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File:MGS2Sub.jpg

 "Find something to believe in, and find it for yourself. When you do, pass it on to the future."

You know the anticipation for a game is big if 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 released in 2001.

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty takes place two years after the previous game, when the world is flooded with Metal Gear derivatives ("Metal Gear! Can't be...") after Revolver Ocelot sold the plans to Metal Gear REX on the black market. Snake and Otacon, now members of an anti-Metal Gear organization named Philanthropy, learn from an anonymous tip that the military may be developing its own Metal Gear to combat all the other Metal Gear derivatives, and Snake is sent to infiltrate an oil tanker (in his trademark skin-tight pants) to see the new Metal Gear for himself, and take pictures of it to expose the military's plans to the world. As you might expect, the mission ends in disaster, as Ocelot makes his presence known again, hijacks the new Metal Gear, and sinks the tanker...and Snake with it.

Fast-forward another two years, and the game skips to the Big Shell, an offshore facility built to contain and clean up the aforementioned tanker's oil spill, where a terrorist group named Sons of Liberty, led by a man who claims to be Solid Snake, is holding the entire facility (and the president of the United States) for ransom, threatening to destroy the facility if their demands aren't met, which could result in the worst environmental disaster in history. In response, a FOXHOUND operative named Raiden, fresh from VR training, is sent to infiltrate the facility and take care of the hostage situation, aided by his support team (his girlfriend Rose, and Colonel Campbell) and a strangely familiar marine named Pliskin.

Since it's Metal Gear Solid, you know what to expect from the plot, but it really gets cranked Up to Eleven in this installment, with codec conversations that constantly break up the gameplay and cutscenes that can run for well over an hour. The game also introduces a secret group of conspirators named the Patriots, who have been running the country for centuries from behind the scenes, but it takes a backseat to the relationship between Raiden and Rose. The game is especially remembered for its Mind Screw of an ending, which has been analyzed endlessly and even has its very own page here on TV Tropes.

The story is a surreal No Fourth Wall postmodernist rampage through the relationship between game and player, which is, depending on who you ask, a landmark in gaming and hugely ahead of its time, or a self-absorbed rant which made no sense and cried for an editor. Perhaps both. While the storyline was despised by the general population for its controversial, extremely complicated plot-twists and debilitating main character switcheroo (Solid Snake had become a true meme by then, with his shamelessly badass personality and distinctive, growling voice), it sold extremely well and became a cult success amongst the sort of people who enjoyed the ending of Neon Genesis Evangelion - and is even used to explain meme theory in some serious institutions. Despite the polarizing nature of the storyline, the game received critical acclaim for its groundbreaking gameplay and graphics which heavily utilized the then new Playstation 2's capabilities.

MGS2 introduces many gameplay mechanics that would define the rest of the series, with deeper stealth mechanics (it is now possible to take out guards non-lethally with tranquilizer rounds, as well as hide in lockers), an immensely increased level of interactivity with the game world, and far more advanced enemy AI (guards get suspicious if a sentry fails to deliver their status report, and actively seek out the player should they be spotted). It also showcased some great graphics and awesome character animations. Due to the game entering production on September 12, 2001, there were also several things 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.

Some time later, the game was re-released as Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance as a multiplatform release on the Play Station 2, PC and X Box, with a whole bunch of VR missions, an additional 'Snake Tales' mode starring Solid Snake in short sneaking missions around the main game's sets, and a skateboard 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 the United States, but was included for free in the PAL release of Substance.

Although the next game in the series, Metal Gear Solid 3 Snake Eater, was a prequel to the Metal Gear saga, Metal Gear Solid 4 Guns of the Patriots continues the story a few years from where this game left off, and reintroduces Raiden after he's taken about five levels in badass, not to mention retconning this game's bizarre 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 in interactive form on the PSP, and as a fully-voiced DVD version as Metal Gear Solid 2 Sons of Liberty: Bande Dessinee (but only in Japan!). A Let's Play of this game by Something Awful residents Chip Cheezum and General Ironicus can be watched here. A high-definition re-release is now available on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, alongside Snake Eater and Peace Walker.


There's room for only one Snake, and one Big Boss! Edit

  • Absurdly Sharp Sword: Raiden's sword is capable of slicing through heavy body armor (and the flesh beneath) and even EXPLOSIVE ROCKETS, not to mention deflect bullets, with no degradation in the sharpness of the blade. The game explains that the sword vibrates at high frequency, causing it to become incredibly hot, augmenting its cutting ability.
  • Accidental Public Confession / Engineered Public Confession: Variation: If the player calls Otacon at a certain point, Otacon will mention that Snake said that Raiden was a weak, simple-minded, stubborn fool, causing Raiden to get extremely angered at the insult and make explosive insults about Snake until Raiden learns from Otacon that Snake heard every word due to Snake being right next to Otacon during the call.
  • Actress Allusion: Throughout the game, Johnny Sasaki (and according to the Tanker Chapter's script, even Solid Snake) are reminded of Meryl Silverburgh regarding Olga Gurlukovich. There's a good reason for that in the Japanese version: Meryl and Olga are voiced by the same actress.
  • AI Is a Crapshoot: Towards the end of the game, it's revealed that your support team are a bunch of AI when they start malfunctioning . . . or are they?
    • Well, the AI was working just fine until you hit it with a virus.
  • All There in the Manual: Inverted - In the first MGS game, there's a torture sequence where the player's submission meant that Meryl would later be found dead, and Meryl's bus trip in the main storyline (She appears in some of the non-canon stories included in Substance) led the fanbase under the impression that Snake had uncharacteristically submitted during the torture session. However, some fans had picked up on a subtle hint towards Meryl's survival in MGS2, namely when Snake returns Raiden's weapons, he mentions that he topped up his ammo & will hand Raiden more as he needs it. Raiden asks if Snake will be okay doing that, since it would deplete his ammo, and Snake taps the bandana he's wearing - The "Infinite Ammo" bandana was the game completion reward from the first game if Meryl survived. Meryl's fate wouldn't be confirmed until MGS4.
  • Anti-Hero Substitute: Both inverted and subverted. Raiden, a solidly heroic Naive Newcomer, briefly replaces the Anti-Hero Solid 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.
  • Anyone You Know: Former Trope Namer.
  • Armchair Military: During the tanker mission, Footage of RAY is being broadcast on closed-circuit TV to the Marine Corps brass. Snake (now soggy from the rain) grumbles that they're probably sitting in a nice, dry office with some hot coffee.
  • Artistic License Military: The tanker chapter's portrayal of the U.S. Marines' uniforms, jargon, etc isn't even close to accurate.
  • As You Know: Although he doesn't use this exact phrase, Otacon gives Snake a classic example of this at the beginning of the tanker chapter, helpfully informing Snake who he's working for and what they do.
  • Back Tracking: Hope you like the Strut F warehouse, because you'll be seeing a lot of it.
    • Averted toward the end of the game--thankfully.
  • Back From the Dead: Vamp hearts this trope. Also Liquid...maybe.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Raiden and Snake get one at the end of the game in Arsenal Gear while fighting off hordes of Tengus.
  • Badass: Snake, of course.
    • Vamp too: "Still ticking huh?" "Unfortunately hell had no vacancies."
    • Raiden counts as well. By the end of the game, he's taken out several Metal Gear-like mechas and a Harrier Jet with a rocket launcher.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The Patriots are implied to be the actual villains in Metal Gear Solid 2, and it is implied that in this game, they actually won with the success of the S3 plan.
  • Bag of Spilling: One part justified, since Snake's operations are always procure-on-site, one part averted, since Snake still has the infinite ammo headband from the previous game, and even points it out as such.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Raiden, prior to the Scenery Censor sequence.
  • 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.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed/Informed Attribute: As noted in the subsection of Barbie Doll Anatomy, the guards, when inspecting Raiden in the Stomach area, will mention that he "wishes he had that" in reference to Raiden's manhood, even when the game itself has him not having any male genitalia presumably to get past the censors.
  • Bigger Bad: Invoked beautifully. From the start, Solidus Snake is presented as the Big Bad, but it turns out that he's being manipulated by Revolver Ocelot, who's been working for the Patriots the whole time. Similarly, we think that the bad guys' ultimate evil super-weapon is Metal Gear Ray, but it turns out to be the Big Shell itself, which is actually a disguised Arsenal Gear.
  • Big No: Solidus is good at delivering these.
  • 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: It said in the english version "Venus in Cancer", when a more accurate translation would have been "Venusian Crab" referring to a character in It Conquered the Earth, and implying that Emma was supposed to be a B-movie fan.
    • Though this may actually be a Stealth Pun, or wordplay; the sign of Cancer in the Zodiac is represented by a crab.
  • Bonus Level of Hell: A few of the VR missions in Substance qualify.
  • Boring but Practical: You get an M9 tranquilizer pistol at the beginning of the game. You'll be using it. A lot.
  • Bowdlerization: Thanks to the game's release unfortunately coinciding around the immediate aftermath of the September 11th Terrorist Attacks, several scenes and dialogue were removed from the game. Among the things cut included Vamp explicitly stating to Raiden his and Dead Cell's intentions of using the purified hydrogen bomb on Arsenal Gear to nuke New York City rather than simply letting Solidus use it as an EMP wave to disable Wall Street, Liquid Ocelot stating that he set Arsenal to crash into Manhattan, the entirety of the crash sequence, Raiden cutting the American Flag and having it drift down onto Solidus's corpse, and a news report about the Statue of Liberty resting on Ellis Island. Most of these were kept in the novelization, however.
  • But Not Too Black: Invoked with Fortune, averted with Stillman. Might have something to do with the real-life people they were based on.
  • Butt Monkey: Raiden (and, by extension, you) is this by the end of the game.
  • Controllable Helplessness: Pretty much what Raiden goes through after he's captured.
  • City of Weirdos: The crowd that gathers at the end of the game seem awfully calm despite a huge mobile fortress crashed into Federal Hall as well as the body of the former President of the United States wearing an exoskeleton suit with metal tentacles and a selection of swords lying nearby.
  • Clark Kenting: Pliskin isn't fooling anyone. Supposedly, Kojima deliberately gave him the most transparently obvious Paper-Thin Disguise he could think of, just to see how many people were fooled anyway.
  • 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: One of the few in-canon examples. The Patriots have stacked the deck against everyone, even Ocelot.
  • 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.
    • Actually, going by his reaction, he didn't even suspect that Raiden was actually male. The script elaborates on this by explaining that he mistook Raiden for Olga Gurlukovich (which also explains why he seemed to mention oddities such as wanting Raiden to kill him when Raiden wasn't even debriefed on this.).
      • So he responds to one of his captors arriving by grabbing her crotch?
        • Well, if he's under the impression that he's about to die soon anyway...
  • Cuffs Off, Rub Wrists: A minor gag.
  • Cutscene Incompetence: Spoileriffic, so read at your own risk:
    • Snake disappearing, presumed drowned, at the end of the Tanker mission and getting captured by Fortune off-screen.
    • Emma dying via cutscene at the end of the Escort Mission.
    • Raiden beats up to 25 Rays in gameplay, but then gives up when faced with the last three.
  • Cyberpunk and Post Cyber Punk
  • Darker and Edgier: Evern moreso than MGS 1.
    • Raiden's Game Over screens are also darker and much more serious than Snake's Game Over screens - especially when it comes to the Fission Mailed Mind Screw.
  • Debate and Switch: Solidus makes some very good points about why he is fighting the Patriots. But he's decided he'd rather kill you than make you an ally, so his rather compelling Hannibal Lecture serves no purpose whatsoever and you have to settle for fighting him and fulfilling the Patriots' Xanatos Roulette. Probably justified, as Solidus is implied to be aware of what the Patriots told Raiden and likewise settled for it, realizing that teaming up would be pointless anyway.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: Viciously tears into the series, sequels, 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.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Solid Snake is this for this game - but just for this game! One of the most infamous examples, as most fans absolutely hated the real protagonist.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: Par for the course for most MGS games. The levels may not be very long, especially if you skip past all the cutscenes, but they're full of tiny details.
    • There is a cup of ice in the tanker chapter that if you shoot, it will realistically melt slowly. Pointless, eh?
    • See that bell on the wall in just one area of the Tanker? Shoot it and it dings.
    • Shoot the pans in the Tanker kitchen and they each play a different note, making a scale if you shoot them in order.
  • 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 kinda pushing things.
  • Did Not Do the Research: In-universe example. Stillman easily sees through Snake's Navy SEAL disguise because Snake didn't bother to read up on proper SEAL protocol.
  • Disney Villain Death: Solidus's final scene has him falling off Liberty Hall shortly after his duel with Raiden. Deconstructed somewhat, as he was already mortally wounded beforehand courtesy of Raiden slicing open his back.
  • Dissonant Serenity: A big part of the Plant chapter's aesthetic. It involves a dead-serious plot about nuclear armageddon and an ancient conspiracy, but it takes place in the middle of the ocean on a clear, sunny day with seagulls flying all around. At a few points during cutscenes, the camera will stop to linger on the sunset reflecting off of the ocean.
  • 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.
  • Dummied Out: Some unused speech and a strange video showing a news report about the displaced Statue of Liberty remain from the post-9/11 removal of the Arsenal Gear / New York collision. Unlike the rest of the things edited out due to 9/11, this never resurfaced anywhere, not even in the Novelization.
    • The FAMAS assault rifle from Metal Gear Solid is in the game, but can only be acquired via Gameshark; originally it was to be found in the Tanker chapter.
  • Escort Mission: Emma, with a hell of a Player Punch at the end of it.
  • Every Bullet Is a Tracer: When bullets are fired at Fortune, their paths are visible so you can see that she deflects them.
  • Expy: Purposely invoked. Every character in Metal Gear Solid 2 maps to someone in the first game one way or another.
    • Although Dead Cell was officially stated to be an expy of FOXHOUND/The Sons of Big Boss, most of Dead Cell's motivations (ie, wanting revenge against a group that is heavily implied to be unknown to most people for the destruction and possibly framing of their unit and their hatred of Solid Snake for his perceived involvement in the ruin of their unit and possible personal ruin) is more closer to Black Chamber from Metal Gear Ghost Babel.
  • Fission Mailed: Trope Namer
  • Five-Bad Band:
  • Fixed Camera
  • Forgotten Anniversary: Rose is constantly nagging about "do you remember what day it is?"...Must be her birthday. Apparently, Word of God stated that this was based on Kojima's own experiences with his wife.
  • Foreshadowing: Sergei Gurlukovich noticed that the moon was pale as death in the storm, suspecting that the mission was going to end very badly. It does.
    • Also, after Fortune learns the truth about who her father's murderer was, and is shot before she could avenge him during Ocelot's speech, Fortune attempts to fire two retalitory rounds from her railgun at Ocelot, who was immune thanks to having either Fortune's device itself or a copy of it. In a codec conversation with the colonel and Rosemary, they explain that Fortune's railgun was a prototype that didn't go into mass production mode due to various bugs in its rail plasma and the inner rail electromagnetic release that have yet to be solved, and 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, and it was heavily implied that the only reason why Fortune was capable of using it without fear of it backfiring was because of her ability to deflect bullets, which gives an early clue that either Fortune's power's source: a device consisting of electromagnetic fields for deflecting weaponry and shorting out grenades was reactivated, or her powers didn't stem entirely from that device, if one even existed, that was later proven when she managed to deflect the bulk of RAY's attacks before succumbing to her wounds.
    • 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 Guns of the Patriots (although the script for Metal Gear Solid 2 that was included in The Document of Metal Gear Solid 2 does attribute it to accelerated aging).
    • Notice how, despite the fact that Ocelot was an agent of the Patriots, he didn't ever say "La-Li-Lu-Le-Lo" even once? Well, guess just how loyal to the Patriots he truly was in MGS4.
      • His disloyalty to the Patriots was also hinted at even earlier: When Richard Ames reveals to Raiden that he's an agent of the Patriots, Ocelot, who was listening in via security camera, gives a sound of disgust.
    • After having played the game through and going through a second time, many of the more subtle hints that the Colonel is actually an A.I. 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.
  • Frame-Up: Vamp implies that Dead Cell was actually framed for the terrorist attacks it supposedly committed by the Patriots, and its 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
  • Fridge Horror: In the cutscene prior to the fight with Olga, it is revealed she is pregnant. Depending on your aim in the gun battle, you could end up putting enough tranquilizer rounds into her to knock out a dozen or more men. That much tranquilizer would almost certainly kill the developing fetus inside her.
  • Gainax Ending: And how! The ending is written to confuse the player a lot whether what Raiden sees in New York City are real or not - Solid Snake popping out of nowhere for no reason after you kill Solidus Snake, and Rosemary suddenly standing in front of you talking about changing the future. These could have been an illusion if it were not The Stinger that reveals that everything you've been through is indeed real, and the fact that certain plot-vital sequences had to be cut after 9/11 didn't help at all! Needless to say, MGS2 is the single most confusing game in the Metal Gear franchise.
  • Gambit Pileup: Every single character in the game has a complex agenda and backstory at work and is attempting to do more than they initially let on.
  • Get On With It Already
  • Gotta Catch Them All: Those fucking dogtags.
  • Groin Attack: Olga hits Raiden with a particularly nasty one.
    • Also implied in one of the VR missions to be one of the cause of various soldiers death.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Before the final battle of the game, the A.I. gives Raiden a lengthy, overwhelming lecture telling how much he sucks. Word of God says that Kojima himself is the A.I. who wants to tell you that you suck for always forcing him to do more Metal Gear games while he is totally reluctant to do so - and guess what?? It didn't quite work at all...
  • Head Desk: Played For Drama in Metal Gear Solid 2 by Otacon, who appears to take his step-sister's death well-ish but suddenly breaks into this before Snake tells him to get it together.
  • 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.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Kelly Brook, Carmen Electra & Louise Rednapp appear on the Pin-Ups in the initial release of the game. When it was rereleased, Konami didn't relicense the images from FHM.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: Quinton Flynn, who also lends his talents to Axel and Henry (among others), voices Raiden.
  • Honor Before Reason: Solidus Snake during the final battle. He could have easily just killed Raiden while he was unarmed, not even give him a chance to defend himself, but he instead decides to just fight him in a sword duel.
  • Hundred-Percent Completion: The dogtags and VR missions make it a massive pain due to all the grinding; the dog tag challenge requires holding up almost every guard in the entire game, before repeating it three more times on the other difficulties. The VR missions, however, require the player to get the high score on about 50 missions as Raiden, before repeating the majority of the said challenges again as Ninja Raiden and Naked Raiden[1]. And once the Raiden missions are done? Do it four more times as Snake, Pliskin Snake, Tuxedo Snake and MGS1 Snake.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Pliskin, Pliskin, Pliskin. Justified, since he's actually Solid Snake (Technically, Pliskin's more like a mentor 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 carboard boxes large enough to hide under, all in skintight clothing with no substantial pockets.
  • Ice Cream Koan: During Tanker, Otacon imitates Mei Ling and reads proverbs after the player saves, but mangles their meaning in the most hilarious way. So much that Mei Ling appears to correct him...
  • 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? Be Careful What You Wish For.
  • 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...

  • Inferred Holocaust: Thanks to various cuts within the final version due to the unfortunate timing of its release, Arsenal Gear crashing into Manhattan as well as the results were glossed over.
  • Kangaroo Court: How Dead Cell Commander Jackson was sentenced to prison.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Inverted; Solidus uses a Daisho pair (A Katana and a Wakizashi) almost whenever he's on screen and fighting, and Raiden uses a straight-bladed Daito (Japanese catch-all for a long bladed sword). Guess who beats whom at the end of the game?
  • Kill the Cutie: Poor Emma...
  • Lame Comeback:

 "Metal Gear only has room for one! Gurlukovich, you and your daughter will die here!"

"Damn you."

  • Lampshade Hanging: Among other things, at one point Solid Snake is spotted sneaking about in a cardboard box. You can call up Snake's alter ego (Pliskin) immediately afterwards, who will deny any knowledge of seeing a cardboard box while Raiden comments on how idiotic the whole thing is.
    • Similarly, if you call Rose while wearing a box, she'll make fun of Raiden, saying that one would have to be a complete idiot to fall for such a "cunning" disguise.
  • Large Ham: Fortune, to no end. Ocelot of all people even lampshades this during his Reason You Suck Speech
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Probably the oddest invocation. There's about 17-18 speaking characters, some of whom only get a few minutes of screen-time. But since each one of them has an incredible amount of back-story (even Dolph & Gurlukovich who both die before the main game even begins) and some of their personalities really hog the screen-time (looking at you Rose), it gosh-darn FEELS like there are loads and loads.
  • Lost in Translation: "La Li Lu Le Lo" are "missing" vowel sounds in Japanese; the point of the name is that it's not technically possible to write or say it in Hiragana (because there's no distinction between "L" and "R" and the string is usually "Ra Ri Ru Re Ro"). The Patriots' name cannot be written or spoken. This is never really gone into in the dub, since English doesn't do that, so it just seems to be meaningless babble.
  • 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" turns out to literally be so: 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.
  • Memetic Number: "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!" Said by fake Colonel.
  • Military Mashup Machine: RAY is practically every type of warship that's ever been built - submarine, cruiser, aircraft carrier - with tank armour, land weapons and legs.
  • Mind Screw: Just about everything that happens after Emma's death.
    • 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.
  • Mission Control Is Off Its Meds: The Crazy Colonel is a textbook example.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: The US President James Johnson ended up defecting to his predecessor's terrorist group, the Sons of Liberty, because he wanted power, more specifically, he was not granted any power whatsoever, basically just being used as a puppet of The Patriots in order to trick the American Public into believing that the American Public still had any control of who actually is voted into office, and that the Constitution was still being upheld. Unfortunately, it was double-subverted, as not only did Solidus end up essentially using him to activate Arsenal Gear to eliminate the Patriots, but it also turned out that even his ambitions to wield power similar to that of the Patriots was in fact manipulated by the Patriots (stated in the script as well as implied by Ocelot in the game itself).
  • Mooks: The Gurlukovich Mercenaries.
    • Elite Mooks: Solidus Snake's Hi-Tech Army halfway through the game and the Tengu Commandos in Arsenal Gear.
  • 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 MGS1 as well).
  • Mythology Gag: The script for MGS2 that was included in the Document for Metal Gear Solid 2 mentioned that Snake mistook Olga for Meryl Silverburgh when they first encounter each other.
    • In the Novelization, it also mentions that Snake took Russian courses during the part where he listens in to Olga and Sergei Gurlukovich's conversation, which was also what the manual for Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake stated about one of the tests/drills that recruits for FOXHOUND have to take.
    • When Raiden asks Snake where he gets his ammo, Snake just points to his bandanna. In Metal Gear Solid, you can indeed earn a bandanna that gives you infinite ammunition.
    • Probably not intentional, but one of the (false) SEAL mottos he utters is "Semper Fi" which is actually one of the mottos of the United States Marine Corps. In the NES version of Metal Gear's English manual, Solid Snake was stated to have been a former United States Marine who participated in the Invasion of Grenada.
  • No Body Left Behind: Averted, except in the case where a dead soldier gets replaced by another patrolling soldier. This game was one of the first to have major repercussions for being untidy with the corpses of your enemies, forcing you to hide them in lockers or toss them into the sea, lest they be discovered by another soldier and replaced.
  • No Fourth Wall: There cannot even be said to be a third wall. The second and first are barely holding up as is.
  • Nonstandard Game Over: Earned if you're spotted by the guards while playing some of the higher difficulties.
  • 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] ...so, ah, this explains a lot. Not that there's anything wrong with keeping it to yourself-- I mean, you know, it's your life and everything...

  • Oh Crap: Raiden literally says this when facing down Fortune's rail-gun.
  • Pacifist Run: Both Snake and Raiden get access to a tranquilizer gun from the beginning of their respective segments. Excluding Fatman and Solidus, who die no matter how you fight them, you never have to directly kill a single person.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Kojima is on-record as deliberately making "Pliskin" as thin a disguise as possible to see how many people would be fooled nonetheless.
  • Post Modernism: The game attempted to be a fully postmodern savaging of video games, sequels, and video game players. Attacking the consumers went over exactly as well as you'd expect. See this document for a full explanation.
  • Power Trio: Snake (Superego), Raiden (Id), and Otacon (Ego) form one.
  • Power Walk: Led by Otacon of all people. Makes him Badass for all of five seconds, before Otacon breaks down and starts crying.
  • Playing the Player: One of the most famous (or perhaps infamous) examples. This game absolutely savages the conventional relationship between player and player character.
  • Post Modernism: How the game turned out had a lot to do with this. Read this, also linked further down, for an in-depth explanation.
  • 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.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: Let's see...a Fat Bastard bomb enthusiast, a Depraved Bisexual who apparently can cheat death itself, a Death Seeker who can deflect bullets...yup, it's a Metal Gear series game, all right.
  • Regional Bonus: Thanks to a lengthy delay between the NTSC & PAL releases of the game, the game had 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 MGS2, which also included some of the earlier tech demoes for both Metal Gear games.
  • Right Hand of Doom: It's not proportionally bigger, but Ocelot's arm definitely doesn't look like it came factory-standard.
  • Scenery Censor: Raiden is tortured naked, and then has to escape said room without any clothes - with his hands covering his... lack of manhood.
    • Incidentally, if you get discovered in the stomach you can either hide in the locker of the torture room or pin yourself to the device that held Raiden (which means he's no longer hiding anything). Upon a guard inspecting the room and seeing Raiden, he will comment that he "wishes he had that" before leaving. The camera's view of Raidan's specific anatomy is obstructed by a bendy straw on a table up ahead, but it's not hard to imagine what the guard's referring to.
  • Sex Sells: Oddly enough, Japanese musician and sexy Bishonen Gackt was used to promote Metal Gear Solid 2 Sons of Liberty. He appeared in the Japanese commercials and there is also a dogtag in the game with his name on it. This is despite the fact that Gackt himself had nothing to do with the game and didn't even sing a theme song for it.
  • Shaggy Frog Story: Otacon's attempts to imitate Mei-Ling's quoting of classic literature.

 Otacon: "Remember the Deep family's fish, Snake!"

  • Shout-Out: There are posters of other Kojima games hanging up in various rooms. There's a pretty cool Policenauts one somewhere.
    • Solid Snake's alias, Iroquois Pliskin, is a direct lift from the character "Snake Plissken" from Escape from New York. Similarly, Raiden's real name, Jack, and his girlfriend's nickname, Rose, references the names of the protagonist love couple in Titanic.
      • And the name Raiden itself is based on a type of Japanese fighter planes in World War II, nicknamed by the Americans as "Jack".
    • Scott Dolph, the name of the Marine commandant from the tanker section, is actually the name of a Konami employee, a translator.
    • If you believe that the entire story was a VR sim, then everything is a shout-out or reference of some sort
    • One of the obtainable dogtags is named "Kaori Yae": this is the name of a character from Konami's popular dating simulation game Tokimeki Memorial 2.
    • The Vamp, as the name suggests already, is Dracula.
    • The Big Shell is revealed to be the Arsenal Gear, not dissimilar to the Creature of Chaos, Castlevania.
    • Taking a picture of the ghost in Hold 2 during the Tanker Chapter in the HD Collection will result in an achievement trophy being unlocked. It's name? "Who ya gonna call?"
  • Simulation Game This is what the entire Plant mission is revealed to be. Raiden's mission is just a redo of Snake's in MGS1.
  • Sinister Surveillance: Part of the Patriots' plans.
  • Smoking Is Cool: This is who Solid Snake is, anyway, and Raiden does not like it.
    • Ironically, if Raiden smokes during a radio call, Snake (presumably while disguised as Pliskin) will suggest against smoking because it "stunts growth".
  • Somebody Set Up Us the Bomb: Fatman hits Stillman with one of these. Stillman doesn't make it.
  • Stop Helping Me!: In the Plant mission, your support team can get on your nerves.
  • 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.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Some of the time. Occasionally Codec conversations can be interrupted, but most of the time this is played straight.
  • This Cannot Be!: Solidus delivers one of these after the Harrier fight.
  • This Is a Work of Fiction: Included, unusually for a video game. Presumably because it was written in 1999, depicted terrorist attacks in New York, and was completed in September, 2001.
  • This Loser Is You: This was Kojima's intent with the above replacement protagonist. Raiden was made to represent the player, and their lack of capability of being Solid Snake.
  • Timed Mission: Parodied when the Colonel doesn't end his speech when he's supposed to. Played straight with the bomb on the submarine in the Plant Chapter.
  • Toilet Humor: While attempting to cross between struts while one of the russian guards attempts to investigate the area after Raiden shot down Solidus' harrier jet, one of the guards ends up having to pee off the side of the strut, and Raiden has to either evade the urine or go under it.
    • Then there's Johnny and his ever-present bowel problems...
  • Throw It In: Pretty much the entire part about searching for the United States president was a Throw It In, as the creators realized that, had they just stuck with terrorists hijacking a seemingly civilian cleanup plant, the plot would have felt weak. Similarly, Liquid frequently possessing Ocelot through his arm, according to Shinkawa, was added in (originally, Ocelot would have had a cyborg arm instead of Liquid Snake's arm grafted onto him, but fan reactions to Liquid's character changed things).
    • In-Universe example: 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 to players trying to get the pictures on time.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The marine towards the end of Snake's portion of the game who fires at Metal Gear RAY with a handgun. A handgun against a walking tank designed to withstand anti-tank rounds. It's an act of such utter stupidity that one of his fellow marines shoves him aside with what looks like contempt to take a shot with his grenade launcher (not much better a choice of weapon, but still a smarter choice than a bloody handgun).
  • Too Soon: After 9/11 to show Arsenal Gear levelling most of New York. Instead, the game jump-cuts from Arsenal Gear accelerating down the Hudson River with the music swelling dramatically, to it having already reached Federal Hall.
  • Trailers Always Lie: The trailer for this made it look like 100% concentrated awesome. In fact the trailer only showed scenes from the Tanker mission and included a brief shot of Raiden, making it look like he was a supporting character.
    • Other trailers featured footage of Snake fighting the Harrier on the Hudson Bridge, an area which never appears in the game.
    • Subverted with one scene from the trailer: The escape from the sinking Tanker. It was originally intended that it be implemented into the game, but it didn't go over well with test audiences.
    • Oddly enough, the trailers are arguably an essential part of the game experience. Whatever else you might say, this trope was certainly intentional on Kojima's part.
  • 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 spoilt before hand if you lived in Europe. Some weren't even avoidable, either. Several magazines spoiled the switch of playable character from Snake to Raiden on the front cover.
    • It's also part of the reason for the Regional Bonus mentioned above.
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change: Although it doesn't happen at the end of the piece, the main theme features this: the first musical idea is played, then repeated up two semitones.
  • 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.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: Common criticisms of the game includes its extremely complicated plot twists near the end of the game.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Where to begin? 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 gun-point. If you're above the nut-shot, you can wing their arms and legs until they're hobbling around on one foot. Don't worry, they'll eventually pass out from blood-loss. You can shoot birds. You can shoot your escort partner (game over) or just knock her out and do...things to her (angry call from her brother). You can take indecent photos of two passed-out teenage girls. Kojima wants you to be * ahem* immersed in the game.
    • You can also humiliate the guards by, after knocking them unconscious, shooting their gun arm, wrecking their radio, and/or injuring at least one of their legs. The guard, if all three will happen, will attempt to call for backup, but will look at the radio in disappointment, be unable to use their weapon, and will limp away from danger.
      • ...and right into that Claymore mine you set up behind him...
    • Or you can just make your girlfriend so mad she refuses to save your game until you apologize.
      • Averted with the parrot in the Shell 1 computer room, who deflects bullets just like Fortune does and will alert enemies if you mess with him. Assuming you haven't already killed or tranquilized everyone else in the room.
        • Other birds in this game, namely seagulls, do not enjoy invincibility and your support team will completely lose their shit with you if you decide to exploit their mortality too often, though they will poop in your eyes without provocation and therefore deserve it. You can, however, set off explosive charges amongst swarms of sea lice to your heart's content because nobody likes sea lice.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: During Raiden's sword training session, if you hit Snake either by mistake or intentionally, he will fire his gun at you, calling you a moron.
    • Back when he's Pliskin, you can aim at him with the new pistol he had just given you after his first cutscene. Shoot him (except in the head, which is a game over) and he'll shoot right back with his assault rifle. Shoot him enough times and he'll keep firing as long as you're in his sight.
  • Video Game Physics: Vamp is basically made of this trope. 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.
    • Makes a little bit of sense, he has magic powers in this game. The fourth game, however, puts in a delevel retcon, making him ridiculous again.
  • Virtual Training Simulation: Raiden has no actual combat experience at the beginning of the Plant chapter, well, none that he remembers anyway ; all his training thus far has consisted of VR missions. This takes on a very meta note when flashbacks to these VR missions demonstrate that they are, in fact, the original Metal Gear Solid and its accompanying VR missions - the same ones the player themselves has played. Additionally, a popular fan theory holds that the entirety of the Plant chapter, and possibly the Tanker chapter also, is a VR simulation. As of Metal Gear Solid 4 Guns of the Patriots this has been Jossed, though it's also been claimed that this interpretation was Kojima's original intention and he merely buckled under fan pressure in between games.
  • Visual Pun: A rather creepy one at the very end of the game - in the Codec call just before the final boss fight, Raiden asks the AI Colonel who he really is. His response is to switch his mugshot from normal Campbell to fleshless-skeleton Campbell while telling Raiden "we're not what you'd call human".
  • What Could Have Been: The Document of MGS2 reveals a variety of cut content from the game. For example, there was supposed to be an additional member of Dead Cell, named Chinaman, with his own boss encounter in an area that was eventually used for the fight with Vamp. In addition, the Tanker sequence was intended to end with an escape sequence as Snake tries to make it out of the tanker before it sinks, but the sequence was cut because playtesters didn't think it was fun enough. Footage of the cut sequence is still used in the main game itself, in flashbacks.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: Raiden's hair. It's flowy-ness is fully animated, even outside of the cutscenes.
    • Snake's box.
  • What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic: The entire game, but most poignantly the end sequence where Raiden throws away the dogtags with your name on them. (See some fan attempts at analyzing the game here and here.)
  • 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.
  • Why Am I Ticking?: Calling Pliskin during the C4 hunt will reveal that Fatman placed on of Shell 2's C4s on a Gurlukovich soldier. Fatman also will invoke this trope on himself by activating a large C4 package that he somehow placed underneath him during his final moments.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Vamp and Fortune: Scott Dolph, an important figure in their lives, ended up killed allegedly by Solid Snake during the Tanker Incident, they attempted to get their commanding officer (and in the case of the latter, her husband), Colonel Jackson, out of prison after he was falsely accused of misappropriating funds from the military, but they never reopened their case before Jackson died in prison. Then they ended up framed for terrorist attacks that killed both their own allies and civilians alike, and then their unit is killed off by the military under the Patriots orders. The public also doesn't even believe them when they tried to prove their innocence due to being essentially brainwashed by the Patriots, thus leaving them with having to nuke New York City directly as revenge to them, and then it becomes apparent that every time they were used, even that one. Honestly, who can blame them for what they ended up doing?
  • Woody's Finest Hour: Just narrowly averted. Hideo Kojima originally planned to chronologically end the series on this game, even when The Stinger would actually set up room for a sequel (the hint that the Patriots were still out there, as well as their using fake identities). Thankfully, saner heads prevailed when it was decided that Metal Gear Solid 4 Guns of the Patriots be produced.
  • Xanatos Roulette: The entire game is a massive roulette orchestrated by the Patriots.
  • You Bastard: Hoo boy. Let's just say that when the Colonel AI and Rose mock Raiden for wanting to be like Solid Snake and for being too irresponsible to exercise his free will, they're really talking to you.
  • You Cannot Grasp the True Form: The Patriots themselves claim this status when they communicate with Raiden at the end. It was confirmed in MGS4 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 Is in MGS4, they don't speak and their influence is felt everywhere.
  • You Didn't Ask: Snake tells this to Raiden shortly before Ninja/Olga knocks him (Raiden) out.
    • Also stated when Raiden realizes that they knew that they were developing Arsenal Gear.
  • You Have Failed Me: The Patriots were implied to have taken Richard 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 Gurlukovich's baby for Gurlukovich, and the deaths of both Rosemary and their unborn child for Raiden).
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The Patriots killed Richard Ames for this reason (and subtily for other reasons), and had Ocelot kill President Johnson for this reason as well (It may seem like they executed Johnson for betraying them, until you realize that they actually manipulated him into betraying them in the first place), Ocelot nearly does this to Solidus, Fortune, Raiden, and Snake.
  • You Look Familiar: Olga and Meryl are voiced by the same actress in the Japanese version. Likewise, Johnny Sasaki, and to a lesser extent Solid Snake, comment on the resemblance in-universe.
  • You Killed My Father: 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 Solidus so that he at least has a chance to survive, even though he intends to kill Raiden partially because of the Patriots machinations, but also because Raiden carries nanomachines containing what is essentially a backup system for the Patriots so he could gain their identities and hunt them down, should Solidus win against the fight.
    • Subverted with Olga Gurlukovich in regards to Solid Snake: She did initially believe that Snake murdered her father. Actually, it was Ocelot, her father's best friend, who did the deed. However, shortly after encountering Solid Snake, she realized that he didn't kill her, and in fact, he was the reason she was still alive after the events of the Tanker Incident. Both subverted and played straight with Fortune, who also thought Solid Snake was the one who murdered her father, although she had more trouble believing that he truly didn't kill him. She eventually learns that Snake really didn't kill her father during Ocelot's speech, as well as learned that it was actually Ocelot who did the deed, and does attempt to avenge him. However, that didn't quite work out.
    • Not in Metal Gear Solid 2 itself, but in the non-canon Snake Tales included in its expansion pack "Substance," Sergei Gurlukovich 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 Gurlukovich, killing him.

You don't have what it takes after all!

Notes

  1. READ: Raiden with a sword and Raiden with no weapons.