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Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Review

Developer: G-Artists Publisher: Bandai
Release Date: October 26, 2005 Also On: PS2

Back in July, in my review of Coded Arms, I said that it would be interesting how the shooter genre on the PSP grows. Four months later, Bandai and G-Artists have shown me that the first-person shooter will never be an excellent genre on the handheld. Still, a well-done PSP shooter like Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex can still make for an interesting title. As a whole, Ghost in the Shell is a good game that unfortunately deals with the nuances of the PSP’s lack of buttons but little, if anything else at all, makes it a bad game.

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If you weren’t aware, this is a direct port of the Playstation 2 title of the same name. The story remains the same as well. As four different members of the anti-terrorist group Sector 9, it is your job to eliminate a viral computer threat. If you’re into anime or manga, the story has some legs. If you’re not, those legs turn into pegs. Really, by the time I got into the game, I cared more about the shooting than anything. At least the Tachikoma machine characters were funny and kept me paying attention to the cut-scenes.

The gameplay shares the same control scheme with Coded Arms except for a few changes. The analog nub still acts like a left analog stick on the Playstation 2 controller, and the face buttons act as a right analog stick. Jumping is mapped to the L trigger and firing an equipped weapon is done with the R trigger. The only confusing aspect of the controls comes from the directional pad, which was the same problem in Coded Arms. The d-pad functions as an action button (Up), reload button (Left), inventory (Right), and target lock (Down). Of course, all of these different buttons might get confusing but after about 15 minutes I was pumping lead into enemies with no trouble at all. An interesting part of the equation comes from the Tachikoma, which is basically an armed, mobile robot that follows you around and helps kill enemies. With the select button, you are offered commands that you can give to the Tachikoma. You can have it follow you, defend an area, fire at will, conserve ammo, and more. Managing the Tachikoma becomes an important part of survival in some of the levels.

One of the cool aspects about Ghost in the Shell is that there are so many weapons to find and use. There are different pistols, shotguns, assault rifles, sub machine guns, and explosives. To add to that, your Tachikoma can be equipped to its robotic teeth with all sorts of weapons and defense items. All of these different weapons make the shooting a fun thing to do, and all in all, the action in Ghost in the Shell is a lot of fun. The enemies aren’t the most intelligent, but if you’re looking for complex artificial intelligence, you’ve probably already played the crap out of F.E.A.R. for the PC.

As the second shooter on the PSP, it’s difficult to keep from comparing Ghost in the Shell to Coded Arms, as you might have already noticed. So, in terms of controls, the two are almost the same. As for the gameplay, I think Coded Arms is slightly repetitious and bland with its random levels while Ghost in the Shell is a little bit fresher, with the Tachikoma customization and such. The graphics of Coded Arms surpass Ghost in the Shell, mostly because weapon effects are generally unimpressive and the NPCs look as stiff as cardboard. The animation isn’t as smooth in Ghost in the Shell, either. Last of all, the music of both games is difficult to judge but there isn’t a single line of dialogue that isn’t spoken in Ghost in the Shell, which is an impressive feat for a handheld shooter. I’d say that the two games are almost even in comparison.

So, ultimately, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is a solid game with credentials that put it up against one of the most hyped PSP games to date. If you’re in the market for a good time with a shooting game, I’d say that you would be wise to give this a chance. There are a few flaws to get over, and the same glaring control scheme remains for Ghost in the Shell, but it’s worth a shot.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 7.5
Creativity: 7.5
Replay Value/Game Length: 6.5
Final: 7.5
Written by Cliff Review Guide