August 27, 2005

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

I just completed the missions of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex on the hard difficulty setting. Unfortunately, this game just isn't that great. Production I.G put a lot into the voices, dialogue, story, music, and graphics but very little into the gameplay. I suppose that's to be somewhat expected, as they are primarily an animation studio. Unfortunately, everything is great except the gameplay.

There is a very good stand-alone story going on in this game. However, it can be hard to follow it closely as there are large portions of actual gaming taking place between cut-scenes. Plus, it can be difficult to pay attention to the dialogue when you are trying to stay alive and take out some bad guys. But if you can keep up, there is a good story unfolding before you.

The graphics are not excellent, but about what you would expect. This game is almost a complete take-off of Oni, only not as fun and exciting to play. You cannot execute combat moves yourself. Instead, you will find yourself tapping a single button and having the game choose which moves to execute. Plus, unlike in Oni, it is basically impossible to take on multiple baddies in melee combat, as you cannot control who you are attacking and how. The artificial intelligence of the enemies is primitive. Shoot one of them, and the rest don't care. They have no strategic patterns or cooperation. They're all deaf and blind.

There are two particular mission segments which I think are simply horrible. The first is having to wall-jump several times up the side of a building to access a console. This is annoying. The second is even more annoying which is to outrun a pack of snipers. One-shot one-kill. I had to continue this segment more times than I can count, because it becomes trial and error as you figure out the right thing to do. A wrong move and you're shot and have to start over.

There are some redeeming qualities to the gameplay however. You can unlock additional features by completing the game on higher difficulties and by finding additional object interactions. The controls very quickly become second-nature, despite appearing at first to be cumbersome. Figuring out the correct course of action can be entertaining, as you are not always pushed one direction and one direction only. There are a fair number of weapons to choose from, although the use of those weapons is somewhat stilted; there is no agility possible, and you cannot perform actions when crouched or jumping. Adding the hacking feature was a nice touch since that is often used by Section 9. There is also support for multiplayer.

And I am still impressed by how well the non-gameplay aspects were executed. It really does play back as one of the television episodes. I'm not sure yet whether or not I will attempt to unlock more features. But I may do so, as some of the feature seem to be interesting in themselves. However, if you are looking for this type of game, I would recommend Oni over Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex.

Posted by josuah at August 27, 2005 8:21 AM UTC+00:00

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