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Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance

Score: 100%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action

Graphics & Sound:

The Metal Gear series is well known not only for its high production values and artistic creativity, but also for its interesting and over-the-top science fiction themed storytelling. Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance, the follow-up to 2001 Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty for the PS2, is a 'director's cut' of sorts, and adds new content to the original game.

Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance offers excellent visuals. Its graphics engine, while occasionally bogged down by lots of moving objects, looks fantastic and provides crisp, clear, and colorful images. Environmental effects such as rain really offer a nice filtering effect on the action, and the camera does a great job of keeping the main character in view.

Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance offers a third person view of the action, and the protagonist's currently equipped items are always visible. When using a weapon with a scope, the view shifts to first person, and although character movement is not available in this mode, the weapon can be still be aimed in all directions, and the scope zoomed in and out.

The story is progressed through numerous movies, which combine animation, still images, as well as views of the protagonist and others conversing over a video communications system. Most of these in-game movies are lengthy, and sometimes require the player to sit for fifteen minutes or more while the story unfolds. And while the story may be somewhat convoluted, it is interesting, and the production values of the computer generated movies are outstanding.

Sound is similarly excellent, with a wide range of sound effects and great voice acting. Environmental sounds, from rain to seagulls, are well done, and guns, enemy chatter, and in-game music are of the highest quality.


Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance offers two main campaigns, a short one starring Solid Snake, the hero from the previous Metal Gear game, and a much longer affair with a new protagonist, Raiden. Gameplay is very similar in both, although each character has their strengths and weaknesses. The story is progressed not only through the in-game movies, but also through communications, where the main character talks with one or more controllers who direct the covert operations from a remote location.

Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance doesn't attempt to be a serious simulation of combat, so unlike the game Splinter Cell, for example, it provides a more action-packed experience. It has a fairly linear story, but with lots of freedom in how to tackle each objective. Objectives range from disarming bombs to gathering information, usually with intense combat taking place all the while. There is also usually an opportunity to use stealth tactics in many scenarios.

Solid Snake and Raiden have similar goals in that they each have to penetrate an installation, which in Snake's case is a tanker, and in Raiden's is an oil rig. They have to sneak into each complex, take out enemies as needed, but avoid combat as much as possible. The characters can hide in various places, including lockers, recesses in hallways, underneath stairwells, and beneath tables. They can crouch, lie prone, as well as run, perform rolls, and shimmy along railings.

Since it is a port of a console game, Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance also has the usual boss encounters, as well as many hidden objects and unlockable extras. Boss encounters are usually quite difficult, but they are also very colorful and rewarding. Hidden objects range from simple health pickups and ammo to pin-up posters of scantily clad Asian women. Unlockable extras range from whole new available missions to extra items available at the start of subsequent games.


Overall, gameplay in Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance is solid. The game offers a number of difficulty levels, which make the game anywhere from easy to almost impossible to complete. At the easiest difficulty level, the game even 'transports' extra ammo or health pickups right in front of Snake or Raiden as needed just to make sure you have what you need to complete a given scenario.

Game Mechanics:

Although the mouse and keyboard are supported, this game really shines with a game pad, which it can use without any special configuration or setup. The available Options screen allows one to customize not only keyboard and gamepad mappings, but also the graphics and sound settings. It's not the most intuitive setup program, but it is powerful. What it does lack, though, is the ability to change settings during a gaming session.

The game ships on DVD, and requires a substantial commitment of hard drive space. Even on this reviewer's ample computer system there was some slowdown in the frame rate on occasion, and performance was not as smooth as it is in the Xbox version.

Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance is an amazing game. It's probably not appropriate for those gamers who prefer serious tactical combat simulations, but it does offer outstanding graphics, sound, and immersive, interesting, story-driven gameplay. It provides 10-20 hours of intense gaming just with the main campaigns, as well as plenty of extra missions, unlockable items, and other extras.

I can't recommend this game enough. It is truly a masterpiece, and anyone who enjoys great games will surely enjoy Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance.

-Gordy, GameVortex Communications
AKA Gary Lucero

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows 98/ME/2000/XP, 800MHz Pentium III, 128MB RAM, DirectX compliant 3D accelerator with 64MB RAM, DirectX 8.1 compliant sound card, 8x DVD-ROM.

Test System:

Windows XP Home, 2 GHz Pentium 4, 256MB RAM, GeForce 4 Ti4200 w/64MB RAM, SoundBlaster Live! Value, 32x DVD-ROM.

Windows Majesty Gold Windows Might & Magic IX

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated