Metal Gear Solid was, for many, the defining game of the PS1 era. It virtually invented the stealth genre as we know it and redefined storytelling in video games. So the follow-up to that game was going to have to be something very special, and it was. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was an incredible game that took the storytelling and gameplay to a whole other level.
Oddly enough MGS 2 is a fairly divisive game with fans of the series. Despite the very cool, unique setting (Big Shell), quirky cast of characters, incredible cutscenes and improved mechanics, fans found it hard to overlook the simple fact that you don't play as Solid Snake. In a bold move, Kojima decided to go with brand-new character Raiden (Jack) as the protagonist, someone decidedly less cool than Snake. This was, in fact, the inspiration for the rapidly changed Raiden we meet in MGS 4: Guns of the Patriots.
Regardless of the love/hate relationship with Raiden, it's undeniable just how good the actual game is. The original game certainly established the series as being "cool". but Sons of Liberty just oozed suave and confidence. From the weirdly sexual Vamp and Fortune to the debonair Pliskin and Raiden, Kojima knew what he was doing and was clearly given free reign over the project. This is where Metal Gear as we know it began.