Ghost in the Shell
© Shirow Masamune/Kodansha Ltd.
Published by: THQ Inc.
Review by: Eddie A. S. Mak
Finally, after several months of waiting and delays, Ghost in the Shell the game is here in the US. After all that time, you would have to expect that this game had better be pretty darn good to warrant the delays. Well, I can honestly say it was definitely worth the wait.
The first thing you'll no doubt notice is the beginning animated FMV. To say it's good would be an understatement. It's beautiful, even compared to many of the animes out there. In my opinion, it's even better than the GITS animated movie. Over all, the game contains about ten minutes of animation, all of which you can save to view at your leisure. To show that the people at THQ Inc. care about quality, they actually hired the original English voices of Major Makoto Kusanagi, Batou, Togusa, and gang from the movie to reprise their roles once again just for this game. While I certainly have my opinions about dubbing, the fact that they bothered to get the original voices gets a thumbs up from me.
You play the part of a rookie that just joined the Public Security Bureau - Section 9, a covert assault team that is designed to eliminate crime, often requiring the use of deadly force (meaning assassinations) if necessary. You pilot a Fuchikoma, a one-man, spider-like, and semi-intelligent battletank. To make a long story short, some previously unknown terrorists are attacking the city, with some rather hi-tech weaponry, and it is the job of Section 9 to eliminate that threat.
GITS is a 3-D shooter, somewhat similar to Doom, in that you are more or less in a first person point of view, shoot what's ahead of you, can strafe, and so on. But there are differences. For instance, the first thing you will notice when playing the game, is that your tank can stick to just about anything. You can literally climb walls, ceilings, buildings and other obstacles, which adds literally a whole new dimension to this type of game. And you must master this type of battle environment if you wish to pass all 12 levels. Fortunately, there is a training mode for you to practice, and depending on how well you did, several animated scenes of various characters who grade your performance.
Still, the game could have been improved a bit. The music was okay, but uninspiring. I also would have preferred to configure my own buttons rather than choosing from a select few pre-programmed configuration. Also, there are no weapon power ups. You are limited to a machine gun, tracking missiles and a few grenades. Moreover, I would have preferred that the Fuchikoma tank could pivot around faster. I can't tell you how frustrating it is to be attacked from behind, and you can't turn around fast enough to retaliate. Also, a two player co-operative/vs. mode would have made things interesting. But these are fairly minor inconveniences, and don't detract from the gameplay all that much.
This is a must buy for any fan of Ghost in the Shell, and even if you're not a fan this is a great game to add to your collection. If nothing else, just enjoy the animated scenes of Makoto and her skin tight body suit (hubba hubba).
-- Eddie A. S. Mak