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Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance

Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami
Genre: Action / Adventure
Players: 1
Similar To: Metal Gear Solid 2
Rating: Mature
Published: 04 :04 : 03
Reviewed By: Ryan Newman

Overall: 8.5 = Excellent


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Released to acclaim, and some dismay - as to why the story was so needlessly complicated and Snake goes AWOL so early on in the game - Metal Gear Solid 2 makes a resurrection under the moniker of Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance. What's new? Well, tons of VR missions, various modes, and even new chapters that'll let gamers take Snake on all new adventures. Those who loved the action, but not sitting through hours of radio chatter, will love skipping straight to the pure action sequences, and those who love the series will dig the chance to take Snake on new adventures and test their mettle in the various missions. Fan of the original sequel or not, Substance is well worth your attention.

Gameplay: 8.5/10
Successfully following up Metal Gear Solid, MGS2 brought back Snake for some more wacky espionage adventures. In an odd turn, Snake was to take a backseat during the title, much to the dismay and upset of many a-gamers, but in this excellent re-release, that issue was addressed. Taking advantage of the chance on getting new gamers hooked on the series, Konami threw everything but the kitchen sink in, and enough new goodies to entice players of the previous installment to take a second look.

What made MGS2 such a unique title wasn't that it was all that original, but that it enhanced and improved upon the original so much that it felt and played like a true sequel should. Now, one of my complaints about Metal Gear Solid 2 was the convoluted storyline that was told through very long cutscenes and inane radio chatter. For those who haven't experienced it yet, it kind of felt like being trapped in an art student's idea of an espionage thriller: you get the premise, but it's told in such an over-exaggerated manner that it loses its message along the way.

It's exactly that reason why I enjoyed Substance so much. It really lets the player cut through the middle man and get right down to their favorite aspect of the game, whether it's sneaking around, using the automatic weapons, playing with explosives, etc. With VR missions covering all the weapons, there's plenty of no-frills action to be had. For those wanting something a bit different, there are the first-person missions, photo missions, hold-up mode, a pure action segment where sneaking isn't needed, doing nothing but disposing bombs, a Tony Hawk-esque skate mode, and even a surreal mode with jumbo enemies. Also, for those who felt burned by Snake skipping out on them in the original, there is now 'Snake Tales.' Players will get to take Snake through 5 different missions, complete with new stories. So, for those looking for a reason to go back and save the day again, here you go; for those who never partook in the original release, get ready for some - nerve-wracking - fun.

The extras really sold me on Substance; they went above and beyond to make an old title seem fresh again, and it works well for both newcomers and veterans of the series. Despite not enjoying the story all that much, and some problems with the controls, the original campaign and additional modes really picked up the slack and make Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance a great addition to any gamer's library.

Graphics: 8/10
Surprisingly, the graphics have held up pretty well over time. The character design is solid, the animations are smooth, and the action still looks fantastic. If anything, everything looks better now as Metal Gear Solid's stealth-based adversary, Tenchu, made a comeback on the PlayStation 2 and manages to make Konami's contemporary offering seem more polished than before as it isn't plagued by blocky environments and excessive polygon clipping.

Sound: 9/10
Although quirky at times, the voices are crisp and fit the characters well; even the guards and radio chatter sound excellent and they really add to the atmosphere. The soundtrack is also solid with music that is dramatic enough to go with the game's heavy themes, but managed to use moderation on its orchestrated overtones so that the lighter moments didn't feel out of place. The effects were of equally high quality with a great amount of detail given to every aspect: footsteps made different sounds depending on the surface, fire extinguishers whistle when shot, etc.

Control: 7.5/10
Titles that emphasize stealth are always more at risk of fumbling when it comes to controls. All the different covert, and not so covert, actions all required for the player to have at their command could take up a keyboard, much less a console pad. Luckily, the original Metal Gear Solid had a great scheme, and it carried over well into the sequel. Aside from a few minor complaints - an extra button tap to lay down would've helped, the aiming in first-person and third-person is a bit rigid, and a Tenchu-like peak around the corner that's more useful than the small range the camera can pan in - the response times are fast and things are kept pretty smooth. The complaints are fairly minor when compared to the final product.

Overall: 8.5/10
Despite not being terribly interested in the story, complete with lengthy scripted conversations that bog the pace down, its core elements are solid enough to warrant sitting through - seemingly - endless chatter. If the campaign gets to be too much, then there are the oodles of VR missions to play through, new chapters, along with the other extra modes that really do offer a good deal more to fans of the series. With the original as a Greatest Hit for around $20, is Substance worth it? I'd say yes. The extras are more than a console version of an expansion pack and pack a ton of bang for your gaming buck.

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Related Links: Konami