a vampire in a military setting?
- At the beginning of the Plant mission, if you've skipped the Tanker, the Colonel just says "This will be your first sneaking mission." If you've completed the Tanker mission, he and Raiden mention that Raiden's gone through 300 simulated stealth missions including a simulation of the Plant itself. How many of those missions were VR missions from Metal Gear Solid 2, and did any of them include Metal Gear Solid 1?!
- Mission Control Is Off Its Meds: The Colonel is a textbook example.
- Mooks: The Gurlukovich Mercenaries.
- Mook Maker: Arsenal Gear, arguably a boss in its own right. It continually deploys unmanned RAYs to fight you until it finally runs out.
- Multi-Mook Melee: The guard invasion on the tanker, the Tengu invasions inside Arsenal Gear, and a couple of the VR Missions.
- Mundane Made Awesome:
- Raiden's hair. Its flowy-ness is fully animated, even outside of the cutscenes.
- Snake's box.
- Snake's headband in the Tanker mission.
- Murder Simulators:
- The entire point of the Big Shell Incident. Made even worse when it turns out that the point of the simulation wasn't just to make Raiden the next Solid Snake, but also for the Patriots to control human behavior and thought.
- The whole concept is subverted to an extent, when Snake scoffs at Raiden's boasts on the number of VR missions he completed, firmly believing that no "video game" can be a substitute for the real thing (a sentiment mentioned briefly in Metal Gear Solid as well).
- Mythology Gag:
- Raiden, turn off the game console right now! The Colonel is stated to be a manifestation of Raiden's psyche, based partly on his past experience. The other parts of him are apparently patterned on past FOXHOUND commanders: three of the Colonel's calls inside Arsenal Gear are simply him parroting the mission briefings from the MSX Metal Gear games, along with one taken from the non-canon Ghost Babel.
- In a retroactive gag, the Colonel claims to have been abducted by aliens at one point. A similar claim was made by MGS3's Major Zero.
- Any time Raiden does something that is similar to but different from Metal Gear Solid, the Colonel will tell him "this is different from VR Training!" or "Just like in VR Training!" Essentially, Raiden has "played" the first game and its "virtual missions."
- The script for Metal Gear Solid 2 that was included in The Document of Metal Gear Solid 2 mentioned that Snake mistook Olga for Meryl when they first encounter each other.
- In the novelization, it also mentions that Snake took Russian courses during the part where he listens in to Olga and Sergei's conversation, which was also what the manual for Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake stated about one of the tests/drills that recruits for FOXHOUND have to take.
- Snake runs into a silhouette of Vulcan Raven, still sporting his 32-bit polygons from the first one, but it's revealed to be a small toy. Looks like he's still "watching" Snake, just as he promised.
- In a nice jab at Meryl's drag act in MGS1, "Plisskin" opens the plant mission wearing a balaclava and green fatigues in precisely the same manner as Meryl. He might as well be wearing cellophane, since Vamp sees right through it!
- Raiden can encourage Snake to shave, just like in Alaska. This is the only purpose of the electric shaver power-up.
- When Raiden asks Snake where he gets his ammo, Snake just points to his bandana. In Metal Gear Solid, you can indeed earn a bandana that gives you infinite ammo.
- Pliskin's look is roughly based on Snake's original design, as seen on the cover art of the first Metal Gear, right down to having a similar headset. Not to mention referencing the character that inspired Snake.
- The Colonel's Codec portraits in Metal Gear: Ghost Babel and Metal Gear Solid were later used in this game.  
- In contrast to Raiden's VR challenges, which involve taking snapshots of ghosts, all Snake does is run around photographing cheesecake posters, porno sites and the like. This is in keeping with the risque Photo/Date Mode found in most Metal Gear sequels.
- Nature Versus Nurture: In contrast to Snake and his brothers, who were genetically engineered clones of Big Boss, Raiden was trained as a soldier since childhood.
- Needle in a Stack of Needles: One of Raiden's contacts, a hostage named Ames, is tied up along with two dozen other VIPs in the conference hall. The Ninja suggests using a powerful microphone to pick up the telltale beep of Ames' pacemaker.
- Never Bring A Knife To A Gunfight: You'll note quickly that the Tengus armed with P90s are a bigger nuisance than the katana units. Snake easily wallops guards in close-quarters combat, but if he takes too many sniper shots raining from the rafters, he'll die. The reverse is also true: Raiden's hilt can shield him from a few bullets, but not if he's getting hit from multiple directions or behind. Worse, the exaggerated sword movements leave him helpless for a few seconds. However, as the hall narrows, the fixed camera perspective forces you to ditch the guns and rely on the sword. This is intended to train players up for the upcoming Solidus battle.
- Never My Fault: The concept of this trope is brought up and lampshaded by the Patroits during their speech to Raiden regarding how people in general tend to turn to more convenient half-truths to feel better.
Colonel: Ironic that although "self" is something you yourself fashioned, everytime something goes wrong, you turn around and place the blame on something else.
Rose: It's not my fault. It's not your fault.
Colonel: In denial, you simply resort to looking for another, more convenient "truth" in order to make yourself feel better.
Rose: ...leaving behind in an instant the so-called "truth" you once embraced.
- Never Trust a Trailer: The trailers for MGS2 made it look like 100% concentrated awesome. In fact, the trailer only showed scenes from the Tanker mission and included a brief shot of Raiden, making it look like he was a supporting character. The same can be said for the opening credits sequence and the back of the box, too. Shameless.
- One trailer was bold enough to replace Raiden with Snake in the plant. It even featured footage of Snake battling the Harrier... on the Verrazano Bridge! (An area only briefly glimpsed in the prologue.)
- Averted with one scene from the trailer: The escape from the sinking Tanker. It was originally intended that it be implemented into the game, but it didn't go over well with test audiences.
- Oddly enough, the trailers are arguably an essential part of the game experience. MGS2 was hardly the first game to capitalize on demos and trailers, but this is where the trend really picked up steam. Like the Big Shell itself, the marketing behind the game was camouflage, conveying nothing about the storyline or even gameplay and spoon-feeding iconography from MGS1 to appease fans.
- New Media Are Evil: Where MGS1 was one giant anti-nuke screed, Sons of Liberty is about the dangers of the digital era. Both sides in the general conflict (the terrorists and the cyberpolice) are increasingly worried about the ramifications of unfettered communication.
- No Body Left Behind: Averted, except in the case where a dead soldier gets replaced by another patrolling soldier. This game was one of the first to have major repercussions for being untidy with the corpses of your enemies, forcing you to hide them in lockers or toss them into the sea, lest they be discovered by another soldier and replaced.
- No-Gear Level: Solidus strips Raiden of his skull suit when you reach Arsenal Gear. This happens after the truth is exposed regarding his past, showing that Raiden is figuratively and literally 'naked'.
- Non Standard Game Over: Earned if you're spotted by the guards while playing some of the higher difficulties, which became a standard feature. More notably, letting Solid Snake get killed in the lead-up to the final boss. He can handle himself in a fight, but he's not invincible, and the game automatically ends if he dies.
- The Nose Knows: How Vamp tells that Pliskin is really Snake.
- Nostalgia Level: The Tanker mission, insidiously designed to lull gamers into thinking that this game stars the Solid Snake. The game over sting and graphic is an upgraded version of MGS1's, with Otacon screaming Snake's name as per usual. Mei Ling even makes an appearance if you call Otacon to save enough times (Otacon tries filling in for her with his own lame anecdotes, getting everything wrong, until Mei Ling finally has enough and hijacks the Codec).
- The entire Big Shell can be considered a parody of remixed levels (or perhaps an elaborate game mod!); it blatantly lifts its architectural layout and scripted events from Snake's mission in Alaska, right down to the cosmetic placement of elevators and forklifts.
- There is an odd sequence onboard Arsenal Gear featuring a recreation of the torture cell from MGS1. The dastardly Revolver Ocelot is present in both, and comments on seeing Raiden strapped down and naked as bringing back great feelings of "nostalgia".
- In Substance, Snake returns to his old Shadow Moses look for one of the Snake Tales: "Confidential Legacy" (which also replaces Olga's character model with Meryl). The hardest of the VR Missions also revolves around MGS1 Snake. His levels use the classic 8-bit era BGMs, as well.
- Not Big Enough for the Two of Us: As Ocelot tells Sergei, "Metal Gear only has room for one!"
- Not That There's Anything Wrong with That: Otacon says this in one of the erotic poster easter eggs; since the poster in question involves a muscular, male chest, and Otacon is expecting a photograph of Metal Gear rather than something homoerotic, Hilarity Ensues:
So what's next? [avatar blushes]
...so, ah, this explains a lot.
Not that there's anything wrong with keeping it to yourself— I mean, you know, it's your life and everything...
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Otacon rescuing the hostages in the chopper before the Big Shell's destruction. Granted, it's a small moment of awesome amidst the rest of the game's big action sequences, but it's notable for being one of the few times that the series' resident Non-Action Guy got to save the day during a field mission.
- Snake getting captured by Fortune definitely applies, since that must have been a glorious fight.
- We don't see Snake and Olga's second duel, either.
- Snake's escape from the sinking USS Discovery, which we only see in blurry cutscenes. Snake not only had to sprint all the way back toward where he came, but also blast his way through Gurlukovich soldiers while the hallways were flooding and bulkheads were exploding all around him. Otacon mentions that this was the "easy" part — the real hell came when everyone piled into a boat and tried not to get sucked into the tanker's whirlpool. Maybe one day James Cameron can take a crack at it.
- Off Screen Teleportation: Snake can be seen crossing the CD bridge, but when you get into Strut D, Snake is nowhere in sight, and when you speak to him on the Codec, he says he's already in Strut F. How'd he get there so fast?
- Oh, Crap: Raiden literally says this when facing down Fortune's rail gun.
- One Dose Fits All: Zig-zagged, due to Gameplay and Story Segregation. This game is the first in the series to feature a tranquillizer pistol, with which enemies can be dispatched non-lethally. Tranquillizer darts will be equally effective on any regular enemy regardless of size, provided they are not wearing full body armour, making this a straight example. In boss fights, however, it's played with. Bosses can also be defeated non-lethally, but rather than knocking them out with a single dart to the head, they instead have a "stamina" bar (much like their regular health meter) which depletes the more they get hit by tranquillizer darts. However, this stamina bar is based not on the enemy's size, physical fitness or constitution, but rather simply scales up linearly as part of the game's difficulty curve. So it's averted, but in the interests of gameplay rather than realism (could be considered an Acceptable Break from Reality, as the boss fights would be very anticlimactic if the bosses reacted to tranquillizer darts the same way the regular enemies do). This also goes for the third game in the series.
- One-Hit Kill: The stab attack. This will, in fact, kill enemies even if the HF Blade is blunted.
- Of the three VR bosses, the amorous Gurlugon is the easiest to defeat. Just lay a porno mag within its line of sight, and it will suffer a nosebleed and faint. It's a bad idea to wear the Gurlukovich uniform, though; Gurlugon will take Raiden for a mate and scoop him up like Fay Wray, causing a game over.
- One Size Fits All: Averted. Raiden's enemy uniform doesn't fit right, and if you bump into someone while wearing it, you will take the uniform off.
- Only the Worthy May Pass: The Big Shell's layout and obstacles are copied from MGS1; however, players will be thrown by the Gotta Freeze 'Em All race against Fatman's bombs. Ocelot later explains they hired Fatman as an "examiner" to see whether Raiden was ready for the real simulation. Once Fatman bites the dust, the story jacknifes into the Shadow Moses mission: Instead of tracking down the DARPA Chief via a transmitter in his blood, it's Ames and his pacemaker.
- Organic Technology: RAYs make use of the same artificial musclefiber as Raiden's/Solidus' suits, which grants them amazing dexterity despite their huge size. Also, in a truly bizarre revelation, it turns out that the RAYs bleed when shot. Call up Otacon, and he'll clarify that this viscous red goo is "nano-paste" to seal the breaches in RAY's armor. This is apparently true only of the Arsenal version, and not the one Raiden fights in Metal Gear Rising.
- Oxygenated Underwater Bubbles: Of a sort. Following a bomb detonation set by Fatman, the basement offices of Shell 2 are completely submerged. Raiden has a standard O2 gauge which he replenishes by swimming up to the ceiling grates, as the next floor over hasn't flooded yet.
- Pacifist Run: Both Snake and Raiden get access to a tranquilizer gun from the beginning of their respective segments. Excluding Fatman and Solidus, who die no matter how you fight them, you never have to directly kill a single person.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Kojima is on-record as deliberately making "Pliskin" as thin a disguise as possible to see how many fans would be fooled. Justified in-universe in that despite Snake's fame by the time of the game, relatively few people know what he actually looks like, thanks to never really being caught clearly on camera. His deeds are known, his face is not.
- Patrolling Mook: The purpose of the regular soldiers. When they see you, they'll call for back-up and more heavily armored and better organized soldiers will arrive to assist; these guys are the real killers. These regular soldiers are little threat on their own (except on higher difficulties) and the real threat they pose is calling in these kill-squads.
- Pipe Maze: In the pump room, one of the C4s is hidden in a nest of pipes.
- Pistol-Whipping: Raiden can do this with his Nikita bazooka, of all things. It has a lot of heft, enough to clobber Vamp when he wall-jumps and knock him back into the pool (and indeed this is the preferred strategy).
- Platonic Cave: The Plant chapter is an elaborate re-creation of the Shadow Moses crisis. The plant itself is just camouflage for Arsenal Gear, and crumbles away when Raiden finds out.
- In fact, everything from Raiden's point of view is artificial. His past in Liberia has been mind-wiped by nanos, he's been promoted through connections rather than merit, and Rosemary is a paid actor tailored to meet Raiden's sexual tastes. Once these revelations come to light, the Colonel's and Rosemary's A.I. crashes and can't be called again.
- Playing The Player: The story is not entirely metatextual, though it clearly grew out of Kojima's observations on his own hit games and the nature of sequeldom. Since nobody questions the plethora of cyborg ninjas, intrusive and sappy romance subplots, or woefully-undertrained agents in these games, why should our protagonist? The Patriots got wise to this and used a typical FOXHOUND mission for their S3 template.
- This game absolutely savages the conventional relationship between the player and player character. When Raiden goes 'behind the scenes' of the Big Shell, he wakes up in a low-poly 32-bit replica of Liquid Snake's torture room. This is the heart of MGS2: a shoddy, barely-disguised copy of MGS1 repackaged and sold to gullible audiences. To put it in perspective, it's the gaming equivalent of this.
- Storywise, the Patriots are as much in control of Snake/Raiden as the player is, as teased by the cypher taking overhead-view snapshots in the Tanker chapter. Not for nothing does Solidus refer to the Patriots as "players" and the President as a dismissible "pawn." Raiden doesn't reach full autonomy until just before the credits roll, when he notices the player's name on his dog tags and tosses them away.
- Point of No Return: During the Harrier fight, Solidus goes a little overboard with his missile barrage, culminating in a cluster bomb rain from RAY. This severely damages the plant and cuts off travel between both Shells. However, Raiden is able to return to Shell 1 via a precarious walk across the oil fences, 40 meters below. Most of Shell 1 is locked for good, though, and you can't backtrack to Shell 2. Needless to say, the whole plant is inaccessible once Arsenal Gear rises.
- Postmodernism: The game attempted to be a fully postmodern savaging of video games, sequels, and video game players. Attacking the consumers went over exactly as well as you'd expect. See this document for a full explanation.
- For a video explanation, this Super Bunnyhop Critical Close-up explains what postmodernism is and what that means in context to Metal Gear Solid 2. He starts off by explaining that "at some point a hundred years ago, time and space compressed and everyone went crazy."
- Power Trio: Snake (Superego), Raiden (Id), and Otacon (Ego) form one.
- Powerwalk: Led by Otacon of all people. Makes him (and even the parrot he's carrying) Badass for all of five seconds, before Otacon breaks down and starts crying.
- The Precarious Ledge: Raiden has to press his back against the walls of the Big Shell structures on narrow ledges. At one point he even has to crouch and move simultaneously. In the same portion of the game, this trope is exaggerated as a soldier pees over the edge of the building as Raiden crouches and shuffles across the absurdly narrow ledge right underneath him.
- Propaganda Machine: With "everything being quantified" by computers, the Patriots can shape people and events better than any Ministry of Truth. The hatchet job performed on Philanthropy was just the wind-up pitch.
- Puppet King: James Johnson, the President of the United States, was essentially acted as a puppet to the Patriots solely to deceive the American populace into thinking they had any control/their constitution still rules the land, and it is heavily implied that pretty much every single president since the 1900s at the earliest were used in a similar manner.
- Put on a Bus: Everyone from Metal Gear Solid not called Snake, Otacon, or Ocelot. Mei Ling makes a cameo if you save enough times during the Tanker, and Nastasha is mentioned in passing by Pliskin. Colonel Campbell hasn't actually made a reappearance in the game.
"Relax. It's just a game. It's a game just like usual.