Got to agree with Gullivers on this one. The slowdown isn't that bad and progressive scan makes this game look superior on the XBOX.
Xbox owners who've never played Metal Gear Solid 2 will find in Substance a highly intriguing, original action game with some truly impressive production values.
Last year's release of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty for the PlayStation 2 was gaming's equivalent of the premiere of a huge Hollywood blockbuster. Anticipation for the game had grown extraordinarily high, both because it was a sequel to what's regarded as one of the best PlayStation games ever made, and also because a number of dazzlingly produced teaser trailers did an incredible job of whetting gamers' appetites for Metal Gear Solid 2's story and gameplay. People just couldn't wait to once again reprise the role of secret agent Solid Snake and infiltrate heavily defended enemy compounds using a combination of stealth and force, uncovering untold military secrets in the process. Upon the game's release, it met with glowing reviews from critics and was hailed as a superlative successor to its namesake--and yet players were shocked to find that Metal Gear Solid 2 turned out to have a huge twist: The main character in fact wasn't the coolheaded Solid Snake, but an entirely new character, an inexperienced young soldier called Raiden--a Luke Skywalker to Solid Snake's Han Solo.
Just as with many Hollywood blockbusters, now that the excitement over the game's release has dissipated, it's become fashionable to speak ill of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Suddenly more gamers out there seem to think Metal Gear Solid 2 was a complete letdown, while at around the time of the game's release, these same people were calling it the greatest game ever made. Social commentaries aside, it's perfectly understandable that the game's heavy-handed, convoluted, arguably sloppy story has been the object of much criticism now that it's had a while to sink in. Also, most all Metal Gear Solid 2 players like to point out that they just hate Raiden. With all of that said, it's difficult to look at the newly released Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance as an entirely new game, because in one sense it isn't, and in another sense it is.
Essentially, Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance lets Xbox owners experience one of the most talked about games ever made. It also throws in a number of additional features, most notably a series of no fewer than 500 so-called VR training missions that let you explore the nuances of Metal Gear Solid 2's gameplay without all the cinematic trappings. Unfortunately, it's plain to see that Konami didn't spend a lot of time translating Metal Gear Solid 2 to the Xbox. The game wasn't optimized for Microsoft's technically superior platform, at best looking equally as good as the year-old PS2 game, and at worst suffering from some technical issues that weren't in the original. So Metal Gear Solid 2 fans that own an Xbox as well as a PS2 will be disappointed that this version of the game isn't hands-down superior to what they've already played. On the other hand, Xbox owners who've never played Metal Gear Solid 2 will find in Substance a highly intriguing, original action game with some truly impressive production values and considerably more lasting value when directly compared to last year's version.
As mentioned, the core of Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance is in fact just Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. The game consists of two parts, the first being a relatively short sequence in which you play as Solid Snake, and the second being the main portion in which you play as Raiden. Very story-driven and mostly linear, Metal Gear Solid 2 is by all means a cinematic game, one that you simply sit back and watch almost as often as you actually play. Much of the story unfolds via one-to-one conversations between the game's main characters using a communications device called a codec. Here you just see a green-tinted screen with close-ups of the speaking characters' faces, and you listen to (or read) what they have to say. At other times, Metal Gear Solid 2 presents some extremely impressive noninteractive cutscenes using the game's 3D engine, which look like something out of a big-budget action movie, only with video game characters instead of real people. These of course are much more interesting than the codec sequences, although the game's story does remain engaging if you're willing to keep up with it through a few very strange plot twists.
The actual gameplay involves lots of things: sneaking around, exploring, shooting with a variety of different real-world weapons, going toe-to-toe with some interesting and challenging bosses, and numerous other small but clever elements. The action appears highly realistic--some surprisingly lifelike enemy behavior, outstanding animation, and lots of little details make Metal Gear Solid 2 one of the closest video game approximations to superspydom that there's ever been. But at its heart, Metal Gear Solid 2 is still an action game, and the game's designers, with tongue in cheek, borrowed a few classical gaming conventions: For example, at the normal difficulty setting, you can withstand an inordinate amount of gunfire before finally perishing. You can instantly restore your health just by eating rations, and guards are curiously nearsighted, unable to detect you if you stand about 30 feet away. On the other hand, the game's authentic touches, such as how depleted ammunition magazines can be thrown to distract enemy guards, can be really impressive. Even still, Metal Gear Solid 2 isn't exactly a simulation of being a secret agent, and Xbox owners looking for a more believable spy game may be better off holding out for Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell.
Substance controls fairly well on the Xbox once you get used to it. If you've played a lot of first-person shooters, you may initially be thrown off by how the game constantly requires you to switch between a top-down third-person perspective and a first-person view. The catch is that you can't aim precisely from a third-person perspective, but you have to stand still when in first-person mode. So you'll often sneak up behind guards, switch to first-person view, and then quickly shoot them in the head either with deadly ammo or with tranquilizer darts if you're feeling humane. Toggling first-person view is achieved by clicking in the left analog stick, which is also used for moving around, so it's possible to become very disoriented by depressing the stick by accident. Nonetheless, you should get a feel for the controls with a little practice and soon be able to sneak up, point, and shoot effectively.
- Player Reviews: 93
- Game Universe:
- Metal Gear Solid (PS, PC, GBC),
- Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance (PC, XBOX, PS2),
- Metal Gear (C64, MSX, NES, MOBILE, PC),
- Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (X360, PS3, PC),
- Metal Gear Solid HD Collection (VITA, PS3, X360),
- Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker HD Edition (PS3, X360),
- Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D (3DS),
- Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (PSP),
- Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PS3),
- Metal Gear Solid: The Essential Collection (PS2)
- Number of Players: