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.
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, after the world has flooded with Metal Gear derivatives thanks to Revolver Ocelot auctioning off REX's blueprints to foreign powers. Solid Snake and Otacon, now leaders of an anti-Metal Gear activist group dubbed Philanthropy, learn from an anonymous tip that the U.S. Navy is escalating this arms race by building a souped-up model (RAY) to combat the knock-offs of REX. Snake is sent to infiltrate an oil tanker to observe the new Metal Gear for himself, and to leak pictures of it to the media. Alas, obvious trap is obvious, and Ocelot manages to hijack RAY after sinking the tanker with Snake inside it.Two years pass since the sinking of the tanker. The Big Shell, an offshore facility built to contain and 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, aided by his support team (his girlfriend Rosemary, and the Colonel) and a hairy, chain-smoking Navy SEAL named Iroquois Pliskin.Since it's Metal Gear Solid, you knowwhat to expect from the plot, but it really gets cranked Up to Eleven in this installment, with Codec conversations and cutscenes that constantly break up the gameplay and can run over half an hour. Also introduced are The Patriots, a ruling cabal who have secretly been orchestrating every Metal Gear game (news to FOXHOUND and co.), and the franchise's famous Kudzu Plot takes root here. The game is especially remembered for laying down one Mind Screw of an ending — 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 longtime fans for its esoteric plot and main character switcheroo (Snake had become a gaming icon by this point), it sold well and became a cult success amongst the sort of people who enjoyed the ending of Neon Genesis Evangelion - 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 things 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.
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.
Actress Allusion: Snake and Johnny Sasaki are reminded of Meryl Silverburgh when they see Olga Gurlukovich. There's a good reason for that. In the Japanese version, Meryl and Olga were both voiced by Kyoko Terase.
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.
Adult Fear: The final act, if you get past the True Art Is Incomprehensible part. The US 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? Big check.
A.I. Is a Crapshoot: 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 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 later confirmed.
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 also 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.
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."
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.
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".
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.
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 bandana from the previous game, and even points it out as such.
"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.
Boring, but Practical: You get an M9 tranquilizer pistol at the beginning of the game. You'll be using it. A lot.
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.
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 Vamp explicitly stating to Raiden his and Dead Cell's intentions of using the purified hydrogen bomb on Arsenal Gear to nuke New York City rather than simply letting Solidus use it as an EMP wave to disable Wall Street, Liquid Ocelot stating that he 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.
But Not Too Black: Invoked with Fortune, averted with Stillman. Might have something to do with the real-life people they were based on.
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 gobbledegook as their systems are scrambled.
City of Weirdos: 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.
Clark Kenting: Pliskin isn't fooling anyone. Supposedly, Kojima deliberately gave him the most transparently obvious paper thin disguise he could think of, just to see how many fans would be fooled. It would have been easy to assume that Pliskin was another clone (like Liquid Snake), or maybe Snake with amnesia, except for the fact that when Pliskin introduces himself, he says, "My name is S—" before catching himself.
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.
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.
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 22 RAYs during play, but then gives up when faced with the remaining three.
Darker and Edgier: Even moreso than Metal Gear Solid. Raiden's Game Over screens are also darker and much more serious than Snake's Game Over screens. Especially when it comes to the Fission MailedMind Screw.
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.
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, and there is a countdown to the moment where he finishes the speech. If you shoot him in the head with a tranquilizer, the countdown will stop until he can continue the speech.
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.
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.
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.
Does This Remind You of Anything?: 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.
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.
Elite Mooks: Solidus' Hi-Tech Army halfway through the game and the Tengu Commandos in Arsenal Gear.
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, 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.
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.
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 (a 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.
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.
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.
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.
Snake's bandana when he makes his appearance on the Arsenal Gear provides a hint for something confirmed 2 games on 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.
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.
Gainax Ending: And how! 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.
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).
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, 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 Read: Raiden with a sword and Raiden with no weapons. 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.
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.
Inferred Holocaust: Thanks to various cuts within the final version due to the unfortunate timing of its release, Arsenal Gear crashing into Manhattan as well as the results was glossed over.
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.
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?
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.
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 gosh-darn feels like there are loads and loads.
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.
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.
Mauve Shirt: Lieutenant J. G. Plisskin, or so it seems.
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.
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.
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.
Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: President Johnson ended up defecting to his predecessor's terrorist group, the Sons of Liberty, because he wanted power, more specifically, he was not granted any power whatsoever, basically just being used as a puppet of the Patriots in order to trick the American public into believing that the American public still had any control of who actually is voted into office, and that the Constitution was still being upheld. Unfortunately, it was double subverted, as not only did Solidus end up essentially using him to activate Arsenal Gear to eliminate the Patriots, but it also turned out that even his ambitions to wield power similar to that of the Patriots was in fact manipulated by the Patriots (stated in the script as well as implied by Ocelot in the game itself).
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).
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.
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.
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.
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 Fourth Wall: There cannot even be said to be a third wall. The second and first are barely holding up as is.
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'.
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 Mei Ling with his own lame anecdotes, which prompts the real deal to correct him).
There is also an odd scene featuring a silhouette of Vulcan Raven, still sporting his 32-bit polygons from the first one, but it's revealed to be a small toy.
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".
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.
Snake's escape from the sinking U.S.S. 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 Gurlokovich 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.
Oh Crap: Raiden literally says this when facing down Fortune's rail gun.
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.
Oxygenated Underwater Bubbles: Following a bomb detonation set by Fatman, the basement of Shell 2 begins to flood. By the time Raiden arrives, the offices are completely submerged. You can still refill O2 by swimming up to the ceiling grates.
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.
The Plan: The entire game is orchestrated by the Patriots.
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.
Essentially, the player isn't in control of Snake/Raiden during their missions; rather, both are being controlled by the real players, the Patriots.
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). Needless to say, the whole plant is inaccessible once Arsenal Rises.
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, 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 best available bunch of freaks outside of (the now-disbanded) FOXHOUND.
Reality Subtext: "[We should] let our children read our sad and messy history by its light," says Solid Snake. While the game was in production, there was a major controversy about the Japanese government whitewashing World War II atrocities in school textbooks.
"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'tquiteworkat all...
Recycled Script: 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 Vamp), 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. 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.
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 established that she survived though.
Sex Sells: Oddly enough, Japanese musician and sexy bishonenGackt 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 Frog Story: Otacon's attempts to imitate Mei Ling's quoting of classic literature.
A Storm Is Coming: The Tanker mission is a soggy one. In an inversion of this, Snake catches a cold in the Hard difficulty.
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: Like in the previous game, the second leg of Raiden's journey is hampered when the connecting bridge is hit by artillery.
Talking to Himself: Solidus Snake and Solid Snake are both voiced by Akio Ohtsuka in Japan, and they exchange lines during Raiden's first encounter with Solidus.
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 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 moment like this onboard Arsenal after seemingly being betrayed by all of his allies, including Snake and Olga. It's at this point that Raiden loses all trust in his surroundings and even his own cognitive faculties. Snake sees that he's in incredible distress and tries to keep him sane, which is asking a lot under the circumstances (what with Russian ninjas coming out of the woodwork and everything).
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 Colonel doesn't end his speech when he's supposed to. Played straight with the bomb on the submarine in the Plant Chapter.
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.
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.
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.
Too Dumb to Live: 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 handgun).
Too Soon: After 9/11 to show Arsenal Gear leveling most of New York. Instead, the game jump-cuts from Arsenal Gear accelerating down the Hudson River with the music swelling dramatically, to it having already reached Federal Hall.
The trailer for this 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.
Other trailers featured footage of Snake fighting the Harrier on the Hudson Bridge, an area which never appears in the game.
Subverted 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.
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.
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.
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.
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... and 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.
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. As of Metal Gear Solid 4, this has been Jossed, though it's also been claimed that this interpretation was Kojima's original intention and he merely buckled under fan pressure in between games.
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".
What Could Have Been: The Document of Metal Gear Solid 2 reveals a variety of cut content from the game. For example, there was supposed to be two additional members of Dead Cell (Old Boy and Chinaman). In Chinaman's case, his boss encounter was in an area that was eventually used for the fight with Vamp. In addition, the Tanker sequence was intended to end with an escape sequence as Snake tries to make it out of the tanker before it sinks, but the sequence was cut because play testers didn't think it was fun enough. Footage of the cut sequence is still used in the main game itself, in flashbacks.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.