Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance (Sniper)
Genre: Stealth/Action
Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami

Visually, MGS2 is all about aesthetics, not technical splendors. The unique style of the graphics are difficult to describe, but could best be explained by saying that they look cel-shaded, without actually being cel-shaded. That's not to say that they lack detail; the textures, while being of PS2-generational quality, are certainly not a negative distraction, and the player models are fairly detailed.

MGS2's credits entail a great number of entries under the "sound" category, and they hired a music composer with an actual name in the industry. The results have paid off; the voice acting in MGS2 is fantastic in that it sounds so emotionally believable, and the in-game music is well composed and ambient. To elaborate on the point of the music: the opening theme, a cheesy, orchestrated piece, screams "cliched American action movie." Given a chance though, the in-game tunes don't disappoint.

The formula from the first MGS worked- why change it? A few additions, namely the ability to shoot around a corner with your back to it, add to the equation. But MGS2 is essentially the same here as its predecessor. Once you get the feel and tempo of the gameplay, the control scheme comes naturally, and the sheer number of gameplay elements, such as hiding in lockers, or pulling a "stick-up" and pointing your gun at a soldier's crotch in order to get his dog tags, really begin to stand out. A job well done!

MGS2 is plagued by one gnawing issue: a skewed balance between action and story. It seems as though following a 15 minute cutscene, and the game gives back control of your character, you simply run through a doorway and are "treated" to another long cutscene. Fortunately, the story is one of the best I've seen in a video game, so the reliance on cutscenes isn't all bad. MGS2 is a fun game with rock solid gameplay (when you get to play!), a deep story, and a number of gameplay modes. Tremendous replay value!

Sniper's verdict: