Composer(s): Harry Gregson-Williams, Norihiko Hibino
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is out this week so what better time than now to celebrate the music from the game that brought the series to the PS2 new generation. Let’s continue this week of Metal Gear Solid and get stealthy as we revisit the sounds of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.
In 1998, Metal Gear Solid changed the gaming landscape with its cinematic narrative, out of this world characters and a solid mix of stealth and action. It’s without a doubt one of the greatest games we’ve ever played and an easy choice of “Best PS1 game” for many. Fast forward to 2001, the sequel was highly anticipated and when it hit shelves, it didn’t disappoint. It featured unbelievable visuals on the recently released PS2, 60fps (the reason the game still holds up beautifully today), touch sensitive button input, first-person view, and just about every improvement you can imagine and expect out of a sequel. The game’s heart stopping intro gets your blood pumping, while kicking things off with an arranged and re-orchestrated version of the “Metal Gear Solid Theme” to give you a small taste of what’s to come. I’ll be bold and and say this might be the best opening cinematic in video game history. Judge for yourself.
Metal Gear Solid 2’s soundtrack was heavily publicized in the media before the game was released. Hideo Kojima wanted none other than Hollywood composer, Harry Gregson-Williams, the man responsible for music in movies such as Enemy of the State. Story goes, Kojima and MGS2 sound director, Kazuki Muraoka, were inspired to contact Gregson-Williams to work on the soundtrack for this game after watching The Replacement Killers. Hideo burned a CD with Gregson-Williams’ music that he thought would fit the style of the game (including some unreleased and undocumented tracks). Williams was flattered and joined the team. Veteran MGS composer, Norihiko Hibino, worked alongside Williams and is mostly responsible for all of the in-game music.
Little did we know, however, that the game wouldn’t star Metal Gear Solid’s, Solid Snake, as expected. Instead, after the first hour of the game where you do get to control Snake, the game pulls a fast one on gamers and introduces a brand new protagonist. Joke was on us. This was one of gaming’s best well kept secret and the the Tanker chapter gameplay that was shown off up until the game’s release was simply a prologue for the rest of the game. Raiden wasn’t well received at first, and with good reason. He was a bit whiny and nowhere near as badass as Solid Snake but after his cyborg ninja makeover in MGS4, his popularity has definitely risen. The following set of songs all take place during Raiden’s portion of the game, including the themes of Dead Cell members, Fortune and Vamp, two seemingly immortal enemies.
It’s the game’s boss battle theme, Yell “Dead Cell” that deserves special mention, however. This particular theme is frantic, sporadic and perfectly fits the tension of fighting any of the game’s similarly insane bosses.
“Can’t Say Goodbye to Yesterday” is the game’s ending theme. The jazz track was written by Rika Muranaka, performed by the Felix Farrar Orchestra and they lyrics are sang by the late vocalist, Carla White. It’s a very different song than the rest of the soundtrack, but after completing a game that focuses on (sometimes confusing) philosophical themes, along with topics covering everything from conspiracy theories, artificial intelligence and even evolution, it’s a nice change of pace and a great ending to a memorable game.