At the time, MGS2 really did disappoint a lot of people (MGS3 sold much less because of it) while others thought it was one of the best games ever made. It’s sort of like TLOU2 in that way (switch to a different character, not what many expected – people thought it would end in some epic battle between Liquid and Solid Snake like in MGS4) except none of the reaction was political or performative.
It took a big swing and some despised the story and the switch to Raiden while others though it was clever ( https://www.ignboards.com/t… MGS3 delivered what most people wanted so I think it’s easy for people now to appreciate MGS2 for what it was and not what most wanted it to be at the time (a certain level revisionist history has happened in the last 20 years if we’re being honest).
I found it easier to appreciate when I was much older and played it in the HD Collection as well, and ended up loving it (the ending is amazing) but I still prefer the setting (Shadow Moses can’t be beat), boss fights, main character and the soundtrack in the first game by a significant margin though. The use of the tranquilizer gun gets a bit repetitive as well (MGS3 and 4 have much better gameplay)