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Video Game / Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

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"I can't say goodbye to yesterday..."
"George Washington took office as the first president of the United States of America 200 years ago today.note  And it happened right here. We were going to declare another independence — the dawn of a new nation—here."
Solidus Snake

Due to the infamy of this game's First-Episode Twist, all tropes and spoilers related to it will be left unmarked. You Have Been Warned.

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.

Two years have passed since the Shadow Moses Incident. Due to an intelligence leak, the militaries of the world have learned how to create and manufacture their own Metal Gears: highly-advanced walking tanks capable of launching nuclear warheads. Former special forces operative Solid Snake, now a leader in the anti-Metal Gear activist group "Philanthropy", receives a tip that the United States Marine Corps has developed a new model of Metal Gear that could shift the balance of power.

With help from his trusted ally Dr. Hal "Otacon" Emmerich, Snake sneaks onboard the oil tanker secretly transporting the new Metal Gear to obtain evidence. Before he can leak the images to the press, however, the tanker is suddenly attacked by a group of Russian mercenaries — led by his old enemy, the enigmatic Revolver Ocelot — and is destroyed in the chaos, spilling millions of gallons of crude oil into the ocean. As a result, Snake is framed as an eco-terrorist and goes off the grid.

In response to the spill, the United States government builds a marine decontamination facility called "Big Shell" off the coast of New York. But two years later, Big Shell is taken over by a domestic terrorist group calling themselves the "Sons of Liberty". A rookie FOXHOUND agent codenamed "Raiden" is tasked with infiltrating the facility and rescuing the hostages held by the Sons of Liberty; hostages that include the President of the United States. But not only are the Sons of Liberty backed up by a band of Russian mercenaries and a rogue American counter-terrorism unit called "Dead Cell", but their leader claims to be Solid Snake himself...

Being a Metal Gear game, you can expect a whole lot of chatter and the plot to be denser than a block of concrete. However, things really get ramped up to 11 in this installment, with lengthy sequences of cutscenes and Codec calls that can last up to half an hour. Also introduced are the Patriots, a ruling cabal which has secretly been orchestrating every Metal Gear game (news to FOXHOUND and co.), and the series' famous Kudzu Plot takes root here.

The story of the game is thematically ambitious and contains elements of surrealism, post-modernism, and Breaking the Fourth Wall. 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. The game is especially remembered for laying down one Mind Screw of an ending which has been analyzed endlessly and even has its very own page here on TV Tropes.

Metal Gear Solid 2 introduced many game mechanics that would define the rest of the series, with deeper stealth elements (it is now possible to take out guards non-lethally with tranquilizer rounds, as well as hide in lockers), an immensely increased level of interactivity with the game world, and far more advanced enemy AI (guards get suspicious if a sentry fails to deliver their status report, and deploy protective riot gear should the player be spotted). It also showcased some great graphics and awesome character animations. Retail copies of the game entered production on September 12, 2001, which led to several scenes being hastily cut from the final version of the game relating to the possible destruction of Manhattan. These aspects were later implemented in its official novelization by Raymond Benson. The WTC towers themselves, visible from the Tanker in beta demos, were removed from Manhattan scenes.

Some time later, the game was re-released as Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance as a multiplatform release on the Xbox, PlayStation 2, and PC, with over 500 standalone VR and Alternate Missions, 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 retcons Metal Gear Solid 2's twist ending into something a little easier to swallow. Like the first game, this one also has a novelization by Raymond Benson, and a comic book adaptation, also available as a Motion Comic in the form of Metal Gear Solid 2: Bande Dessinée. An HD Edition is 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.

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  • 100% Completion: The dog tags and VR missions make it a massive pain due to all the grinding; the dog tag challenge requires holding up every guard in the entire game, before repeating it four more times on the other difficulties. The VR missions, however, require the player to get the high score on about fifty missions as Raiden, before repeating the majority of the said challenges again as Ninja Raiden and Naked Raiden.note  And once the Raiden missions are over with, you get to do it four more times as Snake, Pliskin, Tuxedo Snake and MGS1 Snake.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot:
    • RAY is the first model of Metal Gear which can operate unmanned. Later, Emma Emmerich's virus causes the RAY army to go crazy and attack indiscriminately, causing Solidus Snake 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?
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Raiden's high frequency blade 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.
  • Achievement Mockery: In the HD Edition, the Snake Beater achievement/trophy is unlocked if Snake calls Otacon while stimulating himself.
  • Acrofatic: Fatman can zoom around and pirouette on his in-line skates, despite his size, heavy blast suit, and the significant amount of explosives secretly strapped to his back.
  • Action-Based Mission:
    • All of the boss fights.
    • The sword-fighting sequence before the Metal Gear boss fight near the end.
  • Actor Allusion: Solid 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. Meryl's appearances in Substance proceeded to use voice clips from Olga in both Japanese and English - though the joke is lost in either version, since Japanese versions of Subsistence, before the HD Collection a decade later, just used the English voice track, where Olga is voiced by a completely different actress from Meryl.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: What the S3 Plan stands for: "Solid Snake Simulation", a training sim to breed agents on par with Solid Snake. In actuality, the real name of the S3 Plan is "Selection for Societal Sanity"; the stuff about training new spies was just to mislead Revolver Ocelot.
  • Addressing the Player: Right at the beginning of the main story, the game asks for the player's name, sex, nationality, date of birth and blood type. During the ending, Raiden reveals to Snake the dog tags he's been wearing, and they have the player's details on them. When Snake asks him if it anyone he knows, Raiden says no and throws the tags away.
  • 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 Civil War vets.
    • The Colonel and Rosemary go on at length about how the new era of media has a serious capacity to dilute and alter the truth for the benefit of those higher up on the social ladder. They also mention that this can be turned against its users quite easily by allowing them to form echo chambers that censor all opposing thought. This means that real discussion is difficult if not outright impossible online, and that some communities can become so insular that what they perceive to be the truth can become their "truth". Raiden doesn't dispute any of this.
    • Appears to be the case with Solidus, where the message of the game 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 in the game as the Patriots.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • 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.
    • Richard Ames' motivations are clearer if you've read through Nastasha Romanenko's tell-all book about Shadow Moses; it more or less retcons Metal Gear Solid into a proxy war between Liquid Snake and the Patriots. It also explains what happened to Nastasha, as well as Jim Houseman, the Secretary of Defense, once Ames finally laid hands on him.
  • All There in the Script: The civil war that Raiden and Solidus participated in is never explicitly named in-game. In the script, it is said to be the First 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 Big Shell's underbelly, having cut through the oil fence and neutralized all the enemies. Unfortunately, he also took the only elevator up to the surface, momentarily trapping you in the dock with three woozy (and extremely pissed off) guards.
  • Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: Arsenal Gear Rectum, where you fight the Metal Gear RAYs. The battle takes place on a massive glass hexagon full of fluorescent lighting.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: The game is perhaps the most famous example ever. After the prologue with Snake infiltrating the tanker is over, the perspective switches over to Raiden two years later as he infiltrates the Big Shell. Needless to say, none of Snake's inventory carries over and the grip level also resets during the transition.
  • Anti-Frustration Feature: The Escort Mission with Emma can be a pain since she has to be guided and is very vulnerable to gunfire. If you let Emma rest, she'll sit on the floor and slowly recover her health.
  • Anti-Hero Substitute: Both inverted and subverted. Raiden, a solidly heroic Naïve Newcomer, briefly replaces the Anti-Hero 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.
  • Arbitrary Weapon Range: The SOCOM can headshot enemies across the map with relative ease. However, it can't hit some of the Semtex sensors on the connecting bridge between Shell 1 and Shell 2, necessitating the use of the PSG-1.
  • Arc Words:
    • The Colonel and others reminding Raiden of his "role".
    • "He's not a part of the simulation. He's an unknown factor."
  • Armchair Military: During the Tanker Chapter, footage of RAY is being broadcast on closed circuit TV to the Marine Corps brass. Snake, now soggy from the rain, grumbles that they're probably sitting in a nice, dry office with some hot coffee.
  • Artificial Brilliance:
    • Enemy guards can actually see your shadow around corners, forcing you to take the dynamic lighting into account.
    • 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 pinpoint accuracy, and probably rival you in kills. On Very Easy and Easy, he can actually win the entire Tengu fight for you.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Guards will kick comrades who are asleep or held at gunpoint and will think nothing of it if tricked into kicking them off ledges and handrails. Amusingly enough, each kick causes them to report that "the situation is normal".
  • Artistic License – Biology: Ocelot tries to shoot Fortune in the heart, but misses due to her having situs inversus, a rare medical condition which causes the positions of major internal organs are mirrored. However, the heart is not on one side of the body, but in the middle with it extending slightly to one side, as can be seen here. Ocelot's shot should have plugged her in the middle of her chest and hit the heart regardless of this condition.
  • Artistic License – Military: The Tanker Chapter's portrayal of the U.S. Marines' uniforms, jargon, etc. isn't even close to accurate. At one point, the Commandant of the Marine Corps calls himself a "soldier," an unforgiveable sin for even the lowliest Marine to commit, let alone the single highest ranking officer in the entire Corps.
  • As You Know: Although he doesn't use this exact phrase, Otacon gives Snake a rather redundant lecture at the beginning of the Tanker Chapter helpfully informing Snake who he's working for and what they do.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Genola is back, reappearing as the final boss in Snake's minigames; the gargantuan solider previously appeared in Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions. Joining him are Gurlugon, a giant Gurlukovich solider covered with Godzilla spines, and Mecha Genola.
  • Attack Its Weak Point:
    • At the time of release, UAVs had only seen limited action in the Gulf War, and were still under development by the U.S. military. The Cyphers encountered by Snake are more fragile — and prone to exploding — than real life drones, with an oversized camera to target and shoot, but the principle is the same.
    • Gun cameras can be disabled with bullets this time, rather than wasting Stingers. The cartridge on the back of the gun is your sweet spot. Additionally, the gun cypher will become useless when you shoot the cartridge, and spontaneously blow up rather than deactivate.
    • Fatman's blast suit leaves him completely invulnerable save for his bald head. Also, as he uses rollerskates to get around the battle arena, shooting him in the feet will easily knock him over for a moment so you can get a better shot at his head.
    • RAY is vulnerable when the jaw is open, either by preparing its water cannon or Raiden Knee-capping it with missiles. The same goes for the Tengu, who can block bullets head-on but are helpless to defend their knees.
    • The slow method of defeating Gurlugon involves shooting at its head, torso and limbs until you've exposed the targets inside them (they look just like the shooting range targets from earlier). The limbs grow right back, so you have to be quick. Mecha Genola is weirder: His head flies off when you shoot it, so Snake must avoid its shots and knock it into a side pocket like a billiard ball.
  • Awesome, yet Impractical: Arsenal Gear, according to Solidus. It requires other Metal Gears to guard it along with an army to actually maintain it. Without the requirements to support it, "Arsenal is nothing more than a gigantic coffin".
  • Back Tracking:
    • Hope you like the Strut F warehouse, because you'll be seeing a lot of it.
    • After Emma is rescued, Raiden is told to bring her back to Shell 1's computer room, located on the opposite end of the plant. This proves difficult as Fatman's bombs and RAY have reduced the whole structure to shambles.
  • Back from the Dead:
    • This happens to Vamp several times.
    • Liquid via Ocelot.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Raiden and Snake get one at the end of the game in Arsenal Gear while fighting off hordes of Tengus.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The Patriots are the true antagonists of Metal Gear Solid 2, and it is implied that thanks to Raiden, they actually get away scot-free. Though the S3 data was presumed destroyed by Emma's worm cluster, the Patriots succeeded in downloading all of it before the servers went down. The worm, however, did delete any information about the Wisemen's Committee, the 12 people who supposedly head the Patriots.
  • Badass Boast:
    • Olga says this to Snake during their fight:
    "Conflict and victory were my parents!"
    • Vamp has this exchange with Raiden:
    Raiden: "Still tickin' huh?"
    Vamp: "Unfortunately, hell had no vacancies..."
  • 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. He's also still packing a USP, presumably the same one he picked up on the tanker two years prior.
  • Bald of Authority: Commandant Dolph of the Marines.
  • 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 Lower New York Bay, with the final battle fought in the heart of Wall Street.
  • Big Bad: Solidus. In actuality, he's more of an Well-Intentioned Extremist while the Patriots serve as the true antagonists.
  • 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.
  • Big Word Shout: Solidus does a truly epic version of this during the Harrier fight:
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: When Raiden is naked and Strapped to an Operating Table a guard can come to inspect him. When he looks down at Raiden in the stomach area, he will mention that he wishes he had that.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality:
    • Metal Gear Solid 2 is one of the more morally ambiguous stories in the series. Though the Sons of Liberty'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 President Johnson are obvious stand-ins for MGS1's shady hostages. Whereas the DARPA Chief and Kenneth Baker were both corrupt, MGS2 is a bit murkier: Ames is indirectly responsible for the publication of Nastasha's book about Shadow Moses, costing him Brownie points with the Patriots. Johnson is a collaborator with the Sons of Liberty, but changes his mind once he realizes that Solidus doesn't want to join the Patriots but dismantle them. Johnson, fearing a power vacuum that will tear the country apart, immediately switches sides and hands Raiden the tools he needs to take Solidus out. Note that Raiden is still technically an agent of the Patriots at this point. Johnson has not undergone a "face turn" but merely chosen the option that does the least harm to his country.
  • Black Dude Dies First:
    • Scott Dolph in the Tanker Chapter, though he shares credit with Sergei since they get shot simultaneously.
    • In the Plant Chapter, Peter 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 Metal Gear Solid 2 rendition by Harry Gregson-Williams became the official theme of the series. It was originally composed, under the name "Winter Road" and as part of an extended lyrical romance on the poems of Pushkin, by Georgy Sviridov; from there, it was lifted without attribution 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. It may not be as powerful as the various assult rifles and rocket launchers, but it can put enemy guards to sleep, and its inherent muffler prevents it from drawing attention to you. Furthermore, reinforcements finding a sleeping guard is better than them finding a dead one; the backup will simply wake them up and disperse rather than triggering Caution mode, even during an alert, putting an attack squad to sleep with headshots will end the alert as no more guards can spawn, while shooting them in the head lethally with other weapons will just result in more attack squads spawning in.
  • 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:
    • Subverted with Olga: Snake is actually at a disadvantage this time, since all of the obstacles rest on her side of the deck.
    • The sediment pool is unveiled as an ingenious trap. Actually, it's a pretty damn avoidable pit with large fencing around it, and Vamp spends way more time in it then you do. Raiden can deplete Vamp's stamina and 02 by lobbing explosives into the drink, forcing him to come up for air.
    • Solidus' heat-seekers can't maneuver around obstacles; simply hanging from a ledge will neutralize the blast.
    • Each of the VR bosses, particularly Genola. He's standing under a giant tub of flour which, when the platform's legs are shot off, falls on Genola's head and knocks him out cold.
  • Boss Corridor:
    • The lower deck of the Discovery is a straight shot to the holds, where RAY awaits. RAY isn't fought, but Snake eventually runs into an enemy patrol headed in the opposite direction.
    • A couple of areas become boss corridors when Raiden revisits them, with a suspicious absence of enemies who were once omnipresent, such the Dock and Helipad.
    • Solidus meets you halfway on the connecting bridge after Raiden dismantles all of the explosives.
    • The final cylindrical tube in Arsenal Gear, right before Raiden's Skull Suit and equipment is returned to him. What awaits beyond the door is an extended shootout/sword battle with the Tengu troops, followed by boss fights with Solidus and his pack of RAYs.
  • Bowdlerise:
    • 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 Liquid Ocelot stating that he intentionally set Arsenal Gear 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.
    • All versions of after the initial North American release removed and toned down blood, such as removing the open wound on the necks of the dead Marines in the Tanker Chapter.
  • 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?"
  • Brick Joke: During the Tanker Chapter, Otacon tells Snake that Pentazemin has the added effect of curing sea sickness, only to admit he was lying to gauge the placebo effect. Years later, during the Plant Chapter, Snake explains the properties of Pentazemin and adds that it won't cure sea sickness, much to Raiden's confusion.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: In the Transformer room near the beginning of Raiden's story, he and Iroquois 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: Iroquois Pliskin, or so it seems.
  • Broken Ace: Raiden, and by extension, you by the end of the game.
  • Broken Bridge:
    • The paths to the tanker's engine room are blocked by faulty door controls. After you beat Olga on the deck, her men finish repairing the doors.
    • Fortune zaps one of two bridges leading to the Shell 1 Core, and the hostages, with her rail gun (the other door to the core is broken and never repaired). Solidus does the same to the connecting bridge between Shells 1 and 2: Luckily, Raiden is agile enough to leap across the gap and clamber along the walls of Strut L, though he can't retrace his steps.
  • Broken Masquerade: It's hard to beat a giant robot manta ray crashing into lower Manhattan. However, the Patriots arrogantly believe they can still spin it to their advantage. They're right.
  • Brutal Bonus Level: Determined players who slog through the VR Missions will be rewarded with a playable MGS1 Snake. Like his MSX theme music suggests, his levels are a lot harder, and the final Variety Mission taxes all of the skills you've learned by that point: A deathmatch versus dozens of snipers and guards wearing stealth camo, and then a duel with Genola, without any rations. All on one life.
  • But Thou Must!:
    • When the player first gains controller input over Raiden, he is instructed by the Colonel to type in his name, something the series has never done before or since until Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
    • During the Tengu assault, the game subtly persuades you to use the HF blade. 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. He's groped by the President of the United States, who is shocked to discover he's a man, peed on by a random guard (although this can be avoided), beaten up by Snake and Olga to use as bait for Ocelot and Solidus, subjected to torture and stuck naked in Arsenal Gear, having to go around streaking until he finds Snake, and potentially catching a cold as a result of streaking in a low-temperature area.
  • The Calls Are Coming from Inside the House:
    • The Codec transmissions from the Colonel and Rose 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 original Metal Gear Solid, and by proxy the first two MSX2 games. By the end of the game, the subtlety gets dropped altogether.
  • Camera Abuse: Getting killed when using first-person view will display a cracked glass effect.
  • Can't Catch Up: Much of the game's humor comes from Raiden constantly being compared to Snake and coming up short.
  • Can't Stop The Signal: The Tanker Chapter, when Otacon reiterates his plans for the RAY photos:
    Otacon: When the photos are in, we'll put them online and blow this whole thing wide open on the Web.
    Snake: Don't you think that the authorities will just shut us down?
    Otacon: Probably. But it won't matter — there'll be mirror sites spawning within minutes after those images go up. We won't even have to ask; people will be grabbing the pictures. There's no way anyone can stop it.
  • Cartography Sidequest: The Soliton Radar won't work until you activate the nodes. Each Strut has one, and while activating them isn't necessary to progress, it makes locating the C4s and avoiding detection much easier.
  • Casting Gag:
  • Catch Your Death of Cold: Series staple. In this case, Raiden will sneeze if he takes too long in the naked section. There's also a pickup that neutralizes the sneeze.
  • Central Theme: Continuing Metal Gear Solid's theme of being ruled by your genes, Metal Gear Solid 2's recurring theme is legacy:
    • Dolph and Sergei did what they thought was best for their country, but their sins ended up being revisited on their daughters.
    • Solidus and Stillman are both childless middle-aged men, still on the lookout for a surrogate son.
    • The Patriots speak of Americans as children who would rather live in a dream world than confront facts. Since they can't be trusted to transcribe history as it actually happened, the Patriots have decided to do the thinking for them. Instead of a whirling mass of conflicting propaganda, the S3-controlled Internet will have a single voice and vision, ostensibly for the betterment of all. Solidus, Snake, and Raiden are pretty much in agreement that this will destroy the future, not preserve it.
  • 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:
    • The first fight against Vamp has him swimming in the water to avoid your attacks. He has an O2 meter like the player, but unlike the player, Vamp's life meter won't drain if he runs out of air.
    • One of the few canonical examples. The Patriots have stacked the deck against everyone, even Ocelot.
  • Continue Your Mission, Dammit!: Command instructs you to defeat Solidus. After the boss Turns Red, they contact you again, telling you to defeat Solidus (and then talking about aircraft naming conventions).
  • 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 Marine Commandant, is actually the name of a former 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.
  • Cut and Paste Environments: The VR Missions alternate between using brand-new, minimalist environments and recycling maps from the Plant and Tanker chapters, though with different objectives and enemy placement.
  • Cutscene Incompetence:
    • Snake disappearing, presumed drowned, at the end of the Tanker mission and getting captured by Fortune offscreen.
    • 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 20 RAYs during play, but then gives up when faced with the remaining five.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max:
    • Vamp hovers over the oxygen-rich sediment pool in a Levitating Lotus Position; After your brawl with him, he sinks straight to the bottom.
    • 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...?
    • When the player has to destroy RAYs, it requires several Stinger missiles aimed at a specific weak point. In a single cutscene Solidus is somehow able to take down several RAYs by shooting at them with a P90 submachine gun, and hitting them nowhere near said weak point.
  • 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.
  • Cyberpunk: Most of the game is this. For example, Raiden's body is filled with implanted nanomachines that enable him to communicate via codec/nanocommunication. Said nanomachines also mess with Raiden's senses, partly by manifesting the Colonel AI that he takes orders from.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: The swimming controls involve moving the analog stick up to swim up and down to swim down, the opposite of how similar swimming sequences in other games typically control.
  • 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 Snake to shame. The atmosphere of the plant relative to the tanker mission is more grim, with a nondescript Game Over screen.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: invoked Tackles into sequels that rehash the first product’s plot, 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. It even tackles the series itself, twisting the Nurture over Nature Aesop of the original Metal Gear Solid into a sinister Ancient Conspiracy that reshapes people's whole personalities through social engineering.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Solid Snake in this entry. This is one of the most infamous examples, as everyone expected to be Snake for the entirety of the game.
  • Developer's Foresight: See 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' 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.
  • Distaff Counterpart:
    • Olga can been seen as another wry deconstruction of MGS1, this time of Meryl Silverburgh: a helpless rookie in panties who looks like she belongs anywhere else but in a 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. It should be noted that in the Japanese version, Olga's voice is provided by Meryl's voice actress.
    • 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.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: From this game onwards, you can distracts male guards using girly magazine. Of course, it doesn't work on ladies and unmanned units.
  • Divergent Character Evolution: Raiden is literally a Moveset Clone of Snake, with the exception of his ability to use the PS2's greater rendering power to shoot from a first-person perspective. Considering the themes of the game, this is undoubtedly intentional. Likewise, the moment when Raiden gains his Cool Sword and Implausible Fencing Powers, finally breaking free of being Snake's Expy and gaining access to buttons Snake never had, is a culmination of Raiden's Character Development and a major Plot Point to boot.
  • 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?"


  • Eagleland Osmosis: In this case, the "tired, poor, huddled masses" would be Sergei 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."
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Of a plot point rather than a character, but at the beginning of the Plant chapter, having Raiden walk over the unconscious guards in an attempt to loot their guns will lead to the Colonel calling Raiden and telling him that their guns have nanomachine ID locks that only allow the registered user to fire them, meaning Raiden is out of luck. ID-locked guns would later feature far more heavily in the fourth game.
  • Early Game Hell: Slightly. You start the Plant Chapter without any firearms, similar to how Metal Gear Solid started, so it is very difficult to defend yourself when in a gunfight. Finding the silenced tranquilizer and getting the SOCOM makes the game much easier, though.
  • Easing into the Adventure: Much of Otacon's briefing on the Tanker mission is rendered null by the appearance of the Russian boarding party. Even so, Snake is still armed with a silenced tranquilizer pistol (Otacon did not anticipate this being a life-or-death scenario), and has plenty of flexibility under cover of night.
  • Electronic Telepathy: Usage of the Codec has become as such by the time of this game, speaking in a nanomachine-based language while appearing to be silent. On multiple occasions, Raiden uses nanocommunication to speak to others and prevent the Big Bad and his mooks from listening in.
  • 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: The encounter with Emma is this.
  • 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 Big Shell 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 controlling multiple RAYs.
  • Expy: Purposely invoked. Every character in Metal Gear Solid 2 maps to someone in the first game in one way or another, though not perfectly. For example:
    • Olga is an antithesis of Meryl, a Russian commando who joins her unit's mission despite her pregnancy. She also possessed traits of Grey Fox and Roy Campbell. To wit, she dons a "Cyborg Ninja" outfit to assist Raiden and otherwise act in ways that she cannot as Olga; and she is ultimately acting to save a loved one, her daughter, who is being used as blackmail.
    • Rosemary is the game's save-data specialist for Raiden, standing in for Mei Ling from the first game. Rose is ostensibly a civilian who isn't technically supposed to be involved in this mission, and it shows in her tendency to call Raiden by his real name over comms and repeatedly ask him about what tomorrow is, among other things. She also has traits of Naomi Hunter, being a spy reporting on Raiden.
    • Iroquois Pliskin shares some traits with Miller and Gray Fox from the first game, on top of being Solid Snake. He infiltrates the Big Shell just ahead of Raiden, though not because of Raiden. His first dialogue toward Raiden is yelling "Shoot him [Vamp]!"; he barked a similar order to Meryl back in Shadow Moses. In contrast to The Reveal that Liquid Snake was masquerading as Miller for the entireity of MGS 1, "Pliskin" doesn't really bother to hide his face after pulling off his balaclava, the same kind of face covering that Meryl wore when she and Snake first met.
    • Fatman is the antithesis of Vulcan Raven. His boss fight is an updated version of Raven's second boss fight, with the added wrinkle of Raiden having to actively find and defuse Fatman's bombs. After the battle, Fatman mocks Raiden with his last lines of dialogue, whereas Raven had given Snake a clue before perishing.
    • Vamp combines traits of multiple characters. His trench coat over a bare chest bring to mind Liquid Snake, as does his ability to survive gunshot wounds to the headnote . His first boss fight is an inversion to Revolver Ocelot's, with a similar arena minus explosives and a central pillar. He later invokes Snake's battles with Sniper Wolf, as he holds Emma hostage while Raiden is forced to shoot with her in the way.
    • Emma "E.E." Emmerich is this game's resident Emmerich, a nerdy programmer with a hand in the current Metal Gear project. Unlike Otacon, whom Snake wasn't tasked to rescue in Shadow Moses, Emma is actively a load for the player, and ultimately dies before the Arsenal act of the game. The familial facts that she gives the player also paint the Emmerichs as troubled on their own merits rather than just troubled with working with weapons of mass destruction, such as Emma nearly drowning in a pool with her father.
    • Solidus Snake possesses elements of Big Boss (e.g. being a military leader with a paternal connection to the player character Raiden) and Liquid Snake (e.g. being the leader of the combined Sons of Liberty faction; serves as the game's Final Boss).
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The Tanker Chapter takes place over the course of a few hours, while the Plant Chapter takes place within a single day. There's a Time Skip of two years in between them, however.
  • Fake-Out Twist: That the hijacking of the United States' cutting-edge combat mech and a hostage crisis led by a supposedly-insane anti-terrorist unit was orchestrated by the US president himself, and the "water treatment facility" that sprung up to "treat" the environmental damage caused from the aforementioned hijacking is a front for a super-sophisticated airborne battleship for a secret society that really controls America aren't the real twists. The real twist is much stranger: very soon afterwards, the secret society steps forwards to show that the president, the player character, and the player themselves have been manipulated by rogue AI borne from American ideals into acting out a recreation of the first game's own terrorist plot that would justify their authoritarian worldview and conveniently launch the airborne battleship to actively censor and oppress any information deemed useless or extraneous, like "art", "entertainment," "anti-war protests", or "any vaguely subversive opinion".
  • False Flag Operation:
    • The oil spill off the shores of Manhattan is entirely the fault of wanted fugitive Solid Snake, who heartlessly struck a Naval vessel while it was out performing maneuvers, killing himself and the entire crew. It's a pretty good hatchet job. A duplicate tanker was lying in wait and sunk in the exact same spot, creating the oil spill Snake supposedly caused.
    • According to Stillman, none of the C4s are planted in logical locations. It turns out that was deliberate on Fatman's part. The "baby" C4s won't destroy the Big Shell. However, their deactivation wakes up the detonators on the main C4 charges, which certainly destroy the facility.
    • 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.
    • The events that happen on the Tanker and Big Shell are scripted by the Patriots, though few of the participants know it.
    • 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 counterattack. Solidus' real objective is to fry Manhattan's electrical grid before turning it into his private fiefdom, à la Escape from New York.
  • Fan Disservice: Olga's hairy armpits in the Tanker Chapter.
  • Fanservice:
    • The pin-up posters littered around the game.
    • Some may consider Raiden's naked scene at the game's climax to be this.
  • First-Episode Twist: The entirely of the Tanker Chapter. This includes Sergei getting double-crossed by Ocelot and his subsequent death, Liquid's return through the use of Ocelot's possessed arm, the death of Marine Corps Commandant Scott Dolph, Ocelot escaping with Metal Gear RAY, Snake's apparent death at sea and finally his replacement with a FOXHOUND rookie codenamed Raiden.
  • Fission Mailed: This trope-naming moment happens near the end of the game, during the fight against the Tengu inside Arsenal Gear.
  • 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.
  • Fixed Camera: Some spots have the camera fixed in perfect Metal Gear fashion.
  • Flunky Boss: Mecha Genola dispatches tiny, R.O.B.-like replicas of itself by parachute.
  • Flushing-Edge Interactivity: As part of the many details that this game features to show off the PlayStation 2's capabilities, MGS 2 features urinals that flush whenever the player leaves them.
  • Forgotten Anniversary: Rose is constantly nagging Raiden if he remembers what day it is. He does eventually remember that it's the anniversary of the day he met her.
  • 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 the Codec and in cutscenes well before the actual various reveals in-game, though it takes a second playthrough to catch all the subtle nuances:
    • 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 in fact attribute it to accelerated aging.
    • In his briefing, the Colonel reflects on how the tanker was loaded with crude oil when it sunk. Funny how Snake didn't come across any oil while journeying through the ship's holds.
    • There's a few discrepancies with what the Colonel informs Raiden about, such as saying that Strut H is filled with toxins and that the terrorists killed a hostage in retaliation for stopping Fatman's bombs. Strangely, both Snake and Ames seemed confused when they were told about these events, while Fortune and Vamp discuss Fatman's bombing attempt as being completely at odds with the rest of the group's plan. Both Fatman and Ames express confusion about how the terrorists are supposedly demanding $30 billion in cash, with Ames revealing to Raiden that Solidus' objective was to launch a nuke in the first place, and that no ransom would stop it, even if they had demanded one.
    • Raiden is briefed on Ames' identity and location while standing at a helipad. Everything that follows is a replay of Disc 1 of Metal Gear Solid:
      1. He tracks down Ames, who dies immediately after being rescued, using an electronic tracer.
      2. He encounters Ocelot while rescuing the President, who also dies suddenly.
      3. He disables an electrified floor to reach a computer whiz by the name of Emmerich in the plant's basement.
      4. He watches helplessly as Emma is wounded, engages Vamp in a pitched sniper mission, and then gets captured and stripped of his gear.
      5. At long last, he's strapped to a table by Snake's clone brother and tortured for information, whereupon he must hunt around for creative routes of escape. By this point, the game drops the act and just plops Raiden into an old MGS1 environment.

        These plot beats are juxtaposed with bosses (Fatman, the Harrier, and Vamp twice) referencing the layout and mechanics of the Shadow Moses battles: namely Raven (tracking the boss through a Container Maze), the Hind D (taking on an aircraft with homing missiles while using the environment to avoid its guns and missiles), Mantis with an arena based on Ocelot's (a boss that can do all sorts of tricks to restrict your movement and ability to fight, while you instantly die if you move through the center of the arena), and Wolf (using a sniper rifle to shoot the boss before your escortee bleeds out).
    • The Big Shell is quite literally a Palette Swap of the Shadow Moses map, with the same wall textures and door controls.
    • Ames is a bit too chummy with Raiden, and assumes they're working for the same side. Meanwhile, Stillman is more wary of him, putting his faith in Pliskin instead, in spite of the latter's inconsistent disguise and cover story.
    • 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 after Shadow Moses as several people point out. He also admits he's never actually met the Colonel in person; in fact, has he ever called him by name?
    • After learning the truth about who her father's murderer was, and being shot before she could avenge him during Ocelot's speech, Fortune attempts to fire two retaliatory rounds from her rail gun at Ocelot, who is 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 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's 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.
    • 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. In comparison, Snake's reaction to the news is one of genuine shock.
    • President Johnson's 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 two 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, of which Pliskin/Snake and Otacon are rogue elements to.
    • Raiden getting a high frequency blade during the game's final act foreshadows his transformation into a cyborg ninja for his next two appearances.
    • The reveal of Pliskin actually being Solid Snake was apparently supposed to be seen coming a mile away, so most of the actual hints towards it are about as subtle as a brick through a plate glass window. Even this manages one hint most wouldn't pick up on immediately, however: when Pliskin is disarmed of his M4 by Vamp during their joint first appearance, Raiden is able to take up that gun and fire at Vamp with it, and after some exposition receives a SOCOM from him so he's not totally unarmed going forward…in spite of the fact that all battlefield weapons have biometric scanners that prevent anyone but their keyed user from firing them, which is the entire reason Raiden later has to find an unclaimed AK in the armory as part of a disguise to infiltrate the core.
    • After beating the game, the eventual reveal of the entire Big Shell scenario being an orchestrated, intentional recreation of Shadow Moses becomes bone-chillingly clear to see from the very beginning of the Plant section. The 'Colonel' recites tutorials to Raiden that were word for word said by a combination of Campbell, Naomi, and Mei Ling from the Shadow Moses incident; as if he was reading them off of a script. Pay close attention to when he explains how the Codec works to Raiden; it's almost as if he slipped up reading his line, and corrected himself.
      Colonel: ... if we need to reach you—contact you, the Codec will beep.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: There cannot even be said to be a fourth wall. The second and third are barely holding up as is:
    Johnson: Merely puppets! Pawns in a game.
  • Frame-Up:
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Fun with Acronyms: S3. It's short for Solid Snake Simulation. In actuality, it stands for for Selection for Societal Sanity.
  • 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 appearing out of nowhere after you kill Solidus, and Rose 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 series.
  • Gambit Pileup: Every single character in the game (except Raiden) has a complex agenda and backstory at work and is attempting to do more than they initially let on.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: The PS3 version of the 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 Integration: When Raiden has to escort Emma through some areas immerged in water, she's justifiably scared, so Raiden tells her to concentrate on his heart beat to calm herself down. Taking some Pentazemin before said underwater sections will cause Emma's O2 gauge to deplete slower, as Raiden's heart is beating slower.
  • 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. It might be this 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). At least one case was fixed for the Substance rerelease, where the cutscene after the Hopeless Boss Fight against Fortune will have Raiden use the SOCOM pistol regardless of which you tried to fight her with, because it's the one where one of his bullets deflects away from Fortune and into Vamp's forehead, but left the later one before the fight with Vamp in Shell 2's purification chamber alone, presumably banking on the idea that most players wouldn't keep the M9 equipped when there are maybe half a dozen guards across the entirety of Shell 2.
  • 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.
  • Gone Horribly Right: The fish out of this particular water is Ocelot. The Big Shell was meant to reenact Liquid Snake's failed revolution, with Solidus/Raiden in Liquid/Solid's place. When Liquid commandeers Ocelot (and RAY) in the finale, the "testing arena" spins out of control and runs aground in Lower Manhattan. Now Liquid Ocelot is free, and at large.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Unlike the other Giant Mooks, Genola does not use projectiles to attack you, instead using his fists of fury (even though there's a FAMAS glued to his mitten).
  • Gotta Catch Them All:
    • The dog tags, with every single difficulty setting having its own set.
    • Fatman's bombs. There will be extra ones hidden in the hard difficulties.
  • 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 painful one.
    • 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 Pliskin.
  • Harder Than Hard:
    • The long-delayed PAL release of Sons of Liberty 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; however, it also introduced the "Game Over If Discovered" checkbox, which is helpful when chasing the hallowed "Big Boss" ranking.
    • In the HD Edition, the torture sequence on Extreme was cut by 2/3 because the original was just too punishing.
    • The higher difficulties throw in more RAYs to fight. The Extreme RAY battle is easily one of the most grueling endurance tests of the series, as you have to fight twenty of them in a row.
  • 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 some of their gear from Shadow Moses. If you net a Game Over, Otacon will initially assume Snake is messing around or trying to pull his chain ("Stop kidding around!"), implying that gamers ought to know their way around 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 Chapter.
    • A 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 Chapter fresh, the Colonel skips that part and just tells you this will be your first sneaking mission.
  • Head Desk: 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/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 Gear rises.
  • Here We Go Again!: The conclusion of the fifth Snake Tale "External Gazer" has Mei Ling bringing a news article about the sighting of another monster at the Big Shell, exactly like the beginning of the story.
  • 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:
    • 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.
  • 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: Despite the game's Japanese origin, the Japanese HD Edition suffers from poor lip-synching problem not present in the original Sons of Liberty release. This was due to the fact that the HD Edition is based on the Substance edition, which only had English voice acting (even in Japan). Developer Bluepoint Games simply overlaid the Japanese voice acting into the English-speaking cutscenes without taking into account the different lip movement.
  • 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.
  • How We Got Here: The start of the Snake Tale "External Gazer" has Snake looking back on why he went to the Big Shell to look for the monster Gurlugon.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Pliskin. This is 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?
  • Ill-Timed Sneeze: This is the third game in the series where Snake can catch a cold from exposure. He only sneezes when standing stationary, ruining your attempts at stealth.
  • In the Hood: Solid Snake is wearing a slicker in the opening cutscene.
  • 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 the semtex explosives and their control units. One flickers yellow, and the other glows green.
  • Informed Ability: For a supposed REX-killer, the RAY model is quite fragile and doesn't hold up to more than three stinger missiles or, in Solidus' case, automatic weapons fire, though it's possible that the mass-produced RAYs simply aren't as strong as the Marine Corps' manned prototype. We finally do see REX square off against RAY in Guns of the Patriots - the nine-years-abandoned REX still defeats the dedicated REX-killer RAY, but it's at least a longer and closer battle.
  • Injured Player Character Stage: Near the end of the game, Raiden is captured and has his clothes and items taken from him. He is forced to sneak through the next section naked and unable to defend himself, and contracts a cold due to the low temperatures, which causes him to sneeze periodically, potentially alerting nearby guards.
  • Interface Screw:
    • Played for Laughs when the Colonel's AI goes on the fritz. While Raiden is stumbling around naked in the heart of Arsenal Gear, surrounded by death on all sides, his 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 Rose are not flesh-and-blood people but rather A.I.s, their Codec portraits are actually CGI effects. 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.
  • Interservice Rivalry: Plays a big role in the backstory. Apparently, the mass proliferation of Metal Gear's designs led all of the branches of the U.S. military to attempt to develop their own versions of Metal Gear (the Army has REX, the Marines have RAY, and the Navy has Arsenal). All of them are convinced that they have a duty to one-up the others, and all of them are convinced that the others' models are just going to lead the world to armageddon.
  • 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...
  • Is That the Best You Can Do?: Solidus says it repeatedly during his boss battle.
  • It Only Works Once: Just as with MGS1, the mooks you encounter wear different uniforms depending on whether they're patrolling indoors or outdoors, or responding to an enemy sighting, etc. However, the Meryl trick won't work anymore; they also use different weapons depending on where or why they're patrolling. Raiden's stolen B.D.U only works in the Shell 1 Core while carrying the AKS-74U, and trying to blend in with the common guards wearing urban kamysh and carrying AN-94s won't end well.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Solidus knows what the Patriots intend to use Arsenal and GW for, and has a valid point, as 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:
    • On the crow's nest of the Discovery, Snake can find a wet box that is drenched in the rain. It falls apart more easily than other boxes and is very conspicuous.
    • The shaver.
  • Just Following Orders: S3, a thought experiment based around the events of Shadow Moses Island. The idea was that if their AI, in this case, The Colonel, a.k.a. GW, was clever enough to guide Raiden through this entire game, it could be trusted to run continuously on its own and police the Internet.
  • 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 onscreen 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...
  • Kissing Discretion Shot: Raiden's parting line after beating Solidus. He basically tells the player to screw off so he can whisper sweet nothings into Rose's ear in private.
  • 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 "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Invoked with the Japanese version of the game. Since Japanese players 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 the player to skip the Tanker Chapter entirely and jump into the Plant Chapter immediately.
  • Leave No Witnesses: Sergei 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.
  • Lethal Joke Item: In the Naked Raiden sequence, there is one item for you to collect: a flashy Zone of the Enders box. Unfortunately, the box is useless as camouflage, since guards will be lured by the Product Placement and try to inspect it. Like all boxes, however, it does allow Raiden to scurry around while crouching. You can reach the exit very easily by speeding behind the waist-high guardrails and crates in the RAY hangar.
  • Lonely Bachelor Pad: It's mentioned that Raiden's home looks like this, despite having a girlfriend. A sparse bed, bare walls, nothing else. When Rose broke in there because she started getting paranoid that he had another girlfriend, she commented that "There was nobody there. Not even you."
  • Long Game: The entire two-year span of the game was orchestrated by the Patriots to stage a training arena for the S3 Plan, discrediting Philanthropy in the bargain.
  • Lost in Translation:
    • In the Japanese version, some of the characters share voice actors with characters featured in the original Metal Gear Solid in order to drive home the derivative nature of the game's events. Solid Snake and Solidus themselves are both voiced by Akio Otsuka, whereas Olga is voiced by Kyoko Terase in order emphasize her resemblance to Meryl. In addition, the two main hostages, Ames and President Johnson, are voiced by Masaharu Sato and Yuzuru Fujimoto, the same voice actors as Decoy Octopus and Kenneth Baker, whereas Mr. X switches between Kyoko Terase's own voice speaking through a filter and archived recordings of Kaneto Shiozawa as the Cyborg Ninja.
    • The Japanese version got a moment of this themselves thanks to the above. One of the additions to the Substance release is a VR mission boss fight against Meryl, wherein she reuses Olga's voice clips. This would have made sense for the Japanese version given that, as above, Olga and Meryl have the same voice — except for the HD Edition almost a decade later, the Japanese Substance only had the English voice acting, so Meryl now has a Russian accent for no particular reason.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: In the fifth Snake Tales story, Solidus traps Snake in one where he's living Raiden's life while doing random missions. Otacon informs the player during the intermission segments that they have to make Snake exit the VR mode to wake up.
  • Lunacy: Sergei Gurlukovich notices that the moon is pale as death in the storm, suspecting that the mission is going to end very badly. He's right.
  • 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 superweapon 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.
    • “Iroquois Pliskin”, the fake name Solid Snake gives to disguise his identity, is one too. When Snake admits it, Raiden immediately understands “Pliskin” due to being a movie buff, but needs the origin of “Iroquois” explained to him.
  • Mecha-Mooks: Solidus' personal fleet of RAYs, each programmed to communicate in battle and synchronize their attacks, 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 3-20. 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:
    • Arsenal is practically every type of warship that's ever been built — submarine, cruiser, aircraft carrier, and ICBM launcher.
    • RAY is the Robert Patrick to REX's plodding Schwarzenegger. An amphibious mech with tank armor, rocket launchers, land weapons, and the ability to jump. In fact, the only thing it can't do is fire nukes, leading to some fandom debate over whether it's a Metal Gear per se, or strictly an anti-Metal Gear weapon.
  • Millennium Bug: According to Emma, the Y2K protective patches on every American's computer also contained a backdoor for the U.S. Government (or rather, the Patriots) — prophetic in light of later events. However, this was still tinfoil hat territory in 2002.
  • Mind Rape: The entirety of the Plant Chapter is basically one long prolonged mind rape of Raiden. Subverted, eventually, and very narrowly, by The Stinger.
  • Mind Screw:
    • Just about everything that happens after Emma's death.
    • The game heavily implies that not only was the Tanker Chapter just Raiden playing a VR simulation of the tanker, but that original Metal Gear Solid 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." Also, whenever the Colonel explains a control change difference from Metal Gear Solid, he notes "unlike in VR training..." or similar. 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 Chapter, 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.
  • Mission Control Is Off Its Meds: The Colonel AI is a textbook example.
  • Mook Chivalry: The Metal Gear RAY boss battle starts like this, with each of the opponents staggering their attacks - and done so in a way where a skilled player can disrupt their attack pattern. This gets mixed up slightly when one of the opponents jumps onto the platform.
  • Monumental Damage: The game was scripted to have Arsenal Gear relocate the Statue of Liberty as it crashed into New York. This was cut from the final version because of 9/11. Its crash deposits you onto a different, less patriotic landmark (Federal Hall) for the Final Boss.
  • Mook Maker: Arsenal Gear, arguably a boss in its own right. It continually deploys unmanned RAYs to fight you until it finally runs out.
  • Mooks: The Gurlukovich Mercenaries.
  • Multi-Mook Melee: The guard invasion on the tanker, the Tengu invasions inside Arsenal Gear, and a couple of the VR Missions.
  • Multiple Endings: Each of the Snake Tales have different outcomes depending on whether a different route was taken or if the boss of the level was beaten lethally or non-lethally.
  • Mundane Made Awesome:
    • Snake's box.
    • Snake's headband in the Tanker mission. Moreso if you have the infinite-ammo one, whereupon the straps lengthen themselves to about Snake's height.
    • Raiden's hair. Its flowy-ness is fully animated, even outside of the cutscenes.
  • 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).
  • My Rules Are Not Your Rules: Mechanically, Snake cheats in the section where you team up with him in Arsenal Gear. While the cutscenes depict him with an M4 assault rifle, he wields a SOCOM pistol in gameplay — and fires it super-rapidly with a 30 round magazine, far, far faster than the player could ever personally fire the gun as Snake or Raiden.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Raiden, turn off the game console right now! The Colonel is stated to be a manifestation of Raiden's psyche, based partly on his past experience. The other parts of him are apparently patterned on past FOXHOUND commanders: three of the Colonel's calls inside Arsenal Gear are simply him parroting the mission briefings from the MSX Metal Gear games, along with one taken from the non-canon Ghost Babel.
    • 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 mentions that Snake took Russian courses during the part where he listens in to Olga and Sergei's conversation, which was also what the manual for Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake stated about one of the tests/drills that recruits for FOXHOUND have to take.
    • Snake runs into a silhouette of Vulcan Raven, still sporting his 32-bit polygons from the first one, but it's revealed to be a small toy. Looks like he's still "watching" Snake, just as he promised.
    • In a nice jab at Meryl's drag act in MGS1, "Plisskin" opens the plant mission wearing a balaclava and green fatigues as his disguise. He might as well be wearing cellophane, since Vamp sees right through it.
    • Raiden can encourage Snake to shave, just like in Alaska. This is the only purpose of the electric shaver power-up.
    • Keeping calling Snake in the Fatman chapter. He mentions some creative (and goofy) C4 placements, including one on a soldier's backside. While this is later revisited in some of VR missions, it doubles as a callback to MGS1, where Snake could attach C4s to the backs of Genome Soldiers.
    • 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 original Metal Gear, right down to having a similar headset. Not to mention referencing the character that inspired Snake.
    • The Colonel's Codec portraits in Metal Gear: Ghost Babel and Metal Gear Solid were later used in this game.
    • In contrast to Raiden's VR challenges, which involve taking snapshots of ghosts, all Snake does is run around photographing cheesecake posters, porno sites and the like. This is in keeping with the risqué Photo/Date Mode found in most Metal Gear sequels.
  • The Name Is Bond, James Bond:
    Snake: My name is Pliskin. Iroquois Pliskin.
  • 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 Gun Fight: You'll find the Tengu P90s are a bigger nuisance than their katana units. Snake easily wallops guards in close-quarters combat, but if he takes too many sniper shots raining from the rafters, he'll die. The reverse is also true: Raiden's hilt can shield him from a few bullets, but not if he's getting hit from multiple directions or behind. Worse, the exaggerated sword movements leave him helpless for a few seconds. However, as the hall narrows, the fixed camera perspective forces you to ditch the guns and rely on the sword. This is intended to train players up for the upcoming Solidus battle.
  • Never My Fault: The concept of this is discussed and lampshaded by the Patriots during their speech to Raiden regarding how people in general tend to turn to more convenient half-truths to feel better:
    Colonel: Ironic that although "self" is something you yourself fashioned, everytime something goes wrong, you turn around and place the blame on something else.
    Rose: It's not my fault. It's not your fault.
    Colonel: In denial, you simply resort to looking for another, more convenient "truth" in order to make yourself feel better.
    Rose: ...leaving behind in an instant the so-called "truth" you once embraced.
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • The trailers for MGS2 made it look like you would be playing as Snake through the whole thing. 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.
    • 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.
    • One scene from the trailer, the escape from the sinking tanker, was originally intended that it be implemented into the game, but it didn't go over well with test audiences and was taken out.
  • New Media Are Evil: Where MGS1 was one giant anti-nuke screed, Sons of Liberty is about the dangers of the digital era. Both sides in the general conflict (the terrorists and the cyberpolice) are increasingly worried about the ramifications of unfettered communication.
    Rose A.I.: What we propose to do is not to control content, but to create context.
  • 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 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.
    • There are two ways you can get a Mission Failed, which are highly unlikely in normal gameplay: falling down the lift shaft on Strut A and letting the bomb explode after the battle with Fatman. Both of these have their own specially-created images for the game over screen.
  • The Nose Knows: How Vamp tells that Pliskin is really Snake.
  • Nostalgia Level:
    • The Tanker mission, insidiously designed to lull gamers into thinking that this game stars the Solid Snake. The Game Over sting and graphic is an upgraded version of MGS1's, with Otacon screaming Snake's name as per usual. Mei Ling even makes an appearance if you call Otacon to save enough times (Otacon tries filling in for her with his own lame anecdotes, getting everything wrong, until Mei Ling finally has enough and hijacks the Codec).
    • The entire Big Shell can be considered a parody of Remixed Levels; it blatantly lifts its architectural layout and scripted events from Snake's mission in Alaska, right down to the cosmetic placement of elevators and forklifts.
    • There is an odd sequence onboard Arsenal Gear featuring a recreation of the torture cell from MGS1. The dastardly Revolver Ocelot is present in both, and comments on seeing Raiden strapped down and naked as bringing back great feelings of "nostalgia".
    • In Substance, Snake returns to his old Shadow Moses look for one of the Snake Tales: "Confidential Legacy" (which also replaces Olga's character model with Meryl). The hardest of the VR Missions also revolves around MGS1 Snake. His levels use the classic 8-bit era BGMs, as well.
  • Not Big Enough for the Two of Us: As Ocelot tells Sergei, "Metal Gear only has room for one!"
  • Not That There's Anything Wrong with That: Otacon says this in one of the erotic poster Easter Eggs; since the poster in question involves a muscular, male chest, and Otacon is expecting a photograph of Metal Gear rather than something homoerotic, Hilarity Ensues:
    Otacon: So what's next? [avatar blushes], 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...
  • Not Zilla: 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.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: Raiden is forced to fight Soldius after he learns that his life is tied to Olga's child as well as that of Rosemary and their unborn child.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome:
    • 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.
    • 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 and Olga's second duel isn't shown.
    • Snake getting captured by Fortune definitely applies, since that must have been a glorious fight.
  • Offscreen 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, knowing he can't hit her because of her lucky streak.
  • Old Media Are Evil: Otacon brings up a good point in a Codec chat with Raiden: two years have passed since the erection of the Big Shell, and it hasn't made a scratch in the pollution level. "Of course, the media doesn't report that sort of thing." There's still plenty of room on Kojima's soapbox to bash cable news.
  • One Dose Fits All: Zigzagged, due to Gameplay and Story Segregation. This game is the first in the series to feature a tranquillizer pistol, with which enemies can be dispatched non-lethally. Tranquillizer darts will be equally effective on any regular enemy regardless of size, provided they are not wearing full body armor, making this a straight example. In boss fights, however, it's played with. Bosses can also be defeated non-lethally, but rather than knocking them out with a single dart to the head, they instead have a "stamina" bar (much like their regular health meter) which depletes the more they get hit by tranquillizer darts. However, this stamina bar is based not on the enemy's size, physical fitness or constitution, but rather simply scales up linearly as part of the game's difficulty curve. So it's averted, but in the interests of gameplay rather than realism (could be considered an Acceptable Break from Reality, as the boss fights would be very anticlimactic if the bosses reacted to tranquillizer darts the same way the regular enemies do). This also goes for the third game in the series.
  • One-Hit Kill:
    • The stab attack. This will, in fact, kill enemies even if the HF blade is blunted.
    • Of the three VR bosses, the amorous Gurlugon is the easiest to defeat. Just lay a porno mag within its line of sight, and it will suffer a nosebleed and faint. It's a bad idea to wear the Gurlukovich uniform, though; Gurlugon will take Raiden for a mate and scoop him up like Fay Wray, causing a game over.
  • One Size Fits All: Subverted. 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. You never have to directly kill a single person, although Fatman and Solidus still die even when you defeat them by stamina loss. The game also awards the Pigeon Code Name to those completing a run with no kills.
  • 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 anyway. 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.
  • Parrying Bullets: Raiden and the Tengu mooks get the ability to deflect gunfire after about two minutes of practicing with it against nothing, with no indication they've ever touched a sword before. The sword description actually states it's magnetic, and would allow anyone to block bullets so long as they faced they same direction. However, it is still outlandish, and might as well have been coated in nanomachines. To explain further, a magnetic field will induce eddy currents in nonferrous metal objects (like bullets) as the object moves through the field. The field will then repel the induced eddy currents. This is the principle induction coil guns use to shoot nonferrous projectiles. Of course, you need a staggeringly strong magnetic field to significantly deflect bullets this way.
  • 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 Incident. 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.
  • Point of No Return:
    • For the Tanker Chapter, the speech about Metal Gear RAY starts, and Snake will not be able to go back up top because taking photos of the weapon is the goal; Snake only has a limited time to get said photos before the speech finishes, which will get him caught and cause a Non Standard Game Over.
    • 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 Big Shell 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. The POTN that leads to this is Emma's rescue; once Raiden rescues her, the player must do her escort mission, and once it's over, the game will insert them into Arsenal Gear and they won't be able to return to the Big Shell because it's destroyed.
  • Postmodernism:
    • The game attempted to be a fully postmodern tackling of video games, sequels, and video game players. Tackling 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."
  • Potty Emergency: One of the guards has a brief cutscene where he suddenly has the need to go relieve himself. He decides to solve the problem by just peeing over the edge of the strut roof he's patrolling. Going under the stream normally nets an amusing Codec call from Campbell and Rose, while going under with the box on will get you spotted.
  • Potty Failure: Occasionally, if you ask one of the hostages if they're Ames, the hostages will pee themselves in fear.
  • Power Trio: Snake (Superego), Raiden (Id), and Otacon (Ego) form one.
  • Powerwalk: Led by Otacon of all people. Makes him (and even the parrot he's carrying) badass for all of five seconds, before Otacon breaks down and starts crying.
  • The Precarious Ledge: Raiden has to press his back against the walls of the Big Shell structures on narrow ledges. At one point he even has to crouch and move simultaneously. In the same portion of the game, this trope is exaggerated as a soldier pees over the edge of the building as Raiden crouches and shuffles across the absurdly narrow ledge right underneath him.
  • Propaganda Machine: "Selection for Societal Sanity", a large-scale data mining system which would automatically disseminate and alter incoming news on the web. With "everything being quantified" by computers, the Patriots can shape people and events better than any Ministry of Truth. The smearing of anti-Metal gear activists was just the wind-up pitch.
  • Puppet King: James Johnson, the President of the United States, was essentially acted as a puppet to the Patriots solely to deceive the American populace into thinking they had any control/their constitution still rules the land, and it is heavily implied that pretty much every single president since the 1900s at the earliest were used in a similar manner.
  • Put on a Bus: Everyone from Metal Gear Solid not called Snake, Otacon, or Ocelot. Mei Ling makes a cameo if you save enough times in the Tanker Chapter, and Nastasha is mentioned in passing by Pliskin. Colonel Campbell hasn't actually made a reappearance in the game.


  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: There a Fat Bastard bomb enthusiast, a Depraved Bisexual who apparently can cheat death itself, and a Death Seeker who can deflect bullets. Ocelot even invokes this, 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. He departs, and out of the fog comes Rose, the real one, offering herself to Raiden in the same spot where they originally met — a chance at a clean slate.
  • 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:
    • The Marines onboard the tanker transporting Metal Gear RAY. Not only do they get slaughtered effortlessly by the Russian mercenaries, they also just stand around and do nothing while Ocelot murders their commanding officer and detonates explosives that sink the ship.
    • 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 Big Shell. They are butchered by Dead Cell and go unlamented by everyone, including Pliskin and the Colonel.
  • Regenerating Health: By crouching, Snake and Raiden can recover only the "critical" portion of the health bar, only to stop the bleedout effect. Recovering this section of health seems to only take seconds. It's explained in the Plant chapter as one of the functions of the nanomachine-infused artificial blood Raiden is using for the mission, that crouching and holding still arranges for platelets to be produced in large numbers to stop any bleeding
  • 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 Behind Me: If the player calls him after meeting Emma, Otacon will compliment your efficiency, mentioning that Snake had described Raiden as "a weak, simple-minded, stubborn fool," which causes Raiden to hit the ceiling. He hurls explosive insults Snake's way until Otacon points out that the man who knows 80 ways to kill someone is still on the line and has heard everything Raiden has just said.
  • Right Hand of Doom: It's not proportionally bigger, but Ocelot's arm definitely doesn't look like it came factory-standard - it's Liquid Snake's arm transplanted to replace the hand Ocelot lost early in MGS1.
  • 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:
    • There are three tanker holds, one of which contains the RAY prototype and where Dolph holds his summit.
    • 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.
  • Scenery Censor: Raiden is tortured naked, and when he's on the slab, his groin is blocked by the corners of desks and the straw of a softdrink. Then he has to escape said room without any clothes - with his hands covering his manhood.
  • Scenery Porn: It's morning again in America. At a few points during cutscenes, the camera will stop to linger on azure skies, or a sunset reflecting off of the ocean.
  • 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 is deliberately left ambiguous so that the story can follow either ending (though Snake does drop one indirect reference to her); Nastasha's book in the game's extra features doesn't mention her. Also, Snake comes equipped with both his stealth camo and his infinite ammo bandana.
  • Sex Sells: Oddly enough, Japanese musician and sexy Bishōnen 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 Snake climbing aboard the Discovery. 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.
  • Shoulders-Up Nudity: When Raiden is naked and strapped on the slab, the camera will stay above his waist level or use Scenery Censor to conceal his crotch.
  • Shout-Out:
    Colonel: "This is the way the world ends not with a bang but with a whimper."
    • During the Tanker Chatper, when Snake upload the photos, the entire bootup sequence is a giant love letter to anyone remotely familiar with UNIX and Linux type systems. The names where hardware companies would appear are also shout-outs to Konami and Kojima's other works, as well as a few mythology gags to the Metal Gear universe.
  • 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: Shooting at the targets above Genola's head will cause dust to rain down, making Genola sneeze. The strong gust can knock Snake off the tiny platform to his death.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • Some Dexterity Required: In order to make up for the lack of pressure-sensitive buttons on its gamepad, the Xbox 360 version of the HD Edition has you aim your weapon without shooting by clicking in the left stick while pressing a button, but leaving you unable to put away your weapon without firing it unless you unequip and then requip your weapon, which on higher difficulties can easily result in a held-up enemy deciding to change his mind on the whole "surrendering" thing. It's incredibly awkward to say the least.
  • Somebody Set Up Us the Bomb: Fatman hits Stillman with one of these. Stillman doesn't make it.
  • Soulless Bedroom: Discussed. Because of PTSD from his time as a Child Soldier, Raiden always refused to sleep next to his girlfriend Rose when he was at her place out of fear of hurting her. However, he wouldn't let her in his own bedroom, no matter how much she asked. This eventually culminated in Rose entering Raiden's room without his permission, which was devoid of anything save for a bed and a simple desk. This all comes out during a CODEC call after Raiden escapes from a torture room.
  • Spin Attack: Pressing R3 makes Raiden leap while swinging his katana.
  • The Stinger: 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.
  • Stop Poking Me!:
    • Otacon's avatar gets impatient if you keep e-mailing him pointless photographs, although a couple of them tickle his funny bone. Ever the love-starved geek, he makes "backups" of any voyeuristic photos you might have taken.
    • Aiming your cross-hairs at Snake is ill-advised.
    • Stillman will get increasingly exasperated if you keep knocking on or trying to open his pantry.
    • Arsenal Gear's Codec conversations. The Colonel, like Ocelot in the last game, accuses you of trying to hack the game if you keep phoning.
  • A Storm Is Coming: During the Tanker Chapter, immediately after Snake finishes the opening narration, it's shown that he's at the George Washington Bridge during a storm.
  • 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."
  • Super-Fun Happy Thing of Doom: A big part of the Plant Chapter's aesthetic. It's the epicenter of a dead-serious plot involving nuclear Armageddon and an ancient conspiracy, but look: It's orange! And it takes place in the middle of the ocean on a clear, sunny day with seagulls flying all around.
  • 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.
  • Surreal Horror: After Vamp kills Emma, the game goes completely bonkers, and the effect is very disturbing.
  • The Swarm: The bowels of the Big Shell are crawling with sea lice.


  • 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 game opens with Snake bungee-jumping off the George Washington bridge NW of Manhattan Island.
    • This happens during SEAL Team 10's unlucky encounter with Fortune.
    • This happens during 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. The most egregious example is when the Patriots AI calls Raiden during just prior to the final boss battle with Solidus, and delivers a prolonged Motive Rant, which last for a whooping twelve-and-a-half minutes. And then a little into the boss fight, they call again to argue with Raiden over weapon naming conventions. Assuming the calls played out in real time, one must give Solidus serious credit for being extremely polite and patient with Raiden.
  • These Hands Have Killed: If you call Rose 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. It's later revealed that 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 Rose 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.
    • Raiden is an analog for the player's real life role as a Metal Gear fan: those who clamored for VR Missions after the original Metal Gear Solid and took such pride in beating all of the challenges. Raiden brags to Snake about his VR accomplishments, listing off some of the mission numbers from VR Missions while images of the gameplay in the background, clearly winking at players who may share his attitude. Snake scoffs, realizing he's stuck with a delusional rookie who's never seen any real action.
    • Raiden has another crack-up onboard Arsenal, after 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 Snake.
  • Throw It In: invoked During Scott Dolph's speech in the Tanker Chapter, there is a time limit. 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 for the player 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 favorite Russian tactic: Olga attempts to distract Snake in a cutscene by allowing her cap to blow away in the wind, but Snake's not buying. Later, Ocelot distracts Sergei by throwing off his duster, then blowing two holes through him and Dolph.
  • 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:
    • 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.
    • 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 "wetworks" for a reason, after all.
  • Tomato Surprise: The final act. 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.
  • Tomorrowland: The Patriots have squirreled away all of their secrets (or at least the lion's share of it) inside the Arsenal mothership. The interior is a stark change from anything we've seen before, up to and including MGS1.
  • Turns Red: Bosses can change their attack pattern when they're low on health. The first example is Olga hiding behind tarpaulin, and then using a spotlight to blind Snake.
  • 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 aforementioned Regional Bonus.
  • Trojan Prisoner: Raiden becomes one when Snake and Olga pretend to betray him in order to infiltrate Arsenal Gear.
  • Truth in Television: The concept behind Dead Cell is a small force of American soldiers staging fake attacks on U.S. installations in order to test their effectiveness and readiness in handling hostile situations. This is based on an actual unit called Red Cell which did the exact same thing, albeit without the super powered soldiers.
  • 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.
  • Undressing the Unconscious: After Raiden is knocked out and captured by Olga, he has his clothes and items taken from him and wakes up in a room naked and strapped down while Solidus and Ocelot discuss his past and torture him.
  • The Unfought: Revolver Ocelot/Liquid Snake, Arsenal Gear, and the Patriots as a whole get away without a fight. Also, while there is a "fight" against Fortune, it consists of taking cover until the fight ends automatically, and though the character continues to play a role and pose a potential threat throughout the game, she dies in a cutscene.
  • Unique Enemy: The Hi-Tech Soldiers, who are members of Solidus Snake's private army and have a distinct American accent (in contrast to the Russian soldiers that form Gurlukovich's militia), only appear during alert phases after the player has fully explored the Shell 1 Core, so it's pretty easy to play through the entire game without encountering them.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Of a fashion. Raiden is actually pretty damn sane throughout the whole journey, and constantly asks questions that anyone in his situation would most assuredly ask. However, towards the end of the game, due to a combination of the Patriots Mind Screw, the collapse of the GW mainframe, which are in control of his nanomachines, Raiden's own barely functioning sanity, the lingering fears of his VR training, and the incredibly stressful situation he finds himself in causes Raiden to justifiably snap.
    • It is also revealed that some of Raiden's past memories are questionable.
    • The Colonel, who is an instructional narrator, also turns out to be a deceptive narrator.
  • 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.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Hideo Kojima seems to have confused New York with 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.
  • 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 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 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.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment:
    • There are seagulls on the Big Shell, and if you chase away the seagulls then look up in the sky in first person, the seagulls will crap on you. There are also splatters of seagull poop that you can slip on, and there's one pipe covered with it that can cause you to slip off, fall into the water, and drown.
    • Killing enough of the seagulls on the Big Shell as Raiden causes the Colonel and Rose to call you, and they chew you out over your animal cruelty. Rose will break up with you and won't let you save until you apologize. Same goes for hitting hostages.
    • You can aim at Pliskin 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.
    • 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.
  • Video Games and Fate: One of the first games to use the artificial linearity of video games to make an artistic point. The Patriots have such a keen understanding of Raiden's personality and desires that they can manipulate him into doing just about anything they want, without even needing to resort to anything as outré as mind control or brainwashing. The game draws increasingly unsubtle parallels between Raiden mindlessly following his orders and the player doing everything they are instructed to do.
  • 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 reprehensible example is tranquing one of the Shell 1 hostages and then taking upskirt photos of her. This is the last straw for Rose, who dumps Raiden over the Codec and will refuse to speak with you afterward.
  • 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.
  • 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 Colonel AI 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:
  • 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.
    • During the Tanker mission, you can use your camera to take pictures of pretty much anything. Taking pictures of Olga's knocked out body will result in Otacon asking you if you like her when you upload them. Do it enough and he starts calling you a pervert. Sending him pictures of the private regions of the male guards will cause him to exclaim, "Snake! Stop it! You're freaking me out!" Finally, he has at least three unique responses to you sending him pictures of the Marine commander repeatedly, the best one being, "Commandant again... Look, if you like him so much, I'll print this out and make a panel out of it, put it over your bed or something."
    • Shoot innocent seagulls or abuse hostages, and the Colonel and Rose will severely chew you out, with Rose downright refusing to let you save and even breaking up with you if you continue.
    • Punching Emma and/or laying suggestively on top of her while she's knocked out will cause justifiably angry reactions from her and Otacon if you call them via Codec. Killing her will net you a Non Standard Game Over and scathing quotes from your horrified allies.
    • Ditto for Snake; he fights back if you try pointing a gun at him ("I wouldn't do that if I were you."), but he can be killed, which results in a Non Standard Game Over and angry reactions from Otacon and Rose.
    • invoked The story is not entirely metatextual, though it clearly grew out of Kojima's observations on his own hit games and the nature of sequeldom. Since nobody ever questions the presence of cyborg ninjas, intrusive and sappy romance subplots, or undertrained agents in these games, why should our hero? The Patriots got wise to this and used a generic FOXHOUND mission for their S3 template.
    • This game absolutely savages the conventional relationship between the player and player character. When Raiden goes "behind the scenes" of the Big Shell, he wakes up in a low-poly 32-bit replica of Liquid Snake's torture room. This is the heart of MGS2: a shoddy, barely-disguised copy of MGS1 repackaged and sold to gullible audiences. To put it in perspective, it's the gaming equivalent of this.
    • Storywise, the Patriots are as much in control of Snake/Raiden as we are, almost as if Kojima wants to make us complicit in their plot. Everything Snake and Raiden do in their chapters is furthering the goals of the S3 Plan, and it is only when they stop being player characters that they drop off the Patriots' radar.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer…: Perhaps the most-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?: Subverted as the game explicitly states and shows 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 on himself by activating a large C4 package that he somehow placed underneath himself 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. The entire place is a mess of steel grating and blocking the projector with Snake's body is ill-advised. A hundred "!" icons appear if one guard so much as spots you. It's very funny and also prevents Snake from harming any of the Marines, which would be unpatriotic of him.
    • Kojima plays a nasty trick in the lower deck where one of the pipe fittings is loose and dislodges if Snake flattens against the wall to hide. CLANK! "Iz zomebody dere?"
  • 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 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!
  • Writer on Board:
    • 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...
    • A good deal of MGS1's success can be attributed to illustrator Yoji Shinkawa, who came up with the designs of Snake, Otacon, REX, and the Cyborg Ninja. Kojima came out of MGS1 wielding more creative capital then ever before, but equally, his own deep philosophical musings had taken a backseat to the game's mascots. Hence why Snake advises Raiden to "look for the meaning behind the words" in his epilogue.
  • Xanatos Gambit: By the end of the game, no matter what happens, the Patriots have won. Either Raiden kills Solidus and stops his plan to fry Manhattan with an EMP blast, allowing the Patriots to retain and solidify their control, or Solidus kills Raiden and fries Manhattan with an EMP blast, allowing the Patriots to solidify their control by exploiting the resulting desire for security and order. Even before that, the whole incident gave them what they needed to test the S3 Plan in a crisis situation, so they got what they wanted from the beginning. Needless to say, this doesn't sit very well with Raiden, though Snake is more phlegmatic.
  • 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 Bastard!: Raiden unknowingly enslaves his countrymen because he wants to believe that he can live up to Solid Snake's image. We enabled him to do so because we, the consumer, demanded a sequel to Metal Gear Solid. 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's 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 A.I.s in Metal Gear Solid 4, they don't speak and their influence is felt everywhere.
  • You Didn't Ask:
    • Snake tells this to Raiden after he asks why he didn't tell him about Mr. X/Olga's allegience.
    • 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 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 Killed My Father:
    • Subverted with Olga in regards to Snake: She did initially believe that he 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 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.

"Don't worry, it's a game. It's a game just like usual."


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Metal Gear Solid 2


Snake and Otacon's Handshake

After a personal tragedy shakes Otacon's resolve Snake comforts his friend and reaffirms his confidence in him with an elaborate high-five/handshake/hug.

How well does it match the trope?

4.94 (16 votes)

Example of:

Main / SecretHandshake

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