When MGS2: Sons of Liberty came out it was an instant success since it was the sequel MGS fans had all been avidly waiting for. But after a while it lost its immediate appeal because for many gamers it just seemed that you spent more time sitting through lengthy cut-scenes trying to work out the complicated plot than actually playing. Now don't get me wrong; the amazing plotline is one of the features of the MGS games that ticks all the right boxes, but gameplay is another strongpoint and it just seemed a bit lacking. Kojima-san heard about these concerns and decided to take MGS2 back to the drawing board, adding extra elements which he had wanted to incoroporate into the game anyway but hadn't previously had the time to do. It also meant that MGS2 was more playable than ever. Before long a new version of MGS2 hit the shops: Substance.
New playable features of Substance included VR Missions, Alternate Missions, Snake Tales and the ever-popular Big Shell skateboarding games but it also included the entire story mode of Sons of Liberty so that people who hadn't previously purchased the original MGS2 game didn't have to buy both. What's more, MGS2: Substance was released not only for the PS2 but for the Xbox and PC as well.
If you own Sons of Liberty and not Substance you may need some persuading to see that it is indeed a worthwhile purchase! Here are the extra features you only get in Substance:
Sons of Liberty never had the VR Training levels which MGS1 did. But this meant that was something Hideo Kojima could add to MGS2 without having to expand upon existing material. When Substance came out it was complete with over 350 VR Missions to play through. These are short training scenarios set in a virtual world separate from the main game (story mode), each designed to hone your abilities in a particular skill. You can play as a range of characters in the different missions: Solid Snake, Raiden, Pliskin, Snake (Tuxedo), Snake (MGS1), Raiden (Ninja) and X Raiden (Naked). There are five subcategories of VR Mission:
These are VR reconstructions of areas of both the Tanker and Big Shell from the story mode. Each mission has a particular objective which needs to be carried out by the playable character within a certain time. There are four subcategories of Alternative Mission:
These are short, self-contained missions where you play as Solid Snake and follow a simple storyline through with certain objectives. There are five Snake Tales to play through:
One of the most surprising additions to MGS2 is probably the fact that you can literally skate round a bastardised level of the Big Shell as either Snake or Raiden on a skateboard in the PlayStation 2 version! This comic element of the game was added because an internal Konami trade-off occurred whereby Snake was included as a secret character in Konami's skateing game, Evolution Skateboarding, in return for the engine of that game being incorporated into MGS2. The levels are slightly different for both characters and you have three minutes to complete six missions!
Upon completing the game, in the Special features menu the following become available:
Some editions of Substance were released with the bonus disc entitled "The Document of MGS2". I believe this was also released separately in some places. The disc contains so much extra behind-the-scenes interactive MGS2 stuff. Here are the twelve features of the Document disc:
Check out the trailer which nicely illustrates the added features of MGS2 that were not included in Sons of Liberty:
With all these extra features in Substance, it made sense to release an offical strategy guide to help gamers with all the features. Different guides were released for different platforms. For help with the story mode, a separate Sons of Liberty strategy guide can give you expert advice.
There's no soundtrack for Substance, but here's the skateboarding theme music to enjoy!