ghost_in_the_shell_coverartThis weekend, I was able to get my hands on the Ghost in the Shell game for PlayStation 1. Having been on a Ghost in the Shell kick lately, I wanted to try it out, not to mention the fact that I’ve never played it before.

Ghost in the Shell has you play as yourself, an unnamed “rookie” on the Section 9 team. You’ll be working closely with other members of Section 9, such as Makoto, Batou, Togusa, and Ishikawa while taking orders from Aramaki. Though they seem reletively annoyed to have a new member on the team at first (especially Batou), they warm up to you pretty quickly, once you’ve got a few missions under your belt.

The entire game is played within a Fujikoma, a thinktank not unlike the Tachikomas from Stand Alone Complex, though these guys came first. Armed with machine guns, rockets, grenades, and the ability to climb walls, you proceed though missions in a third or first person view of the action from your Fujikoma. Most of the missions require you to get from point A to point B, destroying any enemies along the way, but some have unique objectives, like hunting down and destroying bombs before they detonate, or chasing a heavily armored unit down as it tries to use therm-optic camouflage to escape. You’ll fight in a number of locations, but mostly around or within huge buildings. Before completing a mission, you’ll often have to deal with a boss of some sort; usually a large robot.

psx_515-2.jpgThe controls are pretty simple; Square to fire a few rounds from your machine gun directly ahead, or hold square to lock on for missiles, though the lock-on disengages very quickly, so you can’t lock on to many targets at once. Circle will allow you to fire a grenade, though they have limited uses, so you’ll need to pick up more hidden around the map. X is jump, and the shoulder buttons allow you to strafe quickly in that direction. Holding both shoulder buttons and pressing forwards or backwards will allow you to quickly move in that direction. The mastery of the strafing technique will be very important, as most enemies can be dispatched without trouble as long as you can strafe and jump effectively. Finally, you can walk up and strafe around walls, though I found myself getting accidentally stuck to walls when I didn’t want to, and have trouble getting up walls when I wanted to; the control for that seems finicky.

Levels are woefully short, but action packed and a lot of fun. Thankfully, they’re varied well, though. You’ll go from a sewer to a skyscraper, to riding on a speeding boat, shooting pursuers. Very fun. Unfortunately, you get just a little taste of each mission before it’s over. Most disappointing however, are the boss battles. They’re defeated using the same tactics every time (despite some neat designs, like the giant spider bot in a large circular arena), strafe in a circle around them and mash square. They’re also over very quickly, so if you’re skilled, you can beat this game in under an hour, easily. That said, not a whole ton of skill will be necessary to beat it at all. There is also a training course that you can complete for some extra cutscenes, which is neat, but about all the replayability has to offer. All in all, the gameplay itself I felt had a bunch of similarities to the original Armored Core for PS1, though much, much easier.

36952-Ghost_in_the_Shell_[NTSC-U]-1450715774.jpgThe last thing to talk about is the presentation. Despite being released in 97, it looks pretty good, and plays well in 3D. Of special note are the cutscenes, delivered in high quality anime style, though a bit pixelated. It looks like a lot of time and effort was put into each scene; any Ghost in the Shell fan would appreciate them. Also, each member of Section 9 has the same voice actor as from the anime, so it feels very familiar and fun, almost like you’re actually interacting with these characters. Finally, the sound is great; weapons sound as they should, and the soundtrack is a bumping 90s techno that sounds great to blast things to.

The Bottom Line

Pros

  • Fast paced, fun action.
  • Impressive cutscenes and presentation (for the time).
  • Soundtrack.
  • Varied levels and missions, especially the final battle with the last boss.

Cons

  • Over way too quickly.
  • Not very challenging.
  • Repetitive boss battles.

Final Score: 8/10

If you’re a Ghost in the Shell fan, definitely give this one a go; you’ll appreciate seeing and hearing Section 9 in action, plus get a great dose of fast paced and varied action. You’ll just be wishing that there was a little bit more of it in general.