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The Document of Metal Gear Solid 2

Metal Gear

If you asked someone in 1996 what a Solid Snake was, they’d probably think it’s a bathroom-related slang term. If you asked someone in 1998 what a Solid Snake was, they’d probably simply reply, “Well sir, he happens to be one of the greatest videogame characters God has ever crafted.” Amazing what two years can do. Solid Snake actually debuted in the Metal Gear series over 15 years ago. Over time, the series became as forgotten as those zany Dizzy games on the NES. In 1998, the hugely hyped Metal Gear Solid was released on the Playstation.

Ever since the rebirth of the series, Metal Gear Solid, proved to be a monumental success, the game has spawned an incredibly lucrative series. An expansion pack of sorts and a Gameboy version were released to, and then the inevitable sequel was announced. To tide people over, action figures, shirts and various other products were made. The 2nd “new” game in the series was supposed to be the “One Game To Pwn Them All” on the PS2, but many were disappointed. While the visual effects, music, cutscenes and acting surpassed most Hollywood action films; the plot was a garbled mess. That wasn’t enough to stop everyone and their mothers from buying 2-6 copies and declaring it as the greatest game of all time.

Konami planned on releasing a enhanced version of Metal Gear Solid 2 so everyone could buy another copy, but in between the two releases they released The Document of Metal Gear Solid 2(henceforth called The Document because of the disgustingly long name). It isn’t exactly a game, but instead it is something completely new in the videogame world. As far as I know, it’s the first standalone “making of” disc ever released. Movies have often been given this treatment on DVD, but The Document bridges the gap between games and film even more than the breathtaking cutscenes and production values in the Metal Gear Solid games.

The disc isn’t totally supplemental material though. There’s a wee bit of game in here. A pittance of five VR mission are available. All in all, this should give you about 15-20 minutes of amusement. Konami should have provided more gameplay to hype you up for the Substance version of MGS2. Perusing all the supplemental should give you more bang for your buck.

The Document has plenty of material you can just dive right into. You can look at 3d models and sketches of almost every character, location and vehicle in the game, even some that didn’t make the game. This alone contains hundreds of pictures, and you can even rotate all the 3d models to get the best possible view. With so many pictures, I doubt there’s anyone who could look through all of them without going insane or falling asleep.

The only pictures that consistently remain entertaining are the galleries of MGS2 related items. You wouldn’t believe some of the crazy stuff released in Japan. Promotional shot glasses, postcards and Lego-wannabes and a bunch of soundtracks are just a few of the interesting items. All the items released in America and Europe is also shown. Seeing the difference in cultures, even when it comes to game related items, is one of the few highlights of the disc.

Of course, that isn’t all Konami had to offer in this “game.” One of the better features are the polygon demos. You pick one of the many cutscenes in the game, and you can pause it any time to zoom in, zoom out and move around the scene freely. It’s great seeing all the smoke and mirrors used to make the cinemas look incredible. Once again, there’s so many things to pick I doubt anyone could watch every graphic demo without wanting to die.

While there is an overabundance of the boring material, there aren’t enough of the things that are actually interesting. You can listen to the music from the game, but all the music from the cutscenes is conspicuously absent. The music during the scenes was the best in the game, possibly some of the best on the Playstation 2. For it to be missing is inexcusable.

The other bit of inciting material is all the video footage. There are ten lengthy game trailers to view, but most of them are slight variations of the other. The making of footage is where the disc really shines. You get to see the crew in New York City for research, a training practice lead by a weapons expert and an interview with the motion capture artists. There are a few other videos of lesser interest, but I’m amazed there were not any interviews with the lead designers. There should be plenty more documentary footage, or at least one long, in-depth documentary.

Rounding out the features on the disc are some horribly translated crew bios, a chronicle of all Metal Gear Solid development and promotional-related events. A nice perk is that you have the whole script at your disposal. It’s fun to read for a few minutes, but if can find anyone that can read a script of about five hours of dialogue, I salute you. Tech freaks can read about the many programs used to make the game, but I doubt even future game designers would be interested due to the dry writing.

While The Document is full of tons of material to explore, most of it seems like filler. Hardly any of the material should interest people for long, and there isn’t enough of the material that is actually fun. Despite all the faults, I hope more of the kinds of discs are released in the game industry. There’s plenty of potential with these kinds of discs, even though the first didn’t exactly get it right. Imagine the day when we get director’s commentaries, deleted scenes and hour-long documentaries!

7 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2003. Get in touch on Twitter @akarge.

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