Metal Gear Solid, as no one else on Earth would have ever dreamed of putting those three words together in quite that way. It was unique, but then they had to go and ruin it by sticking the same name on something else. They could have at least given this a subtitle, maybe something clever using the initials GBC.
Fortunately the Japanese version was given the name Metal Gear: Ghost Babel, so I'm just going to call it that instead from now on.
Actually Campbell's there to bore Snake with the news of the latest nuclear disaster about to threaten mankind and the laser sights are there to encourage the poor guy to sit and listen attentively. Snake's really not interested in being part of another sneaking mission, especially when it'll inevitably involve another bloody Metal Gear, but the Colonel manages to change his mind by pointing out this particular terrorist army is chilling out in the complex formally known as OUTER HEAVEN (the place you visit in Metal Gear 1).
It seems that this game is actually a direct (non-canon) sequel to Metal Gear 1, taking place in a world where MG2 and MGS didn't happen. Which makes this the third Metal Gear 2 in the series so far, after Snake's Revenge and MG2: Solid Snake.
I gotta mention that they've done an awesome job on Snake's control and animations. It doesn't come across that well in a still screenshot, but in motion he looks like he's straight out of the PlayStation game. The guy's just so... fluid. He's even got proper diagonal movement for once, which makes a lot of difference to the feel of the game compared to the other 2D Metal Gears.
ALERT? Oh right, apparently the enemies can see me through those leaves covering the path. Well now I know that. Fortunately it was pretty easy to just run away from them and hide out in the hedge maze until the alarm timer ran out and they resumed their patrols.
Unlike the other 2D Metal Gears, which had a fixed camera flick-screen style, this time the screen scrolls around to follow Snake as he walks, which means the game avoids a lot of the problems Metal Gear 2 has with enemies spawning out of nowhere in alert mode. Plus it makes it way easier to see what they're up to and more importantly, what direction they're facing.
Okay, plan B then: I'm just going to run for it.
Wait, Stage 01 Cleared? In the good old days they'd let me wander all over the enemy complex as one big interconnected map, but this seems to have separate sneaking levels instead. It might actually be an improvement though, as the other games liked to use the freedom as an excuse to give me a new key, then send me off backtracking through all the places I'd already been to find the (unmarked) door it unlocks.
Castlevania games, only this time Konami forgot to put in the castle. Unless that vague blue column is supposed to be it.
I'll try radioing my support team and see how they think I should proceed.
The codec contacts like to talk just as much as anyone from Metal Gear Solid, (holy fuck do they like to talk...) but without any voices the conversations just aren't as interesting, to me anyway.
The radar screen seems a bit smaller in this than the one in Metal Gear 2, but it's fine. I'm actually doing better at keeping track of the enemies, because I can drag the screen over by leaning against a wall. I just wish the 'lean camera' button wasn't the same as the 'shoot weapon' button, I keep firing off a shot by accident whenever try to spy on someone. I'm lucky I grabbed that silencer really.
Oh hang on, I'm getting another call.
I tried pushing the boxes, punching the boxes, shooting the boxes, punching the boxes again... I just couldn't get through to get card 1. It took me forever to remember that Snake can move while leaning against walls.
The soon get bored and decide to pretend they couldn't find me, then eventually wander off back to continue their patrols. I'm surprised that worked honestly.
FIVE MINUTES LATER.
SEVEN MINUTES LATER.
Speaking of James Bond, can you imagine what his end of mission reports would be like?
BEING CAPTURED AND TORTURED
I think I did quite well by comparison.
Wait, that gives me an idea...
Fortunately the game just put me right back here when I continued. I was honestly worried for a second that it'd throw me back to the very start of the stage.
This bit wouldn't be so much of a pain in the ass if I didn't have to walk up to each set of lasers in turn and wait to see if they flicker off or not. Once I find the flickering lasers I wait for them to go off, slip through, then do the same thing at the next junction. Over and over again.
SEVERAL LASERS LATER.
MORE LASERS LATER.
Well, now we've finally met up I can head back out the way I came and... oh no.
Oh by the way, I forgot to mention something. The cards stack in this! My level 2 card opens level 1 doors, so there's finally no more need to switch through them all at every locked door! I'll award Metal Gear Solid: Ghost Babel +50,000 points and a brand new car for that innovative new feature.
FIFTEEN MINUTES LATER.
Also I gotta admit, this is actually a clever security system. You've seen how easy it is for a trained infiltrator like me to get hold of card keys, but the only thing that'll get this gate open is my mind. So yeah, I'm going to be stuck here for a while.
A WHILE LATER.
Actually no I think this guy's called Slasher Hawk and despite being a spiritual half-naked lunatic with an affinity for birds, the two are actually pretty different. For one thing, Raven carries a M61 Vulcan six-barrelled, Gatling-style rotary cannon ripped from a jet fighter, which fires 20mm armour piercing high-explosive ammo at a rate exceeding 6000 rounds per minute, and Hawk carries a boomerang.
Oh right, there's the VR Training mode too. I should probably have a look at that as well before I turn the game off.
Metal Gear Solid: Ghost Babel is like the missing link between Metal Gear 2 and Metal Gear Solid, or maybe an alternate universe MGS from a world where the 16 bit consoles ruled for another five years. Sure it feels like imitation Kojima weirdness rather than the genuine article and it isn't actually technically part of the canon storyline, but I reckon it's close enough to be worthy of the name Metal Gear. Plus it fixes a lot of the gameplay frustrations of the earlier 2D games and I enjoyed playing it. In fact I plan to play it more, so it gets a shiny star.
If you want to tell me how wrong I am, reminisce about the game, or just want to say 'thanks, I was looking for that screenshot', feel free to leave a comment.