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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.