Sometimes movies are rushed, and aren't made with the director's true vision. Sometimes a character isn't quite realized the way the director would have liked. And sometimes there were just extra things that didn't quite make it. As LORD OF THE RINGS got the EXTENDED VERSION, METAL GEAR SOLID 2 gets SUBSTANCE.
After the release of Hideo Kojima's masterpiece, there were many outcries. Some bemoaned the difficult to follow story, and the more movie-like approach to the game. The complaints were somewhat valid for those expecting more of a straight up game, and not an experience. Still, the one complaint that resounded with both camps was Raiden.
In every METAL GEAR game, players took the role of resident badass spook, Solid Snake. But about two hours into SOLID 2, you were switched to Raiden, a blond haired kid who was perhaps the biggest shortcoming of the game's longer second act. The main component of Substance is the remedy to this, Snake Tales.
It's hard to exactly describe Snake Tales. They basically tell the story of Solid Snake as he sneaks around on the Big Shell (an environmental clean-up facility where Act II of the game takes place). The one key factor is that these all feature no radar and are fairly difficult. They also are pretty much straight action, with the entire story being text only, and happening before long sequences in the game. Everyone disappointed with not getting to play Snake on the Big Shell will finally have their complaints alleviated.
The original game is intact with some new difficulty modes and the like. But if you've already played it, you won't find much new besides a few extras here and there. The only other big addition is the VR Missions.
Essentially more straight up sneaking action, the VR Missions let you hone all of your skills and compete for higher scores. There are tons of them and some are quite difficult. This alone adds another deep layer of replay value to the game, and is a nice addition now that the sour taste of Raiden has been eliminated by Snake Tales.
But should you buy it if you've already played METAL GEAR SOLID 2? That's the key question. Are you interested in what happened to Snake on the big shell? If so, it's a rental at least. If you're obsessed with the series, though, and love the super hard modes, you might want to pick the game up. This is also the definitive version for folks who might not have played the game before either. The fact that it is a bit of a rehash will hurt its score a bit.
Graphically, the game does benefit from the power of the Xbox. You won't notice a giant difference between this game and your PS2 copy, but given the perspective and amount of effects, it isn't really necessary. There's still plenty of graphical goodness to go around, and everything looks crystal clear and sharp.
The game also benefits from surround sound, and all of the sound effects have been moved in from the PS2 game. Again, there is nothing new from the old game, but an excellent job of creating an atmospheric environment.
In short, METAL GEAR SOLID 2: SUBSTANCE is a title that fans of the series will eat up solely for the Snake Tales. If you haven't played SOLID 2 yet, this is the version to get.