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Great Moments in Gaming: Raiden vs. The Rays in ‘Metal Gear Solid 2’

There are few fights in the Metal Gear series that can compare to Raiden’s pulse-pounding battle with a fleet of Rays in Metal Gear Solid 2.



One of the most intense and challenging boss fights in Metal Gear history…

Great Moments in Gaming is a column wherein we look back at some of the great gaming moments that have made a significant impact on our view of this medium and how we have come to understand it. This time around, we’re looking back at Raiden’s intense battle with a fleet of Metal Gear Rays in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.

The Metal Gear Solid series has long been known for its epic boss battles. The first game alone was filled with so many incredible boss encounters and climactic moments that Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty really had its work cut out for it in terms of following them up. While Metal Gear Solid 2 arguably shifted away from a lot of what made the first game successful, it did include some signature knockout boss battles.

While there are several awesome fights in the game, the one that always stood out for this writer was the insane sequence that sees Raiden battling an entire fleet of Metal Gear Rays. Late in the game, it is shown that the Patriots’ plan to dominate the world includes 30 tactical nuclear battle modules known as Metal Gear Rays.

Soon Raiden has them set upon him in groups of three as part of a sadistic game that will analyze his battle data for future training programs. Equipped with only a rocket launcher, Raiden must dodge, weave and shoot his way through the deadly, gargantuan machines one by one. Each time one of the triumvirate falls, though, another steps up to fills its shoes.

Making things even more daunting, the Rays do not take turns attacking Raiden (as they sometimes do in video game fights). No, all three enemy units are attacking individually at all times. This alone makes the Ray fight easily the most intense and challenging fight in Metal Gear Solid 2.

Being that the Rays also have several very effective attacks to utilize in tandem during the battle, they become more intimidating with each passing moment. A deadly laser blitz, a burst of machine gun fire, a devastating metal stomp, and a barrage of micro missiles are just the tip of the iceberg for what you can expect to be coming at you from literally all sides during the fight.

It’s worth noting, of course, that Metal Gear Solid 2 doesn’t actually make you fight all 30 Rays. What some fans might not know, though, is that the number you do have to fight (before a cutscene mercifully rescues you from the fray) depends on which difficulty you’ve selected. Depending on the mode you can have from as little as 3, to as many as 20, to battle your way through.

I can personally remember the fear that began to overwhelm me as I made my way through the game on Very Hard mode in this fight. Were they really going to make me fight all 30 of them? Luckily on that playthrough, they tapped out after I’d taken down 12 units but, man oh man, talk about a war of attrition. I can only stand in solemn salute of the brave souls that went the extra mile on Extreme difficulty.

Regardless of which difficulty you’re playing on, though, the suspense of not knowing how many units you’ll actually have to fight, and the dread that accompanies the arrival of each new Ray, give the fight a unique and palpable thrill. This pulse-pounding battle with an army of machines isn’t just one of the coolest moments in Metal Gear Solid 2, it’s also one of the gnarliest fights in the entire franchise.

Mike Worby is a human who spends way too much of his free time playing, writing and podcasting about pop culture. Through some miracle he's still able to function in society as if he were a regular person, and if there's hope for him, there's hope for everyone.