Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance
Metal Gear Solid. eh? A name that can't help but conjure mixed feelings in the heart of a PC gamer. The series that virtually invented the stealth action genre - certainly defined it - and ruled over it comfortably for several years.
The previous MGS is one of my personal favourite games of all time, but on the PC of course, it didn't live up to its potential, with a delayed release and notonously shoddy conversion. Now. once again, the legend of the sequel has preceded its appearance on PC. the PS2 game supposedly taking the cinematic grandeur and covert coolness of the series to incredible new heights. The problem for us PC types is that, thanks to some irksome console exclusivity deals. Metal Gear Solid 2 is making it to our screens more than 15 months later, in the expanded and rebranded form of Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance. And in the meantime. Splinter Cell has come along to refine the covertops formula into an even more playable distillation of hide and sneak action.
Fifteen months is a long time to wait. And I'm sure plenty of you didn't. For those people, I'll cut straight to the chase -MGS2: Substance is essentially the same game as the original PS2 version, Sons Of Liberty. Sure, there's a giant nuclear robot-load's worth of extra material in there, with five standalone side-missions, a bunch of unlockable characters, a truly ridiculous number of timeattack training stages and a few other bonuses such as extra dog tags to collect. But the central game remains fundamentally tl same - they haven't even put t much-vaunted skateboarding mode in.
However, if with monk-like restraint you’ve actually managed to wait for this game to grace your PC, you are about to be handsomely rewarded. Metal Gear Solid 2 was and is a brilliant game - a flawed classic that hasn’t visibly dated - and one still richly deserving of your attention.
To bring you up to speed. MGS2 is set two years after the events of Metal Gear Solid, in which our hero Solid Snake had to infiltrate a hostile installation to prevent his terrorist brother from using a giant nuke-finng robot called Metal Gear Rex. Now. in 2007. the plans for a new amphibious Metal Gear called Ray’ (Ray the Robot: if that doesn't strike terror into your hearts...) have been sold to rogue organisations around the world, and Snake (along with his egghead buddy Otacon) has dedicated his life to stopping them. A tip-off has led our heroes to an oil tanker in New York harbour, believed to be transporting a Metal Gear for the US Marines. It’s up to you to verify its existence...
If you think that all sounds a bit complicated, you ain’t seen nothing yet. The plot soon spirals into a confounding web of conspiracies, shadow governments, mind control expenments. even bigger conspiracies, limbs with minds of their own, and deep existential conundrums. The biggest twist, which you've no doubt heard about (tune out now if you’ve been living under a rock for the past two years), is that Solid Snake apparently dies after only a couple of hours gameplay, leaving you in the shoes of a young upstart called Raiden.
Raiden On The Storm
Nonetheless, the familiar sneak ’em up gameplay remains fundamentally the same. Generally speaking, you've got a level full of bad-ass soldiers with rather poor eyesight, and it’s up to you to evade them one by one to reach the next objective, with the help of a radar covered in red enemy dots and blue enemy vision cones.
Unlike Splinter Cell, staying silent and in the shadows is not always imperative here. The soldiers don’t have especially acute heanng, and there’s no light and shadow system to speak of. It's much more about observing patrol patterns, finding novel ways to distract guards and employing your many gadgets.
To put it another way. MGS2's stealth dynamic is essentially digital, where Splinter Cell's is more analogue. So, while the Tom Clancy sneak ’em up introduces an element of chance and realism with its light system, sound modelling and organic Al, MGS2 is more black and white. If you're outside an enemy’s vision cone, he can't see you, even if you’re right next to him. Patrol patterns are simple and repetitive, but knock on a wall and a guard will obediently come to investigate. I’m not espousing one system over the other -while Splinter Cell tends to be much more tense. MGS2 has a nice solid puzzle’ feel to it, where each encounter is a new little conundrum to solve. And then after a few dozen of these you get a full-action boss scenario, some of which are truly outstanding.
Of course, the sheer fun of solving each little stealthy dilemma cannot be underestimated, especially if you can get through without resorting to brute force - or by using brute force in a particularly satisfying way (see the boxout below). But apart from that, the game is quite simply very damn cool. The visual style is stunning, and the whole thing gleams with elegance of design, attention to detail and even a little humour.
Unfortunately, it does get bogged down in its own densely convoluted storyline, the core game famously containing almost as much narrative exposition as actual gameplay. MGS2 desperately wants to be an 'interactive movie', and while the previous game had similar aspirations but got the balance right, in this case the game definitely suffers. While picking faults, there are one or two technical flaws to mention as well. While on the whole the graphics shine gloriously despite their console origins, we did have some worrying lighting problems with Radeon cards. On the upside, the rumble effects from the PS2 version are in place, and it's definitely worthwhile hunting down a rumbling gamepad for the occasion.
in essence, this is still the same great but flawed game it was on the PS2. The slow-burning stealth action, while superbly crafted, is far too heavily interspersed with cut-scenes, and no amount of bonus missions, training puzzles or alternative outfits is going to remedy that. The extra material is certainly worthwhile, but there's nothing fundamentally new on show - even the five new 'Snake Tales’ are all set in the same game environments. As a stealth-action game Substance has undoubtedly been eclipsed by Splinter Cell. But there’s no shame in being runner-up a year after initial release, and as an overall experience, its style, elegance and sheer sense of Japanese cool is difficult to top.
Download Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance
The Metal Gear Solid games are just plain cool. There's no other word for it. The tense atmosphere, the cinematic style, the undercover mystique. Plus of course they star the world's second favourite stealth operative, the royal badass Solid Snake. But wait, the big surprise' in Metal Gear Solid 2 on PS2 was that Snake was barely even in the damn game. In fact you only got to play as the main man in one of the chapters, the rest of the time being forced to inhabit the girlish frame of one Raiden, a swordwielding, wet behind the years rookie not fit to polish Snake's blood-encrusted boots.
However, there is justice in the world, because the stealth masterpiece is coming to the PC very soon, and this grave error has been amended. Not only can you play the entire original game as Snake, Raiden or an assortment of other characters, but five new sidemissions or Snake Tales' have been added, along with a couple of hundred VR training missions (including a new first-person mode). But there's more! You can also play dozens of new Alternative Missions', in which you must negotiate the original levels with all new tasks, such as defusing bombs and taking surveillance photos. And as an added bonus you can get radically airborne in a secret Tony Hawk's-style skating mode.
So, we may have had to wait a while for the world's finest stealth sequel to hit our PCs, but when it does, it will be an incredibly rich package - the definitive version if you will. And that's gotta be worth waiting for.
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.
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.
Snapshots and Media
Playstation 2 Screenshots
Metal Gear Series
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- Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty
- Metal Gear Solid Twin Snakes
- Secret World: Legends
- Syphon Filter
- Syphon Filter 3
- Syphon Filter The Omega Strain
- Blacksite Area 51
- Half-Life 2: Orange
- Halo 2
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- Planetside: Core Combat
- Sniper: Ghost Warrior
- Soldier of Fortune
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