Spies! A Review of Metal Gear Solid: Ghost Babel
Metal Gear is a classic video game series, starring international superspies while they complete various missions. The Metal Gear games always feel like you are the lead character in an old spy film, and all of the campy and crazy villains keep it from ever getting too dark. Metal Gear Solid, on the Playstation 1, revolutionized the concept of a “stealth game”. It allowed you to complete the game by sneaking past enemies and avoiding combat, and in fact encourages completing the game with 0 Kills and 0 Deaths. The Metal Gear franchise exploded in popularity after that, and now there are all sorts of confusing spin offs, side stories, and weirdly numbered equals to figure out.
Ghost Babel, a spin off for the Gameboy Color , avoids all of that. Within the first cutscene of the game, the relevant snippets of Metal Gear Solid(MGS) are recapped, and it skips straight to the point. As a result, this is the perfect place to start with the franchise, combining the gameplay of the original Metal Gear with the changes and interactivity of Solid to create a wonderful fusion of the two games.
Ghost Babel starts with the hero of MGS, codenamed Solid Snake, living in seclusion in Alaska. He is contacted by the CIA to perform one final mission. Despite his protests, Snake is unable to refuse, because he is the only person on Earth who could stop the villain’s plans. Sure enough, the villain’s plan involves the nuke-launching superweapon, Metal Gear.
A terrorist group called the GLF has constructed a Metal Gear, and has threatened to attack various cities in America unless paid a massive sum. In order to stop the villains plot, Solid Snake must infiltrate their compound in Africa, destroy Metal Gear, and escape alive.
It doesn’t take long for things to go wrong. The support team sent in to help Snake is annihilated with the exception of one member, a woman named Chris Jenner. Chris tells Snake that a specialized team of “unconventional soldiers”, called Black Chamber, is protecting Metal Gear. Snake also learns that this Metal Gear is enhanced beyond the capabilities of the one from MGS, and that its creator is also within the complex. Chris and Snake hatch a risky plan. They will capture the Metal Gear’s creator, and learn it’s capabilities from him. Just then, the leader of the terrorists announces that they will prepare their first move in 12 hours.
The game takes place over 13 levels, each covering an hour of time in the game world. In each level, Solid Snake, controlled by the player, must complete a set of objectives as quickly as possible while avoiding detection by the enemy. Snake gathers various tools over the course of the game to help him, from mine detectors and firearms to cardboard boxes and costumes. The game controls well, and in later levels it becomes incredibly difficult to pull off that lofty goal of 0 Kills 0 Deaths. Members of Black Chamber serve as tough boss battles, each armed with a gimmick that tests your mastery of the game. They also have their own backstories and memorable personalities.
Despite the general realistic and grounded tone of the series, it also has a lot of goofy and campy stuff in it. The Metal Gear franchise loves it’s “unconventional” soldiers, and usually that is used as a catch all term for whatever crazy new enemies the developers can think of. Over the course of the franchise there have been cyborg ninjas, living flames, ghosts and even a man who controls bees as “unconventional” soldiers. The games all contain dark, political plotlines that are grounded in reality, until suddenly introducing ridiculous sci-fi elements later on. This results in an interesting tone for the series, as you are constantly transitioning from tense stealth sequences to conversations or battles with campy villains that could be straight out of an old 70’s spy film. And that is perfect.
In conclusion, Metal Gear Solid: Ghost Babel is a fantastic game. It lets you feel like you’re James Bond, sneaking around enemy bases and blowing up superweapons. With its entertaining cast and well-done story, it stands out as one of the best spy games ever.