These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Raiden's English voice and acting, at least for some people. He's certainly a stark change from David Hayter's grumbly delivery, whereas in the Japanese audio he's as much of a Badass Baritone as Snake.
Even Better Sequel: While the story is heavily debated among fans to this day, almost everyone agrees that the gameplay is a major improvement over the original Metal Gear Solid.
Ensemble Dark Horse: The Colonel, who is actually a AI replica, is one of the more fondly remembered characters of the game, to the point of being referenced in future games, and even eclipsing the popularity of the real Roy Campbell. He's such a whacko, a scoundrel, and a creep that you can't help but love him.
Colonel: One shouldn't stoop to vulgar levels just because they've set foot on the battlefield. (under his breath)But I sympathize with you there... Rosemary: You WHAT?
Fridge Brilliance: Since so much of the game is the product of stressed developers tossing gimmicks at a wall to see what sticks, the result is a warped kind of genius: the Big Shell is a crude copy of the Shadow Moses Incident, and Raiden is an inferior agent to Solid Snake. It makes sense to have him muddle through missions with roller-blading fat men, spritzing inanimate objects with a coolant spray, clearing hallways of lice, holding hands with little girls, cartwheeling around naked, and other indignities.
Raiden was designed as a bishonen character due to fan letter from a fangirl stating that she didn't want to play as "an old man". Come Metal Gear Solid 4...
The Colonel's rather pervy behavior in some of the optional Codec conversations. The real Campbell ends up marrying Rosemary in Metal Gear Solid 4, though he's merely her beard.
Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance has Raiden wearing Gray Fox's Cyborg Ninja outfit for VR missions. It seems fun now, right? Well, it won't be fun or amusing after playing Metal Gear Solid 4 where Raiden does become an actual Cyborg Ninja under painful and extremely tragic circumstances.note Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance manages to inject the fun back into it by making Raiden the main character.
The Stinger missiles Snake gives Raiden make the boss fight against Vamp a piece of cake.
The M9 tranquilizer handgun, or the silenced SOCOM. Take your pick. Both are capable of instantly incapacitating headshots from distances that only a sniper rifle would remain accurate at in Real Life, the ammo is extremely common, and abusing them almost guarantees you never being seen. The M9 is arguably the better of the two since you don't aim it down the iron sights, meaning the gun takes up less of the screen in first-person view, and the laser is much easier to line up shots with than the SOCOM's ironsights. Plus, your endgame status is better if you don't kill anyone, and you get extra dog tags from the bosses to unlock goodies for New Game+. Extra points since it's a Disc One Nuke. The silencer for the SOCOM comes literally about an hour into the game later though.
Long-range sniping using the binoculars and a pistol is possible in this game, as well as in Metal Gear Solid 3, via a complex sequence of button presses. Take out the binoculars, zoom in, hold down the first-person button, unequip the binoculars while still holding the first-person button, hold the fire button to aim. Wherever you were looking at, your weapon will be aimed directly at it, no matter how far you zoomed in.
Harsher in Hindsight: Kojima called 9/11. In fact, looking at this list, we should just use Kojima to predict the future at this point. Lampshaded in sequels. The "New York Incident" is referenced in Metal Gear Solid 4, as it seems the destruction of Lower Manhattan took the place of the (comparatively smaller) destruction of the Twin Towers. It also leads to a dramatic rise in private military contracting and increased turmoil in the Middle East.
It should be noted that in Kojima's unedited version◊, the WTC is about the only New York landmark that doesn't get destroyed. Click it and cringe.
Solidus Snake's political extremism and secessionist views aren't too dissimilar from the current climate in the U.S. Even better: they think they're continuing on in the spirit of the Founding Fathers while having nothing in common with them, and have named themselves after the Boston Tea Party, in the game's case, the perpetrators. In 2009. Kojima: calling the Tea Party a decade in advance.
UAVs, baby. At the time of release, drones were still under development by the U.S. military and had only seen limited action in Iraq. The Cyphers encountered by Snake are more fragile (and prone to exploding) than the real deal, with an over-sized propeller to aim at, but the principle is the same.
Near the beginning of Raiden's section, the Colonel talks about how oil leaking out of the Big Shell would be the worst ecological disaster in history, killing all the marine life and ruining the coastline for generations. After the BP Oil Spill, a bit of oil leaking out of the Big Shell, as opposed to rushing up from the sea floor, doesn't seem quite so bad in retrospect.
A minor point, but the worry in the game is that the chemicals used to clean up the oil spill would contaminate the coastline. The spill itself has already happened with the sinking of the Tanker.
Snake's stern warnings about the dangers of "turning war into a video game" can seem even more chilling today that they did in 2001, with the advent of drone warfare.
The issue of censorship and intel concerning the Patriots, then the Patriot Act of 2001, effective 2002.
A secret security hole being used by the government to spy on and control the citizens? Heartbleed being used by the NSA anyone?
The game was written in 1999. Featuring an extremely militaristic older president named George. It even throws Truthers a bone, seeing as he actually did attack Manhattan.
In a less horrible, but more meta way, almost everything that got this game hated back when it came out is now standard. Deconstructing video game tropes and linearity has gotten pretty popular, using games as a storytelling platform is becoming the standard, soapboxing along with mindfucks is extremely popular amongst the more artsy and indie games, which gets them love for it, and sodomizing the fourth wall is no longer taboo, but almost expected. Even changing your protagonists has become a far more popular thing, although usually being more upfront with it.
The Patriots AI's speech at the end of the game is viewed as an eerily accurate prediction of the state of American politics and online communities in The New Tens, notably the extreme polarization and self-enclosure into echo chambers.
"Everyone withdraws into their own small gated community, afraid of a larger forum. They stay inside their little ponds, leaking whatever "truth" suits them into the growing cesspool of society at large."
The premise of the game being a computer program with implied sentience manipulating all of humanity and causing a lot of atrocious deaths via a terrorist group all for an "experiment," and that program being voiced by Paul Eiding, gets very interesting when Dirge of Cerberus does something very similar for its plot.
Also, Raiden recalling that he never actually met the Colonel even once will sound pretty funny after Metal Gear Solid 3, where Raiden's expy in that game, Major Ivan Raidenovitch Raikov, definitely knows a colonel.
One of the cardboard boxes found in the game is labeled "The Orange". Years later, an unrelated compilation titled The Orange Box would be released.
By the time of the release of the PC port of the game, around 2003, two years after the game first came out for the PS2, reviews of the game had already abandoned trying to keep the game's Decoy Protagonist a secret. That, and everyone knows that the game's ending is, err... rather demanding of the player.
Raiden is actually depicted front and center on the Substance box art.
Everything that happens after Emma's death is so fucked up that you cannot tell what is real and what is not anymore. The Fission Mailed screen is particularly disturbing - with the obviously twisted English words and you still fighting alright.
Especially consider the meaning behind the words Fission Mailed, along with "Emit" and "Continent" - all those words carry an ominous meaning toward the villains' next move...
The Colonel's last words to you before you fight Solidus are a hideously rasped and digitally distorted "Our beloved monsters — enjoy yourselves." All the while, it flickers between its recreation of Campbell's face, and a skull, which leers at you.
Offscreen Moment of Awesome: While we do see the Computer Room fill with water as the Big Shell collapses, we never see the water touch or carry away the lifeless body of Emma, and so miss out on what could have potentially been a very poignant Burial at Sea. It wouldn't have been much of a stretch either, considering the game had already done something similar for Sergei Gurlukovich and Scott Dolph, who were far less important to the story.
BioShock was acclaimed for its deconstruction of the concept of linearity in video games, but this game beat it to the punch by six years. You could also make a compelling argument that Metal Gear Solid 2 predated The Stanley Parable by ten years, particularly the torture room gag with Ocelot.
Metal Gear Solid 2 was not the first game in the series to order the player to shut off their console. That credit goes to the first game in the series.
Player Punch: This game loves this so much it makes the entire final third of the story this.
Porting Disaster: The PC version. You know you've screwed up when you fail at porting a game that worked perfectly fine on the Xbox to PC, when the architecture is nearly identical between platforms. It was so bad, in fact, that no Metal Gear Solid game since then was ported from its original console until the HD Collection in 2011 (a full seven years after Metal Gear Solid 3's initial release), and it took another two years for any to come to PC (Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance in January 2014, nearly eleven years after the Metal Gear Solid 2 PC port).
Protection from Editors: Likely the reason for why the game turned out the way it did. Apparently, Kojima's original script was over 800 pages long.
Seinfeld Is Unfunny: While some of the later video games released were acclaimed for its deconstruction of the medium, Metal Gear Solid 2 is now considered the earliest example to explore this.
Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Appears to be the case with Solidus, where the message is that doing the right thing with your own benefit in mind is entirely the wrong thing. After all, Solidus aspires to destroy the Patriots, just like Snake eventually does, but his self-centered approach rather than the selfless altruism of Snake makes him just as much a bad guy as the Patriots.
Stop Helping Me!: In the Plant mission, your support team can get on your nerves.
Take That, Scrappy!: "External Gazer" takes a good bit of piss out of Metal Gear Solid 2's story, even more than Metal Gear Solid 3 did. The much-loathed romance angle between Raiden and Rose is lampshaded by their VR avatars, the misdeeds of which earned "the combined hate of the entire universe" and whose mere presence "has the ability to destroy a world."
That One Level: Arsenal Gear-Jejunum, where you have to sneak past Tengu guards butt-naked (which prevents you from using your chokehold). If you get spotted, you're pretty much screwed and have to run all the way back to the torture room to get them off your tail.
Tough Act to Follow: The paradox of Metal Gear Solid 2: It goes down a lot easier if you play it before the original Metal Gear Solid... and yet the storyline can't be fully appreciated without playing beating MGS1 first.
The Scrappy: In addition to Raiden, see above, Rose was seen as this by many, as they found her constant melodrama and clinginess to be downright irritating. Fortunately, her role in Metal Gear Solid 4 was much better received.
The Untwist: Iroquois Pliskin is actually Solid Snake. Word has it they made it as blatantly obvious as possible just to see if anyone would fall for it anyway.
Values Dissonance: Part of the reason for Raiden's lukewarm reception in the West. In Japan, there isn't nearly as much stigma against men with feminine features, and it's actually very traditional to cast them in heroic roles.
Values Resonance: One of the villains' main goals is to try to censor the Internet, only making information that fits the party line available to the public. What was essentially an eight-hour commentary on the Japanese textbook controversy has taken on a newlight a decade later. Bear in mind that the game was released in 2001, long before Internet users were considering this a major concern and absolutely online anonymity and freedom were essentially givens.
Though its gameplay and graphics were praised, the storyline was deemed convoluted at best and exploitative at a few points. However, as years go by, many are finding it to be an excellent early example of post-modernism in the video game medium, as well as a decent deconstruction of But Thou Must games. These two traits would later be championed by the critically acclaimed BioShock.
In addition, critically acclaimed games that act as a Deconstruction of the medium such as Spec Ops: The Line and The Stanley Parable have only boosted this game's vindication. As these sorts of games become more popular, Metal Gear Solid 2 has also recently become much more accepted, and is even considered to be the first example of a "game about games".
Waggle: The pressure-sensitive controls are highly awkward, at first, especially for the assault rifles (even after you're used to them). Lightly pushing the button to shoot will make you aim your weapon, while depressing it fully fires it. This is an important distinction, as accidentally shooting guards you're holding up can be very annoying. In addition, movement with the D-pad is also pressure sensitive—pressing a direction lightly causes the player character to sneak fairly quickly, while a full depression causes you to run noisily. Metal Gear Solid 3 fixed this, where normal movement is now solely on the left stick and the D-Pad is for sneaking more sneakily.
Wangst: To some fans, Fortune. Even in-universe, Ocelot notes that she "couldn't get enough of the drama" and was "absorbed" in her own "misfortune".