Stand Down, Soldier.
Anime and I aren't on the best terms. For every anime I do like, there are about 100 I don't care for whatsoever. An anime that is on the fringe of like and dislike is Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. It's somewhat too over-my-head with all of its jargon, but it's darn cool to watch and has a tremendous soundtrack. Thus, I was excited to try out the PlayStation 2 game based off the show and review it.
If you are familiar with the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex anime, then the game's story is something that you can easily understand. It helps to know the characters, though it's not completely necessary. Just be prepared to be annoyed by the high-pitched Tachikoma robots, regardless. If you're not well versed on the anime, or you have a hard time following the techno-babble and police speak used in the show, then you're going to be completely confused by the game's story. Essentially, the premise of the game is that an investigation involving weapons that were supposed to be destroyed have found themselves on the black market. It's up to Section 9 with aid of the military to discover who is behind this crime.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is a third-person shooter that has your character, either Major Motoko Kusanagi, the cool, calm, and collected cyborg leader of field operations for Section 9, or Batou, a less mobile and agile hunk with a good sense of humor, running, gunning, wall jumping, and hacking their way through one of twelve missions. Each mission generally has you moving from point of interest to point of interest, always marked with an indicator, but there's still exploration to be found in discovering how to get to said marker.
|Dialogue like this is heard throughout levels,|
giving a lot of character to the game's missions.
|Look before you leap, Major.|
All the platforming and shifting around levels is performed as you mow down enemy scum, which isn't as easy as you might think. Stand Alone Complex lacks an auto-aim or even an aim assist feature, so if you aim isn't true, you can find yourself at the receiving end of a blitzkrieg of bullets, feverishly attempting to center a target in your aiming reticule. Thankfully, checkpoints are common, so you never really lose a lot of progress when you wind up badgered with bullets and incapacitated. The point here is that the controls aren't the greatest in Stand Alone Complex, and they will frustrate easily annoyed gamers.
|No auto aim or auto assist makes aiming a tad difficult.|
Melee combat is extremely useful for close-combat situations. When your foe is too close for comfort, the Major or Batou can utilize highly capable close-quarters combat to punch or kick them into submission. It's really satisfying to pulverize an enemy, sometimes sending them flying over a railing in the process, and it's all done in slow motion with a cunning camera angle for you to cherish the spectacle of it all.
|The Major does this for kicks.|
While Stand Alone Complex is over pretty quick with its aforementioned twelve missions, there are multiple difficulties to play on, the option to try to beat each level without dying, an unlockable mode where you play through the levels while shooting at well-hidden Japanese fans, and multiple costume unlocks. There is also a multiplayer mode, though this does not feature bots, and two players alone is hardly any fun... or the mode for that matter with its insanely small maps (though the amount is quite copious).
|Bring down that enemy chopper, Batou, with some serious hardware.|
|Gray, gray, gray-- far as the eye can see.|
All in all, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is sure to please fans who want to dive into more of the anime series's world. Even with those with a desire to get a unique story and an expanded look at the Major, Batou, and the rest of Section 9 won't find a lot to keep coming back to. The controls are a bit meddlesome, the visuals are rather unappealing aside from the character models, and the multiplayer isn't compelling whatsoever. Still, you could do a lot worse than this PS2 take on an anime classic. It's just not the game that Ghost in the Shell truly deserves.
[SPC Says: C-]