Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance
Strategy Guide: LB Strategy Guide
Lunabean Rating: 7.1
Platforms: PS2, Xbox*, PC
Release Date: 11.04.02 (Xbox), 03.03.03 (PS2)
ESRB Rating: M - Mature
Official Site: Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance
Purchase Game from Amazon.com: PS2, XBox, PC
Still Stuck?: Lunabean's Forums
Online Play: No
*Designates which platform we played in creating the guide
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*This review has been updated since playing "Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance" on the Xbox. MGS2 on the Xbox is full of extras and has better graphics, however the main game is exactly the same, and that's what this review is based upon.
We first played this game on the PS2 when it initially came out in 2001. At the time, we were extremely impressed with such a stealthy tactical espionage action game. Although we still think this game is worthy of two thumbs up, we have to say that playing through it again was a slight disappointment. Maybe it's that we've learned to expect a little more from the newest consoles, maybe it's that we just played the best stealthy tactical espionage action game, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, or maybe it's because we've played through it before and knew what to expect. Point being, it's still a good game, but the time has passed to fall for the hype.
You play through the majority of the game as Raiden. This was a disappointment to many as Raiden lacks the confidence and general "kick-assitude" that Solid Snake had in the original game. We weren't too disturbed by him. His weenieness just made us try harder for the little guy.
MGS2 is extremely story driven. Some love this fact, we didn't need it. When we play through a game, all we need are the basics. For example, to get us to play our best through this game, all we would need to know is this: The military is producing Metal Gear machines to help them take over the world. Don't let them. For those who like more story to your gaming, MGS2 will make you drool. Throughout the game is a fairly constant stream of cutscenes which include some impressive twists and turns. Unfortunately, for us, some literally went on for ten minutes. Luckily, 99% of them are fast-forwardable, and, once you pass them, you can call up people on your radio who will provide a quick summary of what you missed.
As Raiden, you are provided with a plethora of weapons including grenades, rocket launchers, sniper rifles, tranquilizers, pistols and blades. You are also equipped with many gadgets including cardboard boxes to hide under, thermal goggles used to see mines, and bandages to stop your bleeding. You will be up against "smart" guards (although by today's standards, they're more George W. smart than Slick Willy smart) and you will be able to watch them on your maps (which are still quite impressive). One of the highlights of the game is the claim that you can, and should, dispose of the guards' bodies once you take them out. Honestly, disposing of them is fun, but it's really not necessary.
The controls are sloppy. You continually need to put away your gun, which can leave you unarmed and defenseless if you're surprised by a guard. There's also the fact that you have to go into first-person mode to accurately aim your weapon, but you can't move while in first-person mode. This leads to panic button mashing and frustration. Another fault is that the game doesn't make use of the control's trigger buttons to shoot weapons. Instead, you have to press a button to draw your weapon, then release your button to shoot it. We did get used to it, but they were still disappointing.
We never got into all of the extras that "Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance" has over the PS2 version of the game, "Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty", but we hear they're mostly entertaining for a few minutes. For a complete list of all of the extras, check out Konami's Official Metal Gear Solid 2 Site.
Rereading this review, I see we've done a lot of criticizing of the game. How, then, did we give MGS2 two thumbs up? Because it's fun. It's a fun game that may aggravate you at times, but it's entertaining enough that the occasional annoyance can be overlooked. There aren't many games out there you can say that about, so we suggest, at the very least, to give this game a rent. It will impress (did I mention the Xbox graphics are worlds better than those of the PS2) and it will entertain.