Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance

released on Nov 04, 2002

Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance is a re-vamped and revised edition of the original Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, in which Solid Snake must recover the stolen Metal Gear Ray from a group of terrorists bent on using its power for unthinkable reasons. Along with the original espionage shooter comes a collection of 200 VR missions. Missions range from killing certain targets and using particular weapons, as well as seeing the world of Solid Snake from different perspectives and styles, with first-person target modes and a variety mode including crazy characters of different shapes and sizes. Also included are various alternative missions, ranging from the protagonist sneaking around and snapping photos of targets to bomb disposal, all out destruction, and more.

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One of the first and probably best postmodern video games, takes the original game and completely inverts its premise while deepening its themes. Also Rose is actually great if you're not a weirdo.

You know a story is peak when you beat the game at 2am and cant sleep the whole night processing how peak the story and game was. This is Kojima doing Kojima things

Just when you think it couldn't get any better, you find the skateboarding mini game

This game is absolutely sublime. Metal Gear before this was a fairly simple stealth action series but this game took the complexity and player expression to an entirely different level. Guard AI is the most interesting in the series by a long shot, the level design is superb with every room being its own interesting and memorable puzzle, there are loads of different ways to handle all sorts of different situations. The base game is somewhat lean on gameplay but the VR/alternative missions and Snake Tales additions in Substance more than make up for that.
Much has been said about this game's story, which I think overall is the strongest in the series. Though I don't think people talk enough about how engrossing Raiden is as a character. He tries so hard to just do his mission the best he can, while the situation is constantly getting worse through no fault of his own. I've heard people complain about Dead Cell but I think Vamp and Fortune are great characters, Fatman I understand the complaints with but he's really no different from most members of Cobra Unit aside from having a more fleshed out backstory.
The sound design and music here is just incredible. One of my favorite game soundtracks ever, with so many memorable songs that fit the atmosphere and mood so well. The sound mixing and every single sound effect is just so iconic. The voice acting as well stands out as really great even as the rest of the industry caught up with MGS1 (fake accents notwithstanding), with dramatic scenes having a real punch that games MGS4 and onwards were really missing.
Idk maybe I'm gushing a lot but this really is one of my favorite games ever and I'm always having a blast when I revisit it.

Second favorite Metal Gear game
The controls feel natural, the story's tied for my favorite in the series so far, and the gameplay wasn't really as slow as I've seen other people say it is