Metal Gear Solid 2 is, essentially, highly subject to Poes Law. While it is an intentional satire of the nature of video game sequels and the player's relationship to video games, without the outside context of that, the game is not fully functional or coherent. The Big Shell is highly linear, repetitive, and has a lot of backtracking. All of this was intentional, but that does not make it any less of a hassle to go through. The same goes for the bait-and-switch with Snake and Raiden, and the nature of rehashing elements from Metal Gear Solid. To offer a comparison, while Watchmen is deeply entrenched in deconstructing themes from superhero comics, it still functions perfectly well as its own comic and story without having to understand that; MGS 2 feels like it has to remind you all the time ("I feel like a legendary mercenary or something..."). Outside of Solidus Snake, most, if not all of the new characters are fairly unmemorable at best and annoying at worst. Which isn't to say the game is a complete waste. The gameplay is quite improved from its predecessor, and the non-disappearing bodies and improved AI mean you can more easily be punished for being reckless in your stealth. First person aiming adds a lot more depth to how you approach situations, as well. And even if the individual components are disjointed and strange, as a whole, MGS 2's plot and themes are interesting in what it's trying to say and do. In particular, the final chunk of the game after the section with E.E.* is filled with a great combination of Mind Screw, Nightmare Fuel, and fantastic set pieces. If nothing else, the entire game was worth it for that section. In the end, Metal Gear Solid 2 can be seen as an example that even though a piece of media, even video games, makes for a great analysis or social experiment, it doesn't necessarily make it a great game.
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