Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance
Here we go again. PS2 owners may have grumbled a bit when Xbox players got the deluxe MGS2 last Christmas, but now they can sleep well knowing they get not only the same game, but also less slowdown and an all-new mode: Snakeboarding! Get it? Skateboarding with Solid Snake! Ha! Anyway, this is the same Metal Gear Solid 2 you played a couple years ago. It's still got the kick-ass stealth gameplay (flight is better than fight) and a story that all but unravels at the end. Seriously, the plot will leave you totally confused for the last hour or so of the game. Luckily, for those of you who don't need a story, the dozens of cool new VR missions--everything from learning how to sneak through enemy-infested areas to protecting a plate of curry with a sniper rifle--will keep you playing for weeks. On top of that, you get a few extra miniscenarios dubbed Snake Tales. These are totally original, but probably too friggin' hard for any casual gamer. But if you're the type that found MGS2 too easy at the highest difficulty setting, these are for you. And finally, Snakeboarding. I have to say--I'm not impressed. It's basically Konami's lame Evolution Skateboarding game using MGS settings and characters. It's pretty clunky and not really worth playing. Otherwise, the rest of Substance's extra features make it worth buying over the much cheaper Greatest Hits version of MGS2 on PS2.
As far as I'm concerned, the original MGS?s package of clever controls, crisp graphics, hide-and-seek stealth, and guns-blazing action still stands as one of the best Ps2 titles to date. The two aspects of the game I didn't like (the wussy main character Raiden and the nut-ball plot), Substance sweeps under the rug. A huge selection of new minimissions allows for more time playing as famed series stud Solid Snake, and they further exploit MGS2*s strongest suit: the gameplay. Not worth buying again (unless you were one of the five PS2 owners who missed out on the game the first time), but definitely an intense weekend rental for fans.
Metal Gear fans that played the crap out of MGS2 a year-and-a-half ago still have plenty to look forward to in Substance. Aside from the main game itself, which remains one of the boldest, most experimental blockbusters to date, you're also treated to some fun VR missions that truly capture the essence of MGS2's game-play. Sadly, alternate Snake Tales episodes all take place on the tanker and Big Shell, and the skateboarding minigame is completely redundant, no thanks to Tony Hawk. MGS2 is still an awesome game, but one year later, and with the regular game now available as a $20 Greatest Hits title, Substance should have been released at a discounted price.
Download Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance
The long running spy/espionage series Metal Gear has landed on the Xbox and there are enough new goodies to make fans of the PS 2 version justify a second purchase. Sure, the basic game is the same but the Xbox gets the royal treatment with 350 VR missions, 5 new 'Snake Tales' missions and a Boss Survival mode. If you don't have a PS 2 or never bothered to pick it up, you now have no excuse not to.
If this is your first foray into the Metal Gear world, Substance includes a port of the PS 2 game Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. The game still stands out as one of the best spy games with great play balance, tons of secrets and an amazing musical score. Once of the best aspects of the game has to be the freedom to play the game the way you want to play. Sure, there are objectives you have to complete but how you complete them is entirely up to you. I have heard rumors that it is even possible to complete the game without ever killing an enemy. Talk about a serious challenge.
Speaking of killing enemies, this game is chock-full of cool weapons and gadgets. Hands guns, machine guns, missile launchers and grenades are all at your disposal. Of course, stealth being the key to your success, silenced weapons are the best option when possible. While the game does have ample opportunities for killing, you start off with nothing but a tranquilizer gun that temporarily puts the enemy to sleep so it is not all senseless killing.
While the core game will be more than enough to keep the casual gamer busy for a while, the new VR missions and alternative missions will have even the avid gamer playing for hours on end. These modes add more challenges than anyone ever would have suspected and the game play is every bit as good as you would expect. Some of the missions are a bit on the short side but the sheer number available will keep you playing until well after the first of the year.
The graphics did not receive much of an improvement over the PS 2 version but the game still looks great and the fantastic audio score sounds great in Dolby Digital. The cut scenes looked great and really moved the story along.
Overall, if you are a fan of spy games or if you have never tried them before, I suggest you give this game a try. It is not easy, but once you get the hang of the controls, you should have no problems making your way through the game. The additional modes that Substance adds over Sons of Liberty will satisfy almost all fans of the series. This game comes highly recommended.
No matter which side of the fence you're on when it comes to Metal Gear Solid 2 as a story, there is no doubting the integrity of it as a topnotch stealthy action game. For its follow-up Xbox debut, MGS2: Substance, series creator Hideo Kojima puts plot on the backburner to focus on pure gameplay. Kojima prefers to see Substance as the perfect version of MGS2. "It's a director's cut," he says, "that can only be done in a game medium. It fills in what was missing from Sons of Liberty." So does this mean that we'll finally get an ending movie that's more than just some tourist video of Manhattan during rush hour? Well, probably not. But what you do get is the ability to play as Snake throughout the main story, as well as more than 300 combined VR and alternate missions to chew on. Below, EGM looks under the kevlar of MGS2: Substance to expose all the pieces and show you just why the total package is so...substantial.
Sons of Liberty:
Kojima considers the original Sons of Liberty adventure a "skeleton on which the rest of Substance is built." In addition to playing the original PS2 version of Sons of Liberty, you'll also have the option to use Snake, Raiden, Plisskin or Ninja throughout the game, wielding any weapon you tike. "Although the story of Sons of Liberty will not change, we have rerecorded some dialogue specifically for Substance," reveals Kojima. Now, before you get too excited about new perspectives on the convoluted storyline through the eyes of these new characters, our sources tell us that the substitutions here are purely cosmetic.
You've seen these self-contained virtual-reality environments before when they were released as an addendum to the first MGS on the PSi; now, of course, they look much better. According to Kojima, he couldn't introduce VR missions before Substance because "the whole scenario of Raiden on the Big Shell was a VR mission." While some of the 200 VR stages train you in combat and stealth, others will be much more wacky and over-the-top. One such mission, involving two massive Godzilla-sized Genom soldiers (complete with scales) tromping around a VR city, while a tiny Solid Snake looks on helplessly, suggests that Kojima and company will, once again, redefine the very definition of a Metal Gear game. Another welcome feature during VR training is the ability to now move and shoot at the same time in first-person view. Kojima lets on that during lunch breaks, his staff plays a mean game of Counter-Strike, a popular first-person shooter on the PC. "But I get motion sickness," he says regrettably, "so I can't join them." Aww, shucks.
In addition to the VR missions, which all take place in that funky, pink, cel-shaded computer world, Substance also has 100 alternate missions set in the "real world" of MGS2. Characters, goals and items are taken out of context, remixed and reassembled for maximum gameplay potential. During one scene, Snake even has a Mexican standoff with Meryl Silverberg, the femme fatale from MGSi. Nice.
Five unique short stories, an obvious lip service to all those who have complained about Snake's extended absence in MGS2, rounds off the package of Substance. Starring Solid Snake, these medium-length missions all take place in environments from the last game. We have to admit, Snake Tales has us pretty damn intrigued.