Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake is a direct sequel to the original Metal Gear and was first released for the MSX2 by Konami in 1990. It was again written and designed by Hideo Koijima and is much better than the half-baked pseudo sequel, Snake’s Revenge, by Ultra Games on the NES.
Set a few years after the first game, Solid Snake must this time infiltrate a heavily-defended place called Zanzibar Land to rescue a kidnapped scientist and destroy the dangerous “Metal Gear D“.
The graphics are much improved over the first game and are excellent for the time. There’s quite a bit of sprite tearing, though, when there are a number of soldiers on-screen at the same time. Snake also doesn’t move as quickly or as smoothly as he did in the first game, but that’s okay. The automap is much more detailed this time, showing a three-by-three area of screens with highlighted enemies. Access to inventories and the transceiver is still done by pressing the function keys.
Snake can duck and crawl in this game, which became a staple of the series as it continued on, and it does help make Metal Gear 2 more interesting to play than the first game (especially when crawling under trucks to avoid guards, which is cool). Getting Snake to duck, though, is not that easy and requires that you press two keys on the keyboard simultaneously in the right way, which is a little clunky to be honest. If you’re in a tight spot and need to duck quickly it sometimes doesn’t activate as intended and can lead to trouble. One interesting side effect of crawling is that Snake can deactivate and harvest landmines if he’s crawling through a minefield, which I think is a nice touch.
Patrolling guards in this game are much more sophisticated than before, walking routes over large areas, crossing paths with other guards, reacting to noises, and having simulated conical vision rather than just direct line-of-sight, so if you’re not super careful you can easily get caught out. It pays to always keep an eye on the radar.
The basic gameplay in Metal Gear 2 is the same as before – collect key cards and helpful items that allow you to get further into the storyline; take on the occasional boss, and uncover the mysteries of the new Metal Gear project.
Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake has only ever been released in Japan, but has received an English fan translation, which is excellent as it’s a game still worth playing today. I enjoyed playing it and thought that the difficulty curve was about right. It’s certainly not annoying to play, like Snake’s Revenge.