Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
Game Info
Platform(s)
Playstation 2
Publisher
Bandai
Developer
Cavia, Inc.
Genre
Action/Shooter
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Blood, Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Large, detailed locations
• Strong story and excellent cutscenes
• Feels like a Ghost in the Shell episode

The Bad

• Repetitive enemies and locations
• Platforming is poorly implemented
• Music is pretty bad

 
Grade
C+

Ghost in the Shell has proven to be a pretty successful and popular series for Masamune Shirow. Since the original manga has evolved into multiple movies and even an anime series, the path the cast and plot has taken goes in various directions. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex follows the path of the television series: Major Motoko Kusanagi is a cyborg who works for a super-secretive covert ops team know as Section 9. Teamed up with fellow cyborg Batou, Kusanagi must track down a mysterious package of manufactured rice to an autonomous region that's trying to build a military force and break away from the rest of the country.

Stand Alone Complex is a third person shooter, through and through. Depending on the mission, players control either Motoko and Batou. Motoko is far more fluid in her movements and has to deal with some pretty annoying platforming segments, which Batou gets to use some really big weapons as his sections prove to be far more combat oriented. Both characters control with the two analog sticks. The R1 Button fires the equipped weapon, while the R2 fires the secondary weapons (which includes melee attacks and grenades). The L1 Button interacts with the environment (holding ledges and climbing ladders) while the L2 Button serves as a jump button. You can also dodge attacks with L1 button, but this action proves to lack any fluidity, so its best not to bother.

Each levels starts you off with either a goal or just a general direction in which to start. As you interact with enemies or terminals/computers, you'll be given a better idea of where you need to go and what you need to do. Certain enemies in each area can offer up details on other troops, allowing you to track enemy locations and patrol patterns. When you acquire a hacking code, you can even hack into an enemy's head through a matching minigame. Once hacked, the enemy can be controlled for a short while, which allows you to take out enemies in remote locations. This is especially helpful when dealing with snipers, who can one-hit kill you.

At times when you control Motoko, you'll be forced into some platforming sections that prove to be annoying and often can lead to a number of deaths. Because the game features a limited checkpoint system, you may find dying at a failed jump a bit frustrating. There is also one occasion where you control a Tachikoma in an arena-like battle, but this section is a one-off that's pretty much tacked on to pad the length of the game.

Visually, Ghost in the Shell is actually quite good, if only a bit repetitive and lacking in color variety. The levels are pretty large and have quite a bit of nice detail. Of course, most of the locations are hard and industrial, lacking a lot of soft details. The character models have some excellent detail and show off some good animation. It's too bad that the enemy NPCs are very repetitive - you'll quickly discover that you're killing the same handful of enemies throughout the whole game. A lot of the locations tend to be pretty repetitive, especially when it comes to straight hallways and stairwells. Of course, the graphics are aided with some well done cutscene graphics that feel like CG versions of the television show.

Audiowise, Ghost in the Shell only works when it comes to the voicecast, which is pulled straight from the show's voicecast. Because of this, the game really gains an authentic feel to it. It's too bad that the sound effects are pretty plain and some are quite annoying, like the ridiculously loud metal ring of footfalls in certain spots. To make things worse is the bland techno soundtrack that's so brutally repetitive that you'll just want to turn the volume down to save your ears.

If you are a fan of Masamune Shirow or the Ghost in the Shell anime, then this title is worth a rent or a purchase if you can get it at a reduced price. I certain wouldn't suggest buying it at full price as there's too many things holding it back from being in the same league as other third-person shooters. Maybe with some revisions to the gameplay another Ghost in the Shell game would really be worth full price.

- - Vane

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