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Ghost in the Shell (PlayStation) artwork

Ghost in the Shell (PlayStation) review


"I'm not a fan of the franchise, with the only real exposure being the egocentric TV series and the last minutes of the first film, but I always thought it would make for some good video game action, especially with its futuristic, cyborg-infested setting. The PlayStation title, in particular, has aroused my interest for the longest time, ever since I saw images for it in GameFAN; mainly, the concept of driving in Fuchikomas, spider-like tanks that can scale walls and ceilings, is what sold me th..."



I'm not a fan of the franchise, with the only real exposure being the egocentric TV series and the last minutes of the first film, but I always thought it would make for some good video game action, especially with its futuristic, cyborg-infested setting. The PlayStation title, in particular, has aroused my interest for the longest time, ever since I saw images for it in GameFAN; mainly, the concept of driving in Fuchikomas, spider-like tanks that can scale walls and ceilings, is what sold me the most. Seriously, back then, it was such an unique-sounding gimmick for a 3D title. As a bonus, I got to take control of the main character, Motoko Kusanagi, a cybernetically-enhanced being and member of a secret Japanese agency, Section 9, in her spider tank. Because we all know characters featured on a game's cover is a strong indication of whom you'll be playing as! Turned out I was wrong... My second assumption was Togusa, another member of the team, since he has a friggin two-page prologue in the manual. Wrong again... I wound up being a nameless rookie that other characters sometimes talk to.

Don't you hate when video games based on movie or cartoon franchises do that?

Regardless of the person inside, at least there was going to be some awesome Fuchikoma action! Another assumption on my part... The most damning weakness about Ghost in the Shell is that it's short, and not in a "Man, I wish this was longer, because it was a blast to play!" type of short, either. The problem is that every stage feels more like a mini-game than a fleshed-out level with multiple objects, locations, and enemies. At first, I thought the first stage was the typical short and simplistic kind, but it basically sets the tone for the entire title: On a small map, you're tasked with locating four robots, gather four cards, and then use them to gain access to the boss, who happens to be big and have four legs, like 90% of the machines in this game. This takes no more than five minutes to complete. Stage three involves blowing up barrels. Two other stages are rail shooters. Another makes you chase after an invisible runner that's not at all hard to find. Hell, the last three or so levels could have been one giant level, because all you do is blow junk up in the same building.

This would have been... kinda fine if the actual combat was up to snuff, but it doesn't deliver. Literally after the first stage, you've seen all Ghost in the Shell has to offer. You've got the same robots that fire bullets and slow missiles, soldiers that sometimes have flamethrowers, mines, and helicopters that get destroyed with minimal effort. They might replace one of those with a tank or large mech, but that's it. And you can kill all these nuisances simply by keeping a good distance and watching where they aim. The boss battles, however, are the most pathetic moments in this release. Not only do they look unoriginal, usually by being variations of the four-legged design, but they can easily be defeated just by using this strategy: circle strafe, fire missiles, and repeat. The only boss that didn't align with this strategy and put up a legit challenge in the game's 12 short levels, was the second to last boss. This mechanical beast fires homing-projectiles that follows everywhere in the room, and unleashes dangerous slashes that force your Fuchikoma to jump like a mad machine. If only the others were this "creative"...

"But whaaaaaat about the walking on the walls and upside-downing the ceilings?? What about thooooooosse???"

Quiet, Random Weird Guy! I didn't forget.

Sadly, the biggest factor that made me want to play Ghost in the Shell in the first place is something I rarely use; it's such a major inconvenience. I tried doing cool stunts when fighting opponents, but it usually backfired. Like, instead of strafing to the left to avoid bullets, I would strafe onto the right wall in an attempt to get behind the enemy. What normally happens, though, is the camera would get jacked up during the change, which messes with the controlling, and I normally found myself staring into the unknown. The only stage that actually forced constant wall-climbing, the final one, was such an annoyance. Half the time, I had no clue where to go, and when I assumed I should climb over something, I'd fall to my death.

But, I stuck through the mess and completed the game. Why? Well, mainly because, once I realized Ghost in the Shell ran out of juice, the game was nearly over, so I said, "Screw it." The other reason, however, was that I enjoyed watching the sparse, animated cutscenes that popped up. I'll at least give the game credit for making me mildly interested in the manga with these scenes. Everything else about this product is easily forgettable, though.

Rating: 4/10

pickhut's avatar
Community review by pickhut (December 22, 2010)

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