Metal Gear Solid 2 came out in November 2001, which is during the early stages of the Playstation 2. However, after playing many recent PS2 games, I don't think I've ever seen a game that is as fluid, as beautiful, or pays as much attention to detail as Metal Gear Solid 2. And even after playing many next gen games (Haze, Lair) on the recent consoles, I'm still impressed with this game's graphics, and it's pretty comparable to many next gen games today.
This game is fantastically smooth. I haven't noticed or seen a single frame rate drop. With graphics that are this great, and running at a blazing 60 frames per second, I wonder what the development team cannot do.
While many other games only pay attention to amplifying the graphics and making things look pretty, it's the attention to detail that makes games 'next gen.' The attention to detail is what makes things 'feel' more realistic and 'feel' prettier, instead of looks alone.
The open ended gameplay in this game is what makes it so great and unique. You can barge in Rambo-style, sneak through without killing a single soul. This time, they give you a tranquilizer gun, giving you the option to kill your enemies, or just put them to sleep. There are many ways to kill an enemy - you can choose to beat em up with hand to hand combat, give a sleeper hold, take one enemy hostage, snap an enemy's neck into two, holding someone up to make them give up their items, or just plain shoot them in the face. There are many new added features in this game that makes it a huge step above the original MGS. There's the first person shooting mode: Press R1 to aim and square to shoot whatever body part you wish. Headshots are lethal, shooting a person's leg will make the incapable of running away, and you can even shoot out their communication device so they won't be able to call for backup. The A.I. is a lot smarter in this one, when they spot you, they'll immediately seek cover and call for backup. They'll bring in the heavy artillery complete with shields and attempt to block your routes of escape. This is what makes going Rambo-style throughout the game a big challenge, and why it's best to just sneak around. But still, going Rambo-style is very fun, especially with the arsenal they give you in this game.
If you've seen as many movies as I have throughout my lifetime, you may be able to relate why I'm not particularly fond with many of today's Hollywood titles. I find most of them quite formulaic and generic, with only the best recommended ones only enjoyable, but not memorable. Metal Gear Solid 2 is different. The story is intelligent, complex, and deep, which amplifies the plotline to a whole new level. Lies, truth, backstabbing, death, life, and philosophy, Metal Gear Solid 2 is perhaps one of the most thought provoking stories ever created. Some may not like its complex nature, or some may find that there are too many twists that they can handle, but for those that do understand it, it's on a whole 'level. It is an amazingly well done story in a full, cinematic adventure.
Oh, and just to mention, you play as Raiden in this game. Raiden is not as masculine as Snake, but he is always an interesting character, but playing someone else other than Snake developed Snake's character by a great degree. The characters in this game are all original and unique, with deep character development to boot. You'll laugh, cry, sigh, and gasp at all the things happening to them.
The sound is fantastic. With a talented voice cast including: David Hayter, Quinton Flynn, Jennifer Hale, etc. the voice acting is downright superb adding to an already strong storyline. And there are many interesting easter eggs you'll be able to hear in this game using a specific sound monitoring microphone. Excellent soundtrack as well, especially the main theme that starts in the intro for the game.