Is Metal Gear Solid 2 playable?
For playable I mean playing well.

I was going to get an NTSC copy of MSG2 Substance, but testing with a PAL non-Substance copy from the DVD discouraged me.

It's playing at low FPS, around 30 or so. The weird thing is that all the speedhacks have absolutely zero effects. The game runs the same with all of them maxed as when all are disabled.

I'm usually able to play all games decently, including Dragon Quest 8. Is MSG2 so heavy compared to other games or there's a problem of misconfiguration? Seems weird.

It also seems to max the gs plugin, no matter what setting or resolution. It runs the same either in DX10 as in software. It doesn't really makes sense to me.

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The MGS series are highly demanding to say the least. To get any "playable" frame rate, the CPU need to be overclocked at an high clock speed to maintain an acceptable gameplay. On my end, the lowest fps I've experienced are in the mid 20's fps for MGS3. For MGS2, high 50's fps during the beginning on the ship with the rain and 60+ fps inside the ship.
But I don't think it's normal and that ALL speedhacks or graphic setting have no effect.

For example in that part with Liquid Snake in the first room the FPS improve after the door opens and a dialogue. There's absolutely nothing that changes graphically, but suddenly FPS go up.

I think it's more a programming block than that the game itself is demanding. There's probably a bug or something.
With demanding games, speedhacks will be of no help at all if your hardware isn't sufficient. Those fps that I mentioned above are the raw speed from my CPU without the use of speedhacks.

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