Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance is an expanded version of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (which was released for the PlayStation 2 in 2001). Substance was released for the XBox by Konami in 2002.
It’s the fourth Metal Gear game co-written and designed by Hideo Koijima and the seventh game in the series as a whole.
The story revolves around “The Big Shell”, a massive offshore clean-up facility seized by a group of terrorists who call themselves “The Sons of Liberty”. They’re demanding an enormous ransom in exchange for the life of the President of the United States of America and threaten to destroy the facility and create a cataclysmic environmental disaster if their demands are not met. And of course the legendary Solid Snake is once again sent in to unpick the situation; to discover the conspiracies, and uncover the layers upon layers of intrigue. Not to mention crack a few skulls…
Gameplay is similar to Metal Gear Solid with a third-person overhead perspective that changes based on context. There’s also a first-person view for added immersive combat. The idea, though, is still to sneak around and to avoid trouble as much as possible, although trouble is hard to dodge when you’ve got a silenced pistol and an arsenal of technology at your disposal…
All the staples of the Metal Gear series are present, including transceiver conversations, detailed radar, alert cycles, dramatic cut scenes, violent combat, bosses and sub-bosses – plus enhancements new to the series. I’m thinking predominantly about the weather and lighting effects which are pretty incredible on the XBox, but there are also a ton of extra “VR Missions” in Substance, outside of the main campaign.
The original MGS2 sold more than seven million copies worldwide, was a huge hit, and was again considered to be “one of the greatest video games of all-time” by critics and players alike. Personally, I think this game is a quantum leap from Metal Gear Solid on the PlayStation (which I’m not the biggest fan of, the truth be told). I absolutely love this game, though. Not only does it look and sound amazing, but it also plays much better than anything in the series that preceded it.
Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance is still available to buy (for PC gamers) on GOG.com and it’s well worth picking-up if you’ve never played it before. I have to admit, though, that I haven’t played anything in the Metal Gear series after this, and I think we’re up to Metal Gear Solid five at the time of writing. MGS2 was so good that my fear was: anything after it is sure to disappoint. I’m almost certainly wrong to assume that, but it’s impossible to buy/play every game that’s ever been released.