Classic PS2 Review: Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty for PS2The secrets of Metal Gear have spread across the globe, with every nation now wielding the lethal technology. Solid Snake and Otacon have begun working for an anti-Metal Gear organization called Philanthropy, and the game opens with the duo infiltrating a container ship leaving New York harbor to investigate mysterious rumors of an amphibious prototype Metal Gear designed to best the existing generation of machines. FOXHOUND is still running, with a different cast but similar agenda; some time after Snake infiltrates the ship, untried FOXHOUND operative Raiden is sent to stop a group of terrorists who have taken over an offshore chemical cleanup facility and a bevy of hostages, including the President, in the process.

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty is the 2001 sequel to 1998’s Metal Gear Solid. With the worldwide success of the previous game on the PlayStation, fans were desperate to see what creator Hideo Kojima could do with the then new PlayStation 2.

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Classic PlayStation Review: Metal Gear Solid

Metal Gear Solid for PlayStationSolid Snake is retired. At least, he thought he was. The threat of a terrorist nuclear strike should be enough to get anyone back in the office, even when ‘the office’ is a submarine torpedo tube and the first appointment of the day is the unarmed infiltration of a vast weapons disposal facility crammed to the brim with genetically enhanced soldiers. This is business as usual for Solid Snake. His objectives are to liberate two key hostages and assess the strength of the nuclear threat, but between him and his goals stand the ruthless and skilled members of his old Special Forces unit: FOX-HOUND.

The third in a series of games previously released for the MSX and the brainchild of Hideo Kojima, Metal Gear Solid was intended from its conceptualization to be the ‘best PlayStation game ever’. Kojima initially trained in film, and announced his intention to make a career in videogames three years into college. Perhaps it was this cinematic influence, perhaps it was his difference in approach, but Kojima’s games have always been held up as shining examples of their genres; in the 80s he broke the trend and produced a stealth game in a market flooded with industry-standard shooters. The hype surrounding Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns Of The Patriots is proof that even after twenty-one years of Metal Gear, the man still has serious cache.

I’ve been playing video and computer games since I was knee high to a grasshopper, but I’ve never played a Metal Gear game before. So as the excitement for MGS4 rages on, here at VGB I’ll be reviewing the series as I play them through for the first time. What’s all this hype about?

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Review: Grand Theft Auto IV

Grand Theft Auto IV for Xbox 360Niko Bellic receives letters and emails from his cousin Roman, speaking of wealth and luxury beyond his wildest dreams in Liberty City. After only a few years in America, Roman Bellic has a mansion, a sports car and many beautiful women in his life, and urges Niko to join him. After working the passage on a container ship, Niko is introduced to the truth -Roman’s seedy, cockroach-ridden apartment, crappy car, stressful job, and a struggle to appease the aggressive gangsters looking to collect on his gambling debts. Niko doesn’t like to see his cousin pushed around, and in the face of his defiance, the gangsters begin to negotiate – for Niko’s services. So begins Grand Theft Auto IV – a magnificently byzantine journey into a corrupted, rusting American dream.

It’s less than two weeks after the release of Grand Theft Auto IV, the largest entertainment launch in history. The game took US$310 million in its first 24 hours, and US$500 million in its first week, putting other blockbuster media events like Halo 3 (US$170million) and the movie, Spider-man 3 (US$148million) in the shade. Over the last few weeks we’ve been looking at the GTA games so far; we’ve seen the start, the roots, the amazing transition from 2D to 3D, and moved from a sunny island city to an entire state. Sam Houser, co-creator of GTA, said that the difference between the last games and GTA4 would be as great as the leap from 2D to 3D – an ambitious claim. GTA4 took four years and a record breaking US$100 million to make.
Let’s take a look at the results.

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Classic PS2 Review: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for PS2GTA4 is almost upon us! When people are weighing up the pros and cons of the new game, the standard they’ll be holding it to will be the pièce de résistance of the series so far. A sandbox game so large it has airlines that travel between its three separate cities; 2004’s epic Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

It’s 1992. Carl ‘CJ’ Johnson has been living in Liberty City for five years when he gets a call from his home city of Los Santos to say his mother has been shot and killed. CJ flies home for the funeral, and between the airport and his childhood home CJ’s cab is pulled over and he’s arrested by a familiar group of cops led by the malicious Sergeant Tenpenny. Tenpenny tells CJ he intends to frame him for the recent murder of a police officer – so recent it hasn’t been reported yet. The cops take his money and dump him in the heart of a rival gang’s territory. CJ arrives home with only the small change in his pockets, finds crack being dealt outside his mother’s house, his old gang – The Grove Street Families – splintered into weaker factions, and his friends hostile and untrusting after his long absence. The cops warn CJ to stay in Los Santos until they need him, so he begins to straighten things out with his friends, and in the process change things for the better on Grove Street.

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Classic PS2 Review: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City for PS2There’s less than a week to go before the release of GTA4 on April 29th, and we’re looking back at the series that revolutionized the videogame industry. Last time we reviewed the groundbreaking genre-defying 3D debut of Grand Theft Auto, GTA3. This time we’re taking a look at the first of the ‘episodes’ – Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

When The Family asks you to do time, you do time. When Tommy Vercetti gets out of jail after 15 years of keeping his mouth shut for the mob, instead of receiving the gratitude of the Family he’s asked to head south and do them a little favor. Nothing serious, just a little…pharmaceutical purchase. The exchange is ambushed, both the drugs and money go missing, Tommy suddenly has a lot to explain to his bosses, and all of the sunshine-dappled and cocaine-laced streets of Vice City stand between him and finding those who screwed him over.

The gaming world had yet to catch its breath. Less than a year after GTA3 and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City was announced with the astonishing promise of a game that was bigger, longer and graphically superior to its predecessor.

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Classic PS2 review: Grand Theft Auto 3

Grand Theft Auto III for PS2In 2001 a studio notable in the early nineties for the cutesy 2D strategy game Lemmings and in the late nineties for a popular top-down shooter released a game that overturned records for sales on the current generation of consoles and defined a new genre of videogames. The studio was Rockstar Games, the game was Grand Theft Auto 3.

The previous GTA games had been 2D affairs, albeit with a level of emergent environmental activity and immersive, player-driven direction that was unusual, but nothing had indicated that anything of the scope, vision and ambition of GTA3 was in the works. Even when showcased, the arcade-style riot chaos of another Rockstar game, State of Emergency, attracted greater attention at industry shows. No one was quite prepared.

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Classic PC review: Grand Theft Auto 2 (now a free download)

Grand Theft Auto 2 for PlayStationIn the month leading up to the release of Grand Theft Auto IV on the 29th of April, we’ll be looking back at the series that revolutionized the videogame industry. Last time we looked at the cult success of the original GTA, and today we’ll look back at the 1999 PC and PlayStation sequel, Grand Theft Auto 2. After reading our review, why not play the game? Download the PC version of GTA2 for free at the Rockstar Games Classics page. Simply register, download and play.

Two years after the release of the first GTA game, DMA and Rockstar Games unleashed the sequel, GTA2. After the innovative, sarcastic fun of the original, the sequel was eagerly anticipated. What improvements and new features would they include? Read on for our look back through the mists of time at the last time GTA appeared in 2D…

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Classic PC review: Grand Theft Auto 1 (now a free download)

GTA 1 PC box artwork for the original first Grand Theft Auto game
Grand Theft Auto. In the month leading up to the release of Grand Theft Auto IV for the Xbox 360 and PS3 on the 29th of April, here at we’ll be looking back at the series that revolutionized the videogame industry, selling an amazing 65 million copies worldwide. The game that took us on our first visit to the dangerous streets of Liberty City, San Andreas and Vice City is the 1997 PC and PlayStation hit, Grand Theft Auto.

Download Grand Theft Auto For PC
Rockstar offers the original Grand Theft Auto as a free and legal download from their website. Point your browser at the Rockstar Classics page, register, download it and off you go.

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PS2 review: The Getaway: Black Monday

The Getaway: Black Monday for PS2It’s a grey rainy evening in North London, and a tactical police unit prepare to take out a drug operation run by heavily armed Latvian mobsters. South of the river, a motley crew of down-and-out boxers and a sarcastic juvenile offender flesh out a plan to take down a major bank. In The Getaway: Black Monday, you’ll punch, shoot and sneak your way through the sordid underbelly of London and into the path of a powerful Eastern European billionaire with a shady past, as you struggle to survive and figure out just what the bloody hell is going on.

Editors Note: Today we’d like to introduce you all to VGB’s newest review writer: Stuart. No doubt after reading that review intro — and in time his future reviews — you’ll come to agree with us that he’s got the writing chops to inform you all about both classic and new videogames. Suitably introduced on a Monday, take it away Stuart! …

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