Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
Wanting to get the jump on the almost impossible task of making first person shooters for the hand held market, Bandai produces what should have been a cool title based on the ultra popular anime series 'Ghost in the Shell'?. But upon playing this tidy little title, I was left feeling more disappointed then anything.
Using the control nub to move around and the face buttons to look around, Ghost is a better stab at first person shooting then Coded Arms ever could have been. But thanks to repetitious gameplay, deja vous graphics and an almost impossible to lock on targeting system, the game is barely a step above Coded Arms. It's a shame too because Bandai is a fairly big entity and you would hope that they would throw some money into the development of one of their most popular licenses.
In Ghost you play as the members of Section 9, the anti-terrorist unit that puts bad guys where they belong, six feet under. Led by the 95% android Major Motoko, players will find themselves running the gamut of diverse missions. Whether it's a straight up terrorist cell elimination or the rescue of a former Mayor the plot is as thick and heavy as the TV show/movies and that may also contribute to the poor game experience. On a high point, the game allows you to arm and equip a robot sidekick called a Tachikoma which can be commanded by you, in-game. The Tachikoma are a fairly handy little addition as they will mow down any enemies that come and can be actually driven by your characters as you can sit inside them.
You see, even though there is a fairly good plot, too often it seems like you are watching the very lengthy cut scenes and other plot moving animations. I could have sworn that the first hour of this game is split 50/50 game/movie watching.
Graphically Ghost is a hit-and-miss. Where the cut-scenes are pretty much a direct port of the anime' series, the in-game graphics do suffer from a drab feel. The same environments keep appearing and the always popular 'metal crate'? seems to be everywhere. Now I know what the future holds: metal crates, metal crates everywhere. The guns featured are pretty cool. There is a ton of them and you can do weapons load out before each mission. Problem with having all those guns is the targeting of the game. Although it has a slight auto aim feature, the shooting in this game is really just poorly developed. I don't know what they could have done to improve it, but I know I don't care for it as it is.
The audio featured is probably one of the title's best features since they used the original voice actors from the anime. The sound effects are best heard with the earphones but they don't have the same pizzazz that the voice acting possesses.
You know, I'd have to say take a pass on this title. The plot is decent and falls in line with the complicated show, but the gameplay and in-game graphics easily slip below the acceptable line.
Download Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
Based on the popular anime of the same name, Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex is an action game that has the unfortunate problem of looking less like a modern game, and more like a just short of suitable PS2 launch title. Played out as more of a 'lost episode' of the series, it is this nature that will appeal to SAC fans, but will probably leave most game players out in the cold.
In the gameplay department, SAC isn't so much bad as much as it is spotty. You've got what is basically bland run-n-gun, mixed with some nice looking dodge moves, and some limited but very cool looking melee options. SAC features a very small weapon selection, most of whom are so plain vanilla as to be unnoticeable, but at least offers secondary weapons like knives and grenades, which can replace your melee strikes. Beyond weapons, you can hack enemy cyberbrains, cracking into their control systems, giving you remote control over an opponent. Among all of these, the most impressive is the melee fighting, simply for its cool looking style and visceral nature. Also, the game can be played multiplayer, but with only four way splitscreen, it's a relatively unsatisfying gameplay mode.
Visuals are SAC's weakest point, as while the character designs are simply beautiful, the level design is simply atrocious. Boxy rooms are commonplace and reminiscent of the old PS1 games, unfortunately ruining the effect of featuring such nice looking characters. Additionally, while the character models are in general very faithful to the series, it's obvious that most of the design time focused on the playable characters, as the enemies just don't look as good.
Much like all previous Ghost In The Shell incarnations, you'll find most of the same voice actors have been retained for the cast characters, with one large exception, that of Major Kusanagi. While a disappointment, I can live with it, especially since I have to live with the fact that I can only listen to the game in English, not Japanese with English subtitles. In the end, this title isn't what I'd call really good, but it's a satisfying pickup if you are a serious Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex fan, otherwise I'd say pass.