Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance impressions

We take the newly available Xbox version of MGS2 for a spin. Gameplay details and media inside.

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Konami's Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance is now available for the Xbox, and we're here to bring you some first impressions of the game now that we've gotten our hands on it. Essentially a straight port of last year's highly acclaimed PlayStation 2 version of Metal Gear Solid 2, Substance also has some notable extras, as well as a few apparent shortcomings that we were quick to identify. Most notably, we witnessed some extreme amounts of slowdown during the game's rain-soaked oil tanker area (the very first area of the game), in places where last year's PlayStation 2 version of the game ran perfectly smoothly. Considering the Xbox hardware should be able to easily handle now what the PlayStation 2 was capable of a year ago, these performance issues seem very strange.

Beyond that, the core of Substance is a straight port of Metal Gear Solid 2, and, notwithstanding the technical problems, it looks and plays exactly the same as last year's game. Substance also adds five different "Snake Tails," brief side stories starring the popular Solid Snake. These all take place in environments lifted straight from Metal Gear Solid 2, but they lack the same production values, as there is no new voice-over or cinematic cutscenes to go with these sequences. Rather, the Snake Tails are introduced with pages of onscreen text.

The game also packs in more than 300 brief VR missions, which you can initially play through as either Snake or Raiden, though several slots are available for unlockable hidden characters. The VR missions should be readily familiar to those who played the original Metal Gear Solid game--they are basically action-oriented or puzzle-oriented challenges that become increasingly difficult as you proceed.

Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance was released with far less fanfare than last year's game. Xbox owners who've never played MGS2 should stay tuned for our full review later this week to find out if the game is worth their while. For now, have a look at our new screenshots and movies of the game in action.

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