I am obligated to report that Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty is over 20 years old. I may not want to think about that, but here we are. The original visual aesthetic has a wonderful PS2-era charm that I think has become rather endearing in its age. But that hasn’t stopped one modder from changing up the game’s camera to reflect more modern third-person standards, thus giving a whole new perspective on the game’s environments (and Raiden’s butt, duh).
The original Metal Gear Solid 2 was in third person, but it used a more classic “overhead” or “fixed” camera perspective, like the first MGS before it and the original release of MGS3 that followed. Using the GOG version of the game (which was sadly pulled lastl year due to everyone’s nemesis: copyright) modder Boris “oct0xor” Larin had to “reverse engineer and rewrite many things in the game engine” to allow for the more modern function of moving the camera around the character freely. Larin released the mod via GitHub a few days ago (but you’ll need the aforementioned PC version that is currently in limbo). Given that the original game never had this function, this allows for perspectives on these environments that were simply impossible before. Check out the premiere trailer here:
With a game as ol…ahem, vintaged as MGS2, this likely wasn’t an easy task. Fortunately, for those of us curious about the work that went into this project, Larin has provided a 20-plus minute dev diary of the project. Check it out, it’s perfectly Metal Gear-themed and is a fun watch.
According to the video, the idea came to Larin very naturally, “I was playing MGS2 [and] I caught myself constantly thinking: What if this game had the same 3rd-person camera like in MGS3?”
While the original MGS3 release had a fixed camera, its enhanced follow-up release, Subsistence, contained the at-the-time more experimental rotatable camera to aid with the series’ new online mode. It became standard for all main MGS titles moving forward. But MGS2 has always kept the original fixed-camera perspective.
Enabling a moveable camera in MGS2 required far more than simply clicking a checkbox buried in a piece of software somewhere. Larin had to “replace all existing camera-related code” with original code based off of the feel of the third-person camera in MGS3: Subsistence. That, too, wasn’t as simple as slapping some new code into the game. In their dev diary, Larin mentions that they had to “reverse engineer how the game controls work,” while overhauling how the “player’s position and direction” is calculated. Unfortunately, doing so introduced a variety of new bugs and quirks which required fixing, such as character movement needing to follow the direction of the new camera, instead of the “fixed coordinate system” that dictates directions for the character otherwise.
Collision with walls is another challenging issue noted in the dev diary, as when implemented directly, an adjustable camera can easily break through walls. Cool for an episode of Boundary Break, but not the best for someone looking to have a more stable gameplay experience.
As someone who spent many, many hours of her youth playing MGS2, it’s pretty cool to see the Big Shell from these angles, and I imagine it makes the game much easier to play. If you haven’t played the original in some time, it’s definitely one of those games that reminds you of its age quickly when you instinctually move the right thumbstick to find the camera won’t orbit your character.