Review by Mechaman
"What the movie should have been--a fun, fast paced shooter."
The movie of Ghost in the Shell, or "GitS", was Mamoru Oshii's overtly long psychological look at Masamune Shirow's highly-technical manga. Thankfully, the game threw out all of the confused plot about the "Puppet Master" and concentrated on what most gamers would want: fast paced, competent action from the helm of a Fuchikoma all-terrain spider tank. Coupled with new animation created for the game(with surprisingly competent American voice acting), GitS PSX is a quality platform shooter that most fans should have on their shelf.
GitS has probably the best control system of any PSX platform shooter--many times I've picked it up again after playing Armored Core and ended up skittering all over because GitS' control is silky smooth. The shoulder triggers control sliding and accelerated movement, while each control function(jump, shoot, grenade) is mapped to a main button. Added to that is the Fuchikoma's ability to slide up walls, and you can make like Spiderman in no time. Weapons are also semi-auto targeted, consisting of twin machine guns, lock-on missiles, and grenades(room-clearer bombs), enabling the player to concentrate on the mission. About the only confusing thing is the Fuchikoma's ability to wallwalk--against the bosses, it can get irritating, since you must be on the ceiling to survive against later bosses, and jumping automatically puts the Fuchikoma on the ground again. Level design also gets a thumbs up; you really feel like you're skulking through ventilation shafts, underground parking areas, and darkened city blocks.
The confused editing of the instruction manual notwithstanding, you play a new recruit on Major Kusinagi's special-operations team. Your first assignment with the team is to track down the persons responsible for bombing a cybernetics factory outside of town...which leads to an international terrorist group and the city's tallest skyscraper, a Geo-Front sized one...
Graphics are not bad. Mission briefings are done with neato wire-frame diagrams(and kibitzing by the rest of the team). In-game graphics are also competent, although they won't win prizes. Thankfully, the team avoided the "Tomb Raider" problem, where the camera swivels around to face your character against a wall instead of showing you what the character is seeing(the camera retracts to show the Fuchikoma's point of view instead). Lighting effects are done well; one mission requires you to shut down a power plant, with lasers and electrical effects snapping around you. The cut scenes are animated very well, with some CG added for extra punch. As mentioned above, the same American voice actors used in the movie return to voice the game(and since they don't have a half-ass script to work from, they do an admirable job). Music is the standard techno of most shooters; some tracks are enjoyable(like the opening), but you probably won't be humming them in the shower. Sound effects are competent, with your MGs getting a nice rattling sound, although enemy sound effects could have been done better.
The regular levels keep the game going; some will make you tear your hair out, but others fly by too fast(like the second autoscroll mission). They're still executed well enough to keep an average player's interest. Furthermore, in addition to the standard levels there's also a training mode, where it becomes a race against the clock to gun down targets and make it to the next checkpoint. This adds a nice competition flair to the game, challenging you to beat your best score(you also get some funny animation clips depending on how well you do).
Buy Or Rent?
Most hardcore platform shooter fans should give this one at least a rental, if not picking it up on general principles. Fans of the animation should also give it a look, and fans of the manga probably have it already. It's a solid game that should appeal to fans of all calibers.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 11/01/99, Updated 07/05/02
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