Metal Gear Solid 2 is an all-time classic. Hideo Kojima’s esteemed stealth sequel changed the rules of the game. Its AI was class-leading back in 2001, it was the poster child for the PS2’s ‘Emotion Engine’ and even two decades on, no other title has nailed virtual rain quite like Solid Snake’s tanker intro.
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So it’s a shame that the PC version of this vintage espionage adventure absolutely sucks. This is an unpleasant truth I’ve been reminded of while playing through the game on the brilliant Asus Zephyrus G14 (2023) laptop.
The stealth series has crept back into my thoughts with the announcement of the Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 at the latest Nintendo Direct. A redux of the original MGS trilogy, this bumper package is coming to Switch, PC, PS5 and Xbox Series X and S before the end of the year.
I can’t wait to play it.
While I’m excited to relive Snake’s adventures (let’s hope all three games get a nice resolution boost, and perhaps some tweaked controls), it’s MGS2 that’s most in need of some love… at least on PC.
Console players are well catered for thanks to a decent HD remaster you can still play on Xbox consoles (and PS3, if you can dig up Sony’s ageing machine). Sadly, that’s not the case for Snake-loving PC gamers.
The only digital PC release of MGS2 was released on GOG Galaxy a few years back, and it’s not pretty. Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance — essentially a director’s cut of the original game with some bonus VR training missions bolted on — launched in a sad state, and it’s still woeful.
Actually, that should be ‘was woeful’. Snake’s sequel was delisted from the platform in late 2021 when certain creative licences expired… which seems weirdly apt for a game that’s central theme involves the suppression of information.
Thankfully, I bought MGS2: Substance before it was pulled from GOG, so it remains in my virtual library. I probably shouldn’t be that thankful, though: the game remains a shining example of how not to approach a PC port.
While an excellent mod exists that fixes many of MGS2’s PC problems, the non-modded version has crippling issues. Its main crimes? There’s no in-game option to change resolution, widescreen support doesn’t make the cut and anti-aliasing is non-existent. PC players deserve a lot better.
The ‘V’s Fix’ mod really does wonders for Metal Gear Solid 2, though. Not only does it fix every omission I’ve just mentioned, it adds in cool effects (like depth-of-field) that weren’t in the original PS2 release.
Playing at 4K resolution with SMAA anti-aliasing, the creep ‘em up looks surprisingly good on my LG C2 OLED. Boasting a clean visual style and detailed character models, it’s easy to look past the blurry textures when the underlying art assets remain strong.
And what a sublime game it remains to play. The rainswept tanker shootout against Olga! Raiden’s reveal! That bit where you listen to the soldier with a troublesome stomach on the toilet! What a joyously weird adventure.
They really don’t make ‘em like this anymore.
I can’t wait to replay the upcoming MGS2 Master Collection on my Switch OLED — reliving those moments on the handheld’s glorious little screen should be a treat.
The idea of going through the original game and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater again is also enticing; especially with the latter’s epic sniper battle against The End.
More than anything though, I’m excited that PC players will at long last hopefully be presented with a worthy port of Metal Gear Solid 2; one that doesn’t require a mod to function properly.
Snake’s 2001 sequel remains a masterpiece, and all console and PC players deserve to experience its waffling yet endearing nonsense on the latest gaming hardware.