Part 12: Episode IX: Backtracking Baboon
COMM Base (MGS: Portable Ops)
So, Chris will now lead Snake in the direction of the Metal Gear researcher on the other end of the fortress. You know how Meryl briefly took point for Snake in Metal Gear Solid and it lasted for...all of like a room and a half?
Yeah...that's not the case here. Sergeant Jenner proceeds to mosey across the rest of this room, passing right by a couple of patrolling sentries on the way. Nobody seems to bat an eyelash that a blond American chick is just waltzing around. She's wearing the right BDU. Obviously she's legit.
Campbell phones up Snake...
"...Gear development team. Harks is held in the barracks to the north of the watchtower you're in. First, follow Sergeant Jenner's lead and get to the north side of the tower."
Thanks Colonel. Never would have remembered what happened 20 seconds earlier if you didn't repeat it. But since we're getting codec calls already, let's see what the rest of the team are up to before proceeding. We'll skip Campbell since he literally just repeats the same objective recap. Chris pretty much rephrases the same statement as well, except adding "hurry up and follow me" to it.
Snake phones up Mei-Ling and saves his progress...
"'Beware lest you lose the substance by grasping at the shadow'? It's the moral of that Aesop story about a dog who lost the bone he was carrying because he tried to pick up the one he saw reflected on the river. You can lose what you have by reaching for something with no value. Snake, make sure you don't hurt yourself going after items that are too hard to get at."
Good advice. Especially since they all make a loud angry screeching noise and yell at Snake if he's already maxed out on 'em.
Snake dials Weasel's digits...
"...the battlefield. Try playing a link battle sometime."
"No, Weasel. My mom wouldn't put out for a link cable to play Pokemon. She's certainly not doing it for Metal Gear Solid."
Gindra Trivia Time with Brian McBride...
"...is an armed group led by the charismatic Augustine Eguabon, also called the 'General'. Their agenda consists of independence for the Boias, an ethnic minority within Gindra, and they've been loudly advocating removal of Western influences and release of Gindra from First World exploitation. They enjoy extremely high support among the Boias, and their powers have grown rapidly since the 'General' took control."
I like to think everyone refers to the General, they're making sarcastic air-quotes while saying his name.
Back to the mission. You know how the previous stage was kind of a pain in the ass? Guess what the first half of this stage is...? That's right. It's the previous stage in reverse! Complete with re-traveling across laser mazes all over again. Again, thanks a lot for camping out the most difficult to access portion of the map, Chris. Fucking jerk.
Absolutely nothing new happens this time around. In each room we'll just get a short clip of Chris waltzing through the next exit and Solid Snake must follow suit in the backtracking.
The only minor addition is a stash of Chaff Grenades has spawned along the road back to the first floor. Chaff Grenades will temporarily knock out all electronic equipment (read: security cams) for a limited amount of time. On the downside, they all knock out the radar. Kind of a situational item.
In any case, Chris' retread scenario lasts all the way back to the central area of the first floor (the area which split off to the gas mask/security card locked door and the gas filled halls/security card 2 location. Here she'll unlock a door leading north out of the complex.
Snake follows Chris north...
"...northeast of here."
"Got it. I'll have to head east from here and I'll be okay. What about you?"
"I'll check out the power plant."
"The power plant?"
"It supplies all the power for this fortress. But there's something strange going on."
"It's an important installation, sure, but there's too much traffic. I'm going to take a look, see what's up. Could be Metal Gear..."
"I'll be all right. Don't worry."
"Uhh... You know, not to step on toes but maybe I should check out the possible lead on the nuclear equipped 50 foot tall walking tank and you should go secure the lab geek...?"
"Nah... I think we're good as is. I mean what if I'm wrong?"
"Then the researcher will still be secured and I would have wasted twenty minutes checking it out. Rather than you are right and end up taking on the giant robot unarmed...?"
"I don't see that happening."
And so Chris moseys off to check out the power plant. As she does, I realize a couple things. One...she took the security card with the higher clearance with her to the power plant and Snake would be kind of boned if anything between here and Not-Otacon is locked. And secondly, and this is far more important...
SHE HAD ACCESS TO THE UNSUPERVISED BACKYARD OF THE AREA THIS WHOLE TIME!! WHY DID WE HAVE TO CROSS THAT WHOLE FUCKING TOWER TO MEET HER?!
Christine Jenner is a jerk.
The Codec rings...
"...the barracks. Head northeast and you're there."
"Don't you have any satellite photos of the area's layout or...really anything of use? You're just parroting what Chris has been saying."
"What do you think the Soliton radar is all about?"
"Making me think I might need contact lenses from all the squinting looking at it...?"
"Just head northeast, Snake."
So, we now have to cross another jungle to reach this fabled barracks facility. This jungle is a place of woe and misfortune.
A couple screens over from the totally abandoned little courtyard Jenner ditched us is a guard wandering past a series of shutters controlled by panels with comically oversized buttons. After he leaves, all the shutters slam shut behind him.
Now here's where things get fun. Snake must punch the four panels in order to unlock all four gates and continue. The fun part you ask? Oh...the panels just have random functions as to what they'll unlock on any given playthrough. When I played the bottom most panel would always reset everything and that was the only constant.
It took me about three minutes of just whacking these things until they finally opened. It wasn't within the realm of fun...
Randomly punched panels of frustration later...
Further ahead we find a new hazard: birds. Birds, as history has well documented, are massive jerks. In Ghost Babel, if Snake approaches a bird camping out on the ground it will screech and take off instantly alerting every enemy in the area to Snake's presence. Snake has to stay pretty much two squares or so (the bird occupies one square of space for reference) away from the bird to avoid pissing off the entire area.
The other new hazard in this area is dogs. Dogs too are massive dicks. They're basically advanced level guards. They have better eyesight, seeing about twice as far as the normal guards. More importantly they can actually hear Snake's footsteps on any terrain. They can hear roughly the same distance as it takes to spook birds. So if Snake waltzes within that range they'll instantly be alerted even with their backs turned.
To add to their eyesight and hearing, dogs also can sniff out Snake so camouflage like cardboard boxes, tall grass, and diving in mud doesn't fly with dogs. On top of all that, dogs "patrol" in semi-set paths. But being dogs, they'll randomly just turn around and double back making them even more difficult to sneak past. Really, if the GLF just stocked the place with nothing but canines for security then Snake would be rightly fucked.
The only positive thing about dogs is alerting them does not count as an Alert on the mission tally. They do psychically link with all other dogs to instantly send 'em all running to bite Snake. But at least it's limited to all the hounds in the area and no reinforcements.
While trekking through the hedgemazes and dog fighting pits of the inner jungle, Snake can come across a new weapon: Grenades. Grenades in Ghost Babel function a bit differently than the usual ones. Chiefly due to the fact they have no timer. After tosses, a grenade will explode on impact. This includes if Snake's an idiot and tosses one into a wall. So... Ya know... Don't do that!
About midway through Snake's travels through this stage, a new hazard appears: a gigantic fuck-off boomerang goes flying from the north toward Snake. It seems the upcoming boss wants his presence to be known not unlike Bowser from the original Super Mario Brothers. The boomerang attacks either come straight down from the north or arc across the screen from one of the upper corners. It's pretty easy to avoid as the thing has a teeny-tiny hitbox. But, it can make sneaking past enemies pretty hairy at times.
Finally, after evading boomerangs, guards, and Dobermans of the non-zombie variety Snake reaches the northern passage toward the
...It opens the door on the OPPOSITE path. Which means Snake gets to backtrack the way he traveled and has to go take the alternate path to complete the area. Thanks a lot game. Not a dick move at all.
Five minutes of backtracking and taking another path later...
When we finally enter the building of trolling doors, we find it filled with three boxes of grenades and a ration. I think the game is trying to tell us something...
Snake continues north...
"I mean... I've got a pretty good idea given the boomerang. But..."