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Video Game: Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
aka: Metal Gear Solid 2

"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 selling 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 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. Alas, after a complicated series of backstabbings, Ocelot/Shalashaska (now going by Liquid Ocelot due to occasional possession by his newly transplanted arm, which was retrieved from Liquid's body), now working for Solidus Snake, manages to hijack RAY, killing Sergei Gurlukovich and Scott Dolph (two of the game's supporting characters) and sinking the tanker in the process, drowning Solid Snake in the ocean.

Two years pass since the sinking of the tanker, and the main part of the game begins. 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 takes over the role of the Player Character after Snake's death. 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 the plot to be complicated and in-depth, with many twists and turns along the way. However, the Story to Gameplay Ratio really gets ramped Up to Eleven in this instalment, with lengthy sequences of cutscenes and codec calls that can last up to half an hour, and the cutscenes preceding the Final Boss being some of the longest in the series. Also introduced are the Patriots, a ruling cabal which has 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 — revealing all of the various Metal Gear story beats and tropes to be a gigantic thought experiment performed on Raiden (and, by extension, the player) — 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 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 main character switcheroo, considering that Snake had become a gaming icon at this point, 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 actively seek out the player should they 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 of Substance.

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 reintroduces Raiden after he's taken about nine levels in badass, while retconning 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!

  • 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.
  • Accidental Public Confession/Engineered Public Confession: Variation: If the player calls Otacon at a certain point, Otacon will mention that Snake said that Raiden was a weak, simple-minded, stubborn fool, causing Raiden to hit the ceiling. He hurls explosive insults Snake's way until Otacon points out that a man who knows 80 ways to kill someone is still on the line and has heard everything Raiden has just said.
  • 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 room 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.
    • "Relax. It's just a game. It's a game just like usual."
    • "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.
  • Armed with Canon: A good deal of MGS1's success can be attributed to illustrator Yoji Shinkawa, who came up with the designs of Snake, Otacon, REX, the Cyborg Ninja, and overruled Kojima on many issues. Kojima came out of MGS1 wielding more creative capital then ever before, but equally, his own deep philosophical musings had taken a backseat to Shinkawa's flashy tricks. Never again! Hence why MGS2 goes out of its way to belittle and deconstruct everything that was popular about its predecessor. Snake even crowbars this message into the epilogue when he advises Raiden to "look for the meaning behind the words."
    • Later reversed with Substance. A few of the Elseworld missions, most notably "External Gazer", directly address some commonly-held questions and criticisms surrounding the game's storyline. As the plot takes place from Snake's POV, Raiden and his co-stars are portrayed as either inept buffoons or evil extra-dimensional beings sent to destroy the Metal Gear universe. Was this Konami taking potshots at God?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Audience Sucker Punch: As discussed in Driving off the Map, the Tanker chapter is one long series of sucker punches directed at the audience, setting up goals, objectives and expectations similar to the first game and (deliberately) failing to live up to any of them. That's not even getting into the Plant chapter...
  • As You Know: Although he doesn't use this exact phrase, Otacon gives Snake a classic example of this at the beginning of the Tanker chapter, helpfully informing Snake who he's working for and what they do.
  • 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: Commented on by Olga's father in the leadup to her boss battle. The man knows his tropes.
  • Badass:
    • Snake, of course.
    • Vamp too: "Still ticking huh?" "Unfortunately, hell had no vacancies."
    • Raiden counts as well. By the end of the game, he's taken out several Metal Gear RAYs at once and a Harrier jet with a rocket launcher.
  • 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 turns the dynamic on its head: Ames is indirectly responsible for the publication of Nastasha's book about Shadow Moses, costing him Brownie points with the Patriots. Johnson is a bit murkier: he's 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, so 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.
    • 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 hallway. Snake eventually runs into an enemy patrol headed in the opposite direction.
    • 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.
  • 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.
    "Raiden, do you copy? You must continue your muh-muh-mission."
    • 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. Word of God advises players to treat the story as a Lower Deck Episode.
  • 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?"
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: One of the few canonical examples. The Patriots have stacked the deck against everyone, even Ocelot.
  • Continuity Nod: 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.
  • 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
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: 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.
  • 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.
  • Debate and Switch: Solidus makes some very good points about why he is fighting the Patriots but he's decided he'd rather kill you than make you an ally, so his compelling Motive Rant serves no purpose whatsoever and you have to settle for fighting him and fulfilling the Patriots' Gambit Roulette. Probably justified, as Solidus is implied to be aware of what the Patriots told Raiden and likewise settled for it, realizing that teaming up would be pointless anyway.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: Viciously tears into the series, sequels, blank slate protagonists (overlapping with Deconstructed Character Archetype) and playing video games as power fantasies, the concept of linearity in video games, free will, reality vs. fantasy, video games in general, and most of all, the player. One may feel a bit uneasy when playing this game.
  • 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 afterwords, 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.
  • Eagleland Osmosis: In this case, the "tired, poor, huddled masses" would be Gurlukovich and his troops. Ironically, with the death of their Colonel, the unit has nowhere else to go, and winds up working for the former U.S. President. Sergei, somewhat hypocritically, plots to dump his pregnant daughter in enemy territory, reassuring her,
    Sergei: Do not worry; this is a country of "liberty."
  • Elite Mooks: Solidus' Hi-Tech Army halfway through the game and the Tengu Commandos in Arsenal Gear.
  • Emerging from the Shadows: Snake in the bowels of Arsenal Gear. He's wearing his classic Sneaking Suit again, and if you brought him the electric razor earlier, he's now clean-shaven.
  • Escort Mission: Emma, with a hell of a Player Punch at the end of it.
  • Every Bullet is a Tracer: When bullets are fired at Fortune, their paths are visible so you can see that she deflects them.
  • Everyone Is A Tomato: The whole cast is working for the Patriots in some fashion: the Big Shell's staff are hired guns who routinely truck in more petroleum to replace the sludge they've cleaned up, the SEALs are used as ballast, Dead Cell are stand-ins for Liquid Snake's forces, the hostages within the Plant are both Patriot-aligned spies, and Solid Snake and Otacon are useful dupes. More creepily, everyone in Raiden's life is a government plant, and his CO doesn't actually exist.
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold: Arsenal Gear is a literal freezer, as befitting a giant CPU.
  • Expy: Purposely invoked. Every character in Metal Gear Solid 2 maps to someone in the first game one way or another.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The Tanker chapter takes place over the course of a few hours, and the Plant chapter takes place within a single day. There's a Time Skip of two years in between them, however.
  • False Flag Operation: The events that happen on the Tanker and Big Shell are scripted by the Patriots, though few of the participants know it (Ames dies the moment he starts to piece it together).
    • Johnson freely admits that he was cooperating with the Sons of Liberty from the beginning and staged his own kidnapping, delivering a nuclear suitcase straight into the hands of terrorists. This is a double bluff: Dead Cell was a unit designed by Solidus to drill rookies (like Raiden) with simulated terror attack; it's a nested sim-within-a-sim.
    • Unlike with Liquid's insurrection, Solidus isn't interested in receiving his ransom: the nuclear strike is going ahead regardless, and Dead Cell is to be forfeited in the counter-attack. Solidus' real objective is to fry Manhattan's electrical grid before turning it into his private fiefdom (à la Escape from New York).
  • Fanservice: The pin-up posters littered around the game.
    • Some may also consider Raiden's naked scene at the game's climax to be this.
  • Fan Disservice: Olga's hairy armpits in the Tanker chapter.
  • First Episode Spoiler: Not only the infamous main character switcheroo, but the entire events of the prologue chapter:
  • Fission Mailed: Trope Namer.
  • Five-Bad Band:
  • Five Rounds Rapid: The Marine towards the end of Snake's portion of the game who fires at Metal Gear RAY with a handgun. A handgun against a walking tank designed to withstand anti-tank rounds. It's an act of such utter stupidity that one of his fellow Marines shoves him aside with what looks like contempt to take a shot with his grenade launcher (not much better a choice of weapon, but still a smarter choice than a bloody pistol).
  • Fixed Camera
  • Flunky Boss: Mecha Genola dispatches tiny, R.O.B.-like replicas of itself by parachute.
  • Flushing Edge Interactivity: Features urinals that flush whenever the player leaves them.
  • Forgotten Anniversary: Rose is constantly nagging about "do you remember what day it is?"... Must be her birthday. Word of God stated that this was based on Kojima's own experiences with his wife.
  • Foreshadowing: Metal Gear Solid 2 has effectively the highest ratio of foreshadowing of any Metal Gear game. Nearly everything in the plot is foreshadowed in dialogue over Codec and in cutscenes well before the actual various reveals in-game, though it takes a second playthrough to catch all the subtle nuances of the foreshadowing.
    • Sergei Gurlukovich noticed that the moon was pale as death in the storm, suspecting that the mission was going to end very badly. It does.
    • Ames is a bit too chatty with Raiden, and assumes they're working for the same side. Stillman is also wary of him, putting his faith in Pliskin instead.
    • It becomes apparent that Raiden's life makes absolutely no sense. Raiden, a rookie with no prior field experience, is chosen as the pointman for a joint rescue of the President. He's affiliated with FOXHOUND, even though the unit was disbanded. He also admits he's never actually met the Colonel.
    • The Big Shell is quite literally a palette swap of the Shadow Moses map, with the same textures and door controls.
    • Also, after Fortune learns the truth about who her father's murderer was, and is shot before she could avenge him during Ocelot's speech, Fortune attempts to fire two retaliatory rounds from her rail gun at Ocelot, who was immune thanks to having either Fortune's device itself or a copy of it. In a Codec conversation with the Colonel and Rose, they explain that Fortune's rail gun was a prototype that didn't go into mass production mode due to various bugs in its rail plasma and the inner rail electromagnetic release that have yet to be solved. In fact, because of these errors, evaluations existed that criticized it as an unacceptable weapon due to the high risk of the gun backfiring on the user. It was heavily implied that the only reason why Fortune was capable of using it without fear of it backfiring was because of her ability to deflect bullets, which gives an early clue that either Fortune's power's source: a device consisting of electromagnetic fields for deflecting weaponry and shorting out grenades was reactivated, or her powers didn't stem entirely from that device, if one even existed. This was later proven when she managed to deflect the bulk of RAY's attacks even after Ocelot demonstrated that the device supposedly behind the powers was turned off by shooting her in the chest.
    • During the Tanker chapter, Liquid Ocelot taunts Snake by telling him that he is "drowning in time." The meaning behind these cryptic words isn't explicitly revealed until Metal Gear Solid 4 (although the script for Metal Gear Solid 2 that was included in The Document of Metal Gear Solid 2 does attribute it to accelerated aging).
    • After having played the game through and going through a second time, many of the more subtle hints that the Colonel is actually an AI become apparent. For example, after the death of President Johnson, immediately after the player leaves the Codec-shielded room he was in, the Colonel calls and already knows everything about what happened (even though he has to be "told" the President is dead) and orders Raiden to honor the President's last order.
    • Speaking of the President, his ultimate fate is a premonition for what will happen to Raiden. Johnson realizes the bogus nature of his surroundings, but can do nothing because, as a piece on a chessboard (or character in a video game), he can't pull the plug or even exit the game. When Raiden reaches Federal Hall, he calls up his masters and threatens to let Solidus go scot free; the Patriots remind him that Olga's child will die unless he complies. The only way to stop the "simulation," in this case, would be to turn the game console off! In The Document of Metal Gear Solid 2, Kojima has this to say of Johnson's death:
      "Realizing that the terrorist plot was being used to the advantage of the Patriots’ S3 Plan, the President has lost all hope. He completes his pre-planned role in the S3 Plan by acting out his own demise before Raiden. This development acts as a metaphor to foreshadow developments in the player’s relationships later in the game."
    • Snake's bandana when he makes his appearance on the Arsenal Gear provides a hint for something confirmed 2 games later in the series: the canon survival of Meryl.
    • The Colonel will frequently chide Raiden that certain things (such as Pliskin's appearance) did not "factor into the simulation". The Colonel seems to mean a VR simulation of the mission that Raiden went through prior to the real thing. He's actually talking about the S3 Plan. Pliskin/Snake and Otacon are rogue elements.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: There cannot even be said to be a third wall. The second and first are barely holding up as is.
    Johnson: Merely puppets! Pawns in a game.
  • Frame-Up: Vamp implies that Dead Cell was actually framed for the terrorist attacks it supposedly committed by the Patriots. He also hinted that they did try to clear their names, but they couldn't convince the public. In addition, Jackson, the former leader of the unit, was also framed for misappropriating funds.
    • For that matter, Snake is the one who catches all the blame for the tanker's destruction, assisted by pictures taken via drone, though in his case, he is then presumed killed in the same incident. Later on, Rose says they exhumed 'Snake's body', and except for a missing arm, his DNA was a match.
  • Freelook Button: This is where the westernization of Metal Gear starts to creep in. The camera is still a fixed overhead view, but the freelook button is absolutely essential for moving about the plant without being caught.
  • Gainax Ending: An extremely prominent example. The ending is written to confuse the player a lot whether what Raiden sees in New York City are real or not. Snake popping out of nowhere for no reason after you kill Solidus, and Rosemary suddenly standing in front of you talking about changing the future. These could have been an illusion if it were not The Stinger that reveals that everything you've been through is indeed real, and the fact that certain plot-vital sequences had to be cut after 9/11 didn't help at all! Needless to say, Metal Gear Solid 2 is the single most confusing game in the Metal Gear franchise.
  • Gambit Pileup: Every single character in the game has a complex agenda and backstory at work and is attempting to do more than they initially let on.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: The PS3 HD Edition, when played at standard definition in PAL regions, had a glitch which rendered the game impossible to complete on higher difficulties. Patch 1.02 eventually fixed it.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: During cutscenes, weapons that the player has equipped with a suppressor will still be as loud as if they were unsilenced. Might be Gameplay and Story Segregation combined with an aversion of Hollywood Silencers, except the same happens if the player equips the M9 before entering the cutscene, at which point it will take the place of the SOCOM in cutscenes it's used in, where it will fire semi-automatically (it's slide-locked) as loud as the SOCOM (it has a suppressor from the start) while drawing blood when people are actually hit with it (it's a tranquilizer gun).
  • A Glitch in the Matrix: Played with in Arsenal Gear. As Raiden's objectives start to break down, so too do his surroundings: For instance, if you exit and reenter the phony MGS1 torture room in Arsenal's "Stomach", the name of the location will change to random street addresses, including New York 52nd Street and Funabashi City.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: The dog tags, with every single difficulty setting having its own set.
    • Also, Fatman's bombs. There will be extra ones hidden in the hard difficulties, oh joy.
  • Government Conspiracy: The real S3 Plan and generally who keeps the President in line.
  • Grand Theft Prototype: More Metal Gear prototypes getting seized by washed-up members of FOXHOUND. What are the odds?
  • Groin Attack:
    • Olga hits Raiden with a particularly nasty one.
    • Also implied in one of the VR missions to be one of the cause of various soldiers' death. It's a hint as to the identity of the murderer.
    • The tranquilizing M9 above Very Easy mode will only instantly sedate a (non-boss) target when they're shot in one of two places: the head, or the crotch.
  • Handshake Refusal: Stillman reacts this way upon being introduced to Iroquois Pliskin, who is actually Snake.
  • Harder Than Hard: Subsistence was the first MGS to offer "European Extreme" on top of Extreme, which enhanced the guards' cone of vision so they could spot you from any distance. The restrictions from MGS1's Extreme mode still apply: lower carrying capacity, fewer rations, items don't respawn, insta-kill boss attacks, and loads and loads of torture. Euro Extreme also introduced the "Game Over If Discovered" checkbox, which is helpful when chasing the hallowed "Big Boss" ranking.
    • In the HD re-release, the torture sequence on Extreme was cut by 2/3 because the original was just too punishing. (Splitting the diamond in Mortal Kombat is a cakewalk comparatively.)
    • The higher difficulties also throw in more Metal Gear RAYs to fight. The Extreme RAY battle is one of the most grueling endurance tests of the series, easily.
  • Have a Nice Death: In a nice nod to canon, Snake and Otacon treat the Tanker mission almost as small potatoes, even coming equipped with their gear from Shadow Moses. If you net a 'Game Over', Otacon will assume Snake is farting around or trying to pull his chain ("Stop kidding around!"), implying that gamers ought to know their way around MGS by now.
  • He Knows About Timed Hits: The Plant chapter starts off with a very lengthy re-tutorial of all the stuff you likely already know, and in a more clunky fashion than the organic way it was presented in the Tanker. Some have theorized that this is deliberate, and not just for those skipping to the plant chapter: if the Tanker is presented as what a good sequel would be like, then the Plant starts off as what a bad sequel would look like, one trying to ape the success of the original. Since a big part of MGS2 is a commentary on sequels in general this is probably on purpose. It's also grist to the mill for the fan theory that the Plant chapter is a VR simulation: the more clunky and video-gamey tutorializing in the Plant chapter may be a hint that it's much closer to a video game in-universe than the Tanker chapter.
    • Another really weird, Mind Screw version appears in the dialogue in the intro: if you're coming over from the Tanker chapter, the Colonel tells Raiden that he's completed 300 stealth VR missions. If you're starting the game from the Plant fresh, the Colonel skips that part and just tells you this will be your first sneaking mission.
  • Headdesk: Played for drama by Otacon, who appears to take his stepsister's death well-ish but suddenly breaks into this before Snake tells him to get it together.
  • Headphones Equal Isolation: Snake and Raiden will occasionally bump into a headbanger mook who is distracted by his CD player. There's one in the holds of the Tanker, and another loitering in the parcel room shortly before Arsenal rises.
  • Heroic BSOD:
    • Otacon suffers one after losing Emma.
    • Raiden suffered one as well when it was slowly becoming apparent that he was being used as a test subject.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight & Where It All Began: Most of the Fatman chapter is wasted on a wild goose chase. The real bomb is located in the Shell 1 docks, precisely where Raiden first surfaced at the mission's start (it's glued to the minisub on most difficulties, and in a corner on Extreme).
    • The final C4 bomb is located in the last place you'd expect: directly under the corpse of Fatman.
    • Arsenal Gear is chained to the foundation of the Big Shell. The placement is so brazen that Raiden does a literal double take when Johnson reveals it.
  • High-Tech Hexagons: Hexagons are a recurring pattern throughout the story. The title sequence is full of them. The skins on Arsenal Gear and Raiden's suit exude a hexagonal pattern. The Big Shell's outer buildings are hexagonal, and the shells themselves form a double hexagon. But it gets really extreme once Raiden enters Arsenal Gear.
    • The game's original packaging had a hexagonal pattern on the back of it, so did the PS2 disc. Most official supplemental materials (strategy guides, concept art, making-of materials) had either subtle or blatant hexagonal themes. In fact, since Metal Gear Solid 2, hexagonal design has been a really big thing to them.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: Toyed with near the end of the game when Ocelot reveals himself as a Patriot spy. The scene plays out with Ocelot becoming the most immediate threat to the heroes and former main villains, only for the action to be doubly hijacked by Liquid through possessing Ocelot. However, it's ultimately avoided when Liquid escapes, leaving the role of antagonist back with Solidus and the Patriots.
  • Hong Kong Dub: The Japanese HD Edition mixes the lip movement of the English version with the Japanese voice acting, resulting in poor lip synching. The original Japanese version of Metal Gear Solid 2 didn't have this problem.
  • Honor Before Reason: Solidus during the final battle. He could have easily just killed Raiden while he was unarmed (and handcuffed), not even give him a chance to defend himself, but he instead decides to just fight him in a swordfight.
  • 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 three 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 Snake, Tuxedo Snake and MGS1 Snake.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Pliskin. Justified, since he's actually Solid Snake (technically, Pliskin's more like a mentor to Raiden than an actual sidekick, but still).
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Somehow our heroes are able to carry around a grenade launcher, a stinger missile launcher, ammunition for all their guns and several cardboard boxes large enough to hide under, all in skintight clothing with no substantial pockets.
  • 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.
  • Is That the Best You Can Do?: Solidus says it repeatedly during his boss battle.
  • 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.
  • 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:invoked 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!"
    "Damn you."
  • 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 army of RAYs, 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 it 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:
    • 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.
    • 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. [1] [2]
    • 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. Likewise, Raiden can shield himself 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 hallway widens, 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 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. Whatever else you might say, this trope was surely intentional on the developers' parts, and Kojima took gamers to school.
  • New Media Are Evil: Where MGS1 was one giant anti-nuke screed, Sons of Liberty is about the dangers of the digital era. 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; we truly see S3 in action during Raiden's loss of identity.
  • 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 could be considered a Remixed Level, given how it blatantly lifts its architectural layout and scripted events from Snake's original 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:
    Otacon: 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-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: One of the most (in)famous examples. This game absolutely savages the conventional relationship between the player and player character.
    • This ties into the hype surrounding the launch of MGS2, as well. 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. It's no coincidence that Raiden goes 'behind the scenes' of the Big Shell and 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. Mean? Yes, but fairly on point. 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.
  • 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.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: Let's see... a Fat Bastard bomb enthusiast, a Depraved Bisexual who apparently can cheat death itself, a Death Seeker who can deflect bullets... yup, it's a Metal Gear game, all right. Ocelot even invokes the trope, saying he deliberately picked Dead Cell because they were "the most impressive collection of freaks outside of FOXHOUND".
  • Ray of Hope Ending: The Patriots have won, mostly through manipulating Raiden into carrying out their plans for them, and he's left wondering if he can even trust his own senses after being lied to by everyone around him. But Snake promises to continue the fight, and encourages Raiden to make the best of what he has and pass on something of value to the next generation.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Before the final battle of the game, the AI gives Raiden a lengthy, overwhelming lecture telling how much he sucks. Word of God says that Kojima himself is the AI who wants to tell you that you suck for always forcing him to do more Metal Gear games when he is totally reluctant to do so - and guess what? It didn't quite work at all...
  • Recycled Script: invoked Many plots points, events, and happenings in the game seem completely recycled from the first game, right down to Raiden commenting on how similar the situation he in is to the Shadow Moses Incident. It turns out there is a very good reason for this, and in fact this is in effect the primary plot point of the entire game.
  • Red Shirt Army: Seal Team 10 lives up to their name. Unlike the 'face cards' ("King" Solidus, "Queen" Fortune, and "Jack" Raiden), their role is to act as bait while Raiden slithers his way into the plant. They are butchered by Dead Cell and go unlamented by everyone, including Pliskin and the Colonel.
  • Regional Bonus: Thanks to a lengthy delay between the NTSC and PAL releases of the game, the PAL version has an additional difficulty mode added - European Extreme(which also has the original version of the sequence of Arsenal Gear attacking New York included during the playthrough). The initial run of the game also came with a "Making Of" DVD, which featured a documentary about the game's production, a GameSpot article and every trailer for Metal Gear Solid, Zone of the Enders, and Metal Gear Solid 2, which also included some of the earlier tech demos for both Metal Gear Solid games.
  • Right Hand of Doom: It's not proportionally bigger, but Ocelot's arm definitely doesn't look like it came factory-standard.
  • Rooftop Confrontation: The Fatman and Solidus battles.
  • Rule of Symbolism: The entire game, but most poignantly the end sequence where Raiden throws away the dog tags with your name on them (see some fan attempts at analyzing the game here and here). This effectively divorces Raiden from the player's control and ends the game.
  • Rule of Three: The RAY army surrounds Raiden in groups of three, with a single RAY hopping onto the platform.
  • Samus Is a Girl: The cyborg ninja this time around is none other than Olga Guruokovich.
  • Scenery Censor: Raiden is tortured naked, and then has to escape said room without any clothes - with his hands covering his... lack of manhood.
  • Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You:invoked Parodied in Snake's VR missions. In the fifth photography level, one of the suspected "killers" is, in fact, an MGS2 poster of Snake pointing his gun at the viewer. The victim was a butt-naked Raiden.
  • Sequel Non-Entity: Meryl's fate at the end of the previous game was deliberately left ambiguous so that the story could follow either ending; Nastasha's book in the game's extra features does not mention her. Also, Snake came equipped with both his stealth camo and his infinite-ammo bandana (he collects one for escaping Shadow Moses with Meryl, and the other for leaving with Otacon).
  • Sex Sells: Oddly enough, Japanese musician and sexy bishonen Gackt was used to promote Metal Gear Solid 2. He appeared in the Japanese commercials and there is also a dog tag in the game with his name on it. This is despite the fact that Gackt himself had nothing to do with the game and didn't even sing a theme song for it.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: The opening mission aboard the Tanker ends in abject failure, with Philanthropy getting stuck with the bill for an historic environmental disaster. Everything after that is just the unspooling consequences of Raiden climbing aboard the Big Shell. (Adding insult to injury, the list of the Patriots' names which he acquired off of Arsenal turns out to be fake.)
  • Shaggy Frog Story: Otacon's attempts to imitate Mei Ling's quoting of classic literature.
    Otacon: "Remember the Deep family's fish, Snake!"
  • Ship Level: The Tanker chapter.
  • Shout-Out:
    • There are posters of other Kojima games hanging up in various rooms.
    • Solid Snake's alias, Iroquois Pliskin, is a direct lift from the character "Snake Plissken" from Escape from New York. Similarly, the kidnapping of a U.S. President is intended to mirror that film, with "King" Solidus standing in for the Duke of New York.
    • Raiden's real name, Jack, and his girlfriend's nickname, Rose, references the names of the protagonist love couple in Titanic.
      • And the name Raiden itself is based on a type of Japanese fighter planes in World War II, nicknamed by the Americans as "Jack".
    • If you believe that the entire story was a VR sim, then everything is a shout out or reference of some sort.
      • Particularly the 1990 film version of Total Recall: Raiden getting debriefed by Solidus is a dead ringer for Arnie's scene with Cohaagen, and there are a few other nods, as well (Rosemary/Lori's behavior inside Arsenal, the Colonel/Edgemar demanding that the player turn off the game, etc.)
      • Gentlemen, welcome to the Rock...err, Shell. Once again, we have disgruntled ex-military types holding an island hostage by pointing missiles at an adjacent city. Harry Gregson-Williams also composed music for that film, which no doubt contributed to his hiring by Konami.
      • The Colonel flipping between a skull-face and his normal one evokes the classic paranoia film They Live!
      • Raiden is stuck in a bad remake of The Truman Show, which only ends by crashing a ship straight through the set dressing. He calls out his unseen maestro during the finale.
    • One of the obtainable dog tags is named "Kaori Yae": this is the name of a character from Konami's popular dating simulation game Tokimeki Memorial 2.
    • Taking a picture of the ghost in Hold 2 during the Tanker Chapter in the HD Collection will result in a trophy/achievement being unlocked. Its name? "Who ya gonna call?"
    • The parrot's "Venus in Cancer" line was originally "The Venusian Crab!". However, due to a mistranslation, the reference is lost in the English version.
    • Peter Stillman's name is a reference to the character of the same name in Paul Auster's The New York Trilogy.
  • Simulation Game This is what the entire Plant chapter is revealed to be. Raiden's mission is just a redo of Snake's in Metal Gear Solid.
  • Sinister Silhouettes: When facing twenty RAYs on the tail of Arsenal.
  • Sinister Surveillance: This game introduces the cyphers, as part of the Patriots' front row seats to the action.
  • Smoking Is Cool: This is who Solid Snake is, anyway, and Raiden does not like it.
  • Sneeze of Doom: This is the second game in the series (the first being Metal Gear 2) where Snake can catch a cold from exposure.* He only sneezes when standing stationary, ruining your attempts at stealth.
  • Sniping Mission: At the end of both Shells, the main campaign pauses for some Silent Scope action: In the first sequence, Solidus has wallpapered the connecting bridge with enough C4 to blow Raiden to the moon. With Snake's (grudging) help, Raiden must snipe at each of the green transmitters to disable all the bombs, grudging because Snake is a drill sergeant who complains if you overlook any hidden bomb units. Most of them are blocked from view by seagulls, cyphers, and even Solidus' grandiose flag. (Interestingly, Snake Eater featured a very similar sequence, except that Snake actually wanted a bridge to explode.)
    • In the second, Emma tiptoes across the rim of the oil fence while being assaulted by gunfire, cypher drones, and even mines. Raiden (and later Snake, once he shows up) take turns picking off the obstacles to clear a path for her.
  • Somebody Set Up Us the Bomb: Fatman hits Stillman with one of these. Stillman doesn't make it.
  • Spin Attack: Pressing R3 makes Raiden leap while swinging his katana.
  • The Stinger: A Metal Gear staple. Otacon successfully learns the identities of the Wiseman's Committee, and reveals to Snake that all 12 of them have been dead... for over a hundred years.
  • A Storm Is Coming: The Tanker mission is a soggy one. In an inversion of this, Snake catches a cold in the Hard difficulty.
  • Stock Ness Monster: The first time we see RAY in the present, it emerges from the sea and snatches Solidus' jet with its maw. RAY then dives back underwater and swims to Arsenal while still carrying the Harrier in its beak. This scene is parodied in "External Gazer" with Gurlugon in place of RAY.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: There are numerous ways to take out the Godzilla parodies in Raiden's and Snake's VR missions. A fast way is to shoot the Stinger missile at a faraway target that will call forth either Gurlugon, Genola or Mecha Genola (depending on who you're fighting). Once summoned, the two monsters will ignore you and instead grapple with each other. (This is a call back to Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions, where the player could defeat Genola with this method.)
  • Super-Deformed: Otacon's goofy avatar. It was later released as a real-life desktop app called "Otaclock."
  • Supporting Leader: Pliskin leaves you to your work in the Big Shell's mess hall. He's already got his hands full with Shell 2.
  • The Swarm: The bowels of the Shell are crawling with sea lice. It's a far cry from killer hornets, but they're still an annoyance: Sea lice latch onto Raiden's rations, and they have to be cleared away before Emma agrees to follow him upstairs. During the Arsenal launch sequence, the halls of the Shell 1 core are blanketed with lice — like rats deserting a sinking ship.
  • Take Cover: The game introduced a shoot-around-the-corner cover system, where Snake or Raiden can crouch behind or press against low walls and aim from behind them, to shoot from around the corner of a wall.
  • Take It To The Bridge: The Harrier fight.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Some of the time. Occasionally Codec conversations can be interrupted, but most of the time this is played straight.
  • These Hands Have Killed: If you call Rosemary after killing your first Gurlukovich goon, Raiden becomes wracked with guilt over taking a life for the first time. What Measure Is a Mook?, indeed (though we later learn Raiden popped his cherry long ago, and has a body count rivaling even Snake).
  • This Cannot Be!: Solidus delivers one of these during the Harrier fight, and again when Liquid's arm takes over Ocelot.
    • Ocelot says this while firing round after round of missiles at Fortune, who deflects them all through sheer force of will.
  • This Is Reality: Raiden starts to go quietly nuts after witnessing what Dead Cell can do. The Colonel and Rosemary tell him to snap out of it (it's in this moment of clarity that Raiden becomes suspicious of his support team, but he ignores his better judgment) .
    • He has another crack-up onboard Arsenal, after seemingly being betrayed by all of his allies and having his identity ripped away from him. It's here that Raiden (and the player, probably) starts to doubt his surroundings and even his own cognitive faculties. What is real? Snake sees that he's in incredible distress and tries to keep him sane, which is asking a lot under the circumstances: awakening on a giant robot turtle, Russian ninjas coming out of the woodwork, etc.
  • This Is a Work of Fiction: Included, unusually for a video game. Presumably because it was written in 1999, depicted terrorist attacks in New York, and was completed in September 2001.
  • This Loser Is You: This was Kojima's intent with the above replacement protagonist. Raiden was made to represent the player, and their lack of capability of being Solid Snake.
  • Time Skip: The gap between Snake's apparent death onboard the U.S.S. Discovery and the aftermath. This conveniently skips past Raiden's training, as well as the fact that he's a Patriot stooge, just like Ames and Johnson. This is why most characters react to him with suspicion.
  • Timed Mission: Parodied when the Marine Commandant doesn't end his speech when he's supposed to, with the timer actually pausing whenever he takes a break from reading the speech. Played straight with the bomb on the submarine in the Plant Chapter.
  • Toilet Humor:
    • While attempting to cross between struts while one of the Russian guards attempts to investigate the area after Raiden shot down Solidus' Harrier jet, one of the guards ends up having to pee off the side of the strut, and Raiden has to either evade the urine or go under it. Contacting the Colonel while standing directly underneath the stream leads to funny conversation between Raiden, The Colonel and Rose.
      Colonel: Sneaking missions are called "wet works", after all.
    • Then there's Johnny and his ever-present bowel problems...
    • Using the directional mic on one of the hostages will cause her to wet herself. Once Ames is located, during the scene where you're supposed to listen in to Ocelot and Solidus, you can instead point the mic left and listen to Johnny.
  • Throw It In: In-universe example: During Scott Dolph's speech in the Tanker chapter, there is a time limit (Otacon has a copy of Dolph's speech notes and the timer is Otacon's estimate for how long it will take him to make the speech). The timer will sometimes freeze when he throws a few things into his speech that weren't originally in it, such as exercises to relax the audience's muscles, or some jokes. This proves to be beneficial to players trying to get the pictures on time.
  • Throwing the Distraction: Snake and Raiden can now lob empty ammo clips, a trick which became a series staple.
    • A preferred Russian tactic: Olga attempts to distract Snake in a cutscene by allowing her cap to blow away in the wind, but (Big) Mama didn't raise no fools. Later, Ocelot distracts Sergei by throwing off his duster, then blowing two holes through him and Dolph.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Or rather, European video game magazines and the Internet always spoil - thanks to a delay of several months, every single twist in the game was spoiled beforehand if you lived in Europe. Some weren't even avoidable, either. Several magazines spoiled the switch of playable character from Snake to Raiden on the front cover. It's also part of the reason for the Regional Bonus mentioned above.
    • Interestingly enough, almost astonishingly averted with the actual trailers for the game. In fact, Kojima was so eager to not invoke this trope that it created a sense of Never Trust a Trailer, and some players felt deceived that he tried to hide the twist of Raiden being the real Player Character. The only scene in trailers where this could have been played straight was Snake in the hallways getting flooded with water, partially spoiling the sinking of the Tanker, but even that's a subversion in the end - the actual scene from the game where Snake runs around the flooding tanker was taken out.
  • Trojan Prisoner: The locks on Raiden's torture table get released on their own, but you might find yourself back-tracking to the room during an Alert. If Raiden flattens himself against the table, he automatically stands spread-eagle and pretend to be restrained. Guards won't look twice, aside from the Gag Penis line quoted above.
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change: Although it doesn't happen at the end of the piece, the main theme features this: the first musical idea is played, and then repeated up two semitones.
  • Under the Sea: Like Snake, Raiden first surfaces in full scuba gear. Unlike Snake, however, his swimming comes into play later in the game after Shell 2 is flooded.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: The Colonel bends over backwards to provide an in-universe reason for why Raiden can't steal weapons from guards. The guns contain a sort of login feature which only recognizes one user, and automatically lock up if they detect the wrong the biometric data - Raiden only gets his hands on an AK by stealing an unused one from the warehouse in Strut F.
  • Useless Useful Stealth: It's much easier to knock guards out than to sneak past them. Going in guns blazing, however, is not a viable option.
  • Vibroweapon: The high-frequency blade. In a variation, its vibrations cause it to be extremely hot, thus increasing its cutting power. Which really raises more questions than it answers.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: Common criticisms of the game include its extremely complicated plot twists near the end of the game. The S3 Plan is partly an Author Filibuster on gaming and the franchise itself: advising players to stop demanding the same Metal Gear Solid experience over and over, and start looking at the messages, themes and politics behind Kojima's games.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
    • Shooting a guard in the crotch nets you a one hit kill. It's tough to do, so get up close and personal and hold them at gunpoint. If you're above the nut shot, you can wing their arms and legs until they're hobbling around on one foot. Don't worry; they'll eventually pass out from blood loss. You can shoot birds. You can shoot your escort partner (game over) or just knock her out and do... things to her (earning you an angry call from her brother). You can take indecent photos of two passed-out teenage girls. Kojima wants you to be *ahem* immersed in the game.
    • You can also humiliate the guards by, after knocking them unconscious, shooting their gun arm, wrecking their radio, and/or injuring at least one of their legs. The guard, if all three will happen, will attempt to call for backup, but will look at the radio in disappointment, be unable to use their weapon, and will limp away from danger... right into that Claymore mine you set up behind him.
    • Averted with the parrot in the Shell 1 computer room, who deflects bullets just like Fortune does and will alert enemies if you mess with him. Assuming you haven't already killed or tranquilized everyone else in the room.
    • Other birds in this game, namely seagulls, do not enjoy invincibility and your support team will completely lose their mind if you decide to exploit their mortality too often, though they will poop in your eyes without provocation and therefore deserve it. You can, however, set off explosive charges amongst swarms of sea lice to your heart's content because nobody likes sea lice.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: During Raiden's sword training session, if you hit Snake either by mistake or intentionally, he will fire his gun at you, calling you a moron.
    • Back when he's Pliskin, you can aim at him with the new pistol he had just given you after his first cutscene. Shoot him (except in the head, which is a game over) and he'll shoot right back with his assault rifle. Shoot him enough times and he'll keep firing as long as you're in his sight.
    • Also, if you fire at Snake's ammo-dropping chopper instead of Solidus' jet, the chopper will just fly away.
  • Video Game Perversity Potential: Kojima knows his audience. Raiden can poke around the ladies bathroom, or knock Emma senseless and then lie on top of her (causing Otacon to go ballistic if you call him). Perhaps the most morally questionable example would be tranquing one of the Shell 1 hostages and then taking upskirt photos of her. This is the last straw for Rosemary, who dumps Raiden over the Codec and will refuse to speak with you afterward.
    • In most of these situations, the Colonel will shake his finger at you for a minute, then admit he'd probably try the same thing under the circumstances.(!)
  • Video Game Physics: Vamp is basically made of this. He can run on top of water, run vertically up walls, and swim around in fluid that he just established as having far less density than water.
  • Virtual Training Simulation: Raiden has no actual combat experience at the beginning of the Plant chapter, well, none that he remembers anyway ; all his training thus far has consisted of VR missions. This takes on a very meta note when flashbacks to these VR missions demonstrate that they are, in fact, the original Metal Gear Solid and its accompanying VR missions — the same ones the player themselves has played. Additionally, a popular fan theory holds that the entirety of the Plant chapter, and possibly the Tanker chapter also, is a VR simulation; see the Trivia tab.
  • Visual Pun: A rather creepy one at the very end of the game. In the Codec call just before the final boss fight, Raiden asks the AI Colonel who he really is. His response is to switch his mug shot from normal Campbell to fleshless-skeleton Campbell while telling Raiden "we're not what you'd call human".
  • Wham Episode: Everything after Emma's Escort Mission, beginning with her sudden and shocking death forms one giant Wham Episode.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Raiden is upset at Snake for betraying him and handing him over to the Sons of Liberty (even if it was faked) because Snake didn't warn him about it first.
  • What the Hell, Player?: If you go trigger happy and shoot Olga when she's unconscious, Otacon will express disgust at what you're doing.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer: Perhaps the most oft-used tool in Raiden's arsenal is his bottomless canister of liquid nitrogen. It freezes bombs, scares away sea lice, puts out fires, revives unconscious NPCs, blinds enemies, slices, dices, and makes julienne fries.
  • Where The Hell Is Springfield?: Averted: The game explicitly stated and showed that both events take place on the Hudson River of New York City, near Manhattan.
  • Why Am I Ticking?: Calling Pliskin during the C4 hunt will reveal that Fatman placed one of Shell 2's C4s on a Gurlukovich soldier. Fatman also will invoke this trope on himself by activating a large C4 package that he somehow placed underneath him during his final moments.
  • With Catlike Tread: This happens if Snake makes noise in the Tanker's cargo holds where Dolph is delivering his patriotic speech. Blocking the projector with Snake's body is ill-advised. Also, jogging across the steel grating. (A hundred "!" icons appear if one guard so much as spots you.)
  • Womb Level: The areas of Arsenal Gear explored by Raiden are named for bodily organs: specifically, the ass. He starts out in "Duodenum" and winds up battling Metal Gears on the "Rectum", and the closing scenes take place on what appears to be Arsenal's tail.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Vamp and Fortune: Scott Dolph, an important figure in their lives, ended up killed allegedly by Solid Snake during the Tanker Incident, they attempted to get their commanding officer (and in the case of the latter, her husband), Colonel Jackson, out of prison after he was falsely accused of misappropriating funds from the military, but they never reopened their case before Jackson died in prison. Then they ended up framed for terrorist attacks that killed both their own allies and civilians alike, and then their unit is killed off by the military under the Patriots orders. The public also doesn't even believe them when they tried to prove their innocence due to being essentially brainwashed by the Patriots, thus leaving them with having to nuke New York City directly as revenge to them, and then it becomes apparent that every time they were used, even that one. Honestly, who can blame them for what they ended up doing?
  • Word Salad Horror: The first indication that something is wrong with the Colonel near the end of the game is when he starts spouting off random nonsense.
    Colonel: I hear it's amazing when the famous purple stuffed worm in flap-jaw space with the tuning fork does a raw blink on Hari Kiri Rock. I need scissors! 61!
  • You Bastard: Hoo boy. Let's just say that when the Colonel AI and Rose mock Raiden for wanting to be like Solid Snake and for being too irresponsible to exercise his free will, they're really talking to you.
  • You Cannot Grasp the True Form: The Patriots themselves claim this status when they communicate with Raiden at the end. It was confirmed in Metal Gear Solid 4 that Raiden was merely talking to another AI, but at the time, the Patriots claim to be the embodiment of the collective will of the United States itself, which began forming from the founding of the nation. This is the only time the Patriots ever show their hand openly, too; even though we know they're AIs in Metal Gear Solid 4, they don't speak and their influence is felt everywhere.
  • You Didn't Ask:
    • Snake tells this to Raiden shortly before Mr. X/Olga knocks him (Raiden) out.
    • Also stated when Raiden realizes that they knew that they were developing Arsenal Gear.
  • You Have Failed Me: The Patriots were implied to have taken Ames nanomachines offline for this reason, as well as for the more obvious reason. They also had an even worse variation for Olga and Raiden if they failed their missions (let's just say that it involves the death of Olga's baby for her, and the deaths of both Rosemary and their unborn child for Raiden).
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The Patriots killed Richard Ames for this reason (and subtly for other reasons), and had Ocelot kill President Johnson for this reason as well (it may seem like they executed Johnson for betraying them, until you realize that they actually manipulated him into betraying them in the first place), Ocelot nearly does this to Solidus, Fortune, Raiden, and Snake.
  • You Look Familiar: Olga and Meryl are voiced by the same actress in the Japanese version. Likewise, Johnny, and to a lesser extent Snake, comment on the resemblance in-universe.
    • In the American version, Greg Eagles returns to voice Stillman. He previously played the Cyborg Ninja and the DARPA Chief.
  • You ALL Look Familiar: The All-American Marines don't wear masks like those shifty foreign mercenaries do. As a downside, they all use the same character model. The same goes for the Bound and Gagged VIPs who were taken hostage along with the President. In fact, Ames is easily spotted simply because he's the only NPC with an original hairstyle!
  • You Killed My Father:
    • Averted in an odd way. Solidus reveals that he killed both of Raiden's parents in an attempt to get Raiden to fight him, but Raiden doesn't care too much after the Mind Screw he's been put through. It's also implied that Solidus was telling Raiden this specifically to give Raiden the motivation to fight him so that he at least has a chance to survive, even though he intends to kill Raiden partially because of the Patriots machinations, but also because Raiden carries nanomachines containing what is essentially a backup system for the Patriots so he could gain their identities and hunt them down, should Solidus win against the fight.
    • Subverted with Olga in regards to Solid Snake: She did initially believe that Snake murdered her father. Actually, it was Ocelot, her father's best friend, who did the deed. However, shortly after encountering Solid Snake, she realized that he didn't kill her, and in fact, he was the reason she was still alive after the events of the Tanker Incident. Both subverted and played straight with Fortune, who also thought Solid Snake was the one who murdered her father, although she had more trouble believing that he truly didn't kill him. She eventually learns that Snake really didn't kill her father during Ocelot's speech, as well as learned that it was actually Ocelot who did the deed, and does attempt to avenge him. However, that didn't quite work out.
    • Not in Metal Gear Solid 2 itself, but in the non-canon Snake Tales included in Substance, Sergei was revealed to have murdered Meryl's father during a mission at Eldera in the Snake Tales story "Confidential Legacy," although he tricks Meryl into believing that the Marines executed Matt Campbell for treason. As soon as Meryl learned the truth after being defeated, she proceeds to avenge her dad by shooting Sergei, killing him.

"You don't have what it takes after all!"
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Repeating so the Audience Can HearImageSource/Video GamesFission Mailed

alternative title(s): Metal Gear Solid2; Sons Of Liberty; Metal Gear Solid 2 Substance; Metal Gear Solid 2 Sons Of Liberty; Metal Gear Solid 2
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