Released in 1990, Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake is the second classic MSX Metal Gear, considered to be a must play game for any fan of the series. It introduced and established concepts that will forever be present in later games, and set the standard for storytelling quality.
Hideo Kojima didn’t initially planned a sequel for his original Metal Gear game, but when this one was ported to the NES, although it sucked ass, it attracted a lot of fans that wanted to see more of Solid Snake. With no official sequel to the game, a group of fans developed their own sequel called Snake’s Revenge, which sucked even more ass than the NES port of the original Metal Gear. Kojima, not liking this fan-made sequel, decided to make his own official one, only bigger and better.
And thus Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake was born, again, only on Japan and this time only on the MSX.
The game followed the same schematics as the original, only this time it was more slower paced and introducing more stealth elements, such as crawling, camouflage mats that would turn you invisible, trap mouses to confuse and deactivate enemy radars, and other interesting gadgets to help you get pass the enemy.
As I said, this game is much slower paced than the original, Snake walks slower and the overall storyline evolves slowly towards the climax, more similar to modern Metal Gear games.
It’s really hard to talk about the gameplay if you haven’t played the game, but just don’t expect this to be a fast paced action game, this game requires more strategic thinking: more than once you will find yourself stopping and thinking about the next move. From following a guy in a jungle to avoiding getting sucked in by a swamp to crawling your way out of a desert with sand that makes a lot of noise to avoiding enemy radars and poisonous gas, this game offers a huge variety of gameplay elements that are all about the surrounding rather than the character you control or the enemy you defeat. In this game you will find yourself to be fighting against the background elements more than you will be fighting actual guards.
Graphics wise this game is beautiful, it’s not the HD glory that most games have nowadays, but back then with only the NES around, most NES graphics look like child-play compared to this game, hell even most SNES games pale in comparison with what this game has to offer.
This game was also re-released for the PS2 as part of Metal Gear Solid 3 Subsistence and on the Vita and PS3 as part of the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, so you can play it on your beloved Vita, which I strongly recommend.
There are many differences between the original MSX version and the re-release version. All of the character sprites were updated to reflect Yoji Shinkawa’s artwork, and some characters and bosses were renamed, most notably: Natasha Marcova being renamed to Gustava Heffner, Yosef Norden being renamed to Johan Jacobsen, Black Color being renamed to Black Ninja, Ultrabox being renamed to The Four Horsemen, Predator being renamed to Jungle Evil and Night Sight being renamed to Night Fright.
Big Spoilers for a 20 Year old game ahead!
In a worldwide scale, fossil fuel and petroleum is running out and the world is facing a crisis due to the lack of such a needed resource. But a Czech scientist named Dr Kio Marv has developed a new type of fuel that grows from bacteria, named OILIX, or OIL-X. This fuel would feed the world with endless and clean energy, and it is clear that some shady organizations want OILIX for their advantage, one being Zanzibar Land, a military nation, that has kidnapped Kio Marv.
Once again the game starts with Foxhound agent Solid Snake, but now he’s not a rookie anymore, and Foxhound is being commanded by colonel Roy Campbell, who gives instructions to Snake via a transmitter. Snake’s mission is clear: rescue Dr Marv, who has a transmitter too so Snake should be able to pick up his signal on the radar screen. On his quest to find Dr Marv Snake teams up with Holly White, who is a CIA agent who infiltrated Zanzibar Land as a journalist.
Snake finds Marv using his radar signals but he finds out that that wasn’t Marv, but a Zanzibar officer named Black Ninja in disguise. Yes, you have to fight a Ninja, and yes, he throws Ninja stars at you, and he can also teleport somehow.
Snake defeats Black Ninja and in his final words he reveals to Snake that he was Kyle Schneider, the resistance member at Outer Heaven who once helped Snake defeat Big Boss. Schneider also reveals to Snake that the man behind Zanzibar Land is none other than Big Boss, who survived the fall of Outer Heaven and rebuilt another military nation. Schneider also tells Snake that Big Boss isn’t really a bad guy and that he helped him and other innocent people escape from Outer Heaven’s inevitable collapse. Finally Schneider tells Snake that in order to find Dr Marv he has to follow a Green Beret, who is apparently in charge of guarding hostages.
Snake follows the Green Beret but instead of finding Dr Marv he finds his old pal Dr Madnar, who was captured in Outer Heaven and seems to have been captured again, and once again, forced to build a new Metal Gear for Big Boss’ army, this one is called Metal Gear D.
Snake enters the desert and gets an immediate call from an unknown man who warns Snake that there are mines in the area and that he should use a mine detector. When Snake asks this unknown man who he is he simply replies “your #1 fan”.
After destroying a helicopter with stinger missiles, Snake manages to infiltrate the second building of Zanzibar Land, where Holly White calls Snake to tell him that she has been captured by the enemy and is being held in a cell. Snake goes down to the basement and saves her, and then proceeds to continue his quest. When Snake reaches the top of the second building he finds a messenger pigeon with a note attached to it. Snake captures the pigeon and reads the note, which contains a hidden message that once deciphered contained Dr Marv’s transmitter frequency. Snake calls Dr Marv but he only speaks Czech and Russian, so they can’t understand each other.
Holly White then tells Snake to contact Gustava Heffner (Natasha Marcova in the original MSX version), who is Dr Marv’s bodyguard and can speak to him.
Gustava is wearing an enemy uniform and is in one of the floors of the first building. Snake’s only way to differentiate Gustava with other soldiers is by means of the bathroom. Other soldiers will go to the men’s bathroom while Gustava will go to the Women’s bathroom. So Snake patiently waits outside the bathroom for Gustava to enter and then follows her in to contact with her. After a chat Gustava contacts Dr Marv and tells them that he is being held hostage in the third building.
Snake and Gustava rescue Dr Madnar who is nearby and the three set out to rescue Dr Marv. In the coarse of all this they stop to take a nap so that Dr Madnar can go piss or something and Gustava talks to Snake about his personal life, but the most important detail she tells you that you should remember is that her one and only love was a man named Frank Jaeger (Frank Hunter in German), remember this data, as it will come in handy later.
Things take an unexpected turn when they reach the bridge connecting the second building with the third one. Gray Fox, who was once Solid Snake’s ally and mentor in Outer Heaven, appears driving Metal Gear D, the Metal Gear Dr Madnar was forced to build for Zanzibar Land, and blows up the bridge with Gustava in it, while also taking Dr Madnar with him. He spares Snake’s life as they were once friends, but asks Snake to leave, to which Snake replies that he will never leave and will avenge Gustava’s death. With her last breath Gustava gives Snake her brooch, which will be useful later on.
Without a bridge to cross over to the other side Snake has to find a way to get to the second building. Holly White tells Snake that she once saw a hand glider somewhere in the first building and that he should be able to use it to glide from the top of the second building to the third one. Snake does this and gets to the third building.
In the third building Snake fights another boss called Jungle Evil (Predator in the original MSX version) and obtains a card key and two eggs that were being incubating. One of the eggs contain a Snake that if the player does not dispose of quickly will start eating all your rations. The other egg is an owl. The front of the main third building is guarded by lasers that are only turned off at night. Snake uses the owl to fool the enemy into thinking that it’s already at night so that he turns off the lasers.
Snake continues his path, fights an invisible man and reaches the door to Dr Marv’s cell, but none of the card keys that he has open it. Snake receives a call from the unknown man telling him that the card key he needs was being held by Jungle Evil. Snake tells the man that he only found card 8 from Jungle Evil, but this unknown man tells Snake that Jungle Evil was in charge of both cards 8 and 9 and that he probably has dropped it somewhere where he fought Snake. So Snake goes back to where he fought Jungle Evil and retrieves the last key.
Snake makes his way into Dr Marv’s cell but find Dr Marv’s body lying dead on the bed and Dr Madnar next to him.
It became apparent to Snake that it was Dr Madnar who killed Dr Marv, but by this time Dr Madnar was already on Snake’s back, literally, trying to choke him, or inject him with poison, or whatever. Snake manages to defeat Dr Madnar by blowing his ass up with a few missiles, but he is unable to open Dr Marv’s locker that contains the ROM Cartridge with all the OILIX data in it.
Snake eventually figures out that the brooch that Gustava gave him was made of a special material that changed shape depending on the temperature, so when Snake cools it in a freezer it turned into a key that opened up Dr Marv’s locker.
Snake opens the locker and retrieves the cartridge with the OILIX formula and talks to Madnar before he finally dies.
Madnar explains that the reason he joined Big Boss is because he was being laughed at in the scientist community for his work on Metal Gear, and that Big Boss gave him the respect he needed and the funds to continue his project.
He also tells Snake that the only way to destroy Metal Gear D is by throwing grenades at its feet.
Suddenly after the conversation a trap door opens bellow Snake, letting him fall through it and right into Metal Gear’s hangar where he has to confront Metal Gear being piloted by Gray Fox.
Gray Fox tells Snake that Madnar was just imagining things and that there’s no way to destroy Metal Gear D, but yeah that’s bullshit and Snake manages to destroy it with grenades thrown at its feet. Due to the explosion after destroying Metal Gear D, Snake is engulfed in flames. Gray Fox uses this confusion to steal the OILIX cartridge and leaves Snake there to burn. Snake throws away all his burning items, leaving him with nothing, and sets out to do one more final fight against Gray Fox.
Snake chases down Fox into a room filled with mines and both men fight each other to death with their bare hands.
Snake defeats Fox, who has a nice chat with Snake before dying. Here we learn that Fox’s real name is Frank Jaeger, the man who Gustava was in love with. Snake tells Fox that Gustava is waiting for him, to which Fox replies with a thank and dies to rest in peace. Snake retrieves the OILIX cartridge from Fox. Having destroyed Metal Gear, retrieved the OILIX cartridge and killed Gray Fox, it becomes apparent that Zanzibar Land is no longer a threat and that there is only one more thing to do: confront Big Boss.
Snake goes to meet Big Boss, the man responsible for all the nightmares he has had ever since Outer Heaven and they have a chat. Here Big Boss explains his motives and the reasons behind what he does. He says that war is the only thing he knows and that all the children in Zanzibar Land that Snake has encountered where war orphans, orphans from wars that Big Boss himself started. So the bas
ic idea is that he starts a war to create orphans, rescues them, trains them, and use them to create more wars, and then back on square one again, and again, and again.
After the conversation Snake has to bare-handedly take down Big Boss, who is using a weapon who most fans of the series agree that it’s the Patriot from Metal Gear Solid 3. Snake manages to find a cigarette lighter and an inflammable spray, which he uses as a homemade flamethrower against Big Boss. Snake manages to burn Big Boss down to death and attempts to escape Zanzibar Land.
While escaping Zanzibar Land Snake meets Holly White, who was disguised as an enemy and gives Snake a gun. Zanzibar soldiers aren’t gonna give up that easily, they chase Snake and Holly down until the last second when their rescue helicopter arrives and takes them both to safety.
The credits roll and we are left with a conversation between Holly White and Roy Campbell, who examine the OILIX cartridge, while we find out that Snake has just disappeared and won’t be seen again until the next game.
End Of Spoilers!
This game marked the beginning of an series of videogame with high standards: great storyline, awesome soundtrack, beyond beautiful graphics, intuitive controls, and a great mix of action, adventure and strategy.
If I had to criticize something about the game it would be its lack of certain information in some areas of the game, leaving you to try to guess what to do next or try to brute-force it, as well as the constant backtracking, have to go back to the first building to obtain an item you need to use on the third building and such.
Although one could argue that these are ways for the game to encourage exploration, and the game does reward players who explore by giving them items that might greatly help in some harder areas of the game, but that is for the player to decide if they like or not.
This game has everything that made its successor a huge success, but being a Japan-only release, on a console/computer without much fanbase and with less marketing than what Metal Gear Solid saw, this game fell into obscurity until it was revived with the Metal Gear Solid 3 Subsistence re-release.
I highly recommend any Metal Gear fan or even just Metal Gear enthusiast, or even just a retro gamer, to play this great masterpiece. I’m gonna give the game a score of a 10 out of 10, this game very well deserves it.