Sons of Liberty, the black sheep of the Metal Gear Solid series. Out of the four games, it’s easy to say MGS2 is the least favorite of them. Why is that? Did it not meet expectations? Was it because most gamers wanted to play as Snake and not Raiden? Was it the overly long Codec sequences? The brain screw of a storyline? …Who knows. Regardless of its criticisms, Sons of Liberty is a must-play game in the series…and vital to understanding the plot of the 4th game.
Sons of Liberty was originally released on the PS2. An expansion to the game, titled Substance, was released later for both the PS2 and Xbox. Substance comes with a myriad of bonus features, like a demo theater (though it doesn’t have all of the game’s cutscenes…), VR missions, a skateboarding mini-game and some other minor features. The MGS collection comes with Substance, although Sons of Liberty might be cheaper (I got mine for $3).
Sons of Liberty is divided into two chapters; Tanker and Plant. You can play one or the other or both. The Tanker chapter takes place two years after the events of Shadow Moses (the first game). Revolver Ocelot managed to retain all the data concerning Metal Gear REX. He sold the data on the black market, allowing anyone with the right resources to have their own Metal Gear. To combat this threat, Snake and Otacon form Philanthropy…an anti-Metal Gear organization dedicated to halting the advancement (or destroying) of Metal Gear. They have received information that the United States Marine Corps is developing a new version of Metal Gear to combat all the REXs around the world…Metal Gear RAY.
The prototype Metal Gear RAY is currently heading out of New York on a tanker. Snake infiltrates the tanker but before he can begin his mission, the tanker is taken over by Russian mercenaries under the command of Sergei Gurlukovich. Revolver Ocelot is also with them. The mercenaries quickly dispose of the Marines on deck before heading down into the tanker’s depths. Although this new development is puzzling, Snake still has a mission to complete.
Snake makes his way to the bridge and finds out the tanker’s destination. He also meets and fights Olga Gurlukovich, Sergei’s pregnant daughter. After the fight, Snake spots an Army Cypher watching him. Otacon also reveals to him that Philanthropy received the information from an unusual source, “E.E.” Otacon thinks “E.E.” stands for Emma Emmerich, his step-sister.
Armed with a USP, Snake descends into the tanker holds. Snake photographs the new Metal Gear RAY as the Marine commander, Scott Dolph, briefs his men on the project. Snake sends the photos to Otacon. As Dolph’s speech concludes, Ocelot and Sergei make their move. Sergei reveals that he’s stealing Metal Gear RAY for Russia. Ocelot double-crosses him, telling his former comrade that he’s not stealing RAY for Russia, but taking it back to “the Patriots”. Ocelot kills Dolph and Sergei before activating SEMTEX placed around the ship, sinking it.
Ocelot’s plan to sink the tanker and hijack RAY hits a small snag when Snake confronts him. Ocelot’s right arm, the one he lost in Shadow Moses, acts up. Ocelot then calls Snake “brother” in a familiar voice, the voice of Liquid Snake. Ocelot lost his arm in Shadow Moses, but had Liquid’s grafted on. How Liquid can possess him, however, is unknown. Ocelot regains control and continues with his plan. At the end of the chapter, he tells his conspirator that everything is going as planned. Snake goes missing, presumably dead.
In order to clean up the amount of oil spilt by the tanker, a facility known as the Big Shell was constructed. Two years after the Tanker incident, on April 29th, 2009, special forces unit Dead Cell led by “Solid Snake” took control of the facility. A tour was underway with several important people part of them. These tourists were taken hostage. Among the hostages was the current President of the United States, James Johnson. Dead Cell demanded $30 billion or else they would launch a nuclear weapon into the heart of Manhattan.
FOXHOUND operative Raiden was called into action. His objectives include rescuing the President and stopping the terrorists from firing the nuke. Colonel Campbell and Rosemary (Raiden’s girlfriend) are his support team for the operation. As Raiden infiltrates the Big Shell, he sees that he is not alone. Not only is SEAL Team 10 conducting a divisionary operation, but there is another intruder besides Raiden.
Raiden discovers the corpses of SEAL Team 10 as he begins his mission. He soon encounters Vamp, one of the members of Dead Cell. A SEAL survivor manages to intervene and save Raiden. Vamp leaves as he gets a call from Fortune, another Dead Cell member. The SEAL survivor tells Raiden he’s Iriquois Plisken, Lieutenant Junior Grade.
Raiden and Plisken later meet up with Peter Stillman, a the bomb disposal expert. He lost his leg in an explosion five years ago and was called in to offer support. Dead Cell operative Fatman has planted bombs around the Big Shell and it’s up to Raiden and Plisken to locate and disarm them. Eerily enough, the bombs aren’t located in ideal locations. Stillman, who was also Fatman’s mentor, realizes something is up. Plisken confirms this, when he finds a bigger (but unactivated) bomb. Stillman heads over to deal with the new threat as Raiden and Plisken deal with the remaining bombs. Stillman finally figures out the bombs they’ve been dealing with are what trigger the activation on the bigger bombs. He realizes this before Plisken freezes the final bomb, though. The two bigger bombs are activated, though Raiden manages to disarm one of them. Stillman isn’t so lucky and perishes in the explosion.
After a short confrontation with Fortune and Vamp (which ends with Vamp being fatally shot, though he manages to mysteriously come back to life), Raiden defeats Fatman, ending the bomb threat for good. Raiden meets up with a Cyborg Ninja, similar to the one from Shadow Moses. The President’s current whereabouts are unknown, so the ninja gives Raiden an enemy disguise so he can infiltrate Shell 1 of the Big Shell. One of the hostages there is Richard Ames, who should know where the President is.
Raiden managed to meet up with Ames successfully. Ames reveals the President’s location in Shell 2 and tells Raiden he must be working with the terrorists. Since the nuclear weapon can only be activated by the President’s vital signs, Ames theorizes he must be helping them of his own free will. Before he can divulge further information, however, Ocelot enters the room. Ames suffers a heart attack and Ocelot uncovers Raiden’s disguise in the process. The ninja intervenes once again, almost taking Ocelot’s arm again, allowing Raiden to escape.
As Raiden makes his way to the President, he meets up with the terrorist’s leader…Solid Snake. Plisken intervenes at this point, revealing himself to be Solid Snake. The terrorist’s leader is Solidus Snake, formerly known as ex-President George Sears. Raiden and Snake team up against Solidus and Vamp (who isn’t dead). Snake pilots a Kasatka helicopter with Raiden on the ground (though he has a missile launcher) as Solidus and Vamp pilot a Harrier. Raiden and Snake shoot down Solidus and Vamp, though they are saved from a watery grave by Metal Gear RAY.
Raiden eventually meets up with the President. The President informs him about the Patriots, a shadow organization that covertly rules over America. The reason Solidus is threatening to launch a nuke into Manhattan is because he wishes to challenge the Patriots. Johnson also informs Raiden that the Big Shell is a cover-up for the development of Arsenal Gear, which has the dual role of controlling the flow of all kinds of information and can fire a nuclear weapon from anywhere on the planet. Johnson orders Raiden to find Emma Emmerich, who knows how to destroy the AI controlling Arsenal Gear. Johnson then commands Raiden to shoot him. With his death, the terrorists can’t launch a nuke. Raiden does not shoot, instead, Ocelot does.
Raiden meets up with Vamp and defeats him in battle once more. Before Vamp is vanquished, however, he reveals that even though they can’t launch a weapon anymore…they can use Arsenal’s hydrogen bomb to emit an EMP that will knock Manhattan offline. Afterwards, Raiden meets up with Emma Emmerich. Emma is Otacon’s step-sister and the two are rather bitter towards each other due to past events that led to Otacon leaving his family behind.
Raiden leads Emma back to Shell 1. The bridge connecting the two shells had been destroyed by Metal Gear RAY, so the pair have to take the oil fence. With only one person being able to cross at a time, Emma goes ahead as Raiden and Snake provide sniper support. Just as Emma is almost across, however, Vamp reappears. Raiden manages to shoot him through the head but Vamp stabs Emma in the process. Snake and Raiden escort Emma into Shell 1 Core and upload the virus she was working on that will destroy the Arsenal AI. Emma and Otacon reconcile before Emma dies.
Unfortunately for them, Emma’s virus wasn’t uploaded properly. Snake devises a plan to enter Arsenal Gear as Otacon leaves to save the hostages via helicopter. The ninja reappears and reveals itself to be…Olga Gurlukovich. Olga knocks Raiden unconscious.
When he reawakens, he’s strapped to a torture bed. Solidus and Ocelot are with him as Solidus reveals Raiden’s past. Raiden was a child soldier of the Liberian Civil War. When Raiden’s real parents died, Solidus adopted him into his soldier unit. The two leave after a lengthy chat and soon, Olga reappears. She reveals she was sent by the Patriots to aid Raiden in his mission. The Patriots took Olga’s child, a young daughter. If Raiden dies, the Patriots will kill her child. She frees Raiden, telling him Snake waits up ahead with his gear.
Raiden makes his way through Arsenal Gear, with Colonel Campbell behaving erratically. Eventually, he ends up in a long corridor and confirms to Rosemary that what Solidus said is true. Rosemary has a few secrets of her own to share. She’s been a Patriots spy all along, sent to keep them informed about Raiden. She did manage to fall in love with him, however. Her transmission is soon cut off, although she does tell Raiden she’s pregnant.
Raiden meets up with Snake, who apologizes for using him to gain entrance to Arsenal Gear. The two team up and fight their way through Arsenal soldiers. It is during all this that Otacon reveals why the Colonel is acting strangely, he’s not really real. He’s part of the Arsenal AI and Emma’s virus is starting to take effect. The duo meet up with Fortune, who’s hell-bent on killing Snake (since she believes he killed her father, Scott Dolph). Snake and Fortune fight as Raiden presses on.
He meets up with Solidus, who tells Raiden about the S3 program. The Solid Snake Simulation was a training program aimed to turn regular soldiers into troops on par with Solid Snake through VR training. Raiden defeats a horde of manless Metal Gear RAYs before Solidus intervenes. Before he can finish off Raiden, Olga appears. She distracts Solidus but is killed by him. Solidus orders the remaining RAYs to finish off Raiden but Emma’s virus takes hold. The RAYs are piloted by the AI as well. Emma’s virus wrecks havoc with them, although Solidus ends up destroying them himself. Fortune arrives with a captured Snake before Raiden passes out.
Raiden awakens on top of Arsenal Gear with Solidus, Ocelot, Fortune and Snake. Solidus reveals he was after a list of the Patriots’ names. He planned to give Arsenal to Dead Cell, which would draw the Patriots’ attention while he eliminated them one by one. Amused by this plan, Ocelot reveals the biggest mind screw in the history of games. The entire event was scripted by the Patriots. The S3 program was not the virtual reality training, but rather, an orchestrated recreation of Shadow Moses. He cites off numerous similarities between the events of the past day and those of Shadow Moses. Ocelot kills Fortune before piloting Metal Gear RAY, intending to go back to the Patriots. Before he can leave, his arm acts up and he’s possessed once again by Liquid Snake. Liquid plans to take on the Patriots, thanks to his access to Ocelot’s body. He takes off in RAY as Snake follows in pursuit.
Meanwhile, Arsenal Gear crashes into Manhattan. Solidus reveals his noble intentions to Raiden, wishing to see a free America rather than one under the Patriots’ control. Raiden gets a call from another Patriots’ AI, who explained that due to the Digital Age, information control could be done more easily. The Patriots seek to control and censor what is worthy and what is not, in order to make sure humans evolve in an ideal way. Useless information would hinder human development. The Patriots conclude they are the only ones who know what should be considered “useless” or not. The Patriots also reveal the S3 program is actually the Selection for Societal Sanity, a test to see how information could be controlled and people could be manipulated under circumstances. A small step in a much grander scheme.
The Patriots tell Raiden to eliminate Solidus. He initially refuses, although the Patriots point out that if he does, Olga’s child and Rosemary will be killed. Solidus also wants Raiden dead, since nanomachines in his blood contain data on the Patriots. If Solidus wishes to challenge the Patriots, he needs all the information he can. Raiden and Solidus fight atop Federal Hall, with Raiden emerging victorious.
Raiden meets up with Snake once more at the end. Snake has a disc containing information on the Patriots and plans to find them with Otacon’s help. Raiden wishes to join them but Snake reminds him he has other things to take care of. Rosemary meets up with Raiden here and the two agree to find their futures, as well as themselves, together. The End.
After the credits, however, Otacon tells Snake what was on the disc. It was a list of twelve names, but they were all already dead. …And the last of the names died about a hundred years ago.
Wow, can you say “mind job”? If you don’t know what the hell is going on by reading this, imagine playing through it.
Sons of Liberty is the least preferable among fans for understandable reasons. Aside from the last hour of the game (Arsenal Gear onwards), Raiden and Rose have the most dysfunctional relationship ever. Still, they eventually make up in the end. Snake and Otacon are after the Patriots, Ocelot is possessed by Liquid, Vamp’s immortality, who are the Patriots? etc. It’ll be interesting to see how all these questions are resolved in Metal Gear Solid 4.
There are some instances of discontinuity, though. At one point, Liquid states Big Boss was in his late 50’s when they made his clones. According to Snake Eater, the Les Enfant Terribles project (in which Solid, Liquid and Solidus were cloned from Big Boss) took place in 1972. However, Snake Eater also pits Big Boss’ birthday in the 1930’s…
“Insane? We might be the only ones telling the truth.“